about

Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank: A labor of love

Right now, thousands of medically fragile babies are struggling. These babies and their families are working hard to get healthy. But in many cases, one of the biggest medical advantages they can have isn’t available. Human breast milk.

As physicians, lactation consultants, nurses, hospital administrators, clinicians, educators, and parents, we set out to ensure that every vulnerable infant could have the benefits of breast milk. And thrive.

We are grateful for the support of our whole community. We are making a difference. One ounce at a time.

Our Mission

“Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank recognizes the importance of breast milk to optimize the health and well-being of all babies, especially medically vulnerable infants. When mothers’ own milk is unavailable, Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank provides donor human milk, which is collected and processed according to the guidelines set forth by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. We also aim to facilitate research and education in human lactation.”

Our History

Our Board of Directors was formed and we were incorporated as Three Rivers Mothers’ Milk Bank on October 30, 2013. Due to increased demand, we expanded and, in August 2017, changed our name to Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank. We are a group of clinicians, nonprofit professionals and community volunteers working to establish a donor milk bank to serve the neonatal intensive care units and babies of PA, WV, and NJ.

Human Milk Banking Association of North America
HMBANA Logo1

A 501(c)(3), we are officially a milk bank under the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). The Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank adheres to strict guidelines for the “Establishment and Operation of a Donor Human Milk Bank,” published annually by HMBANA.

OUR STAFF

Denise O’Connor, BS, IBCLC
Founder and Executive Director

Denise is an IBCLC certified lactation consultant and La Leche League Leader (retired). She had been working with nursing mothers and their infants for over 18 years. Denise earned her degree in neuroscience from The University of Pittsburgh and worked in cognitive rehabilitation prior to becoming a lactation consultant in 2004. Through the years, she has done extensive board work in local non-profit organizations with a focus on women’s and children’s issues including Three Rivers Adoption Council, The Midwife Center, and The Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library.

Denise lives in Franklin Park with her husband Robert and their three children.

Margaret DeLair, RN, CLC, Doula
Director of Donor Milk Program

Margaret began her career in nursing on the Labor, Delivery and Post-Partum Unit. She has also worked on a medical/surgical unit, as a surgical nurse with a plastic surgeon and as a substitute school nurse. She has had the experience of being a partner/co-owner in a biological and infectious substance training company. More recently she has enjoyed working as a birth doula. Margaret has had the pleasure of visiting Haiti and Guatemala on a number of medical mission trips. She is now extremely happy to have the opportunity to work at the Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank where her passion of working with young women can continue. She is the proud mother of two grown daughters, and grandmother of one grandson.

Cyndy Verardi, BS, CLC
Director of Operations

Cyndy earned her Chemistry degree from Allegheny College in Meadville, PA. She worked 12 years in the paint industry and co-authored two patents before choosing to stay home to raise her family. Having breastfed all five of her children, including her twins, she came to truly appreciate the importance of breast milk when her youngest was born. Six weeks premature, he spent time in the NICU as well as additional hospitalizations and was later diagnosed with a rare thyroid condition and as a type 1 diabetic. Cyndy credits breast milk and his endocrinologists’ brilliance with saving his life.

“I am honored to now be in a position to facilitate the sharing of this life-saving gift with our most vulnerable, medically fragile babies”

Hope Logghe, IBCLC, CD(DONA), LMT
Donor Screener

Hope is a board-certified lactation consultant and a La Leche League Leader, as well as a doula and massage therapist. She studied health sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz before embarking on her career working in the world of maternal child health. Prior to working at the Milk Bank, she worked at a nonprofit in rural Northern New Mexico coordinating a community-based doula program. As a mother who has experienced the loss of an infant, Hope wants to be available to families who are bereaved. She lives in Squirrel Hill with her husband and their daughter and son. She feels very lucky to work for such an important cause alongside a wonderful team at the Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank.

Koehler Powell, B.A
DONOR MILK PROGRAM ASSOCIATE

Koehler is starting off her post-baccalaureate career at the Milk Bank. Brought to us through PULSE, a community and leadership directed program that partners university graduates with Pittsburgh nonprofits, she helps with the day-to-day duties of the Milk Bank, community outreach, and is starting up our milk research program.

Koehler graduated from Carleton College with a Bachelor of Arts in biology with a focus on women’s studies. Koehler is passionate about women’s issues and hopes to pursue a career in the reproductive health field, making the Milk Bank a perfect fit for her.

Outside of her work at the Milk Bank, Koehler is deeply involved in sexual violence advocacy and enjoys photography, creative writing, and teaching herself how to cook.

Ellen Rubin, MA, IBCLC
Donor Screener

For over two decades, Ellen Rubin’s professional focus has been on providing support to women and families. After completing a Bachelor of Science in psychology at The College of William and Mary, she earned her Master of Arts in agency counseling at Rhode Island College.

Ellen attributes her own positive breastfeeding experiences to the expert assistance she received from lactation consultants and La Leche League, a mother-to-mother breastfeeding support organization. This assistance was instrumental in her decision to become a volunteer La Leche League leader and earn certification as a lactation consultant.

Ellen and her husband, Jonathan, have two sons. In addition to providing breastfeeding support, Ellen enjoys spending time with her family, baking, and reading. She stays active in her community through a variety of volunteer positions.

Amanda White, BS, RN
Donor Screener

Amanda earned her degree in Biology from Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA. She then earned her RN from UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing and worked as a neurosurgical nurse. While pregnant with her third child, she fulfilled a long-time dream and began working as a birth doula. Amanda and her husband live in Avalon with their three daughters, two dogs and two cats.

Amanda is thrilled to combine her backgrounds in health, science and birth-work into a cohesive position at the Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank.

SaraVins Bobish
Business Manager

Sara began her career as a labor and employment attorney and then worked as an editor at a legal publishing company. After giving birth to her two children, she focused on community volunteering. She was privileged to serve as the co-leader of the International Cesarean Awareness Network of Southwestern PA for three years, where she helped to support, educate, and advocate for mothers.

Sara studied history at the University of Maryland before earning a Juris Doctor from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. She loves her adopted city of Pittsburgh and is very happy to be part of the amazing Milk Bank team. She enjoys reading and cooking, and she lives with her family in Highland Park.

Kit Stookey
PULSE Fellow

Kit is working with Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank through the PULSE Pittsburgh Program, an organization that matches recent graduates with local nonprofits for a year of service and learning. As the PULSE Fellow, Kit assists with the day-to-day operations of the milk bank and is working to develop a robust volunteer program. Additionally, Kit seeks to de-mystify the process of milk donation by producing informational podcasts and videos.

Kit graduated from St. Olaf College with a degree in English and Women’s and Gender Studies with a concentration in Media Studies. She is excited to share the importance of milk banking to the world. Kit spends her free time devouring books, relearning how to ride a bike, and participating in LGBTQ advocacy.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Stephanie (Kendra) Ardell, MD, Neonatologist, Lancaster General
Mackenzie Baird, Esq., Counsel, Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, PC
Kelley L. Baumgartel, RN, BSN, PhD, Assistant Professor, Duquesne University, School of Nursing
Debra Bogen, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Medical Director
Beverly Curtis, MSN, PNP-BC, IBCLC, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Keystone Health
Jessica Devido, MSN, PhD, CPNP, Assistant Professor, Duquesne University Secretary
Jill Demirci, PhD, RN, IBCLC, Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh, School of Nursing
Josette Fitzgibbons, Mainstreets/Elm Street Coordinator, URA Vice President
Brian Fuller, Sr. Financial Analyst, UPMC
Kelly Kennedy, CRPC, Partner, FamilyWealth Management Group
Nicholas Kennedy, CFP, CRPC, Partner, FamilyWealth Management Group
Jen Kloesz, MD,Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Medical Director, Magee-Women’s Hospital NICU
Pamela Koerner, Pharm.D., Asst. Professor, Duquesne University, School of Pharmacy
Jan Mallak, 2LAS, AdvCD-BDT(DONA), Founder/Executive Director, “Heart & Hands” Doula Service
Nora Peace, Esq., Partner, Olds, Russ, Marquette & Peace
Jeff Sarabok, RN, MBA, Manager, St. Clair Hospital President
Gmerice Welch, Business Service Supervisor, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

OUR MEDICAL ADVISORY BOARD

Abeer Azzuqa, MD, Neonatology, Magee-Women’s Hospital
Beverly Brozanski, MD, Director, NICU Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
Kim Costello, DO, Director, Neonatology, St. Luke’s Health Network
Kathy Donahue, MSN, RNC-OB, IBCLC, Director, Maternal-Child Services, Doylestown Hospital
Nilima Karamchandani, MD, retired Director, NICU, West Penn Hospital
Judith Martin, MD, Infectious Disease Specialist, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
Melissa Riley, MD, Associate Director, NICU, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
Margaret Wasser, RN, IBCLC, RICN Conemaugh Health System