Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank: A labor of love
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 is a non-profit organization that improves the health and survival of medically vulnerable infants by providing pasteurized donor breast milk.

Who we serve

While Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank has served recipients from many areas of the United States, we are deeply committed to our regional needs, specifically the facilities and families of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Maryland.

Our history

In the summer of 2013, a group of Pittsburgh neonatologists, pediatricians, lactation consultants, nurses, pharmacists, and non-profit professionals met for the first time to discuss the possibility of opening a milk bank to improve Western Pennsylvania’s higher than average infant mortality rates. A founding Board of Directors was quickly formed, and on October 23, 2013 the organization was incorporated as Three Rivers Mothers’ Milk Bank. Over the next two years, the organization worked to fundraise nearly $1M to construct and equip a its lab. With the help of countless volunteers, individual donors, and the tremendous financial support of more than a dozen Pennsylvania foundations, the milk bank became accredited in December 2015 and opened its doors on January 4, 2016.

In August 2017, the organization changed its name to Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank to better reflect who we serve.

Accreditation

Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank is accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) and is licensed in the state of Maryland.

The milk bank is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit and all financial contributions are tax deductible.

Administrative Staff

Denise

Denise O’Connor, BS, IBCLC

Founder and Executive Director

Denise is a lactation consultant that has been working with nursing mothers and their infants for two decades. Denise earned her degree in neuroscience from The University of Pittsburgh and worked in cognitive rehabilitation prior to becoming a lactation consultant. 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 several start-up organizations.

Denise and her husband Robert, who often volunteers his time to the milk bank, have three grown children.

Sara

Sara Vins 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.

Lab Staff

Cyndy

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.”

Kaleigh

Kaleigh Herron

Donor Milk Program Associate

Kaleigh graduated from Juniata College with a degree in environmental economics. She began her post baccalaureate career with PULSE, a community and leadership directed program that partners university graduates with Pittsburgh nonprofits. Serving as the volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh, she fell in love with nonprofit work and Pittsburgh. She has also worked on campaigns with Food and Water Action to fight for environmental well-being and a healthy future for all.

Kaleigh helps with the day-to-day duties of the milk bank, and is involved in establishing our milk research program. When not at the milk bank, you can find her at local farmers markets working with Just Harvest to make fresh food accessible to everyone. Outside of work, Kaleigh enjoys swing dancing and is part of the Tartan and Panther Swing Group. She also plays the clarinet.

She is thrilled to be a part of the Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank team, continuing her career by helping others, and performing lifesaving work to optimize the health and well-being of vulnerable babies.

Bethany

Bethany Kaspryszyn

Lab Technician

While she has experience in a variety of lab settings, Bethany has found working at the milk bank to be the most fulfilling. She enjoys coming to work every day because she knows that she is not only helping the tiniest babies of our area thrive, but her work is impacting the well-being of the whole family.

Bethany is involved with all aspects of the milk bank lab from pooling milk to drug testing and macronutrient analysis. Currently, she is pursuing a degree in biotech and biology.

Bethany loves spending time with her son, Noah. Together, they have a passion for animals and are involved in animal rescue and even raising chickens on their little urban homestead. Gardening is another interest and Bethany is always looking for new things to grow.

Kit

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 a 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.

Screening

Margaret

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.

Hope

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.

Ellen

Ellen Rubin, MA, IBCLC

Donor Screener

For more than two decades, Ellen’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.

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, 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
Frank J. Nice, RPh, DPA, CPHP, President, Nice Breastfeeding LLC
Melissa Riley, MD, Associate Director, NICU, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
Margaret Wasser, RN, IBCLC, RICN Conemaugh Health System