Board of Directors
Ambyr Amen-Ra, MA
Ambyr is passionate about breastfeeding and has breastfed 3 babies in 6 years. She is glad that she is able to freely feed her babies. As a mother, Ambyr recognizes the importance of supporting the normalization of breastfeeding EVERYWHERE for EVERY mom. As an African-American mom, she supports MIBFN’s initiatives to promote the inclusiveness of black and brown moms and support their desire to breastfeed. Ambyr advocates for attachment and natural parenting. Ambyr educates parents on the benefits of using cloth diapers and hosts The Loss Mama Sanctuary: a session that creates a safe space for mothers who have lost babies to work through their grief. After her losses, Ambyr discovered the bond she shared with her rainbow babies during breastfeeding sessions helped minimize her grief. Ambyr has spent the last 10 years at the University of Michigan where she currently manages an archive for researchers and policymakers interested in Early Care and Education Data.
Stan Bien, MPA
Stan Bien worked in the Public Health field for over 40 years, most recently as the Michigan WIC Director and as a member of the NWICA Executive Board, making breastfeeding support and promotion one of his top priorities. Stan knows the powerful health benefits breastfeeding has on mothers, babies, and families. He graduated from Ferris State University with a B.S. in Accounting and minor in Economics, M.P.A. from Western Michigan University, was selected and completed the Public Health Leadership Development Program at the Michigan Public Health Institute. Stan and his wife Jeannie have three grown children and enjoy skiing, fishing, camping, walking, golf, traveling, and anything outdoors.
Elon Geffrard, BS, CLC, ICCE
Elon Geffrard, BS, CLC, ICCE is a graduate of Michigan State University and has worked in public health for over 5 years. She became a DONA trained birth doula in 2016 and Certified Lactation Consultant through her work as a home visitor. Elon saw gaps in support for the expectant clients she saw in the home visiting setting with immediate and trusted lactation support. As a result of this direct contact she saw an increase in initiation and duration of breastfeeding and human milk expression for her clients. As a result of engaging with women in her community, Elon grew passionate about creating a supportive “village” for expectant and new families. She provides community and private doula/lactation consultation services. She provides home visiting services within 24-48 hours to women who have normal lactation concerns and is currently providing doula support to incarcerated laboring persons. She joins the MIBFN Board of Directors with a recognition and passion of the collaborative power of this coalition and its ability to actualize change for the health of all Michigan families, especially those who’ve been pushed to the margins by systems of oppression and inequity.
Lonias Gilmore, MPH
Lonias is a mission-driven public health practitioner. Her current role is as Childhood Obesity Prevention Specialist at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Since 2011, her work has focused on the development, implementation and evaluation of initiatives that improve nutrition and increase physical activity among Michigan children. Lonias also provides consultation and technical assistance nationally to coalitions, workgroups, statewide partners, and community organizations on strategies to improve childhood outcomes. Her first opportunity to partner with the Michigan Breastfeeding Network was through the Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan Coalition, identifying breastfeeding support policy priorities. That was only the beginning of a strategic partnership and a shared vision of barrier-free breastfeeding for Michigan women and babies. Her professional mission is to pursue social justice in health; to prevent and reduce health disparities and disparities in childhood outcomes. Her passion for breastfeeding is rooted in the science that proves human milk is the clinical gold standard for infant feeding and in the belief that health promoting behaviors and nutrition are more consequential for communities with poor health trends and for people who are vulnerable to poor health status and outcomes, especially Black women and other women of color. Lonias enjoys good food, good company and traveling the world.
Ellen Lassiter Collier, MA
Ellen is thrilled to be joining the MIBFN Board as it brings together personal experiences and passions with her professional work. She is a mom of two, one self-weaned at 2 and the other is going strong at 9 months. As a full-time career mama, she has navigated all of the challenges that come with pumping, and also has donated to other moms as well as the local milk bank. Breastfeeding has been a central part of her life for the last 3 years. She has been connected with local breastfeeding groups throughout her journey and is excited to do the same on the state level. Professionally, she has spent her career advocating for equity. She is currently the Director of Gender Equity at Kalamazoo College and works every day to address issues of gender-based discrimination and violence. As a white woman, she has also committed to doing her own work in order to eliminate structural racism, create anti-racist communities, and parent in an anti-racist manner. The work never ends, but she continues to engage in spaces that allow her to be self-reflective, further understand power dynamics, and interrupt racist practices. She has a BS and MA in History from Northeastern University and is completing a PhD in Higher Education Administration at Bowling Green State University. Her dissertation focuses on the experiences of undergraduate student mothers, where breastfeeding access and support is a major theme.
Kristine M. Maki, LLMSW, CPST
Kristine is an Ojibwe member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in the Upper Peninsula. As a Clinical Social Worker and Team Leader at U.P. Kids in the Families UPward Program, parent-child attachments and prevention are an important focus. She has worked in community health for six years and hopes breastfeeding will become the norm again not only for her indigenous community but for all families. Breastfeeding has always played an important role in her life and she is excited to be a part of MIBFN to help with system change and the continuation of the normalization of breastfeeding. She has four sons at home in a supportive partnership and is currently breastfeeding her youngest. To build a breastfeeding support within her local community, and with the help of the WIC Program, Kristine began a local Breastfeeding Support Circle with monthly face-to-face gatherings in hopes to create local breastfeeding support policies. Kristine’s other interests include crafting of any kind, quilting, outdoor activities, reading, and the occasional video game with a chai latte.
Bethany Moody, RN, MSN, CNM
Bethany is a traditional woman of the Eagle Clan. She is both Shawnee and Potawatomi Descendent. She is an indigenous midwife and has caught 1326 new little ones in their arrival into their physical journey. She is Kokumtha/Nokomis/Grandmother of 6 grandchildren. She was one of two Native American Consultants for Boston Medical College for the CHAMPS Project and the Breastfeeding in Indian Country Coalition. She currently is the traditional birthways and breastfeeding consultant for Inter-tribal Council of Michigan Healthy Start program as well as a part of the Asabike Coalition to advanced indigenous prenatal health care in Michigan. Beth was instrumental in setting the stage for Breastfeeding Tents at local powwow, which provide light, nutritious snacks and water to mommas in a quiet and relaxing space. This was the start of state wide tents happening at indigenous community events. Along with that she wrote the policies and procedures for breastfeeding breaks at local casinos and reservation governments which spearheaded lactation areas as well. She has worked tirelessly with Elder grandmothers and grandfathers around the Great Lakes area learning all she can regarding teachings and lifeways of our mommas and babies. She has given workshops on cradleboards and mossbags from Detroit to Minnesota. Her interests focus on providing cultural, nutritional, breastfeeding, and traditional parenting life ways to all Anishnaabek communities. “I breastfed all three of my children in the 80s when it still was not “popular”. They are now all parents and even my sons encourage and support their wives during the breastfeeding stages.” Along with this on a very personal note, Beth was gifted a dream about the interconnectedness of breastfeeding, breast cancer, and domestic violence. This dream was freely given and is the foundation used at all Safe Sleep presentations on reservations throughout Michigan. Within these workshop presentations, women are able to make Breastfeeding Awareness shawls which are a beautiful colostrum yellow color. “The work is vital to restoring our indigenous cultural lifeways of feeding our babies their first traditional foods and the foundation for food sovereignty.”
Cierra Pfotenhauer, MS, RD, IBCLC
Cierra’s passion for breastfeeding was born from her work with the WIC program. Her desire to support breastfeeding mothers inspired her to become an IBCLC. She is passionate about eliminating barriers to breastfeeding, particularly for mothers of color. She is an active member in the Berrien County Breastfeeding Coalition. She is a wife and mother to a son who she is currently breastfeeding. In her spare time, Cierra enjoys food and travel.
Natosha Sage-El, IBCLC
Natosha is passionate about breastfeeding because she loves to help families navigate through those beginning parental choices families are making before their family grows. She wants all moms to breastfeed but also realizes that each family has to figure out what works for them and this is what drives her work, helping them get to the end of the road. Natosha has worked as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for the Ingham County WIC program since June 2015. She has been a CLC since August 2015 and currently working towards her IBCLC. Natosha works for a private lactation clinic as well, Next Generation Lactation Clinic and teaches classes with Expectant Parents Organization. She still makes time to help facilitate the Capital Area Baby Café and the Black Breastfeeding Sisterhood. Natosha decided to serve with the MIBFN because she is passionate about the work and reaching moms throughout the state of Michigan and supporting different causes. Natosha has two boys who are full of energy. She also volunteers with Willow Tree Family Center and enjoys helping organize events throughout the year.
Lisa Sommer King
Lisa discovered the Michigan Breastfeeding Network in 2012 as a first-time mom looking for resources to help her employer establish its first maternity leave and breastfeeding in the workplace policy. Though it was nerve wracking to be the first employee to need and utilize these benefits, Lisa recognized the trail she was blazing for future employees. The process invigorated her and she soon asked to volunteer with the MIBFN, putting her nonprofit communication skills to work supporting an advocacy day effort, writing and distributing the newsletter, and supporting social media needs. Additionally, as a first-time mom learning the realities of breastfeeding at home and in public, she helped organize a nurse-in at her local Target after a local mother was asked to stop breastfeeding in public. Because of her advocacy efforts and dedication to helping more employers understand breastfeeding laws and her more than 13 years’ experience as a nonprofit communications processional, Lisa was asked to join the MIBFN Board of Directors in 2014. Currently, Lisa directs communication efforts for the American College Application Campaign through ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University where she studied integrative public relations and public affairs. She lives in East Lansing with her husband and three young children.
Julie Lothamer, MS, RD, IBCLC
Julie Lothamer started as a dietitian in the Michigan WIC program In 1996 but she lacked the resources needed to support her breastfeeding clients and began to seek out opportunities to learn more about breastfeeding. MIBFN provided both the knowledge and mentorship she was seeking. As her passion for breastfeeding grew, Julie was empowered to become an IBCLC, providing a much needed service to WIC mothers. As a member of the board of directors, she aims to link MIBFN with the State of Michigan public health programs.
Raeanne Madison, MPH
Raeanne Madison, MPH, is a Crane Clan citizen of the Ojibwe nation and also carries Mexikatl (Nahua) and Dutch ancestry. Raeanne has dedicated over a decade of service to working with families of newborns in the realms of pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting. A natural teacher and practicing postpartum doula, Raeanne has helped develop several innovative curricula on American Indian health, and has had the honor to teach thousands of community members, professional staff, and elected officials about Indigenous health disparities and opportunities. Raeanne is a Board Member of the Michigan Breastfeeding Network and also serves a governor-appointed position on the Executive Committee of the Early Childhood Investment Corporation.
Gayle Shipp, PhD, PHP, CLS
Gayle’s passion for breastfeeding blossomed while working at WIC as a Nutrition Educator; educating and encouraging mothers to give their baby a healthy start that would last a lifetime. Her passion and interest grew further as her knowledge and awareness increased around existing systemic and structural barriers especially within the African American community impeding a mother’s ability to breastfeed. Gayle is now a PhD (c) in Human Nutrition also completing Dietetic requirements at Michigan State University and a recipient of Robert Wood Johnson’s Foundation’s Health Policy Research Scholars program. Gayle’s research is currently focused on understanding modifiable factors that influence breastfeeding outcomes with African American women. Gayle became a board member with MIBFN because this will give her an opportunity to stay connected with breastfeeding communities to work towards building a more supportive culture while removing societal barriers to breastfeeding success. Gayle is a mother of a beautiful daughter, which they enjoy spending their time traveling and with family and friends.
Staff & Projects Team
Shannon McKenney Shubert, MPH, CLC
Shannon is passionate about serving alongside families and lactation supporters, who give everything they can, doing their best for each child, while navigating systems that undervalue mothers and their breast milk. These families and their supporters fuel her desire to dismantle structural roadblocks and cultivate new systems that put breastfeeding success within reach, without the extraordinary privilege and sacrifices currently required. She has served as a breastfeeding educator, trainer, policy advocate, local coalition leader, emerging program developer, and representative to USBC for the midwest region. She joined the MIBFN team as Project Manager in 2015 and became Executive Director in 2018. Shannon, her husband, and two children usually spend their weekends making art projects, playing with their dogs, and enjoying time with friends.
Gi’Anna joined the MIBFN team mid 2018 as an Implementation Specialist and her role quickly transitioned to Operations. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics: Actuary Science. She cares so much about breastfeeding because it sets the foundation for lifelong, healthy and nutritious habits. Gi’Anna loves her role as Operations Manager with MIBFN, because it allows her to combine her love of Mathematics with her passion for breastfeeding equity and activism. She is mom to a six year old daughter, which drives her passion to ensure that all moms have access to the tools they need in order to be successful in their breastfeeding journey.
Jennifer Day, IBCLC
Jennifer Day, IBCLC is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She started her role with MIBFN formerly as a Board Member and transitioned to the Project’s Team in 2018, now serving as the 310 Connect Project Manager. The married mother of two happy, healthy, breastfed children has committed herself toward decreasing disparity gaps in breastfeeding by educating the public, using her voice and platforms, serving her community and, most recently, offering Pathway 3 IBCLC Mentorship for aspiring IBCLC’s, equipping and empowering future trailblazers to change the world. She is a leader, public speaker, consultant, clinician, advocate, and educator. She, her husband and two children reside in the Metro-Detroit area.
Caty Jolley, CD (BAI)
Caty began her professional interest in breastfeeding within her role as a birth doula in 2014, and this passion for educating and supporting families drew her to the Michigan Breastfeeding Network team in the summer of 2018, where she could be involved in an organization that reaches more people and strives to create a more breastfeeding-supportive culture. With MIBFN, she serves as a project assistant focusing on the monthly Great Lakes Breastfeeding Webinars and enjoys not only helping to provide these educational opportunities but also learning from them. At home in mid-Michigan, Caty is a wife to her high school sweetheart and the mother of three children ages 5 and under. Their favorite pastime is to get together with extended family who lives nearby and enjoy the chaos of children running around together while the adults chat.
Kaitlyn Bowen, MS, RD, LDN
Communications and Data Manager
Kaitlyn has been with MIBFN since 2015. Kaitlyn’s work with MIBFN combines her passion for breast milk is the perfect nutrition for little ones and her belief that education = power. Kaitlyn has served in a variety of roles within MIBFN including Implementation Specialist, Project Manager on the Great Lakes Breastfeeding Webinars and Quarterly Network Meetings, Interim Communications Manager, and now as Communications and Data Manager. Kaitlyn is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan. She graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and a Master of Science in human nutrition and is a registered dietitian. In her spare time, she loves to run, bake, and listen to podcasts.
Vicki Wood, CLC
Vicki has been with MIBFN since December 2017. As the child of a La Leche League Leader, she has been passionate about breastfeeding for as long as she can remember and had the privilege to breastfeed her daughter and two sons. Her role at MIBFN brings together her work as a WIC Peer Counselor and her training as a writer, researcher, and editor. Vicki lives in Marquette, MI with her husband, three children, and dog on the shores of Lake Superior.