Meet Our Team

Click each of the tabs below to meet all the fantastic people who keep the Breastfeeding Center running and support families in the DC area!

Lactation Consultants

 Amber AllgaierAmber Allgaier

Amber Allgaier, BA, PCD(DONA), IBCLC, is a certified postpartum doula, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and mother of four.  She understands the needs of the new mother and enjoys the privilege of offering skilled support to new and experienced parents during this time of transition.  She has worked professionally with new families since 2008 and specializes in latch, positioning, slow weight gain, and low milk supply.

 

Leslie Axelrod

Leslie D. Axelrod, MS, RD, IBCLC, has worked in the field of Maternal and Child health for the past 20 years.  She has been a certified Lactation Consultant since 2004.  During her career she worked as a pediatric dietitian at the Mayfair Medical Association.   She was also a nutrition educator and worked with a culturally diverse population for the Fairfax County Health Department in the Women, Infants and Children Program.  Leslie’s calm spirit and confidence building attitude make her an effective Lactation Consultant.  She enjoys her practice and welcomes follow up conversations with her clients.

Gina Boling

Gina Boling, BA, IBCLC, truly embodies the term “multi-tasker.”  She has three children and spends most of her free time attending their various sporting events, scouting activities and volunteering at school.  Gina began helping breastfeeding moms and babies as a volunteer counselor in 2004 and later formalized her training, completing her clinical practice hours under BCGW’s Pat Shelly and at a local hospital. As a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Gina enjoys working with moms and babies of all ages–from newborn to toddler.  In addition to meeting with breastfeeding families one-on-one, Gina also teaches the Center’s popular Breastfeeding Basics for Fathers and Partners and Breastfeeding Your Toddler.

Laura EmmonsLaura Emmons

Laura Emmons, RN, CNM, IBCLC, has been working with pregnant, laboring, and breastfeeding moms since 1990. She has “caught” (delivered) over 2000 babies in her career as a nurse-midwife, most recently at GW Hospital. She now loves focusing her attention solely on helping moms during the amazing but challenging postpartum period. Breastfeeding is a normal and natural process, but like birth, can benefit from extra support along the way, and can sometimes require expert help.  Laura benefitted from the assistance of an IBCLC after the birth of her first child, and she knows what it feels like to be overwhelmed when your baby is struggling to feed. Laura especially enjoys working with newborns. She lives with her husband and their two entertaining teenagers.

Jenna ForesterJenna Forester

Jenna Forester RN, BSN, IBCLC has been working in the field of women’s health since 2009.  Upon graduating nursing school, she started her career in Labor and Delivery nursing, eventually moving to an OB/GYN office to help care for all aspects of women’s healthcare.  She was brought to the lactation field after breastfeeding her oldest daughter and seeing how much of breastfeeding is having a good knowledgeable support system and desiring to be that for other women. She enjoys helping women find the joy in breastfeeding as well as being a support to them through their entire breastfeeding journey, no matter how long that may be. Jenna lives with her husband, and two daughters.

 

Tamika Harris

Tamika Harris, IBCLC, RLC is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and WIC Breastfeeding Counselor. She is skilled in early childhood development, maternal-infant health and the science of human lactation. Tamika volunteers her time to teach breastfeeding classes to pregnant people and their families and leads a mother-to-mother breastfeeding support group. She is Co-Secretary of the D.C. Breastfeeding Coalition, serves on the Breastfeeding USA Board of Directors, and is a member of the National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color, the Virginia Breastfeeding Coalition and the United States Breastfeeding Committee. Tamika is passionate about every person’s right to provide human milk to their child and is a staunch advocate for public policies that eliminate barriers to successful breastfeeding in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan community.

 

Isabela LessaIsabela Lessa

Isabela Lessa, MPH, IBCLC, first earned her bachelor’s in Psychology at the University of Maryland and then went on to earn her Master’s in Public Health, with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health, at the George Washington University. There she developed an interest in breastfeeding, which became the topic of her masters’ thesis. After becoming a mother and experiencing her own breastfeeding struggles she joined La Leche League where she found help for herself, and soon discovered that she also enjoyed helping other mothers. She then went on to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She values evidence based practices and believes empathy and active listening are the bedrock of a successful consult. In her spare time she enjoys playing with her vivacious preschooler and sewing.

Maureen LopinaMaureen Lopina

Maureen Lopina, BA, IBCLC, has served growing families since 1991.  She was a Bradley Method childbirth educator for 13 years in Northern Virginia; has been accredited since 1993 as a La Leche League Leader, and was board certified as a Lactation Consultant in 2002.  She has trained staff from hospitals in both DC and Virginia in becoming “Baby Friendly.”  Never one to shy away from her passion, Maureen has advocated for breastfeeding at the local, state, and national level, but she is most satisfied when teaching and working with new mothers and babies. She has a daughter and two sons, all grown, and all happily breastfed. Maureen considers it a joy and an honor for her to support mothers at this crucial time in their lives.

Nancy MallinNancy Mallin

Nancy Mallin, MA, IBCLC is passionate about helping mothers meet their personal breastfeeding goals in real world situations.  She began counseling nursing mothers in 1997 through La Leche League.  Leading Mother-to-mother support groups in suburban Maryland gives her a strong appreciation of breastfeeding behavior from the newborn period through toddlerhood and the pre-school years. Before motherhood led Nancy to breastfeeding, she enjoyed a career in Public Communications with experience in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors.  When not reading, teaching, talking and thinking about breastfeeding Nancy is most likely to be singing.  She performs with several local groups.  She lives in Maryland with her husband, Monte; their two children; and a fuzzy dog, Kizmet.

 

Torey PotterTorey Potter

Torey Potter RN, BSN, IBCLC has been in the field of Maternal Child Health since 2002. After graduating from nursing school she worked in High Risk Obstetrics at a large hospital in Arizona. Upon moving to Washington, DC in 2005, she continued her career in Labor and Delivery at GW Hospital. She became more interested in the specialty of lactation after visiting the Breastfeeding Center as a client after the birth of her first son in 2006. She especially enjoys helping new families navigate challenges in the early days and weeks of parenthood and breastfeeding. She lives in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of  DC and enjoys hiking, cooking, and travelling with her husband and two energetic sons (and their dog, Ollie).

Pat ShellyPat Shelly

Pat Shelly, RN, MS, IBCLC, founded the Breastfeeding Center in 1998. After working as a hospital breastfeeding program coordinator and running her own private practice for several years, Pat founded the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington  in order to expand the scope of breastfeeding-related services in a centralized location. After 20 years at the center, Pat Shelly is enjoying retirement and time with her beautiful granddaughter. She remains as a  business consultant to the Breastfeeding Center.

 

 Cheryl ZimmerCheryl Zimmer

Cheryl Zimmer, RN, IBCLC has worked with mothers and infants for 15 years in a hospital setting, including NICU preemies, late preterm infants, and infants that are small for their gestational age. She is a registered nurse and lactation consultant at George Washington University Hospital, specializing in the unique needs of premature and critically ill infants and mothers lactation needs. She actively supports families in need of lactation support with high-risk infants who experience nutritional challenges but enjoys helping and encouraging all new mothers to breastfeed their babies. She lives in DC with her husband, two children and Chinese Shar Pei, Einstein.

Margaret WillsMargaret Wills

Bio to come.

Staff

Gina Caruso caruso cropped
Executive Director

Gina has worked with the Breastfeeding Center since 2007 and is currently the Deputy Director for Breastfeeding Outreach for Greater Washington, our nonprofit arm. She oversees daily operations at The Center, manages the administrative staff, monitors and evaluates the success of programs and plans expansions of The Center’s services. In her free time, Gina loves exploring DC’s museums and parks, experimenting with new recipes and practicing or teaching yoga at Yoga District. She lives in Baltimore with her two cats.

 
shamp croppedKatie Shamp
Shop Manager

Katie started work at the Center in Fall 2012. She brings to the table years of nonprofit and retail experience. All of our breastfeeding products and apparel are carefully chosen by Katie to ensure the highest quality possible. Katie enjoys vegan cooking and running.

 

 

Natasha Dodge
Program Coordinator

Bio coming soon!

 

 

Beth Goldberg
Administrative Coordinator

Bio coming soon!

Class Instructors

Classes are offered by Breastfeeding Outreach for Greater Washington.

proctor croppedHannah Proctor – Cloth Diapering Basics

Hannah Proctor is a birth doula and parenting educator serving the DC Metro area as well as Central Florida.  She is the mother of two rambunctious boys and a happy little girl, who was born peacefully at home in November 2013.

Trained as a doula with DONA in 2012, certified with Catholic Doula Program in 2015, and affiliated with Birthing From Within since 2016, Hannah’s calling is affirming women, both inside the birthing room and out. As a doula and educator, she assists clients and students by offering education with solid, research-based answers to questions, backed up by experience and hands-on practical wisdom. She has attended births at almost all the major DC Metro hospitals, and has taught workshops and classes all over the DMV area, both privately and in group settings. Hannah is passionate about cloth diapers, baby-wearing, vernix, placentas, peaceful parenting, and Ice Cream Jubilee’s Thai Iced Tea ice cream.

 

 Gina Boling – Breastfeeding for Fathers and Partnersboling cropped

Gina Boling, BA, IBCLC, truly embodies the term “multi-tasker.”  She has three children and spends most of her free time attending their various sporting events, scouting activities and volunteering at school.  Gina began helping breastfeeding moms and babies as a volunteer counselor in 2004 and later formalized her training, completing her clinical practice hours under BCGW’s Pat Shelly and at a local hospital. As a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Gina enjoys working with moms and babies of all ages–from newborn to toddler.

 

Margaret Wills – Breastfeeding the Infantwills cropped

Bio to come.

 

 

 

Maureen Lopina – 0-4 Month Group

Maureen Lopina, BA, IBCLC, has served growing families since 1991.  She was a Bradley Method childbirth educator for 13 years in Northern Virginia; has been accredited since 1993 as a La Leche League Leader, and was board certified as a Lactation Consultant in 2002.  She has trained staff from hospitals in both DC and Virginia in becoming “Baby Friendly.”  Never one to shy away from her passion, Maureen has advocated for breastfeeding at the local, state, and national level, but she is most satisfied when teaching and working with new mothers and babies. She has a daughter and two sons, all grown, and all happily breastfed. Maureen considers it a joy and an honor for her to support mothers at this crucial time in their lives.

Amber Allgaier – Breastfeeding and Pumping Basicsallgaier crop

Amber Allgaier, BA, PCD(DONA), IBCLC, is a certified postpartum doula, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and mother of four.  She understands the needs of the new mother and enjoys the privilege of offering skilled support to new and experienced parents during this time of transition.  She has worked professionally with new families since 2008 and specializes in latch, positioning, slow weight gain, and low milk supply.

 

Jennifer Graham LMT, CIMT, CPMT – Infant Massage

Jennifer is a nationally certified licensed massage therapist in MD and DC, a Certified Pediatric Massage Therapist, as well as a Certified Infant Massage Teacher through the Liddle Kidz Foundation. Jennifer received her Associates Degree in Health Education from Montgomery College. In Jennifer’s private practice, Soft Shoulders Massage, she enjoys creating a nurturing environment for her clients and believes that feeling cared for will help them toward deeper relaxation and greater body awareness. Jennifer is currently building a new private practice that is specifically designed for pediatric clients. Jennifer is also trained in Touch Therapy for children diagnosed with cancer, as well as children with trauma. Jennifer loves helping introduce healthy touch to children of all ages and seeing the positive impact it can have on a child and their family. When not teaching, taking classes, or studying, she can be found learning to speak Dutch, preparing for her next traveling adventure, reading, or hiking. She lives in Maryland with her son, Gareth, her dog, Angus, and her cat, Reggie.

Lois Perks – Childbirth

Lois Perks, ProDoula CD Labor, CBE; Pre Certified P&ICD, PPS, has worked as a doula in the DC area since 2007.  Since 2014, she has taught childbirth classes at GW hospital, as well as privately in couples homes. Lois owns DC Doulas, an agency that provides childbirth education, labor and postpartum support, and placenta encapsulation to families in the DC Metro Area. One of her favorite things about teaching is helping parents discover tools to confidently navigate their childbirth experience. She lives on Capitol Hill with her husband and cat.

Laci Tang, PCD(DONA), CLC, CBE, is a certified postpartum doula, certified lactation counselor, and certified babywearing educator. She currently teaches our babywearing classes and is studying to complete her IBCLC. Laci loves sharing her passion for babywearing and helping new families adjust to parenthood in the postpartum period. When she is not studying or spending her time teaching classes, Laci likes to read, hike, and explore Washington, D.C. Laci lives in Virginia with her husband and their very busy toddler who is still happily breastfeeding.

 

Shelly Matthews has been a childbirth educator for over 15 years and enjoys giving expectant families an educational, interactive and balanced approach to learning in her one day Lamaze Prepared Childbirth Classes.  She reads regularly to keep current with changes in birth practices, likes to sprinkle her classes with a bit of humor and makes sure to leave time for practice sessions and questions. Shelly’s “other job” is being a full time school teacher and she resides in Bowie, MD with her family.

 

 

Heather Delaney

Heather Delaney (CD DONA, HBHC, CCBE) is a professionally certified labor and postpartum doula and childbirth educator. Having assisted well over 200 families in their birth experience, her pragmatic and informational approach to birth is fun and relaxing! Additionally, she enjoys assisting families as a baby and maternity concierge, as a baby gear expert through Baby Planning, Inc. She is the owner and operator of Maryland State Doulas and The Newborn Sleep Co., full service birth and baby agencies supporting families in the DMV. She is thrilled to work alongside the wonderful message and mission of The Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington! In her spare time, Heather enjoys reading and cross stitch, and adventuring with her three children, ages 6, 4 and 18 months, and educator husband of 10 years.

Board of Directors

The board oversees Breastfeeding Outreach for Greater Washington

Erin Darby
President

Erin is a newborn screening and genetics specialist with the Association of Public Health Laboratories. She first learned of the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington in 2014 during her work as a maternity health educator and subsequently completed a practicum with the center through George Mason University’s Master of Public Health program. Her background in public health and maternal education has fostered a passion for women’s health and normalizing breastfeeding. Erin joined the Board of Directors in 2017 and is committed to promoting the center’s work in providing breastfeeding and parenting support to families across the region. She currently lives in Silver Spring with her husband, Jason, and their rescue dog, Olive. They are expecting their first child in November 2019.

Alexa Bosley
Vice President

Alexa is a working mom who brings a diverse blend of almost 15 years of experience in the for-profit sector to our Board.  Over her career, she has held a variety of team leadership and customer-facing roles primarily in the Sales and Commercial Operations functions.  Her experience running many complex businesses with P&L and data/analytics responsibilities, combined with her passion and experience leading corporate Diversity & Inclusion work are expected to be great assets to our organization.

Alexa first learned of the center through various word-of-mouth recommendations when she moved to DC from NY in 2015 and was pregnant with her son.  She was impressed by how the center and its amazing team had left such a profoundly positive impact on so many and was excited to experience for herself!  No surprise, she also found great value in the quality and diversity of the many pre/post-natal classes, expert staff, 1:1 consultation sessions, and convenient retail available on-site (+ was thrilled to have her husband Rodrigo and son Niko also be able to join her for various classes).  While she soon found herself recommending the center to all of the new & expecting parent-friends she was meeting around the city, her desire to contribute at a much deeper level fueled her to join our board in 2018.

Mimi Hayward
Secretary

Mimi currently works as a Family Nurse Practitioner as a contractor for Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc providing support to The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the NIH. Previously, she worked in primary care in North Carolina and before that as an RN in downtown DC. She has Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Sociology from Virginia Tech, a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Georgetown and a Master’s in Nursing from Johns Hopkins. Mimi was first introduced to The Center after the birth of her son and credits the center and its consultants with the support she needed to have a positive breastfeeding relationship with her son for almost two years. Passionate about maternal/child health, serving on the Board of Directors has been a way for her to give back to the center and utilize her training in support of The Center’s goals. She joined the board in 2017. Mimi lives with her husband and son in Bethesda, MD where they take every opportunity to be active and outside.

 

Madi BakkerMadi Bakker

Bio coming soon.

 

 

 

Elisa Chen

Elisa is an Entrepreneur, Strategy Consultant, and Mom. She works with organizations to define growth strategies and enable greater social impact and innovation in the work they do. Working at the nexus of analytical and creative thinking, Elisa helps organizations define effective strategies with creative confidence employing design thinking principles at the heart of her work. With 12 years of experience, she has demonstrated expertise working with both private and nonprofit organizations in Strategy and Innovation Development and Business Transformation and Optimization. Additionally, Elisa is the Co-founder of MommyHelper, a first-ever maternity registry focused on services (e.g. food delivery, doulas, night nurses, etc.) that moms need and are critical to maternal well-being and family development. Elisa is also the Co-founder of Motherhood.Design, community of designers, moms, and maternal advocates to co-design innovative solutions for new moms and the ecosystems that surround them as they transition into the journey of motherhood. Elisa joined the Breastfeeding Center’s Board of Directors in 2018 and is committed to helping ensure all parents in the region have access to the much needed support the Center offers as parents undergo the wholly transformative experiences of welcoming new life into the world. She currently lives in Capitol Heights, MD with her husband, David, and daughter, Eleanor. Elisa earned her B.S. in Sociology and Managerial Studies from the Rice University.

Bianca Flokstra

Bianca Flokstra, one of the newest members of the board, is an international development professional with more than 10 years of non-profit experience in public grant program design, implementation and management. She currently serves as Director of the Food Security and Livelihoods, Program Quality and Impact team at World Vision US, where she manages a team of 6 Program Managers supporting a global portfolio of nutrition (including maternal and child health) food assistance, agriculture, livelihood, economic development, and environment – related projects. Prior to World Vision, Bianca has worked internationally with the US Peace Corps in Burkina Faso, focusing especially on women’s economic empowerment and also in Niger designing and managing public grants related to food and nutrition. Bianca was initially connected to the Breastfeeding Center while pregnant with her first child and now, with two children, has become passionate about extending the breastfeeding resources and services she received to all women who desire to breastfeed.

 

Morgan RogMorgan Rog

Bio coming soon.

 

 

 

Guest Instructors

Claire Bowe, M.Ed., PT, Cert. MDT

Claire has nearly 20 years of experience in healthcare. She is certified in Mechanical Diagnosis & Therapy (MDT) by the McKenzie Institute and is an Ergonomic Assessment Specialist under the United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Claire is certified to provide Active Release Techniques (ART) physical therapy and is an Ironman level partner and sponsor with ART.  Additionally she holds a master’s degree in Special Education with specialties in early intervention and teaching children who are blind or visually impaired. She has extensive experience in orthopedic therapy for athletes, is an expert in spine and back dysfunction, and in early intervention therapy for children. She has a B.S. from Oregon State University (Corvallis, Oregon), a Master’s in Education from the Portland State University (Portland, Oregon), and a Masters in Physical Therapy from the Governors State University (Chicago, Illinois). Claire Bowe, M.Ed., P.T., founded Rose Physical Therapy Group with the goal of providing a higher level of patient care. She believes in one-on-one therapy in which each therapist teams up with their respective clients to find an answer to the problem at hand. She believes in providing clients with state-of-the-art knowledge to help them recover. Outside of work, Claire enjoys hobbies that involve two wheels. She is an instructor for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and teaches courses for Northern Virginia Community College and Apex Cycle Education. She also enjoys endurance riding on her vintage Honda Goldwing and track riding on her Triumph Daytona. She is also an avid bicyclist and is a member of the D.C. Randonneurs and the Washington Area Bicycle Association (WABA). She and her husband live in Capitol Hill.

Student Interns

We are lucky to have The George Washington University just blocks from our office, which means we get to work with their fantastic students every semester. We have also hosted undergraduate and graduate interns from George Mason University and Marymount University. These student interns help the staff with everything from stocking the shop to improving classes to fundraising. We are so grateful for their hard work!

If you are a student interested in volunteering or interning with us please contact info@breastfeedingcenter.org.

Photos by Julie Kubal

Our office is CLOSED for Veterans Day, but Home-Visits are available: Click Here to Schedule
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