From an early age, words have fascinated me. As a child, I struggled with a speech impediment and lost myself in reading books and writing poems. Finding my voice in a world where my spoken words often failed me gave me a keen sensibility about the nuances of communication. Today, I bring my unique understanding of the power of effective communication both in written and verbal platforms and my decades of experience as journalist to my passion for maternal and child health.
Iam on a mission: to question, challenge, disrupt and then reimagine how we talk about birth and breastfeeding and then breaking down the many structural barriers women face in these areas. The goal is a new conversation, a new motherhood experience and a counterculture movement in infant feeding that begins with how we communicate and ends with how we activate our collective power as women. As an award-winning journalist, author and a nationally recognized media commentator, consultant and advocate for breastfeeding and infant health, I leverage the power of words to transform thoughts, communities and ultimately our cultural norms. My consulting work helps non-profits, hospitals and public health-related organizations improve outcomes by creating messaging and communication that connects. Next up, a new book to be published by St. Martin’s Press this year, that reveals a groundbreaking look at the social, political and economic influences on the American breastfeeding landscape. All that, in between my most important job–mothering my wonderful two children.
In fact, it was my birth experience and early days of motherhood that inspired me to take on this journey. At the hospital, I felt disrespected and voiceless, weeks later I struggled to find support when all I wanted to do was give my baby the most nutritious first food possible. If that wasn’t enough, I suffered with post-partum depression. Like far too many women, I found myself lost in the gaping hole between the idyllic images of motherhood and breastfeeding and my own personal experience. I felt isolated and alone and vowed to make sure fewer women have to suffer the same fate. So here I am–sharing my journey with you and hoping that you share yours with me. Together, let’s make it an experience we can be proud of.
As a consultant, I have been honored to lead innovative projects that explore the impact of community environment as a social determinant of breastfeeding initiation and duration. I’ve walked through communities in New Orleans, Jackson, Mississippi and Birmingham, Alabama to explore the scope of what I call, “first food deserts”—communities that severely lack or have inaccessible resources to support mothers who choose to breastfeed. I’ve also walked the streets of the Upper East Side of New York City to better understand the structural barriers that all women, regardless of income, face when it comes to feeding their babies.
I’m particularly proud of being selected as IATP Food and Community Fellow in 2011 to do the important work of creating more awareness of the social and cultural barriers to breastfeeding in vulnerable communities.
These days, I’m excited about leading the First Food Friendly Community Initiative (3FCI), an innovative pilot project funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, designed to create multi-pronged community support for breastfeeding in communities of need.
Of course, nothing in my work even comes close to my most important role as mother to my two beautiful children. They inspire to be my best self and live my best life. It was my early days of motherhood, and my own personal struggles with breastfeeding that led me to ask myself, “Is this the best we can do for moms?” I knew something wasn’t right and I didn’t want other women to experience the anguish and isolation that I experienced. Years later, surviving divorce and embracing single motherhood helped me find my true inner strength and the courage to pursue my passion.
So that’s me in a nutshell: a life of overcoming obstacles, finding my voice and empowering mothers. Oh and p.s. as a Queens, New York native and a graduate of NYU and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, I rep New York City hard.
Wander the site and see what else you may discover about me.
- Honored to be a judge today for the @theNASEM @theNAMedicine #publichealth case challenge as 7 area universities pr… https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1185159590662623234
- @RepCummings always reminded me of my Daddy-a man who had lived through some real things in the South that would fo… https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1184794686436851713
- Good to know @raju! Hey everyone a FB Live! https://twitter.com/raju/status/1184496188147548164