Black Founder’s Corner

Black Founder’s Corner

Many solutions to the alarming crisis in Black maternal-child-health are derived from one’s own experiential knowledge. Black founders and creators explain the ways that their companies, products, and innovations improve maternal-child-health outcomes.

Building a Model of Care that Reduces Maternal Mortality by Recognizing the Full Value of Lactation Consultants, Birthworkers and Allied Health Professionals

Melissa Hanna, JD, MBA Mahmee

TRACKS: Black Founder’s Corner; West; National

We’ve always known lactation consultants, birth workers and allied health professionals play a critical role in creating safe and joyous experiences for birthing people. We’ve also known that good perinatal care begins with adequately paying those professionals and recognizing their worth.

Since Mahmee was founded in 2014, co-founder and CEO, Melissa Hanna, has been navigating how to work with government agencies and payors in a way that uplifts maternal health professionals to deliver the kind of continuous, high quality care every patient deserves. Through this work, Melissa and her team quickly realized that many grant-funded, community-based models are not sustainable for the economic wellbeing of birth workers and allied health professionals, so they committed themselves to finding a better approach.

Now, Mahmee is partnering with health systems and payors nationwide to connect and empower maternal health professionals in the delivery of ongoing, tech-enabled care designed to reduce maternal mortality rates and increase equitable access, while ensuring frontline workers are recognized as valued members of the care team.

In this session, you will learn about the workforce that Mahmee is building and what the future holds for allied health professionals and birth workers through the eyes of the company’s founder. You will also learn how to leverage Mahmee’s integrated care delivery platform to streamline operations and build your professional referral network, while creating continuity and accessibility for underserved patients to improve patient engagement and health outcomes.

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Explain how Mahmee uplifts and empowers allied professionals and birth workers to recognize their full worth, and show how the company is building a united workforce to better serve patients in their perinatal journeys.
  2. Demonstrate the value of Mahmee’s integrated care delivery model in delivering streamlined, continuous care to improve maternal-child-health outcomes and build economic sustainability for allied health professionals.

Magical Milk: Why Representation Matters in Children’s Books

Nasheeda Pollard, MPH, IBCLC– Lactation Goddess

TRACKS: Black Founder’s Corner; Northeast

Magical Milk is a breastfeeding children’s book, a product designed to educate, share, and highlight Black families that breastfeed. This book aims to improve maternal and child health outcomes through educating children prior to conception. Oftentimes breast/chest feeding education begins during pregnancy with the idea that breastfeeding information will be learned prior to giving birth. Views and opinions about breastfeeding are influenced by one’s environment and what a person is exposed or not exposed to. Historically, many images of breastfeeding in American culture have not always reflected Black families.

Showing images of Black and Brown families breastfeeding is crucial for changing the narrative and creates opportunities for families and young children to see representation in images. 

The purpose of this presentation is to share why representation from an early age matters and why it’s important for the growth and development of young children through creating a culture around breastfeeding that will bridge gaps in education. Learning about breast/chest feeding during pregnancy is important as well as creating opportunities from preschool age that can foster learning and lay the foundation for breast/chest feeding education to be integrated through various points in the lifespan of an individual and can help address maternal and child health outcomes.

Learning Objectives: 

  1. To explore how imagery and representation impacts one’s outlook on breastfeeding.
  2. Explain how Magical Milk aims to improve breastfeeding outcomes.
  3. Identify how education throughout the lifespan can alter community acceptance of breastfeeding.

It Takes A Village

Emerald Clark, CBE – Team Pink – It Takes A Village

TRACKS: Black Founder’s Corner, Data, Research and Storytelling, Breastfeeding Groups and Peer Counseling; Midwest

Breastfeeding is the natural, biological way to feed infants. It has been the way infants have been fed for centuries. So, why are breastfeeding rates not higher amongst people of color? This presentation will identify the effects of slavery on black women breastfeeding, how social, economic, and racial disparities affect black women breastfeeding rates today, and what we can do as a collective to change this narrative.

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Identify barriers in the community that sways black women from breastfeeding.
  2. Explain how slavery still impacts black breastfeeding rates today.

Diversifying Birthwork, Improving Breastfeeding Outcomes

Esther McCant, CD, CLC, HBCE – Metro Mommy Agency

TRACKS: Black Founder’s Corner, Data, Research and Storytelling, Community-based Doulas; Southeast

How to increase breastfeeding rates by diversifying birth work amongst community-based doulas. 

PURPOSE: Birth outcomes and breastfeeding outcomes are largely connected and the work of doulas is often left out of the conversation about increasing breastfeeding rates. The limitations of some doulas to provide adequate breastfeeding support stem from a lack of continuing education, professional development, and mentorship to pursue lactation instruction as a means to improve infant health. I would like to highlight how going beyond the typical “serve one-parent/family at a time” model of birth work can benefit the doula and the community when it comes to breastfeeding. 

METHOD: Surveys from local birth workers and Metro Mommy Agency (MMA)’s previous clients will be completed to understand the role of the doula to increase breastfeeding outcomes.  Questions will center doulas and client understanding of community breastfeeding resources, community involvement, professional development resources utilized to care for families, stories of successes, lessons learned, and awareness of local community initiatives.

RESULTS: Pending case-study of MMA clients and doula survey results. Current data from  MMA show that more than 75% breastfeed beyond 6 months with high exclusivity. 

CONCLUSION:  We can increase breastfeeding rates by diversifying birth work amongst doulas. Integration into the maternal-child-health initiatives in South Florida through networking and diversifying birth work increased the org’s reach and experience in supporting families. Through attendance at community meetings, MMA had been able to stay in step with community initiatives, offering a unique insight to breastfeeding advocates and stakeholders to increase community education. MMA has been able to guide the conversation and create new means of support for mentees, increasing their skills at identifying breastfeeding issues, sharing resources, and outsourcing/referring out when necessary. 

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Identify 3 ways in which community-based doulas can increase breastfeeding within their community.
  2. State 3 actionable steps that community-based doulas can do to improve breastfeeding in the first 2 weeks of postpartum.
  3. Describe 3 ways that partnership and collaboration advance the goals of increasing breastfeeding in any community.

Black Founder’s Tale All

Kiddada Green, MAT & Monesha Woods, MA – Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association

TRACKS: Black Founder’s Corner; Midwest

Kiddada Green, founder and executive director of Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association digs deep into the intricacies of being a Black founder who is unwavering in her commitment to improve Black breastfeeding outcomes. From program development to non-profit executive, Green leans into both her personal and professional lived experiences to help others navigate the nuances of developing and executing successful programs.  She explains the value of transferable skills as she transitioned from the field of education to become a community organizer, MCH tech founder, innovator, advocate and maternal-child-health thought leader, now with more than 15 years of experience. When faced with adversity and naysayers, Green explains how she manages her emotions to stay focused on the goals at hand.  Green has forged local, state and national networks and partnerships to create more favorable Black breastfeeding outcomes. Green Tale’s All about her path to building a resilient and sustainable community organization serving Detroit and beyond. 

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Explain how to combine technical skills and professional knowledge to create breastfeeding programs.
  2. Describe ways to manage emotional intelligence when community organizing.
  3. State attributes of resilient leaders.