Board of Directors

Board of Directors

President Carmen Rezak
Previous President/Fundraising Co-Chair Joan Ortiz
President Elect and Secretary Summer Bridges
Treasurer Stacey Armato
Fundraising Co-Chair Denise Parker
At Large Dr. Leila Yoonessi
At Large Rosemarie Cervantes
At Large Magdalene Whitman
At Large Taylor Dunham
At Large Linda Goldman

If interested in joining the board or have questions please email:  BFLABoard@gmail.com

Staff

Executive Director Arissa Palmer
Senior Program Manager –
Hospital & Healthcare
Cindy Young
Education Coordinator Inna Henry
Program Coordinator Erica Glinsky
Operations Program Coordinator  Megan Boehmer
Consultant –
Hospital & Healthcare
Susan Aldana

 

Board of Director Bios

 

Carmen Rezak
Carmen Rezak is a senior healthcare nurse leader with extensive expertise in Maternal-Child Health and a Women’s Healthcare Nurse Practitioner since 1988. She is a pioneer in leading hospitals promoting exclusive breastfeeding resulting in the Baby Friendly designation from the WHO/UNICEF of four hospitals, and the first hospital in Los Angeles County. She has been on the Board of BreastfeedLA since 2013 and is currently the Corporate Maternal-Child Health Quality Coordinator for AHMC Healthcare, Inc. She holds degrees in Human Development and Nursing and has recently completed her Masters of Jurisprudence in Health Law from Loyola University, Chicago, School of Law. Her expertise and focus is in evidence-based research, clinical education, policy development, advancing perinatal quality and safety and analytic data management.

 

Joan Ortiz RN, BSN, IBCLC
Joan Ortiz is a RN, BSN, IBCLC, Co – founder of Limerick and President of Limerick ’s Workplace Lactation Program. She is responsible for a comprehensive breastfeeding support model that has been proven effective in Limerick ’s Research Study published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing in 2004. As a result of feedback from thousands of working mothers, Joan and her co-founder and Mother, Patricia Kelly created PJ’s Comfort breast pump that features their revolutionary patented technology that truly mimics a baby’s natural nursing pattern. Her research titled “Airports in the United States: Are They Really Breastfeeding Friendly” published in Breastfeeding Medicine in 2014 is being sited to support legislation at both the federal and state level requiring airports to provide a private lactation room other than a bathroom for the breast pumping traveling mother. Joan received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Mount Saint Mary’s College in Los Angeles, California, is an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant, received her Certification as a Lactation Consultant (CLC) from UCLA, and Management Development for Entrepreneurs (MDE) from UCLA.

 


Stacey Armato J.D.
Stacey Armato is a mother of three children, wife of a local business owner, attorney, and city councilmember in the city of Hermosa Beach. She currently serves as the board treasurer for BreastfeedLA, chairperson for California Winemasters- benefitting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and is a member of the Parent Advisory Council for Mattel’s Children’s Hospital UCLA. In 2014, Stacey settled a high profile lawsuit against the TSA for harassment related to breast milk screening. As part of the settlement, the TSA re-wrote their breast milk policy and re-trained all TSA employees on the proper handling of breast milk. Stacey was also a co-founder and chairperson for Stop Hermosa Beach Oil- Keep Hermosa Hermosa, which was the grassroots effort that led the campaign to defeat an oil company proposing to drill in Hermosa Beach. Despite being outspent 20-1 and lawsuits by the oil company to stop opposition, 80% of the community voted against oil drilling on Election Day. Stacey was honored in 2017 as a “Woman of Distinction” from California Assembly District 66 by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, as California State Senate, 26th District 2015 “Woman of the Year” from Senator Ben Allen, and as Leadership Hermosa Beach’s 2015 “Emerging Leader of the Year.”

 


Denise Parker IBCLC
Denise Parker is an international board certified lactation consultant who retired from Kaiser Permanente in Southern California after 21 years. She has a degree in Human Development with a specialization in lactation from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena. Prior to becoming a professional lactation consultant she was a volunteer with La Leche League and served on the Southern California board of directors for 5 years. Helping mothers and babies to successfully breastfeed by providing direct patient care and advocating for system change and changes in our culture have been her passion.

 


Leila Yoonessi M.D., MPH
Dr. Leila Yoonessi is a pediatrician and pediatric pulmonologist in Long Beach, California. Dr. Yoonessi is the medical doctor at MY Pediatrics and Respiratory Care Clinic. Certified by the Board of Pediatrics and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Yoonessi has been practicing Pediatrics and Pediatric Pulmonary medicine in Long Beach for 4 years. She graduated cum laude in psychobiology with a minor in religious studies from Occidental College. She then studied at the University of Southern California where she earned Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in health care promotion. Upon completing her medical degree at New York Medical College, Dr. Yoonessi relocated to California to rejoin her family where she completed her pediatric residency at Los Angeles County University Southern California. She completed her pediatric pulmonary fellowship at the Miller Women and Children’s Hospital, Long Beach. Dr. Yoonessi is a part of the Miller Women and Children’s Hospital Long Beach and St Mary’s Medical Center pediatric departments. Her practice focuses on community empowerment and engagement, patient education, preventative medicine, and respiratory care. Her special interests include community advocacy, garden-based nutrition programs, holistic and integrative medicine, community partnerships, and non-profit work.

 


Rosemarie Cervantes MSN/Ed., RN
Rosemarie Cervantes has been a perinatal nurse for 25 years. She is currently the assistant unit manager for the mother baby unit at Miller Children’s and Women Hospital in Long Beach. She is also a senior advisor for Una Vita, which utilizes Lean Six Sigma to improve throughput and efficiency in the obstetrical unit. Rosemarie earned her associates degree from El Camino College. She earned her bachelors and masters degree from Western Governors University. Rosemarie is the Los Angeles chapter co-chair for the Association of Women’s Health Obstetrics and Neonatal Nursing (AWHONN). In 2012 Rosemarie was honored by the Southern Nevada’s March of Dimes Nurse of the Year for Women’s Health.


Maggie Whitman RN, IBCLC
Maggie Whitman is the mother of five and grandmother of 8, married 36 years to Donald Whitman. She is a Registered Nurse (RN) of 20 years; and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) for Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. She enjoys teaching RN staff, training new hires in Clinical Lactation, and of course, supporting new mothers and families. She also teaches prenatal childbirth education classes for Millers’ Children Hospital. She formerly worked 8 years at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood in postpartum care and served as their first RN, IBCLC designated to assist breastfeeding families on the postpartum units.
Maggie has also volunteered her service in the faith-based community for over 15 years providing health education and leadership in her role as health care ministry leader. She serves as leader in her local church, and concurrently as Health Professional President in the state organization. In this role, she oversees the health agenda for the Central California District Council 16″B” Episcopal District of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW), Inc.; and manages the volunteer nursing staff for three to four state conferences a year; she also serves and volunteers her time to support the International Health Professionals of the PAW, Inc.
Her background experience includes Home Health, Medical-Surgical, High-risk Antepartum, Labor & Delivery, and Postpartum Nursing. She has served parents as a private childbirth educator and doula; and also teaches CPR and basic first aid for community organizations, schools, and churches on referral. Her passion led her to seek out BreastfeedLA in 2003, when she became an active volunteer, and later joined the Board of Directors in 2005. She served as Board Secretary for 6 years, and has remained on the Board as a member at large. She received her BS in Nursing from the University of Southern California in 1996, and obtained her MS degree in Nursing Leadership & Education from Regis University in 2011.

 


Linda Goldman DNP, MSN
Linda Goldman is the current Past-President of the Board of Directors and has been a Nurse Practitioner for over 25 years. She is board certified as both a Family and Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner, and is a Certified Lactation Educator. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Western University of Health Sciences, a Master’s of Science in Nursing degree from Calif. State University Long Beach, Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from Mt. St. Mary’s College. She currently teaches full time in the School of Nursing at Calif. State University Dominguez Hills and has practiced in OB-GYN private offices as well as several clinic settings; currently in a Student Health Center at a Community College.
Dr. Goldman first became interested in breastfeeding when she began teaching breastfeeding content to Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner students. But it wasn’t until she gave birth to her first child that she realized just how much support breastfeeding families need to be successful; when her eldest son was four months old she became a Lactation Educator. With the undying support of Lactation consultants, educators, La Leche league leaders and friends, she was able to successfully, breastfeed both of her (now adult) children. Raising a family, truly takes a village and ensuring that health care providers, employers, child care providers, schools, and everyone has access to appropriate education goes a long way to helping everyone who wishes to breastfeed be successful. Donating time and resources to BreastfeedLA is just one of the ways in which she feels she is able to give back to everyone who is part of her village.

 


Taylor Dunham BS, CLE
Taylor Dunham recently graduated in May 2017 from Cal State, Northridge with a Bachelors of Science in Public Health. She is excited and eager to start building her career in the field and to continue her growing passion in maternal and women health.
Taylor began as an intern at BreastfeedLA and volunteered well beyond her hours needed for her internship. Her love for lactation has continued to grow through her internship with BreastfeedLA. Through her interning Taylor conducted a needs assessment for CPSP’s through phone surveys, was instrumental in planning a Paid Family Leave rights training provided in partnership with the California Work and Family Coalition, and has had key hands-on roles at several seminars.
Although a huge amount of her passion for lactation has come from school and Taylor’s internship, her biggest motivation has come from her own experience as a mother. She is the mother of an amazing six-year-old boy whom she breastfed! She recently became a Certified Lactation Educator and is looking forwarded to starting her journey to become an IBCLC.

 

 

 

 

  • California Department of Public Health

    New In-Hospital Breastfeeding Data.

    Read more here!

  • Healthcare

    The Regional Hospital Breastfeeding Consortium (RHBC) meetings to provide ongoing support and guidance for staff from participating hospitals. Learn more

  • LA Convention Center-Breastfeeding Friendly!

    Learn more here.

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