2015 Creating Healthy Families Conference Speakers


Aline Armstrong, RN, BSN, MSN:
Aline Armstrong graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She completed her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of California San Francisco.

Ms. Armstrong is the Past President for the Northern California Regional SIDS Council from 2011 to 2013. As a SIDS advocate and promoting safe sleeping environments for infants, Ms. Armstrong has chaired the San Francisco Cribs for Kids Committee and received grant funding to provide cribs and safe sleeping education to low income women. She also chairs the Community Review Team Board in San Francisco. The CRT consists of multi-disciplinary medical and non-medical community representatives who conducts the review of selected cases and makes recommendations on how to prevent similar future fetal and infant deaths.

She is a Co-Leader for MCAH Equity in Young Black Women’s Health and Birth Outcomes Initiative

She has gained significant work experience in the SIDS Program, FIMR Program, acute care hospitals, school nursing, and in the field of Public Health. Aline is committed to ensuring the health of women and their children which is evident by her June 2011 training for health care professionals and Chaplains titled, “Perinatal Loss and Infant Death: Special Care for the Vulnerable”.

At the 33rd Annual California SIDS Conference in October 17, 2014, The California Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Advisory Council awarded Aline Armstrong the 2014 Senator Daniel E. Boatwright Award for “exemplary public service on behalf of Californians touched by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome”. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and fitness.


Ashley Boyd, MA:
Ashley Boyd is the Director of Member Engagement at MomsRising and is a founding staff member. She has over 20 years’ experience in community organizing and public interest advocacy in the U.S. and South Asia. During her career, she has led multi-state organizing efforts around the issues of health reform, youth obesity and the national budget.


Brandi Gates, IBCLC:
Brandi Gates is a graduate of California State University, Eastbay, a mother of three beautiful exclusively breastfed girls and a passionate breastfeeding advocate. She began her work at the Alameda County WIC program where she worked for over eight years as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor and Breastfeeding Specialist. She spent the majority of her time working with teens and young women who wish to continue exclusively breastfeeding their babies’ despite life’s circumstances.

Brandi co-founded a community awareness advocacy group, The Breastfeeding MAFIA (Mother’s Against Feeding Infants Artificially). Their mission is to restore and normalize breastfeeding within the African American Community. Currently Brandi works for the West Oakland Health Council as the Breastfeeding Coordinator and Lactation Consultant for the WIC program and Health Center.

Brandi has partnered with A More Excellent Way Health Organization to create lactation spaces in faith based organizations. She spends time providing in-home lactation support for various insurance companies and is a part of the Oakland Breastfeeding Project (OBP). Brandi has a true passion for breastfeeding and believes every woman should have the proper resources, information and support to make an informed decision in meeting her personal breastfeeding goals.


Cathy Carothers, IBCLC, FILC:
Cathy Carothers is co-director of EVERY MOTHER, INC., a nonprofit organization providing counseling and lactation training for health professionals across the United States. She is the recent past Chair of the United States Breastfeeding Committee, and past president of the International Lactation Consultant Association. She is a Fellow of ILCA, and has been an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant since 1996. She is also the recipient of the 2014 National Leadership Award in the “Friend of WIC” category by the National WIC Association.

An experienced trainer and speaker, Cathy has provided more than 450 training events in every U.S. State and Territory, and several countries. She was Every Mother’s national project director for the HHS Office on Women’s Health project, Supporting Nursing Moms at Work: Employer Solutions for hourly workers, and is author of the Business Case for Breastfeeding published by the HHS Maternal and Child Health Bureau. She has also served as project director for several national breastfeeding training and curriculum initiatives through the USDA WIC Program, including the peer counseling program, Loving Support Through Peer Counseling: A Journey Together.

A former University public relations director, she served as the State Breastfeeding Coordinator for the Mississippi WIC Program, coordinating the state’s comprehensive peer counseling program and breastfeeding promotion campaign that earned them the “National WIC Award.”

Cathy is married to a United Methodist minister, and is the mother of 5 healthy breastfed children, now ages 22 to 33. She is also the proud grandmother of two beautiful breastfed grandsons, ages 2 and 5.


Curtis Chan, MD, MPH:
Curtis Chan, MD, MPH is the Medical Director for the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Section of the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) and an Assistant Health Officer at SFDPH. He is an active member of the Healthy Mother’s Workplace Coalition and a co-developer of the Healthy Mother’s Workplace Award. Curtis is also actively involved in the Food Security Task Force’s Breastfeeding Promotion Subcommittee which focuses on promoting breastfeeding in the five delivery hospitals in San Francisco– a unique county-wide collaborative of delivery hospitals, the SFDPH and community partners. Curtis is a pediatrician with a strong interest in improving the health of all children and youth in San Francisco and overcoming health disparities.


Daniel Siegel, MD:
Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and completed his postgraduate medical education at UCLA with training in pediatrics and child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry. He is currently a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, founding co-director of UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, founding co-investigator at the UCLA Center for Culture, Brain and Development, and executive director of the Mindsight Institute, an educational center devoted to promoting insight, compassion, and empathy in individuals, families, institutions, and communities. Dr. Siegel’s psychotherapy practice spans thirty years, and he has published extensively for the professional audience. He serves as the Founding Editor for the Norton Professional Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology which includes over three dozen textbooks. Dr. Siegel’s books include Mindsight, Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology, The Developing Mind, Second Edition, The Mindful Therapist, The Mindful Brain, Parenting from the Inside Out (with Mary Hartzell, M.Ed.), and the three New York Times bestsellers: Brainstorm, The Whole-Brain Child (with Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.), and his latest No-Drama Discipline (with Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.). He has been invited to lecture for the King of Thailand, Pope John Paul II, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Google University, and TEDx. For more information about his educational programs and resources, please visit: www.DrDanSiegel.com.


Denise Breheny, RN, IBCLC:
Denise Breheny, RN, IBCLC is currently working as an outpatient Lactation Consultant in the pediatric Clinic for Kaiser Permanente South Bay in Southern California. She was inspired to become a lactation consultant 20 years ago after she experienced her own lactation challenges. As an IBCLC she has operated a private practice as well.


Gloria Jane Thornton, MA, LMFT:
Gloria Thornton is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 20 years’ experience and a health educator who has worked in inpatient and outpatient settings, community programs and Medi-Cal Managed Care. She is a founding member of the San Francisco Breastfeeding Promotion Coalition and currently the Chair of the Board of Directors.


Homeless Prenatal Program Staff:
The Homeless Prenatal Program is an award-winning San Francisco Family Resource Center. For 25 years the program has provided very low income and homeless families the ability to end childhood poverty. Built on a foundation of supportive and nonjudgmental case management, the program empowers families, particularly mothers motivated by pregnancy and parenthood to recognize their strengths and trust their own capacity to transform their lives.


Jessica Napier, MBA:
Ms. Jessica Napier, MBA, is a human resources professional with 10 plus years of experience in human resource management, training, benefits, payroll administration and career development within small-to large-sized businesses. With industry experience in non-profit, retail, corporate operations, marketing and security, Ms. Napier is the “go to” person for employee relations, infrastructure development, and keeping your companies out of the courtroom.

Ms. Napier received her Bachelor’s Degree from University of Phoenix and her MBA from Pepperdine University.

Currently, Ms. Napier is an adjunct professor at the University of Phoenix School of Business and the Senior Director of Human Resources for Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco. She is a sought-after speaker, panelist, and workshop facilitator.

One of Ms. Napier’s passions is helping organizations support families in the workplace. With a sense of humor and occasional hand-holding, Jessica customizes organizational strategies to help companies increase profits, decrease turnover and ultimately do the right thing for their employees


Julia Parish, JD:
Julia Parish is a Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society—Employment Law Center and the Director of the Healthy Mothers Workplace Coalition. Julia assists with the project helplines and provides legal advice, know-your-rights workshops and direct legal services for workers struggling with family and medical crises. She received her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law in 2011 as well as her B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from the university. She also has a M.S. in Teaching from Pace University.


Kara Dukakis, MSW:
Kara Dukakis is Next Generation’s Senior Manager of the Cities Strategy for Too Small to Fail. She oversees the day-to-day operations of the TSTF ground campaign, working with community and media partners nationally to spread the message to parents and caregivers about the importance of talking, reading and singing to their children. Kara’s background includes a focus on early childhood, K-12, and postsecondary education policy, and child welfare and mental health policy and practice. Prior to joining Next Generation, Kara was the Associate Director and a Senior Community Engagement Associate at the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University, where she oversaw the Center’s community engagement work. Most recently, she led a three-year college readiness indicator initiative and a review of best practices for college access and completion among young men of color. Earlier in her career, Kara was Chair of the San Francisco First 5 Commission and worked at Children Now. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Brown University and a Master’s in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley.


Karen Farley, RD, IBCLC:
Karen Farley is Executive Director at the California WIC Association (CWA) where she has worked since 2002 on advocacy, communications and technical assistance to direct service providers. She is a recognized state expert on lactation services and breastfeeding policy issues in WIC, hospitals and health systems, with a strong clinical care background in a variety of settings including hospitals, community clinics, WIC, health plans and private practice. Karen is a Registered Dietitian and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.


Roberta Gonzalez-Dow, MPH, RD, CLE:
Robbie Gonzalez-Dow, is the Regional Breastfeeding Liaison for Community Bridges WIC Program in Santa Cruz County and the Executive Director of the California Breastfeeding Coalition. In both roles, Robbie forwards action to remove barriers to breastfeeding so that mothers can fulfill their breastfeeding goals. Robbie is a Registered Dietician, Certified Lactation Educator and has a Master’s in Public Health.


Lisa Marasco, MA, IBCLC, FILCA:
Lisa Marasco has been working with breastfeeding mothers for over 25 years and has been Internationally Board Certified since 1993. She holds a Master’s degree in Human Development with specialization in Lactation and was designated a Fellow of ILCA in 2009. Lisa is co-author of The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk, a contributing author to the Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultants, and a new Cochrane Collaborative author. She is employed by WIC of Santa Barbara County while she continues to research, write, speak, and maintain a small private practice. In addition, Lisa is an Associate Area Professional Liaison for La Leche League of So. California/Nevada, and serves on the Breastfeeding Coalition of Santa Barbara County.


Maria Elena Molina Hanley, RN, PHN, CNS, IBCLC, MSN:
Maria Elena Hanley is registered nurse and IBCLC. She has counseled new moms, babies, and families in both the private and public sector including many years as a volunteer with Nursing Mothers Counsel, CPMC, Sutter VNA Mom Baby Home Visiting Program, and the SF Dept. of Public Health.


Melissa Bartick, MD, MSc:
Melissa Bartick, MD, MSc is an internist and an Assistant Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance and engages in breastfeeding research and has numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals. She has served as the chair of the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition since 2002 to 2014. In that capacity, she has designed and run numerous successful social marketing campaigns. She has served on the Board of Directors of the United States Breastfeeding Committee since 2009. She has also served as the chair of the Breastfeeding Forum of the American Public Health Association (APHA). She received her BA from the University of Virginia with majors in Biology and Political and Social Thought, and graduated from the UC Berkeley/UC San Francisco Joint Medical Program with a MSc in Health and Medical Sciences from University of California, Berkeley and an MD for University of California, San Francisco. She works as a hospitalist and is the mother of two children.


Miriam Labbok, MD, MPH, IBCLC:
Miriam Labbok, MD, MPH, IBCLC, FACPM, FABM, FILCA, trained as a pediatric epidemiologist, is Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute Professor and Director; previously Sr. Advisor, UNICEF HQ; Chief, Maternal Health/Nutrition, USAID; Assoc. Professor/Director, Breastfeeding at IRH, Georgetown University; Assist. Professor, Johns Hopkins. Technical Secretariat, the Innocenti Meeting; creator, Lactational Amenorrhea Method for family planning, she has receive honors from USAID, LLLI, ILCA, her schools of higher learning, and NC-GSKF Lifetime Achievement Award, APHA Carl Taylor Award for Lifetime Contribution, 2014 JHL Editors’ Award for Application of Best Practices. She has published more than100 articles, more than 40 chapters, 2 books, dozens of monographs, and 100s of scientific presentations, with interest in women’s empowerment for best health outcomes and the Lactational Amenorrhea Method for family planning. She currently is the lead on the breastfeeding technical team for EMPower Breastfeeding, the new CDC activity to advance the BFUSA designation.


Monica Kwan, MD, FAAP:
Dr. Kwan completed her residency at the University of California, San Francisco, in the Primary Care Track. She focused her training on preventative pediatrics, including the social and cultural factors affecting both access to care and the management of chronic disease. As a Chinese‐American and a native of San Francisco, Dr. Kwan is committed to improving the lives of the underserved through community advocacy and quality improvement. She founded and leads iStart Smart, a pediatric obesity intervention and weight management clinic in collaboration with UCSF and Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center.


Nancy Williams, MA, LMFT, IBCLC, CCE:
Nancy Williams is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist as well as International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and Childbirth Educator.

One of her passions is in the marriage of perinatal education to those things related to the psychological well-being of mothers, babies, and families. Nancy has been working with childbearing families in some capacity for nearly forty years


Tina Cardarelli, BS, IBCLC:
Tina worked in breastfeeding in Massachusetts and Minnesota before becoming Indiana’s first State Breastfeeding Coordinator and the Director of Breastfeeding for the Indiana Breastfeeding Coalition.

Her efforts have been primarily focused on discovering ways to harness and organizing the energy and ideas that exists in communities, engaging community partnerships, as well as learning how to build and sustain vibrant coalitions. Tina’s has worked extensively to unravel the complex issue of how to best educate Child Care Providers to better care for the breastfed babies and families that they serve.