Kim Updegrove, RN, CNM, MSN, MPH
Kim Updegrove was born in New Jersey and has dedicated her career to saving babies’ lives and caring for women and children around the world. A registered nurse and certified nurse midwife (CNM), Updegrove earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing at William Paterson University, a master of public health degree at Rutgers University and a master of science degree in nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. After finishing her MSN, Updegrove left the Penn faculty and moved to New Haven, Conn., where she worked as a CNM, delivering more than 500 babies and providing well-woman care. She also served on the graduate faculty of the Yale University School of Nursing. Kim has devoted her professional efforts to growing the Mother’s Milk Bank Austin since 2002. Updegrove is a past president of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), and chairs the guidelines committee helping to ensure quality control of donor human milk and cultivates the development of nonprofit milk banks. She has been invited to numerous states, Canadian provinces, China, Korea, Mexico, Poland, and Turkey to foster and mentor milk banks and to speak at regional, national, and international conferences on breastfeeding, milk banking, and women's health. She has been quoted in local media as well as ABC News, NBC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. On days off Kim takes her grandson for hikes, plays tennis and talks to all who will listen about the life-saving powers of breast milk.
Diana was born and raised in Northern Virginia and moved to Austin in 2016 from Richmond, Virginia where she studied Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University. She became passionate about all things breastfeeding after giving birth to her son in 2018 and found out about the Milk Bank via social media. She joined the Milk Bank team in September 2018 and handles a number of tasks that include coordinating volunteers, scheduling community groups to use our event spaces, and making sure the bills are paid! Outside of the Milk Bank, Diana volunteers at St. David's as a NICU rocker and spends one evening a week snuggling fragile babies. She is a mother to one very funny toddler named Gary and two dogs-Cammy & Chuck. She also really enjoys her (many) houseplants and spending time outdoors with her husband and son on the weekends!
Hyram grew up in North West Houston before spending 4 great years at UT Austin where he earned a BA in Business and of course an education in Austin live music experience. He has lived LA, Nashville, and NYC (and a few others) over the years where he has worked in photography, music business and real estate. He is the father of three boys and he and his wife enjoy family, residential real estate, design, art, education, great conversations, day trips, and music. At MMBA, Hyram is the facilities manager making sure that our new home on Dillard Circle is always running smoothly to ensure we continue to save babies' lives. Outside of work, his interests include family, fishing, design and the mechanical world of building, engines, boats, cars and making things.
Melissa is a native Austinite who attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned a degree in Child Development and Family Relationships. Before joining MMBA in 2012, she managed a toy library and taught parenting classes for twelve years. During this time, she gave birth to two sons, became passionate about breastfeeding, and began telling other nursing moms about MMBA. Little did she know, years later this would lead her to managing the Milk Recipient Program which dispenses donor human milk to hospital NICUs and Well-Baby Units and outpatient families. Melissa lives in Round Rock with her husband, two teenage sons, and her Golden Retriever, Riley.
Recipient Program Administrative Assistant
Cassandra Lawlis was born in Kansas City, Missouri, although neither she nor her parents ever lived there. She grew up in southeastern Wisconsin and came to Austin via Madison (where she received her BFA in Art), Minneapolis, Portland, OR and NYC. While in New York she met her husband, had a baby, and became involved in the local breastfeeding community. Also while in NYC, through an series of unlikely events, she helped implement the Quality, Environmental, and Health and Safety Management program at a multinational express shipping company. Sorting through all those regulations has made her particularly suited to filing insurance claims at MMBA. Her baby is now eight years old but is still awfully cute.
Donor Experience Manager
Cat is almost a native Austinite and attended the University of Texas at Austin, earning a dual degree in Sociology and History in 2011. She started out in the non-profit world but quickly got pulled into Austin's tech scene. For eight years Cat developed her skills in customer success and digital marketing strategy, supporting Fortune 500 brands. After her son was born in 2018, she felt a pull to mission-oriented work and returned to her non-profit roots. Cat brings her expertise in marketing and improving the customer journey to her role at the milk bank, building partnerships with corporations, orgs, and individuals that further the reach and impact of MMBA. She's also particularly proud of meeting her own breastfeeding goals while continuing her career, and donating her extra milk to NICU babies through the milk bank.
Zulesky is originally from Venezuela. She moved to Austin five years ago and has grown to love everything about the city! Solving problems through digital spaces and collaborating with others is how she defines the work she absolutely loves doing. With a background in marketing strategy, branding, and social media, she decided to bring her knowledge to MMBA and support the marketing team. Zulesky is a mother to one cute little girl Avila and dog-Dalí! Outside of work, she loves exploring the city, going on runs, and spending time with her family and friends.
Milk Donor Program Specialist
Alison grew up in Gloucester, Massachusetts and attended Lasell College just outside of Boston. She worked for a local newspaper for a couple of years after graduation and moved to Texas on a bit of a whim in 1992. With a background in advertising sales, she spent 12 years in the corporate world and then left after becoming a mom. In 2007, she re-joined the workforce at her first non-profit, learning very quickly that this was where she belonged. She joined MMBA in 2012 and works with our Milk Donors and Volunteers. She is a proud mother, an avid reader, adores movies and live music, and is a big time animal lover.
Milk Donor Program Assistant
Kendra was born and raised in Columbia, Missouri. Nomadic, and moving around between Missouri, Louisiana, and North Texas, she finally settled in Austin, where she received her Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine at Texas Health and Science University. Kendra's passions are everything pertaining to birth, postpartum, and lactation, as she has used her training as a Doula and Certified Lactation Counselor to aid families of color in Austin and Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Kendra hopes to become a Certified Nurse Midwife in the near future, and being a new lactating Mom, she is excited to be helping mothers and medically fragile babies with her work at MMBA.
Milk Donor Program Assistant
Margaret was born in Daytona Beach, Florida and grew up in north-central Florida. She originally began her career path in nursing, but changed course and decided nonprofit work is where her heart is. Margaret moved to Austin in November 2019 to pursue her passion for helping people. She graduated from the University of Florida with a major in Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, which proudly bears the title, “The Helping People Major.” Margaret has been a runner for over 10 years and recently got a beagle puppy named Rudy. She loves the mission and vision of MMBA and is excited to work with people who strive to help others as much as she does.
Milk Donor Program Assistant
Vivian was born in Indianapolis, IN and only 2 years later moved straight to Austin, TX. Having grown up in the states with parents from Mexico, cultural artistic expression piqued her interest. She earned a bachelor's degree in Studio Arts with a certificate in Digital Media from the University of Colorado at Boulder. After living a year in Vancouver, BC, Canada as a fabricator and front desk at a contemporary art museum, she moved back to Austin. Experienced in fabricating interactive installations to acrylic framed artworks, operating CNC machinery and project managing screen printed goods as a print consultant. A career shift took place as she is now a certifying Full-Spectrum Doula to help birthing people become in tune with their instincts while promoting empowerment, peace, and joy from pregnancy to parenthood. She is a part of the Birth Comadres Doula Collective with other bilingual Latinas and volunteers with Giving Austin Labor Support (GALS). Today as a Milk Donor Program Assistant at MMBA she continues to provide loving, nonjudgmental support on a sincere level. Outside of work she genuinely enjoys road trips, camping and movies.
Andrew was born and raised in Texas, migrating South on I-35 his entire life with stops in Grapevine, Waco, and Georgetown before settling in Austin. Andrew graduated with a Bachelor's degree in English Language and Literature from Southwestern University in 2013, but always felt called to serve others, particularly the vulnerable and needy. Through a series of highly fortunate events, Andrew ended up at the Austin Milk Bank in 2014 as the Equipment and Inventory Coordinator, and he feels doubly fortunate that he gets to work at a place that helps the most vulnerable. Andrew is now the Operations Manager, overseeing all processes and personnel related to the procurement, handling, pasteurization and dispensation of donor milk. Andrew is a husband and a father; his child was born in June of 2016 and will very likely become president one day.
Quality Assurance Technician and Operations Technician
Mindy was born in Ohio and relocated to Texas at the age of 4. She received her BS in Nutrition from UT Austin and shortly after joined the staff at the milk bank. Her love and passion for helping others in need contributes immensely to her job. At the milk bank Mindy makes sure the standards and procedures in the lab are met. In her free time, Mindy enjoys spending time with her toddler son, Michael.
Melissa was born in Austin, TX and has lived here her entire life. As a kid she trained dogs competitively for 8 years and still loves to spend time with her dogs teaching them new tricks. After 10 years in the food industry, Melissa has made the move to MMBA where she works as a Lab Coordinator. Plus, she is a former Donor Mom herself. Outside of the office, Melissa enjoys spending time with her son, Caleb, and taking care of her chickens, pigs, ducks, sheep, miniature horse, and 4 dogs.
Chad grew up in Houston until he moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas and has since never left the city. He works as a lab assistant, doing a little bit of everything to make everyone else’s jobs in the lab a little easier. Chad is an avid indoorsman who enjoys video games, 80s music, hard-boiled noir and really anything that keeps him from going outside--it's way too bright out there.
Robin was born in Virginia, but lived in Maryland for most of her life. Growing up as the daughter of a Lactation Consultant, a passion for infant and maternal health was quickly and deeply instilled in her. She received a BA in Anthropology and a BS in Chemistry from The George Washington University. Despite loving her time in DC, she was looking for a new adventure after college and found herself in Austin. At MMBA, Robin works as a lab technician aiding in the safe processing of donor milk. She loves being able to help save babies everyday. Outside of work she enjoys spending time outside, crocheting, and attempting to cook.
Laura Steed was born in Lubbock, Texas. She graduated from Southwestern University in 2015 with a B.S. in Biology. While working in several research labs as well as private medicine, Laura developed a passion for helping others and all things related to the lab. As a laboratory technician, she helps in safely processing the milk used to help save babies everyday. She also enjoys hiking, hanging out with her spouse, and cuddling with her three-legged cat Tripod.
Mallory was born and raised in San Antonio and moved to San Marcos in 2014 where she studied nutrition and foods at Texas State University. Mallory found her love for non profits and child nutrition while interning and eventually working at a small local food bank as a nutrition educator. After graduating with a B.S. of Science in December of 2019, Mallory joined the milk bank. In her free time, Mallory enjoys watching documentaries, researching nutrition, and being with family.
Laura grew up in Austin and loves everything about it (except the traffic)! She's been working at MMBA since 2012. She maintains ongoing communication with approved milk donors, ensuring that all changes in health or lifestyle are acknowledged appropriately. Outside of work, she loves being a mom to her ten-year-old daughter.