Breastfeeding Exclusive Summer 2020 - Colleague Corner
Colleague Corner – Janiya Williams
Janiya Mitnaul Williams, MA, IBCLC, RLC, CLC is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Registered Lactation Consultant, and Certified Lactation Counselor who has been supporting nursing families since 2007. She holds degrees from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T SU) and Union Institute and University in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Human Lactation respectively.
Currently, Janiya is the Program Director of the Pathway 2 Human Lactation Training Program at N.C. A&T SU (NCAT P2P). She also works for the Women’s and Children’s Center at Cone Health-Alamance Regional as a Lactation Consultant, Community Liaison, and Volunteer Doula Services Coordinator. In 2015 she created Mahogany Milk Support Group in order to promote, encourage, and normalize nursing for Black and brown families. That same year, Janiya also became the first person of color and Non-Registered Nurse to be hired as a Lactation Consultant at Cone Health.
She is most passionate about creating diversity and equity within the field of Lactation in order to promote better health outcomes for Black and brown, marginalized, and underprivileged families because they have the greatest breastfeeding barriers to overcome. To achieve this goal she sits on boards and is a member of organizations geared towards addressing health disparities and collaborates with researchers on projects that focus on Black maternal child heath. More than that, she developed a curriculum that equips the graduates of the NCAT P2P with a strong foundation in understanding how to recognize, address, and dismantle systemic racism in health care.
Janiya also enjoys spending time with her husband, Brandon, and her four sons: Noah Ellington, Brandon Diggs, Henry Sidney and Avery Harrison.
CGBI: Tell us something about yourself that others might not know.
Janiya: Something that most people don’t know about me is the fact that I love to travel. Growing up my father was in the Air Force and I had the opportunity to travel to most of the states in the U.S. and to date, I have now visited all except for 9. I’ve also been to most of the countries in Europe and in the Caribbean. My favorite things about traveling are: trying new foods, experiencing different cultures, and creating life-long memories with my husband, family, and close friends.
CGBI: What led you to the field of lactation?
Janiya: I come from a family who breastfed so it was something that I always knew I would do. After having my first son, the hospital was updating their marketing to reflect the community and asked if they could photograph us breastfeeding. The photo went up where our hospital’s nursery used to be and was much larger than I expected. Soon after, the photo was placed in the Lactation Department’s booklet given to families in the hospital and in a nursing textbook. Black families began to stop me in public and ask me their nursing questions because they recognized me from the photo, and most even said they had never seen a Black woman breastfeeding in a picture before. At the time, I was in the Speech Therapy world and had always been more interested in feeding/swallowing anyway. I decided to pursue a degree in Human Lactation when I was pregnant with my second child and ended up working for that hospital system a few years later. Recently, that hospital moved and I was given the original photo that hung on the wall for over 12 years. It now has a new home in my office.