By Addison Grimm
Vital Village Networks Community Mobilization AmeriCorps VISTA
Jess Pimentel, she/ella, began her lactation journey following the birth of her niece in 2012. After helping families informally for years, Jess joined the Women, Infants, & Children Nutrition Program (WIC) team in 2017 as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. Jess realized that, by speaking with families about lactation before babies were born, which aided in the building of connections, she was able to make a stronger impact. After meeting and seeing Marsha Walker, an IBCLC and acclaimed speaker and author, present for the first time during a Peer Counselor training, she started sitting in on Mass Breastfeeding Coalition (MBC) meetings. After that, Jess knew she had to fully get involved. She left “just listening” at meetings behind, and finally raised her hand to help on a small project. Now, Jess serves not only as Treasurer of the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition since 2019, but also chairs the DRIVE (Diversity, Representation, Inclusivity, Vision, Equity) committee working to increase diversity in lactation. Jess also serves as the Massachusetts State Admin for ZipMilk, a project of MBC that helps families find neighborhood chest/breastfeeding help and support.
Through the years Jess has worked to earn the titles of CLC and CBS, and is in the process of becoming an IBCLC through a scholarship awarded by LER, a gift that she does not take lightly. Though scared to start a private practice in fear of charging people for her services, those she had never even met, she decided to go for it. Thus, from the mindset of “what do I have to lose? ,” Equally Expressed LLC was born. Since its start in January 2022, Jess has been working to build a business centered around equity, equality and inclusion. Jess stated that, as a business owner, she has “worked really hard this past year to set up a business structure that makes sense financially but, more importantly, a business structure that is set up to be able to support those families that are not able to afford lactation services.” Assuring that she would never turn someone down who needed help, Equally Expressed is a business rooted in giving back to the community.
Jess’s plan for the future includes becoming an IBCLC and starting to mentor scholars in her community. Though many projects are in her sights, advocating, promoting, mentoring, and creating job opportunities are her main goals. When asked what advice she would give to aspiring scholars, Jess urged others to join their local coalition, start to network, find opportunities, and just get involved!
LinkedIn, Instagram and FB: @EquallyExpressed
Daily Milk hosts articles, posts and ideas from various members of our breastfeeding coalition!