Introducing our new Board Chair . . .
We’d like to introduce our new Board Chair Mark Rosen, PhD, an author, teacher, consultant, and researcher whose professional expertise is in nonprofit management. He has been a member of the Board since 2017 and is deeply committed to our mission. Mark recently became a first-time grandparent and fed donor milk to his new granddaughter.
What motivated you to join the Board?
For years, I was a professor at Brandeis University, teaching nonprofit management. Board governance was always an important topic in my course, but my guilty secret was that I had never actually served on a nonprofit board. I was friendly with Naomi Bar-Yam, the founder of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, and we would have occasional conversations about the milk bank.
When she surprised me by asking me to join the Board of Directors, I saw it as an opportunity to become involved with a unique and fascinating organization. I attended my first Board meeting in January 2017 and have been deeply involved ever since. Now that I’m no longer teaching at Brandeis, I can devote even more time to board service.
Why do you describe the milk bank as unique and fascinating?
The milk bank not only faces all of the typical challenges of a nonprofit, it also has to be incredibly careful that the milk is safe, so production must be meticulous. Then, there is the regulatory environment. Overseen by government agencies such as the FDA and the nationally recognized Human Milk Banking Association of North America, the milk bank is an incredibly complex organization for its size and scope. We’re lucky to have Deb Youngblood as the Executive Director. In her first year she has really done an excellent job of managing the complexity and keeping things on track.
What are your priorities for the milk bank as the new Board Chair?
My predecessor Jen Riley has been amazing, so my first priority is to continue what she has built and not mess it up.
On a more serious note, it’s important for the milk bank to expand its fundraising. We’ve managed to get by on processing fees from hospitals to cover our basic expenses, but we can’t really grow the way we need to without substantial support from private donors and foundations. The demand for donor milk is growing continuously, and we won’t be able to keep up unless we expand our production capacity. That will require capital expenditures that current revenues just can’t cover. Fortunately, we have a new Director of Development, Kate Kaplan, and I’m very excited by what our fundraising committee has accomplished thus far.
In parallel, we won’t be able to meet the growing demand unless more mothers donate milk. With that aim, I’ve created a new board committee, Marketing and Communications, which will be chaired by Jen Riley. Informally, we’re calling it the milk raising committee. We need to do a better job of getting the word out about the importance of milk donation for infant health.
Tell us about your new granddaughter and your family’s involvement with donor milk.
Naomi was born on January 5th in Austin, Texas. My wife Sarita was there for the birth, and I flew down a few days later. We were both thrilled – she is our first grandchild. Naomi’s mother Ronit needed to have a C-section, which resulted in a delay in her milk supply. Her pediatrician wrote a prescription for donor milk to provide a bridge to breastfeeding while her own milk supply developed. My wife and I ended up driving to the local milk bank to fill the prescription. When we got back, I fed the donor milk to Naomi.
In addition to the joy of becoming a grandparent, there was the unanticipated delight of acquiring a personal connection with donor milk. For the six years I’ve been on the Board, it has always been about helping the organization become more effective so that it can fulfill its mission, but I never really had a personal connection to the mission. I now understand on a deeper and more personal level why the milk bank’s work is so incredibly important.
Another unexpected plus from the trip was the opportunity to tour another milk bank and see how their operations are set up.
You’re an author. What have you written?
I’ve written a number of research reports, including some about families with young children, taking a faith-based perspective. How do families transmit religious values across generations? I’ve written two books. The first entitled Thank You for Being Such a Pain, and it’s about dealing with difficult people from a spiritual perspective. Mission, Meaning, and Money, my second book, is about fundraising at the world’s largest Jewish social service organization. Your question is inspiring me . . . maybe I’ll write my next book about human milk!
Do you have a personal understanding of or connection to our mission? We’re all ears! Feel free to contact email@example.com to share your story, a few quick words or even a photo.