Ellie MacGregor, MPH, CLC, Director at the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice (ALPP) is motivated by women’s strength.
“I’m always struck by how strong women can be before becoming a mother, let alone who they become once they enter motherhood,” MacGregor says.
ALPP is a non-profit organization that provides a national certification program in breastfeeding and human lactation for nurses, physicians, dietitians, WIC personnel, peer counselors, independent lactation counselors and others. The organization’s mission is to promote evidence-based knowledge and clinical competencies of lactation professionals.
Early in her career, MacGregor worked directly with assault and harassment survivors at The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education where she took on various roles including volunteer, research assistant, prevention educator and sexual violence prevention and awareness coordinator. It was here that she began to appreciate sexual health as a broader public health issue.
With a particular interest in public policy and administration around public health issues, MacGregor transitioned into the research realm at the University of Rhode Island working specifically with opioid addiction and hepatitis C and found herself interacting with many expecting and new mothers. These experiences led to “a perfect storm of interest between advocacy and research” and ultimately led her to her position at ALPP.
MacGregor believes strongly in accessibility to health care services that are evidence-based, of good quality and are affordable for all families. She says she is excited to continue to promote ALPP’s certification programs like the Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC).
“Moms have been breastfeeding their babies for centuries,” MacGregor begins. “All of their family members have been helping them along the way. The CLC [certification] is a really exciting way for people to make a career doing that.”
Having completed the LCTC herself, MacGregor is equipped to have honest conversations with prospective students.
She urges CLCs to “remember who we are in the relationship with moms and their babies.”
“Being a counselor of any type, we have to understand what a mom feels and what a mom needs and that can only happen with listening and learning,” MacGregor goes on. “We have to be able to reflect an experience back to the mother in the most empathetic way.”
MacGregor reports her favorite days at the office are when the entire three-person ALPP team is together, but she’s had the opportunity to represent ALPP on the road too.
The beginning of her journey with ALPP was punctuated by attending the USBC membership meeting and National Breastfeeding Coalitions Convening in Atlanta with a small team from Healthy Children Project (HCP) and ALPP.
“USBC was a great way for me to jump right in,” MacGregor comments. “Being thrown into the deep end is a much better way to learn to swim.”
You can read MacGregor’s reflections along with other attendees’ thoughts from the meeting here.
Only a couple of weeks later, she attended the 2018 ROSE Breastfeeding Summit followed by other coalition conferences.
“I met so many leaders in the field who have been doing this work for so long and hearing them speak was a pleasure.”
MacGregor lives in Eastham, Mass. with her partner Jimmy and their cat where she enjoys practicing yoga and being in or at the water as often as possible.