Meet Our Breastfeeding Peer Counselors
Each Peer Counselor has an office in the local health unit in the county where she is assigned. Some Peer Counselors spend part of their time in a local hospital.
Benton County - Lowell
“I have nursed both of my children, and both of them were completely different experiences! This is not uncommon, and you may find that with each child you have different goals, experiences, and support. While I struggled with both of my children in the beginning, it was my daughter who gave me the most experiences. She ended up nursing until she was four, and really encouraged my passion for wanting to help others breastfeed as well. Having a good support system is one of the most important steps in getting off to a great start. Breastfeeding may be natural, but sometimes it can be hard. My goal is to provide you with support, encouragement, and help instill confidence in your amazing ability to provide breastmilk to your children.”
Michelle invites you to join Lowell WIC Clinic’s group breastfeeding classes on the third and fourth Thursday, and fourth Friday of every month at 10:30 a.m. Michelle is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
Michelle Mansker, IBCLC
Benton County Lowell WIC Clinic
Days and Times Vary
Boone County – Harrison
“I breastfed my first three babies before I started working as a peer counselor. Tandem nursing babies 4 and 5 has further increased my love and passion to help all mothers. I truly desire to help mothers breastfeed their babies. I love to share my experiences with parents in hopes that I can help them see that they are not the only ones. From going to college, working full time, you name it; I want to help you overcome any road bumps that come across your path to success. Always remember that if I don’t know the answer, I will find it for you!” Starla is a Certified Lactation Counselor.
Starla Carter, CLC
Boone County: 870-743-5244
Carroll County: 870-423-2923
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m
Craighead County - Jonesboro
Hi! My name is Amirah Koster. I am a mother of two boys, ages 5-years and 15-months. My experience with breastfeeding was completely different with each boy. With my first, I lacked breastfeeding support and really knew very little to help me be successful. So during my next pregnancy, I reached out to my WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. She informed me of the benefits of breastfeeding and helped me overcome many difficult challenges. I experienced everything from poor latch due to a tongue and lip tie; to exclusively pumping for 3 months; to plugged ducts; and then to successfully bringing my son back to exclusively feeding from the breast at 3 months old! I continue to successfully breastfeed and hope to be as helpful to other moms as my WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor was to me! I am thankful to have this new role and know it will be rewarding to give moms support.
Monday-Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Cathy’s mission is to encourage expecting moms to make informative decisions about breastfeeding and support breastfeeding moms in her community. Originally born in Venezuela, Spanish is Cathy’s first language. She moved to the US in the 1980s. She states “I’ll be more than happy to assist with any Spanish translations.” Monthly “Loving Support makes Breastfeeding Work” classes are available at the Crittenden County –West Memphis Health Unit the 3rd Wednesday of every month.
Cathy (Maria) Durham
Crittenden County (West Memphis): 870-735-4334
Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Desha County – Dumas and McGehee
Originally hired by the Arkansas Breastfeeding Coalition as a “Say Yes to Best” Peer Counselor, Kathy says, “It is important for mothers to be able to give their baby a good start in life, and that is with breastfeeding.” Kathy became a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for WIC in June 2016. Kathy is a Certified Lactation Counselor.
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Desha County-McGehee: 870-222-3910
Wednesday, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Faulkner County - Conway
I am a mother of 3 and I was able to successfully breastfeed all 3. Along with other mothers I did also have struggles as well as triumphs during my breastfeeding journey. My goal as a mother as well as a breastfeeding peer counselor is to help other mothers to have a successful and enjoyable breastfeeding experience as well. The bond is truly unexplainable and I hope to help other mothers have the experience with their children. And to be a support system for these mothers because you truly cannot ever have too many supporters.
Faulkner County-Conway: 501-450-4941
Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Greene County – Paragould/Lawrence County – Walnut Ridge
Trained with the very first group of WIC Peer Counselors in the state, Leisa has a passion for helping moms. She has been with ADH for 20 years and 19 of those years have been as a peer counselor. “As a mom of three boys, I know that all babies are different, so I am very aware of this when I listen to each mom and her situation.” Leisa is a Certified Lactation Counselor.
Monday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Lawrence County: 870-886-3201
Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Independence County – Batesville
“I am a mother of two little boys, Brody and Finn. I got off to a rough start breastfeeding Brody and ended up exclusively pumping for six months. Very soon after, I became pregnant with my second. In those months before I gave birth, I did LOTS of research on how to successfully breastfeed. I went in with knowledge and a strong birth plan. I was determined to have that “magical experience” and I DID! I nursed Finn for 21 months until he self-weaned. I went through many trials and tribulations both times though. I used nipple shields, had sore nipples and plugged ducts, and was hospitalized for mastitis. I look back on it all as a learning experience and believe I can help new mothers because I have been there! I hope to bring awareness to my community, support new mothers on their exciting new adventure, and share knowledge and personal experience. Ultimately, I hope to help mothers feel that same intimate bond with their children that I felt with my own. I really do believe there is nothing more important and feel so honored to have such a rewarding job.” Taylor spends part of her day at White River Medical Center.
Independence County: 870-793-8847
Monday - Friday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Jackson County - Newport
When I think of breastfeeding, I think of many things: a challenge; a nurturing experience; a lifestyle change. When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but had NO CLUE what journey I was about to be on: Twins! Talk about a shock. Excited and very curious, I researched, attended breastfeeding and parenting classes, and anything else anyone had to offer. My little preemie joys, Mia and Myles were born at 31 weeks and both weighing just 3lbs and 14oz. Having little to no knowledge about premature babies, breastfeeding was everything I thought it was, but in a completely different way. It definitely had its challenges, but what me and my children would have lost from never breastfeeding would have prevented me from being where I am today: a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. I am blessed to bring my personal experience to other mothers. I am honored to be helping the many families I will meet, and to be right there with them during the lifestyle change breastfeeding brings, and help them through its challenges. Whether a mother of one or more babies, or a new mom who knows absolutely nothing about breastfeeding, or a mom who has breastfed before, I am here and want to give my support to any mother on her breastfeeding journey.
Monday-Friday 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Pulaski County - West Little Rock - WIC Clinic
"I have two children, both of whom were breastfed. Like many mothers, we had our highs and lows while breastfeeding. I hope to help other moms overcome their own challenges they may face with breastfeeding, and support them so they get off to the best start possible!"
Pulaski County-West Little Rock WIC Clinic: 501-224-1254
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Garland County – Hot Springs
Trenise says “It’s ok as a mom not to know everything. We learn as we grow, and we all want what’s best for our babies. I love learning, educating, sharing, and teaching other women how amazing breastfeeding can be for both mother and baby. From my experience with breastfeeding my babies; there isn’t anything that can ever compare. What excites me about being a breastfeeding peer counselor is being able to relate and help other mothers because I’ve been there also. It’s easier to relate when someone has shared the same experience as you.” Trenise is a Certified Lactation Counselor.
Garland County: 501-624-3394
Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Pulaski County - Little Rock
“We are all faced with obstacles. Don’t let breastfeeding be one! I am a mother of five and successfully breastfed three.” Once faced with the obstacle of not being able to latch her currently breastfed premature baby, Shauna made it her mission to help mothers overcome any obstacles they may have when it comes to breastfeeding. The story that she has to share with mothers is that even if it is not your first choice to breastfeed, you can still make it your last choice! “Peer Counselors are moms just like you, waiting to help. Get ready to begin our journey to a happy, healthy baby!”Shauna Conic
Pulaski County Central Health Unit: 501-280-3115
Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Pulaski County - North Little Rock
When asked, the first thing Kim Helmbeck will say about her job is, “I love what I do!”. She has been a breastfeeding peer counselor with ADH for 22 years and continues to love to help moms and babies. “Breastfeeding is the natural and best way to feed your baby, but it’s seldom very “easy.” Every mother has questions at one time or another. Do not hesitate to get help as soon as possible.” Kim is a Certified Lactation Counselor.
Kim Helmbeck, CLC
Pulaski County-North Little Rock: 501-791-8554
Monday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pulaski County - Southwest Little Rock
“It’s okay to ask questions! As women, we naturally want what’s best for our babies. They don’t come with instruction manuals so most of us have lots of questions when they arrive. As a mother who breastfeeds, I have a deep passion for helping moms like you get support and assistance with any and all questions as you take your breastfeeding journey. I have a place in my heart for you because I am just like you! I am the mother of three. I have a daughter, whom I breastfed for almost 18 months, and a 4 year old son and 15 month old daughter, both of whom I am currently breastfeeding. I am ready, eager, and able to help you!" Sarita invites you to her group: Mom-to-Mom, Let’s talk about milk…at the Pulaski County-SW Health Unit, 8901 Dailey Drive, Little Rock, AR 72209. Mom-to-Mom meets every 3rd Friday from 1 p.m. - 2 p.m. Please call to confirm attendance. Sarita is a Certified Lactation Counselor.
Sarita Hendrix, CLC
Pulaski County Southwest Clinic: 501-565-9311
Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Van Buren County – Clinton
“I have breastfed all three of my children and experienced challenges along the way. I enjoy using my experience to help moms overcome their own breastfeeding barriers and reach their personal breastfeeding goals.” Vanessa is a Certified Lactation Counselor.
Vanessa Martin, CLC
Van Buren County: 501-745-2485
Monday – Thursday, 8am – 4pm
Lonoke County - Cabot and Lonoke
“I breastfed my baby boy for 14 months, and it was the most rewarding yet challenging thing I have ever experienced. I was determined to breastfeed throughout my pregnancy. I did my research, attended breastfeeding classes, and had my birth plan. When it came time to deliver my son, nothing went according to plan. We went through a traumatic labor and delivery experience, struggled with a lip tie, latching and supply issues, numerous episodes of mastitis, exhaustion, and severe postpartum depression. Instead of giving up or getting discouraged, I pushed through and allowed my experience to give me the fuel to empower other women through their struggles of becoming a new mom. I never had a lactation consultant or peer counselor which I know would have benefited me tremendously. All I needed was someone to tell me “this is normal,” and that is what I hope to do for other moms. I am excited to be able to encourage and support mommies and babies to embrace the most beautiful and natural thing you can do in life!”
Lonoke County-Cabot: 501-843-7561
Monday, Wednesday, & Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm
Lonoke County-Lonoke: 501-676-2268
Last Wednesday of each month, 8:30am – 4:30pm
“I am a mother of four. I started my breastfeeding journey at the age of nineteen. I had zero knowledge of what was going on, and in that day and age, breastfeeding was not pushed. Although breastfeeding was very challenging as a first time mother, I began to read and find out ways to properly nurse my baby. Now, I am very honored to have gone through this three more times! It was a rough start with my first baby, but now breastfeeding is a total breeze! The best years of my life have been nursing and bonding with each of my children through breastfeeding. I hope to bring breastfeeding knowledge and my own personal experiences to the table with any mother seeking breastfeeding help. I want to help my community, so I am very honored to have been chosen to be a Peer Counselor!”
Mississippi County-Osceola: 870-563-2521
Monday-Friday 8am - 4:30pm
WIC Breastfeeding Helpline
When you call the helpline you will be speaking with Sandy. She has been helping new mothers with breastfeeding since 1993. Please give her a call.
Sandy Bankson, IBCLC, CLE
WIC Breastfeeding Helpline: 1-800-445-6175
Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.