Lousie Dumas RN, MSN, PhD

Louise is an honorary professor-researcher, associated with the Department of Nursing sciences, at the Université du Québec en Outaouais (Western Quebec).

She has a master’s degree in Nursing Sciences from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, a doctoral degree in Interdisciplinary Education from the Université du Québec à Montréal, and a post-doctoral degree in Reproductive and Perinatal Medical Sciences from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

Most of her research and teaching has focused on perinatal practices, breastfeeding, patient education, and nursing research.

As guest researcher at the Karolinska Institutet from 2004 until 2014, she has been part of a Russian-Swedish-Canadian team studying Russian swaddling, skin-to-skin, and mother-infant separation at birth.

She has published and presented extensively throughout the world. She has also mentored 30 graduate students in Quebec, Ontario, and New-Brunswick.

Louise has received many awards and honours, 16 over her nursing career, the latest being the Merit award from the Quebec Order of Nurses, the highest distinction for a nurse within Quebec.

Louise is lead assessor for the WHO/UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiatives. As such, she is an active member of the international planning committee for the 2016 WHO meeting for BFHI implementation in industrialized and developing countries, representing the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada.

Louise is currently working at the administrative and clinical levels with hospitals and community health centers to implement evidence-based perinatal practices in Quebec, Ontario, and New-Brunswick. She is also actively involved in 2 research projects which she qualifies as her « last ones ». She intends to remain active at the research level until she graduates her last doctoral student, one from New-Brunswick. She also assists some of her master-prepared graduates in publishing their work.

Louise has been doing volunteer work in many areas and for many years, for example with her regional mother-to-mother support group, with regional and provincial committees linked to breastfeeding or normal birth practices, with future parents as birth companion and breastfeeding supporter.

She is the proud mother of two adult children and grand-mother of two grand-children with whom she enjoys doing many activities. She also finds time for swimming, traveling, cooking for friends, sewing, knitting, reading, gardening.


Sonya Boersma RN, IBCLC, BN, MScN

Sonya has extensive experience as a lactation consultant in numerous settings, particularly breastfeeding clinics and independently. As a registered nurse she has worked in public health for 12 years and has taught nursing students clinical in postpartum. She recently completed her Master’s of Science in Nursing and has presented at multiple conferences. Sonya drafted the BFI Implementation Toolkit and was one of the researchers for the BFI Evidence Informed Key Messages and Resources Manual. She is passionate to support best practice in working with families, front line staff and service providers.


Hiltrud Dawson RN, BTech, IBCLC

Hiltrud has extensive experience in the maternal newborn field as a nurse, midwife, and lactation consultant. Before joining the Best Start team, she led a multidisciplinary team at Hamilton’s St. Joseph’s Healthcare that implemented the Baby-Friendly Initiative and became Ontario’s first Baby-Friendly Hospital. Hiltrud has led many of Best Start’s healthy child development initiatives, including the On Track Guide.


Gillian Szollos BA, CD

Gillian has spent her 20  year career working in the area of perinatal health and has a passion for supporting families though pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.  She has been a professional doula, supporting nearly 1000 women through childbirth, a Program manager recruiting, training and supervising peer doula’s and is currently working as a Health Promoter with Carlington Community Health Centre in Ottawa. Gillian shares her breadth of experience and passion with a number of local, provincial and federal advisory committees including the Champlain LHIN family advisory committee, The Best Start Advisory Committee for the Breastfeeding Community Projects and the Canadian Association for perinatal and women’s health Nurses health policy committee.