Congratulations to the 2023 winner!
Heather Preece, MHSc, RDN, IBCLC, RLC was born and raised in Ontario, Canada, Heather Preece earned a BA in Psychology from Queen’s University, a BASc in Human Nutrition from the University of Guelph, and a Master of Health Science in Community Nutrition from the University of Toronto. Woven between her academic pursuits, Heather’s exploration of various cultures through volunteer work in Mali, Malawi, Tanzania, Yukon and Nunavut ingrained a humanistic perspective and resourceful approach into everything she does.
Heather became a Registered Dietitian in 1996, a Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition in 2003 and earned her IBCLC credential in 2008. In 2006, Heather founded Kodiak KINDNESS Project under the auspices of Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center, after being inspired and humbled by a kind neighbor willing to help her through a stressful first night home with her first child.
Operating on the remote Alaskan island of Kodiak, KINDNESS follows families during the first year of their babies’ lives, offering timely, free support in any aspect of infant feeding through proactive phone calls and home visits. Heather has trained and mentored more than 40 peer counselors and believes that any caring individual can learn to effectively coach best practices and build parental confidence.
Since 2006, an average of 90 percent of Kodiak families with newborns enroll in Kodiak KINDNESS, 30 percent of whom are repeat participants. At six months, KINDNESS families achieve one of the highest rates of exclusive breastfeeding in the United States, at 55 percent (compared to 31 percent in Alaska and 25 percent in the nation per CDC Breastfeeding Report Card data). Forty-four percent of KINDNESS families never use human milk substitutes through the first year of life.
Heather re-established KINDNESS as an independent nonprofit organization in 2021 and hopes to see it spread throughout rural Alaska with ongoing support from donors and community partners.
As well as directing Kodiak KINDNESS Project, Heather continues her career in nutrition and lactation support at Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center and is an adjunct faculty member of the University of Alaska. Heather is passionately committed to her life work of helping families nourish their infants’ bodies and souls, fostering parental confidence, putting wisdom back into the community where it belongs, and investing in a healthier next generation.
She is an angel in the community and is well deserving of USLCA’s Changemaker Award!