H.E.R. Institute was founded with a Vision to make Healthy, Happy and Peaceful Communities.
To inspire, educate and support women and their families on their journey to a healthier life through Health, Education and Research services.
Changing the community through H.E.R.
We believe what we can change the condition of the community by focusing on the woman, where life begins within her womb, who's the child's first teacher and shares the responsibility of rearing a child with her mate. Our belief is a woman who is educated and supported about her choices for a healthy life is empowered to make healthy decisions on behalf of herself, her children, her family and her community. We start this journey with the woman, ideally, preconception more we often connect with her while she's pregnant of immediately after her birth.
H.E.R. has chosen improving breastfeeding rates, decreasing maternal and infant mortality and improving reproductive health outcomes for women as the primary areas of focus for the next decade.
H.E.R. Institute is the vision of founder, Meshawn Tarver while growing up in the city of New Orleans. Since the age of 14 Meshawn’s dream was a healthier, happier community where individuals and families could live to their optimum potential. After getting pregnant with her first daughter, she searched various child birthing methods and eventually discovered HypnoBirthing because it matched with her belief that birthing didn’t have to painful but yet a spiritual and physical journey to bring new life into this world. Her first daughter was born a birthing center near DC in Bethesda, MD. Meshawn describes this at the most spiritual and rewarding experience of her life. Her birthing experience was less than optimum. After going home, Meshawn experienced all the trials a black woman with no immediate family history of breastfeeding including cracked and sore nipples, early supplementation, engorgement, pumping in her car and bathroom. All which caused her to discontinue breastfeeding at 10 months.
However, this experience along with her education landed her first job in Public Health as a Senior Program Coordinator for Breastfeeding.
For over 16 years, Meshawn has worked in the field of public health to improve the lives of the community through various health, education and social initiatives. The goal of H.E.R. Institute is to impact change in the community by educating and empowering the individual to be the change the community needs, starting with the individual.
Meshawn met Portia L. Williams in 2007 when Meshawn founded GNOBAC……
Portia L. Williams, RN BSN IBCLC. Is an International Lactation Consultant since 2009 with 16 years of Maternal Child experience located in New Orleans, La. As the CHAMPS Greater New Orleans Community & Hospital Consultant/ Project Manager she established Louisiana's 1st Baby Cafe in June 2016 and 2nd Nola Baby Cafe Westbank in 2017. In 2019 with help of Meshawn Tarver and partnership with The Touro Infirmary Foundation Nola baby cafe' Touro & Nola baby cafe’ Touro-Bywater was opened. Portia currently serves as NOLA Baby Café Facilitator & Regional Coordinator for Baby Cafe USA. Portia has worked as a Lactation Consultant at a local hospital & serves as Director of Clinical Lactation for HER Institute. Her personal experience as a NICU mom guides her love for supporting families. She is a proud graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette & a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Portia is a proud mom of two healthy breastfed boys, which she tandem nursed until the age of 3 & 1/2. She also worked closely with the Greater New Orleans Breastfeeding Awareness Coalition where she initiated a “Breastfeeding Friendly” Child Care Center program. Her career goal is to increase the number of minority Lactation Consultant and increase breastfeeding rates by mentoring future Lactation professionals of color, decreasing breastfeeding disparities, empowering mom with love, support, and education by providing culturally relevant care. In September of 2019, Portia was appointed to RN Community Maternal Child Manager by Touro LCMC Health. A position designed to establish relevant community partnerships and decrease
Infant & Maternal Mortality.
In 2016 the two united to work together to improve New Orleans breastfeeding duration rates and eventually the state’s rates. Louisiana finished 49th in the CDC 2018 annual report card breastfeeding initiation ranking. The Healthy People 2020 targets for breastfeeding initiation, breastfeeding to six months postpartum and breastfeeding at one year postpartum are 81.9%, 60.6% and 34.1%, respectively. Louisiana trails behind many other states at 67.0%, 39.0% and 20.6%, respectively.
NOLA Baby Café was initiated to provide area families with free, informal, ongoing, high-quality drop-in lactation support by International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. NOLA Baby Café was established to increase the breastfeeding duration and exclusivity rates in the New Orleans area. The NOLA Baby Café provides a relaxed, non-judgmental safe environment for all women bringing together women from all social-economic and racial backgrounds. With this approach we hope to close the breastfeeding gap between whites and blacks creating a paradigm shift in the culture of breastfeeding. Our goals are to erase stereotypes and misconceptions about breastfeeding therefore removing the barriers to breastfeeding in the community.
Mother of Three Daughters. Sister and Daughter. Tandem Breastfed. Black Muslim. Doula. IBCLC in Training. Generous. Slightly Stubborn. Taurus. Traveler. Baby Whisperer. Public Health Professional.
Director of Clinical Lactation/Co-Founder NOLA Baby Café/Facilitator
Mother of 2 Boys. Black Lactation Consultant. Hospital Nurse. Tandem Nurse. Cancer. Outgoing. Socialite, Fitness Enthusiast
Breastfeeding Mom/Certified Lactation Counselor
Mother of Two. Sister of 1. Herb and Oil Enthusiast. Lover. Determined. Slightly Difficult. Influencer. Gift Giver. Breastfeeding QUEEN. Picnic Lover. Indecisive. Warrior. Worrier. Headstrong. Compassionate. Affectionate. Ambitious. Team Player. Book Worm. Silly.
With years of experience, our birthing and breastfeeding team will help families on their birthing journey.
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