HealthConnect One is the national leader in advancing equitable, community-based, peer-to-peer support for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and early parenting.


Our vision is to see every baby, mother, and family thrive in a healthy community. We work to achieve this vision through an equity focused approach supporting the first 1000 days for birthing families.


Since 1986 HealthConnect One has worked with maternal and child health organizations, social services providers, hospitals, birth workers, grassroots organizers and FQHCs.

Photos: Jeretha McKinley leading an early breastfeeding class; participants in the Chicago Doula Project, from 1999 or 2000; founding director Rachel Abramson, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, and McKinley at an event

The organization originally named Chicago Health Connection started as a volunteer effort to develop better ways of promoting breastfeeding with a particular focus on communities of color, as founder Rachel Abramson recalled for a news article in 2018.

After collaborating with groups like the Ounce of Prevention Fund (now Start Early), to create the Chicago Doula Project in the late 1990s, the work expanded nationally. The organization was renamed HealthConnect One in 2008.

We’ve partnered across more than 50 communities in 20 states to design peer-to- peer support programs which increase breastfeeding rates, strengthen parent-child bonding, expand support for mothers and families, reduce C-section rates and achieve better birth outcomes while generating local jobs and leveraging resources.

Our expertise is recognized locally, nationally, and internationally

Recognition includes being selected by WHO/UNICEF as a member of an Expert Panel developing international standards for breastfeeding training; serving on the Wisdom Council of the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative as an Expert Panel Member for the United States; and consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work/Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.

HealthConnect One staff are leaders in the field of maternal and child health. For example, staff members currently serve as:

A more detailed list is on individual staff members’ bio pages.  Staff have worked closely with Illinois Department of Public Health staff helped to publish the Illinois Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Curriculum, and for more than two decades collaborated with Cook County Health and Hospital Services Stroger Hospital on a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program.

We are also proud to have helped establish the Illinois Community Health Worker Association.

Who works with us

Our work leads to strong birth and breastfeeding outcomes in a variety of settings, such as:

  • Community Clinics
  • Federal, state and local government agencies
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers
  • Foundations
  • Grassroots organizations
  • Home Visiting Programs
  • Hospitals
  • Social Service Centers
  • State agencies
  • Tribal Organizations
  • You!

Let us know how we can help build and strengthen community health work for birth equity — we look forward to working with you!

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