Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute (CGBI)

Breastfeeding Exclusive New Year 2020 - Director's Letter

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The close and start of a decade bring a myriad of feelings; accomplishment, excitement, contemplation. CGBI has had incredible success since our inception and the last decade has brought about tremendous growth not only in our team, but also in the core values our institute embraces in achieving our mission/vision. The APHA 2019 Conference, held in Philadelphia in November was historic in addressing equity and disparate care.  We were able to engage with other public health researchers/leaders and share our work with EMPower Training within the Breastfeeding Forum.  There were many wonderful presentations, but one stood out more than the others, as one of our own displayed unprecedented courage in addressing racism in research. Dr. Palmquist, along with respected colleague and friend, Dr. Ifeyinwa Asiodu from the UCSF School of Nursing, led a panel discussion Decolonizing Breastfeeding Research. Black and brown leaders bravely shared their experiences in providing community-engaged research across the US.  This was truly the best session I have ever attended at APHA – raw, honest, painful yet motivational. I hope that it opens the door for more intense discussion and movement towards collaboratively working in the equity space and conducting respectful, community-led and driven research, both locally and nationally.

In early January, CGBI hosted a Groundwater Training for our students, preceptors and colleagues. Presented by the Racial Equity Institute (REI), attendees learned the

Jacquana Smith with her newborn baby girl, Nadia.

basics of the structural underpinnings behind racism. The REI training provided introduction to a lifelong journey of learning and understanding.  In February, the CGBI team and our students will attend the Minority Health Conference, the longest running, student led conference in the Country.  In addition to the core competencies required of lactation consultant students, we offer opportunities for learners to understand how their work fits into the bigger healthcare structure and how to engage in a culturally humble manner.  I think Mary Rose would be very proud of how much our lactation consultant training program has evolved over the last decade.  The application for the Mary Rose Tully Training Initiative is now open and will close April 30th.

Our ENRICH Carolinas work has allowed us to bring some extremely talented individuals to our CGBI team.  We welcome Michelle Jayalakshmi Hendricks, Jacquana Smith, and Jessica Bridgman. Serving as Social Clinical Researchers (AKA Breastfeeding Coaches) they will be instrumental in our expansion of ENRICH, a holistic approach to delivering breastfeeding-friendly care to communities in North and South Carolina. See below the beautiful 1-minute video highlighting this project. Lastly, I would like to introduce our newest member of the team, Nadia Smith, daughter of Jacquana Smith and her husband, Myrell.  Nadia joins her four sisters as honorary members of CGBI. Congratulations to the Smith family.

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