Letter from the Director
As I sit in my office working on my Director’s letter, I am deeply saddened to reflect on recent events that have taken the lives of so many and caused immeasurable suffering. Our colleagues and friends in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico are persevering despite unbelievable hardships, as are those impacted by the wildfires in the western United States and from other natural and manmade disasters around the world. Add to that the senseless act of cowardice that happened in Las Vegas. I hope that these events will be a call to build unity and assist those affected to lift them from their despair. In this edition of Breastfeeding Exclusive we have listed resources for those wishing to contribute in some way to infant and young child feeding in emergencies (IYCF-E).
This summer was a time for growth, reflection and change for CGBI. For the first time in our history the CGBI team is co-located, with the exception of our stellar employees who work remotely. This was Dr. Labbok’s dream, and is sure to strengthen our team moving forward. In August we welcomed our new tenure track faculty member, Dr. Aunchalee Palmquist. Dr. Palmquist is featured in this edition and comes to us from Elon University where she developed her expertise in milk sharing and refugee crisis situations. She has jumped right in and we are working towards executing her vision for the future global work of CGBI. Read the project update of our Food for the Hungry collaboration that allowed Kathy Parry to help train over 40 community health workers in June on messages that will reach over 180 rural indigenous communities in Guatemala.
In early August we participated in the United State Breastfeeding Committee’s Seventh National Breastfeeding Coalitions Conference in Washington DC. The conference was a departure from years past, featuring a number of skill building sessions to impact practices in equity and coalition building. There was also a number of Native American tribes represented, one of which led participants in a moving opening ceremony of community drumming. As an organization, we are in our infancy on this journey of learning so all of the sessions were extremely useful and relevant.
Later in the month a few of us attended the National Association of Peer and Professional Lactation Supporters of Color (NAPPLSC) Amazing R.A.C.E. in New Orleans before the Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE) Summit. Similar to the television show, we were challenged to complete competitions over a 24 hour timeframe with a number of obstacles (physical, social and mental). For all intents and purposes we were paired on teams with complete strangers or individuals we didn’t know well. It was an intense lesson in team building and resilience. Program planners Clifton Kenon and Nekisha Killings along with Executive Director, Stacy Davis, and the rest of the NAPPLSC Board were innovative in their approach, offering a unique way to engage all of us in collaborative change and learning. The stories and experiences from the Amazing R.A.C.E will shape us for years to come. Check out the great work they are doing at www.napplsc.org
As always the ROSE Summit was vibrant and enlightening. Between fantastic speakers there was plenty of fun physical activity and networking. I was honored to participate on a panel focusing on the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative with colleagues Trish MacEnroe from Baby Friendly USA and Kimarie Bugg, Founder of ROSE. I was able to share how we have approached equity through individualized technical assistance in the EMPower Breastfeeding Initiative. Our work in breastfeeding friendly healthcare continues to grow as we just returned from doing a training in Kansas for six hospitals on their Baby-Friendly journey. This was funded by HRSA through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund.
I hope that you will enjoy this edition of Breastfeeding Exclusive as you read about the exciting and innovative projects we are working on. Lastly, I would like to congratulate program assistant, Abby Smetana on her recent election as Chair-Elect to the Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Committee. This is an outstanding honor. As I complete my first year as the Director of CGBI, I am reminded on a daily basis of the talent, dedication and synergy that surrounds me. I am grateful to be building upon a solid infrastructure of support and loyalty with such a fantastic team of professionals.