Today (8/13/18) we remember the 2-year anniversary of the passing of Miriam H Labbok. Miriam was the founding director of CGBI and worked tirelessly and fearlessly to establish the first academic breastfeeding institute of its kind at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Her leadership and perseverance allowed the institute to grow slowly and sustainably since its inception in 2006. In her lifetime, Miriam published over 160 articles, and served on countless boards and committees. She spent her storied career protecting the rights of families to achieve their reproductive goals, working with colleagues in dozens of countries. We miss her sharp insights, generous heart, and historical knowledge, yet are grateful for that which she was able to share with us.
Just before retiring, CGBI was honored to embark on the EMPower Breastfeeding journey as breastfeeding technical assistance providers to over 90 hospitals beginning in the fall of 2014. We trust that Miriam would be beaming with delight at the success of that project, and excited about new work: the next phase of hospital assistance via EMPower Training, helping NC and SC hospitals improve maternity care practices via ENRICH Carolinas funded by The Duke Endowment, and the groundbreaking partnership with funder W.K. Kellogg and NAPPLSC, allowing us to provide mentorship to HBCUs wishing to create their own accredited lactation training program.
Prior to her passing Miriam announced her intention to start a fund named “The Miriam Labbok Program Research Acceleration CGBI Endowment Fund”, intended to assist in research designed to enable women to decide to breastfeed and to succeed in their optimal breastfeeding decisions. In true Miriam style she included a clause that “No monies may be spent in support of any activity that violates the WHO Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes or accepts monies from entities that violate this Code”. We are happy to report that this fund has grown to $290,334.46 thanks to 60 donations from 57 donors including Miriam. In collaboration with her sister, Dorothy Labbok, we hope to announce the first funding effort resulting from this endowment this year. We are also thankful for the many others who have made significant contributions to other areas of CGBI, as well as to the other organizations across the country, in Miriam’s memory, and we thank those supporters as well.
The CGBI Team