October 4, 2016

Catherine Sullivan, MPH, RD, LDN, IBCLC, has been appointed director of the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute (CGBI), based in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Maternal and Child Health.

Catherine Sullivan, headshot

Catherine Sullivan

Sullivan, clinical assistant professor of maternal and child health and CGBI’s director of training, has served since 2013 as director of the Institute’s Mary Rose Tully Training Initiative, the first breastfeeding training program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, upon the recommendation of the Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee.

“It is an honor and privilege to be named director of CGBI,” Sullivan said. “I look forward to the challenges and opportunities of leading the Institute into the next decade of excellence in breastfeeding research, service and training. The CGBI team will build on the legacy and foundation that Dr. Miriam Labbok established during her tenure.”

CGBI was founded in 2006 through an anonymous donor’s exceptionally generous gift. The donor’s vision and foresight were matched by the passionate engagement of the late founding director Miriam H. Labbok, MD, MPH, IBCLC, Professor of the Practice of maternal and child health, and Herbert Peterson, MD, Kenan Distinguished Professor and then-chair of maternal and child health in the much-needed effort to promote increased quality of care and development of an optimal breastfeeding norm through research, service and training, locally and globally.

The Institute’s comprehensive approach to improving policies, programs and practices prioritizes the reproductive health continuum, an intergenerational approach and the “Three Bs” (Birth, Breastfeeding, Birthspacing) and includes attention to local, national and global health issues that impact the mother and child dyad.

breastfeeding-is-womans-issueCGBI focuses on breastfeeding-friendly operational and translational research, including initiatives in health care, child care and community support, and aims to protect breastfeeding in vulnerable populations and by supporting Baby-friendly Hospital Initiatives around the world.

Known for strong collaborations, especially with North Carolina agencies, including public health departments, CGBI also works with nonprofits and federal and international agencies. In addition to the continued support of the original anonymous donor, the Institute’s funding has included the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the John Rex Foundation, the Duke Endowment, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and several federal entities.

CGBI works with Abt Associates and Population Health Improvement Partners on the U.S. Center or Disease Control and Prevention’s EMPower Breastfeeding Initiative. The Institute provides breastfeeding technical assistance to 93 hospitals in 24 states as they strive toward Baby-Friendly designation. Sullivan serves on the core leadership team for this initiative while also providing coaching expertise to three hospitals.

In collaboration with N.C. State University’s College of Design, through a N.C. Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute award, CGBI is working to develop infant side-car bassinets for hospital postnatal units. W.K. Kellogg supports CGBI to facilitate the National Collaboratives for Advancing the Ten Steps and Breastfeeding-Friendly Child Care and is deemed a First Food Field Builder in leading efforts to decrease disparities in breastfeeding.

Sullivan earned a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from East Carolina University and a Master of Public Health in nutrition at the UNC Gillings School. She is a registered/licensed dietitian and board-certified lactation consultant with 20 years’ public health nutrition and breastfeeding experience.

She served as state breastfeeding coordinator in the N.C. Division of Public Health from 2006 to 2013 and has worked at the local level as a Women, Infant and Children (WIC) director and as a field faculty member for N.C. State University’s Cooperative Extension Service. She also has been a faculty member and clinician in the Department of Family Medicine at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine.

She currently is a member of the N.C. Breastfeeding Coalition’s executive board, is co-chair of the N.C. Lactation Consultant Association, an elected director to the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee and chair of the Women’s Health Dietetic Practice Group for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“Catherine Sullivan is an innovative, nationally recognized leader in breastfeeding research, teaching and practice,” said Carolyn Halpern, PhD, professor and chair of maternal and child health. “We are very fortunate to have her as the new director of CGBI. I know she will successfully advance the Institute’s work to address issues that affect the health and well-being of mothers, babies and children.”

“The Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute has become the world’s leading academic center for breastfeeding,” said Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor at the Gillings School, “and we are confident of its continued growth under Catherine’s leadership.”


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Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu

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