At the Sixth National Breastfeeding Coalitions Conference, Marsha Walker was celebrated as a recipient of the 2016 USBC Legacy Award. Her close colleague,Trish MacEnroe, shared her reflections on Marsha's legacy in the breastfeeding field. Below are remarks made at the awards ceremony while presenting this award.
Marsha Walker’s dedication to breastfeeding began with the birth of her first child. After reaching out for help with breastfeeding, she found the information given to her was inconsistent and misleading. She knew she was not alone in this frustrating experience, and says that when she hung up the phone after reaching out to a nursing mothers group, she knew that something had to be done, and that she could be the change she wanted to see for all mothers in the future. With her community support background and a rapidly developing love of breastfeeding, she had the tools to form the legacy we are honoring today.
In fact, Marsha, together with fellow Legacy Awardee Karin Cadwell, were part of the origin story of the USBC. Back in 1995, after conducting an intensive needs assessment, the National Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy (NABA) was formed to address needs not being met by organizations, government agencies, or individuals. The NABA and the Healthy Children Project convened the first National Breastfeeding Leadership Roundtable (NBLR) in January 1996 to determine if another organization was needed to move breastfeeding forward in the U.S. In January 1998, with the encouragement of Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Audrey Nora, the NBLR voted to declare itself the United States Breastfeeding Committee -- which has grown to be the organization we all know today.
Marsha’s singular expertise is in the International Code for the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. As Trish MacEnroe of Baby-Friendly USA noted, Marsha is their “go-to” person for any Code-related questions; her comprehensive understanding has contributed to major national efforts such as the Ban the Bags campaign. Her consistent work has brought attention, stimulated conversation, and operationalized action around infant formula marketing and distribution issues. And like Trish, Marsha is often the USBC’s first call when an issue of formula marketing comes to the table.
In her time in the breastfeeding field, Marsha says that she has seen breastfeeding move beyond something that is simply “nice,” to an action that is “absolutely necessary.” She celebrates with her fellow Legacy Awardees, and looks forward to watching the emerging leaders of today rise up and make their mark as well.
Marsha, we are delighted to present you with this award in recognition of your long and expansive legacy. Thank you for your unwavering support and dedication to the breastfeeding field.