Tributes from around the world
Chris Mulford – WABA loses its second stalwart breastfeeding advocate this year!
Chris Mulford entered WABA's life in 1996 at the first WABA Global Forum in Bangkok and never left since then! It was Renee Hefti of ILCA, our very first long term international volunteer who spent several months in Penang in 1994 working to develop the WBW 1994 action folder on the Code, who introduced Chris to the WABA Secretariat team. Since then Chris became a regular long term volunteer for WABA involved particularly in writing and documentation of a host of conference, meetings and task force reports. Chris became the second Women and Work Task Force Coordinator after Penny van Esterik "passed the baton on" to her in the late 1990s. In this role, one of her major contributions included working with the Women Count Network to value women's reproductive work, particularly care work and breastfeeding, and linking them with WABA.
Chris paved the way for the WABA-ILCA Fellowship by being an exemplar of a fellow, having spent several months each year in Penang volunteering at the WABA Secretariat almost annually. She would do quite a lot of in-house training among the staff, the local breastfeeding contacts, and also offered breastfeeding support to local mothers whenever the need arose.
Though Chris had come from the LLLI and ILCA traditions of mother support and lactation consulting, she quickly immersed herself into WABA's work and became a skillful advocate. She was a significant part of the lobby team at the ILO conferences in 1999 and 2000 which helped to ensure that the new ILO Convention 183 on Maternity Protection (MP) recognised breastfeeding as a working woman's reproductive right and extended maternity leave from 12 to 14 weeks. Using her training ground at WABA on the MP issue, Chris continued to become a key advocate for MP in the USA and wherever she went; and continued to be instrumental in developing MP resources for ILCA and the WABA Task Force.
For those who knew Chris, it was easy to see that she was a repository of creativity, poetic writing, acting and song, among her other more professional talents. Chris was much loved by the WABA Secretariat and her many other social and professional networks. We will always remember Chris for her kindness, humour, hard work and sensitivity. Thank you Chris for giving so much to WABA and to the mothers and children worldwide.
There is no doubt that Chris's warm smile and happiness will be missed along with her incredible talent for communicating and sharing the breastfeeding message around the world. Here are some photos for our memories of Chris Mulford. Click on the photo to view larger photo.
from the WABA-NA meeting June 2010 in DC after the Women Deliver Conference - Chris coined the phrase that went on the pencils that were a huge hit - "When women deliver, they breastfeed"
Dinner with WABA-NA participants June 2010 DC
WABA representatives at Women Deliver June 2010 - pencils in hand!
July 2009 at the ILCA Conference
July 2009 at the ILCA Conference
"Elsie" the cow taken July 21, 2010 at the ILCA 25th Celebration
It is with sadness we would like to convey that Chris Mulford, a strong breastfeeding advocate passed away suddenly.
We at BPNI and IBFAN Asia send our sincere condolence to her family members and pray for peace. We will miss her as it will always be a fond memory of moments we worked with her. May God give rest and peace to her soul !
Dr. Arun Gupta MD FIAP
Regional Coordinator IBFAN Asia,
Member Steering Committee World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action.
Our field – and the world - has lost a dear friend, a brilliant innovator, and a bright spirit. Chris sang with us at Mothers Deliver, danced with us at ILCA, advocated with us at WABA, thought deeply with us at Breastfeeding/Feminism, and shone brightly throughout. We have lost a star in every sense.
Miriam H Labbok,
MD, MPH, FACPM, IBCLC, FABM
Thank you for communicating us the very sad news of the death of our dear friend Chris. Of course we will miss her intelligence, sensitiveness, her musical talent and always cheerfull mood.
My sympathy with her family and friends, especially for her daughter
I am deeply saddened and shocked by the news of Chris Milford's sudden passing. I know how much she also meant to WABA. Chris was a wonderful person, a tireless campaigner and IBCLC,a longtime member of ILCA and member of WABA.
I am shock with deep sympathy and sadness of Chris Mulford passing away suddenly.Yesterday in the evening while walking along Santa Monica Place, my daughter and I was just talking about Chris and her daughter Chloe who is a very creative person in both arts, music and language. I will continue my fond memory of my happy interaction with Chris along our breastfeeding advocacy journey and share my admiration to a truly Breastfeeding Defender no other Chris Mulford, talented, generous and humble.
I was shocked and sad to hear about sad and sudden demise of Chris Mulford.
I first met Chris at WABA’s 1st Global Forum in Thailand in 1996 and we worked together on many occasions at various international meetings and at the WABA Secretariat where she volunteered several times.
Chris was very committed to the breastfeeding promotion movement and worked very hard, paying lot of attention to minute details in planning and organising workshops and meetings. I remember Chris as a very sensible, calm and patient person even in times of extreme stress and crisis. She was good fun to be with and it was a pleasure to work with her. I have fond memories of us working on WABA’s publications such as Innovative Initiatives and Grinding Realities.
A woman of substance, yet so simple and approachable...one of the rare gems that can easily earn the love and respect of many. Sympathies to the family and BF circle of friends.
She inspired us...we will all miss her.
Its our last goodbye, Chris, I will always remember you as a kind and gentle person. A true "blue dot" in my life which I will treasure till the end of time. Love you my dear friend and colleague in our breastfeeding world. May you rest in peace.
Siti Norjinah Moin
WABA Local Governance Task Force Coordinator
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
It is so sad to know that Chris has passed on...at the same time i feel so fortunate to have known her and her presence will always always be with me...and many others around the world. Maybe this fact will provide a small ounce of comfort to her family, whom she spoke so fondly of, time and time again.
It is really impossible to say in words how much Chris meant for breastfeeding, mothers and babies. Therefore, I will only say that she was a "beacon of light" for breastfeeding and humanity. I love you Chris, and may your kind soul rest in peace forever and ever...much love
How wonderful that Chris has become such a meaningful link between ILCA and WABA, and that she thought of WABA in her memorial bequests. Her memory will be extra rich because of that. She contributed so much to both organisations, and only recently she helped me with the Women and Work chapter in the revised WHO Breastfeeding Counselling course.
I have two special personal memories of Chris, which reflect that link. The first, when I was ILCA International Delegate in the early 90’s, meeting her at Board Meetings, which were always fun, and where she took on a lot of the onerous work of recording the proceedings for us all, and contributed so much with her gentle humour, specially appealing to the English me. The second was when we were both visiting Penang, for WABA, staying in the same Hotel, and we went for walks up Pearl Hill in the early morning looking for birds – neither of us at all expert, but being about the same level, enjoying all the more trying to identify what we saw. And of course talking about the rest of life between times. One morning we found a small cafe on the cliff, and stopped to chat with a group of walkers over a glass of tea. Every time we crossed paths after that, we said “we must go to Pearl Hill again – it was special”. Next time I will do it in her memory. How could I do it without thinking of her. Perhaps the whole WABA team should go there for a memorial picnic.
It is with deep regret that the members of WABA Men's Working Group received the sad news of the passing away of a Great Breastfeeding Advocate, Chris Mulford. She will be remembered by all of us who met her and had the privelege of working with her at WABA Secretariat and during the general meetings.
Chris was really a dedicated, hard working, soft spoken and kind person, I met her and worked with her for the first time in 2008 during my impregnation training at WABA Secretariat in Penang. This is a very big lose to WABA and we pray that the Almighty will give us another perfect replacement as her soul rest in Perfect Peace.
The Men's Working Group and the Gender Working Group join me to extend the sincere sympathies of all to her beloved family and friends wherever they may be.
I was so shocked and saddened to hear of Chris's passing. She taught me so much when I first came to Crozer Chester Medical Center into the maternity unit. I would not have become the advocate for breastfeeding that I am today without her knowledge. She will be missed terribly by anyone who knew her.
"Chris was always there for us
--cheerful, full of song and life
--knowledgeable,full of real experience
--committed, full of inspiration
--a model advocate ,who walked the talk ,
Chris was that beautiful rich autumn,
gentle coolness to hot summers
and cozy warmth to cold winters
and most of all
always the inspiration of spring.
Chris will be one of those beacons
whose caring and nurturing light
will always shine joy into our work,
showing how little people,
doing little things can make a difference.
I will never forget her -
a "waba-ite " par excellence."
Professor Anwar Fazal
Yes, this is terribly, terribly sad. It is hard to believe that Chris isn't still there, working hard on her many contributions. Through this fund, she will continue to contribute.
Dr Virginia Thorley
Sincere condolences to the family friends of Chris, & WABA . Loss of activists is a big loss, specially those who have been consistently contributing.
How sad to lose a good friend again. We will sorely miss both Chris and Michael. Both had such quiet strength. The words you wrote were both apt and beautiful.
I was shocked and overwhelmingly saddened to hear about Chris's unexpected death earlier this week. My condolences to you and to the WABA staff on your loss of your ever faithful friend, colleague and WABA champion.
I'm saddened to learn of Chris' passing on and am touched by her compassion in donating her organs. In addition to the many invaluable contributions to WABA and the global breastfeeding movement, Chris will be remembered for her sensitivity, humour and creativity, and for being a good friend. She was always ready for a song. When we last met, she was putting musical notes to a Chinese folk song she had just learned. Chris' work and voice will continue to touch our lives. I'll always remember her with much love and warmth.
I am sadden to hear of Chris's passing. What a great lady she was. Chris with Kay Hoover were my first true mentors when I started 21 years out in the profession It her wisdom In part that helped me shape my practice.
Dear Mothers and friends,
it is with deep regret that the members of WABA Men's Working Group received the sad news of the passing away of a Great Breastfeeding Advocate, Chris Mulford. She will be remembered by all of us who met her and had the privelege of working with her at WABA Secretariat and during the general meetings.
Chris was really a dedicated, hard working, soft spoken and kind person, i met her and worked with her for the first time in 2008 during my impregnation training at WABA Secretariat in Penang. This is a very big lose to WABA and we pray that the Almighty will give us another perfect replacement as her soul rest in Perfect Peace. The Men's Working Group and the Gender Working Group join me to extend the sincere sympathies of all to her beloved family and friends wherever they may be.
If you need somebody to encourage and cheer you up, Chris is one of those persons whom you should approach. When Dr. Elvira L. Henares-Esguerra and I shared with her our plan to take up the international accreditation for lactation consultants, she gave us one of her sweet smiles and helped us prepare for it with some tips, assured us that we can pass it and gave us her copy of Dr. Ruth Lawrence’s Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession, a must have for those who are reviewing for the exam.
We will always remember her gentle ways, her generosity and her humility considering her many accomplishments. Rest in peace, Chris. We will miss your funny yet inspiring songs during WABA parties but its melodies and lyrics will continue to be in the hearts of those who work for the breastfeeding movement.
To the family of Chris, THANK YOU for sharing her with us, for allowing her to contribute her time and talent for the advancement of maternal and child health. God bless you with strength and love to comfort each other.
Nona D. Andaya-Castillo, IBCLC
The lactation world lost a beacon of light and a beloved friend and colleague with the sudden passing of Chris Mulford in August. Chris has been a steady presence in breastfeeding protection, promotion, and support for decades. She helped to guide the birth and growth of our profession with a gentle spirit and wise leadership.
As a tribute to Chris and to share a cherished memory, ILCA invites you to hear her final presentation to an ILCA audience. Chris spoke at the 2011 San Diego conference on “Breastfeeding as ‘Extreme’ Carework: Breastfeeding on the carework spectrum.” Please click here
for this FREE study module as a celebration of Chris’s life. ILCA will also be naming the ILCA/WABA Fellow award the “Chris Mulford ILCA WABA Fellowship Award” in her honor. Details on applying for the 2012 fellow award will be announced soon.
hris worked for many years as a lactation consultant in a hospital and WIC office, and as a La Leche League Leader. She sat the first IBCLC Exam and attended every ILCA Conference, wearing her trademark scarf, hat and gloves unless speaking from the podium or immersed in her alter ego, Elsie the Cow. Chris served on the ILCA Board and the US Breastfeeding Committee, and had a long-term affiliation with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action where she was much loved. Most recently, she devoted her efforts to advocacy and policy surrounding women’s work and breastfeeding, chairing such committees and projects for USBC and WABA. Along with her daughter, Zoe, she wrote the ILCA 25th Anniversary Song, “Smoothing the Way.”
MP Emmanuel from Penang, Malaysia, wrote that Chris was “a woman of substance, yet so simple and approachable...one of the rare gems that can easily earn the love and respect of many.” Thank you, Chris, for giving so much to mothers and children worldwide, and to all of us in the lactation profession who have known and loved you. We will miss your laughter, your calm wisdom, your inspiration, and your ever-present warmth and sensitivity. Thank you for pushing all of us to stretch ourselves professionally to offer the best of ourselves to the breastfeeding world.
Chris is survived by her husband George, daughter Zoe and son Toby. The family asks that memorial donations in Chris’ name be made to WABA; details for giving can be found at the WABA website
"I believe breastfeeding is far more than a health issue. For me, it was a way to take care of myself and my babies, not just a way to feed them. It was an activity, a life stage, that shaped me as a person and permeated my relationships with my children, family, and friends" - Chris Mulford, Feb 2011.
Cathy Carothers, ILCA
Chris - my childhood best friend and a woman who cared deeply and acted to protect and support life.