About Us

Our History

In 2003, California’s breastfeeding rates were stagnant.

The work of protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding took place in pockets of the state, led by local coalitions. Advocates were committed but results were inconsistent.

More importantly, breastfeeding wasn’t top of mind among decision-makers when it came to policies and procedures affecting pregnant and lactating Californians.

We needed a statewide presence to unify and amplify the work of local coalitions and community-based organizations.

Dr. Jane Heinig of the UC Davis Human Lactation Center and representatives from community breastfeeding coalitions saw the need to build a unified movement committed to improving breastfeeding rates in California. This was a driving force behind what you now know as the California Breastfeeding Coalition (CBC). 

In October 2007, under the fiscal sponsorship of the California WIC Association (CWA), the coalition’s founding members applied for the nonprofit 501(c)3 status. The CBC was officially recognized as a corporation in April 2011 and received its official nonprofit 501(c)3 status in January 2013, with an effective date of January 18, 2011.

By design, the CBC is a grassroots coalition of community breastfeeding coalitions, along with public and private partners who have influence throughout the state.

Our Mission and Vision

Our mission is to improve the health and well-being of Californians by working collaboratively to protect, promote, and support lactation. We do this by cultivating collaborative relationships among state and local organizations, government agencies, hospitals and health care providers, employers and community-based chest/breastfeeding support organizations throughout California.

Our vision is that all California families receive equitable access to quality timely essential lactation support throughout the perinatal period. We recognize the vast disparities in breastfeeding rates exist due to racist structures and systems in health education, communication and medical policies and practices. Through our advocacy and education efforts, we amplify the voices and experiences of those who have been historically ignored.

The California Breastfeeding Coalition (CBC) seeks to bolster the current lactation  healthcare system to promote and support chest/breastfeeding consistently with evidence-based best practices. Through a comprehensive and coordinated approach, the CBC will convene partners from across the continuum of care to enact sustainable and effective systems change.

Our recent accomplishments include:

CBC Board of Directors

The CBC Board of Directors represent the length and breadth of California, and our diverse delivery systems for lactation services.

Devona Robertson, IBCLC
Board Chair


Rebeca Pacheco-Hidalgo, IBCLC, LCCE
Board Secretary

Rebeca Pacheco-Hidalgo, IBCLC, LCCE, is currently working as a hospital based lactation consultant for Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles in where she assisted with educating and supporting staff to achieve the Baby Friendly Designation in 2016. She currently continues to support breastfeeding mothers and hospital staff.

Rebeca has been serving breastfeeding mothers since 2008, beginning as a Peer Counselor for WIC-SLAPH and followed her aspirations becoming an IBCLC 2011. During the last 13 years, Rebeca has participated in various committees in supporting breastfeeding mothers and families as well as advocating for better lactation accommodation laws in California and throughout the country.

Rebeca has always been fascinated with achieving healthy childbirth outcomes. Became a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) in 2009. Rebeca continues to support her local community by continuing to share her knowledge and experience in childbirth and breastfeeding. Rebeca has 3 children, Ashley (20), Mathew (13) and Emily (4) and is currently working on a Bachelor of Science in Public Health.

“As a CBC board member, I look forward to empowering others by encouraging mothers and their families to trust, educate and learn to nurture themselves as well as their babies.”


Susan Crowe, MD





Elyse Homel Vitale

Elyse Homel Vitale is a Senior Advocate at CA Food Policy Advocates, where she leads administrative advocacy; steers CFPA’s early childhood advocacy and school meal initiatives; and specializes in policy advocacy related to child nutrition. Elyse has nearly 15 years of experience leading public health, social services, and advocacy with policymakers, state agencies, schools, community organizations, public health departments, academic researchers, grassroots organizers, and multi-partner coalitions.


Lisa G. Bandong, MPH

Lisa G. Bandong has been working at California State University San Marcos since 2005, is the founding Internship Coordinator for the Masters of Public Health program, established in 2016, and she is a primary lecturer for the public health program. During her tenure, she served for 6 years on the Graduate Forum for Diversity in Higher Education, a consortium of education institutions that seeks to improve diversity in academia, and served for 11 years as the Campus Coordinator for two CSU statewide scholarship programs that channels CSU students into university teaching professions.
She is proud to have gained her education through California’s higher education system, where she earned her master’s degree in public health with an emphasis in health promotion and disease prevention from CSU Fullerton, has an undergraduate degree from UC Irvine, and earned her associates degree from Palomar College in San Marcos. She is a registered prenatal yoga teacher, and founded a successful prenatal yoga program through the City of San Marcos.

Her research interests include maternal child health, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), the most common endocrine disorder in women, and lactation supportive environments. In 2017, the San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition recognized her for “making breastfeeding a public health priority” through her campus lactation supportive environments initiatives, including supervising student research. She now proudly serves on the California Breastfeeding Coalition board, the statewide coalition, where she looks forward to continuing her charge of making breastfeeding a public health priority through policy changes at the statewide level.

Kelly Philipson, MSN, RN, CNML, MBA

Oky Gerell, MD

Gaby Cavins

Ursula Pertl, MD



CBC Staff

Robbie Gonzalez-Dow, MPH, RD, CLE
Executive Director

Robbie Gonzalez-Dow, a registered dietitian and certified lactation educator, has been supporting and working with the CBC since the beginning. Robbie is a seasoned public health advocate with many years of experience in grass-roots engagement, community organizing and media advocacy around nutrition and breastfeeding issues. Her work experience ranges from providing direct nutrition and breastfeeding services to writing and advocating for breastfeeding policy and legislation. She is extremely passionate in forwarding action to remove barriers to breastfeeding so that mothers can fulfill their breastfeeding goals. Robbie received her Bachelor of Science from California State University, Fresno and her Master’s in Public Health from UC Berkeley. Robbie lives in Pacific Grove with her husband, two dogs and one cat where they own and operate a fitness studio.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email