Who We Are

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 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:

  • Legislative advocacy in support of SB 951, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2025 and increases the rate of wage replacement for workers who take paid family leave and state disability.
  • Normalizing human milk feeding practices, including the use of pasteurized donor human milk and informal milk sharing.
  • Initiatives to amplify the work of local coalitions, cultural task forces and community organizations focused on public health promotion throughout the state.
  • Presenting the California Breastfeeding Summit, an annual convening of lactation advocates, professionals, health care providers, researchers and public health officials. The three-day event presents the latest in research, evidence-based practices and trends affecting maternal-child health.
  • Publication of Lactation Support for Low-Wage Workers (collaborative effort with California Department Public Health and the California WIC Association)
  • Launch of CBC Learn webinar series on the intersection of breastfeeding and the COVID-19 global pandemic
  • Implementation support for AB 2507 (Pump & Pick-Up Policy for county jails)
  • Publication of 9 Steps to Breastfeeding Friendly: Guidelines for Community Health Centers and Outpatient Care Centers (collaborative effort with California Department Public Health and the California WIC Association)
  • Participation in the development of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health online searchable database, Supporting Nursing Moms at Work: Employer Solutions

Mission

To improve the health and well-being of Californians by working collaboratively to protect, promote, and support lactation and human milk feeding.

Vision

There are no barriers to breastfeeding in California.

Mocha-skinned woman wearing glasses smiles at the camera. She has short dreadlocks framing her face and wears a forest green collared shirt.
Jasmine Pettis Marquez, MPH, IBCLC

Executive Director

Jasmine Pettis Marquez is the Executive Director of the California Breastfeeding Coalition (CBC). As the general manager and chief executive officer of the coalition, she leads our team in fulfilling our mission to protect, promote, and support breast, chest, and human milk feeding throughout California.

Jasmine is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) with years of practice in and around the Bay Area, such as Highland Hospital in Oakland, Lamorinda Pediatrics in Lafayette, and within her own private practice in Vacaville.

Jasmine is author and illustrator of Breastfeeding All Around the Bay, a children’s book published in 2020 with the aim of adding much-needed character diversity and breastfeeding to children’s literature. She holds a bachelor’s degree in health science with an emphasis on community outreach and education from Sacramento State and a Master’s of Public Health from San Jose State. 

Robbie Gonzalez-Dow, MPH, RD, CLE

Project Manager

Robbie Gonzalez-Dow, a registered dietitian and certified lactation educator, served as executive director of the California Breastfeeding Coalition from 2011 to 2023. She now works on special projects to support the mission and vision of the CBC.

Robbie is a seasoned public health advocate with decades 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.

Her passion lies in forwarding action to remove barriers to breastfeeding so that mothers can fulfill the feeding experience they desire. Robbie received her bachelor’s degree from Fresno State and her Master’s of Public Health from UC Berkeley.

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Chanel Shows

Community Engagement Coordinator

Chanel Shows is the one who dots the i’s and crosses the t’s at the California Breastfeeding Coalition. She manages customer service and supports all aspects of the organization’s mission in her work.

Chanel is a doula with Kazue Birth Sister, with experience and training in lactation education and support. She believes birthing people deserve to make informed decisions for themselves, their families and their communities. The collaborative nature of the CBC aligns with the work she does and how she sees community developing among people with similar interests and varied perspectives.

Board of Directors

The California Breastfeeding Coalition is governed by a working Board of Directors. These individuals, representing the expansive span of California and its diverse network of delivery systems for lactation services, actively participate in coalition operations and initiatives.

You will find board members leading CBC fundraisers, chairing subcommittees, speaking at conferences, writing grants and sharing their expertise generously with others.

Rebeca Pacheco-Hidalgo, IBCLC, LCCE (2019-Present)

TREASURER

Rebeca Pacheco-Hidalgo has been providing lactation education and support in Southern California since 2005.

She has a long history of supporting breastfeeding mothers and families, implementing Baby-Friendly policies and practices in hospitals, and advocating for better lactation accommodation laws in California and throughout the country.

She enjoys empowering mothers and their families to trust, educate and learn to nurture themselves as well as their babies.

Brenda Vieyra (2023-Present)

Secretary

Brenda Vieyra is a Regional Breastfeeding Liaison with Northeast Valley Health Corp.’s WIC program. She’s been a longtime CBC volunteer, supporting the success of several California Breastfeeding summits and events.

Her goal for joining the board this year is to help build upon the work the coalition has done to improve the infant feeding landscape in California.

Ursula Pertl, MD (2019-Present)

Dr. Ursula Pertl joined the California Breastfeeding Coalition Board because she wanted to be part of the grassroots, proactive movement to help all California infants get the healthiest start in life.

She is a pediatrician with Children’s Primary Care Medical Group (CPCMG) in San Diego. She practices in North County San Diego, Oceanside and is on staff at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas and Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, where she also serves on the Baby-Friendly task force.

Karlee Vincent (2023-Present)

Karlee Vincent works in events production, but her passion is the work she does to support workplace lactation programs through her own business, The Traveling Milk Truck. She is the author of Pump or Bust: A New Mama’s Guide to Office Politics, Breast Health, and Pumping on the Road!

As the conversation about chest/breastfeeding and human-milk feeding develops within California, Karlee hopes to help the CBC work to guarantee an equitable support system for parents.

Grace Yee, IBCLC (2021-Present)

Grace Yee is a co-founder of the Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Lactation Collaborative. She joined the California Breastfeeding Coalition Board to participate in improving breastfeeding practices and policies in the diverse communities in California.

Retired from the San Francisco Department of Public Health after 32+ years, she has also worked with WIC, and has provided breastfeeding education to patients and supported community organizations with lactation education to their employees and clients.

Catalina Lemus Carrera (2023-Present)

Catalina Lemus Carrera is a migrant and seasonal outreach worker for the Employment Development Department, serving the Delano area. She’s also a member of the Kern County Breastfeeding Coalition.

As a member of the CBC board, she brings valuable insight on how our statewide coalition can work to improve the health and wellbeing of agricultural and low-wage workers in the state.

Sudha Rani Narasimhan, MD, IBCLC (2023-present)

Dr. Narasimhan is a neonatologist with Santa Clara Valley Healthcare, serving as both NICU Medical Director and Chair of Pediatrics at O’Connor Hospital.

She was motivated to join the board after hearing at the 2023 California Breastfeeding Summit that many NICUs do not have access to donor human milk. Her hope is to help the CBC bridge that gap, so that these patients have access to life-saving human milk.

Angelica Rojas, CLE (2023-Present)

Angelica Rojas is the community outreach and marketing manager at Mothers’ Milk Bank San Jose. She first became interested in the lactation field while working for the WIC program in a rural agricultural community in 2006.

Angelica’s hope is to further improve lactation initiation and human milk feeding rates among the state’s agricultural workforce.

Aida Simonian (2023-Present)

Aida Simonian is CEO and director of the Regional Perinatal Program of California for the Perinatal Advisory Council: Leadership, Advocacy, and Consultation (PAC/LAC).

Joining the board is an extension of Aida’s long-standing investment in the CBC, and she hopes that her role will help the coalition further equip hospitals and providers to provide equitable lactation education, support and care to families throughout the state.