Maternity Care Coalition (MCC)’s current Board President, Liza Seltzer, a veteran in the public health and pharmaceutical development fields, pens her thoughts on the similarities between mothers, no matter the species. Over the summer, a mother orca, a member of the J35 pod, was seen pushing her deceased calf in mourning. She was a suffering mother, just like many other mothers who suffer daily in our communities from a multitude of causes. Read Liza’s thoughts below and why she supports MCC and the work that has been done for almost 30 years to support mothers, children and families.
“I traveled to British Colombia in early August, where I got to see the spectacular dance of orcas from the J Pod in the San Juan Islands. You may have heard that one of the females in this family, known as J35 or Tahlequah, lost her calf mid-July just a half hour after giving birth. Food scarcity due to overfishing and certain damming practices is apparently the reason that the J Pod has not successfully reproduced in over three years; the mothers simply are not well-enough nourished to give birth to a sustainable calf. What’s unusual about this situation—the story was all over front pages on the west coast—is that J35 carried her dead calf with her for over two weeks in what appeared to be an extended act of grieving never seen before. It’s as if J35 knew that something extraordinary has to happen to wake us all up.
As I returned to Philadelphia, I was reminded that mothers and families all around us are suffering because of policies and practices that make childbirth and parenting more challenging than it needs to be, especially for those who lack privilege and power. Why is it so hard to get legislation passed in Philadelphia to ensure that parents know their work schedule far enough in advance to arrange for child care, doctors’ visits and school appointments? Why has the Nursing Mothers Accommodation Bill, which would make breastfeeding easier for working mothers, been allowed to languish for 3 years in the PA Legislature? With the economy doing better than it has in years, why are services and systematic support for the neediest families being cut? I know I’m not the only one troubled by questions like these, and the more important question is what can I do to address them? This is one of the many reasons why I support Maternity Care Coalition; I know my support makes programs and policy changes that help thousands of families each year possible.
I pray that raising awareness about increasingly endangered killer whales will lead to policy changes that will save them from extinction. I also pray that here in Philadelphia, where somehow the fact that we are the poorest of the ten most populated cities in the country is rarely mentioned, we’ll make it our collective responsibility to advocate for those who need support, whether it’s a front page story or not.”
Liza Seltzer, is retired and was formerly Executive VP and COO at ACI Clinical, as well as its co-owner. Liza served in management positions in the pharmaceutical and public health spaces for over 25 years, including several years in Latin America. Liza was also a leader in the Quality arena, having served as Chief Judge for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, a Member of the Board of Overseers for the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, and as a Board Member for the state-level Baldrige program, the Keystone Alliance for Performance Excellence. More recently, Liza joined the Board of Directors of the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia and became a certified yoga instructor. She has a BA from Georgetown University and a MA in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. Liza has been a member of MCC’s Carnation Club for over 20 years, chaired the 2015 and 2016 Celebrating Mothers events, and currently serves as President of MCC’s Board of Directors.