CHEER 2022 LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: KIRAN SALUJA, MPH, RDN!
CHEER’s 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Kiran Saluja, MPH, RDN. Kiran serves as Executive Director of PHFE WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children), a Program of Heluna Health, in Los Angeles, California. PHFE WIC is the nation’s largest local agency WIC program, serving more than 180,000 participants every month. We honor her lifelong dedication and achievements in breastfeeding advocacy.
For more than four decades, Kiran has been deeply committed and actively engaged in promoting maternal, infant and child health and nutrition, and has been a dedicated and fierce breastfeeding advocate. Originally from India, Kiran has her Master’s in Resource Management from the University of Delhi, earned a Master of Public Health from the UCLA School of Public Health, and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
During her career, Kiran has served on numerous committees, task forces and Boards of Directors, including the Board of the National WIC Association (NWA) for seven years and as Board Chair in 2012. In addition to promoting WIC and breastfeeding at local, state and national conferences, Kiran represented the NWA before the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee in 2010, as part of the proceedings that resulted in the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, and supported the USDA WIC Breastfeeding Social Marketing campaign at the Institute of Medicine, now known as the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine, in 2011.
“Many things led to my interest in breastfeeding, but it was particularly after my personal inability to breastfeed my first daughter due to completely misinformed orders by hospital professionals (it was 1982!) who warned me not to breastfeed because of red streaks in my breastmilk and sent me home with copious formula,” says Kiran. “I was inconsolable, though friends and mentors assured me I did nothing wrong. It was at WIC that I learned about the rusty pipe syndrome and resolved to work on educating, supporting and advocating for all women who wanted to breastfeed. For the WIC population in particular, breastfeeding is an absolute social justice issue” she added channeling the famous James Grant quote.
As a proud breastfeeding advocate, Kiran shares her vision: “Breastfeeding should be the default for all moms and especially WIC moms. The education and support necessary to make this happen must be prioritized while at the same time the facts about the mediocrity of formula should be well understood. I am proud of the strides made by the WIC program and know that we have a LOT MORE work ahead of us.”
She describes her most memorable achievements as speaking before Congress; co-founding what was then called the Breastfeeding Task Force of Greater Los Angeles, now Breastfeed LA; breastfeeding her own children, and supporting her daughters with exclusive breastfeeding.
Kiran has been happily married for 42 years, is mother to 3 beautiful daughters, and is a grandmother to two sets of twins. Her two year old twin grandsons still enjoy breastfeeding! She enjoys family time, socializing with friends, walking, cooking, and listening to audiobooks. Kiran’s motto: “Give every day your absolute ALL. Live every day with a passion for people, the work, this life, and make a difference every day.”
Join us for a virtual celebration and webinar in March 2023: Making exclusive breastfeeding a reality….one mom at a time: Reflections from the Executive Director of the US’ biggest Local Agency WIC Program. Official date to be announced soon.