Group photo from 2012 Advocacy Day

Happy Birthday to Cynthia Shurtleff!

Ed Marcuse, MD, MPH, FAAP

All of us who have worked with and for Cynthia Shurtleff recognized her to be a force of nature: “she-who-must -be-obeyed”!  And we all did — including that curmudgeon she married. And children throughout Washington benefited.

For those who have not worked with her, know that Cynthia was WCAAP’s presence in Olympia for many, many years, as a volunteer, logging countless miles on I-5 to advance WCAAP’s legislative agenda. But that was only part of her advocacy work. She played pivotal roles in the founding of Healthy Babies, Healthy Mothers of WA, The Immunization Action Coalition of Washington, the Breast-Feeding Coalition of Washington, all of which morphed into today’s WithinReach. And that is just her work that comes immediately to my mind. There was much more. Indefatigable. Determined. Selfless. You could not say no to her: I found myself giving talks to grade-schoolers on weekends, testifying, donating. And my wife, normally wary of my overcommitting, became an unrecognized co-conspirator if Cynthia was asking.

She was also a wise, compassionate, parent advocate. A colleague recently recalled one of Cynthia’s insights for parents…”all of your children will have major struggles and challenges at some point that will worry and test you… some at age 2 and others not until they are 40, but they will all have them.”

Cynthia’s work improved that lives of countless families and inspired a generation of child advocates.

Group photo from 2012 Advocacy Day
Cynthia with WCAAP members at Advocacy Day in 2012.