Audra d. Wilford, Chief Hope officer
Classically trained in the culinary arts in Scottsdale, AZ, Audra became a skilled cook at four-star restaurants before she was 20 years old. In both Arizona and Maine, she worked several positions from grill to sauté to saucier and discovered her passion for food went beyond the kitchen. She jumped to the “front of the house” and became both a server and bartender while finishing her college degree with a focus on public policy and nutrition. After finishing college she went to graduate school, earning a degree in philosophy and education from Columbia University with the goal of becoming an educator. Audra moved into leadership training in higher education, but her passion for food never waned. Instead of cooking for hundreds of people a night, her focus turned to cooking alongside her husband for their two children.
Then, just over seven years ago, Audra's son Max was diagnosed with brain cancer. She reflexively fell back on her culinary training and turned to food as medicine. Alongside intensive brain surgeries, a year-and-a-half of chemotherapy, 30 rounds of radiation, and Gamma Knife radiation treatment, Audra used the kitchen as her tool to help Max thrive in the face of cancer. As Audra met other moms with children in cancer treatment, she heard the consistent needs for culinary education, nutrition science education, and integrative medicine resources.
Listening to these needs, and right in the middle of Max’s chemotherapy treatment, Audra started the MaxLove Project (MLP), a nonprofit designed to help parents use nutrition and integrative medicine to help their children thrive in treatment and beyond. Today MLP serves thousands of childhood cancer families across the U.S., providing them with wellness packages, cooking classes, hospital “Thrive Parties,” professional nutritional consultations, educational materials from top cancer researchers, and much more. MLP also funds and conducts cutting edge integrative medicine research. MLP’s programs and resources support families in the key areas of survivorship health. Each program focuses on several “super actions” for lifelong healthy survivorship. We are a community of dedicated change-makers who believe in the power of high quality integrative health care for all children.