AMCHP Announces 2021 Award Winners
May 24, 2021

John C. MacQueen Lecture Award

For innovation in the field of maternal and child health.

Sunah Susan Hwang, MD, MPH, PhD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
The Lula Lubchenco Chair in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
University of Colorado School of Medicine
Aurora, CO

Dr. Hwang is a Neonatologist and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics for the Lula Lubchenco Chair in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, recognized for her leadership in applying public health principles in a clinical setting to prevent sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), the leading cause of infant death in the post-neonatal period. Dr. Hwang has led the development and implementation of the MA NICU Safe Sleep Initiative, a structured quality improvement project, in collaboration with the Massachusetts (MA) Title V program, the Perinatal-Neonatal Quality Improvement Network (PNQIN), the infant Mortality Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network and the MA Maternal, Infant, and early Childhood Home Visiting Initiative; demonstrating impressive improvements in compliance with safe sleep practices in NICUs, increasing from 55.5% in 2015 to 82.2% in 2017, and being a key driver of progress and critical component of Massachusetts’ overall work to improve infant safe sleep practices. As the leader of the MA NICU Safe Sleep Initiative, Dr. Hwang has been a tireless champion for promoting safe sleep practices for the highest risk infants in the Commonwealth of MA, while the Initiative itself serves as a model for how other states might approach this work. Dr. Huang has been distinguished with various awards and recognitions and has served on several committees. Her contributions are also extended to the academic field with lectures, presentations, and publications.

Vince Hutchins Leadership Award

For leadership in promoting a society responsive to the needs of women, children, youth, and families.

Michele Lawler, MS, RD
Director (Retired)
Division of State & Community Health, Maternal & Child Health Bureau, HRSA
Fairfax Station, VA

Ms. Lawler is a retired Director in the Division of State and Community Health (DSCH); the Federal Government’s primary liaison with each of the 59 state and jurisdictional MCH programs. She has been defined as a national leader with significant contributions to society that improve the status of the maternal and child health community, while demonstrating accomplishments that advanced the health of American women, youth and families, including those with special health care needs. Her legacy project as DSCH Director was the recalibration of the Title V Block Grant through MCH 3.0 by successfully reducing burden, maintaining flexibility, and increasing accountability, with the goal of also having an impact in MCH in the states and the nation. Ms. Lawler has also been integral to supporting the implementation of the Maternal and Child Health Workforce Development Center. Since its inception in 2014, the Center has partnered with more than 1,500 Title V Professionals, community and family partners and interns across 44 states and jurisdiction. With almost 40 years of experience in the health sector, Ms. Lawler has been distinguished with various awards and recognitions and has served in several committees. She has also been selected to present in numerous meetings, forums and conferences.

Emerging MCH Professional Awards

For outstanding state or local MCH professionals under age 45 whose work has made substantial contributions to their state’s MCH program; their state’s maternal and child health outcomes; or made other significant contributions to promoting and protecting the health of women, children, and families in their state.

Region I – Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut
Sara Chesbrough, MPA
Adolescent Health and Youth Initiatives Program Manager
Vermont Department of Health, Division of Maternal and Child Health
Burlington, Vermont

Sara Chesbrough is the Adolescent Health Program Coordinator for the Division of Maternal and Child Health of the Vermont Department of Health. In this role, she manages the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) and activities overall related to adolescent sexual and reproductive health. In addition, Ms. Chesbrough oversees broad based efforts related to youth development for the MCH Division and collaborates with a range of state and community partners, including VT Afterschool Inc., and co-chairs the state’s Youth Services Advisory Council. She has served on the state’s Youth Thrive Implementation and Advisory Teams and is currently serving on the statewide VT 9 to 26 Coalition. While representing the MCH Division on the Health Equity Advisory Team (HEAT), Ms. Chesbrough has been recognized by her colleagues across the health department for her leadership related to health equity. She has also led the efforts during the state’s COVID-19 response, serving as the Health Equity and Community Engagement Technical Advisor and Team lead as part of the state’s Health Operations Center (HOC).

Region II – New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands
Camille A. Delgado-López, MPH
Coordinator, Surveillance for Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies System
Puerto Rico Department of Health
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Camille Delgado-López holds a master’s degree in Epidemiology and serves as the Puerto Rico Coordinator of the Surveillance for Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies System of the Children with Special Medical Needs Division at the Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDH). In this role she is responsible for the management of health-related data on pregnant women and their children to determine how the Zika Virus and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) affect these populations. Under her leadership, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledged the Puerto Rico team as exemplary in using the lessons learned from Zika to immediately initiate the surveillance for mothers and babies with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) exposure during pregnancy. Her work has been recognized for substantially contributing to Puerto Rico’s MCH program and addressing pressing MCH challenges, though her work, presentations and publications, while also performing outstandingly in several public health emergencies, namely, emerging threats (Zika and Covid-19 global pandemic) and natural disasters (Hurricanes Maria and Irma). Mrs. Delgado-López’s contributions continue to promote and protect the health of women, children, and families in Puerto Rico and nationally on the United Stated mainland.

Region III – Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia
Teresa Marks, MS
WV State Title V CYSCHN Director
Division of Infant, Child and Adolescent Health
West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health
Charleston, West Virginia

Teresa Marks is the State Title V CYSCHN Director and Director of the Division of Infant, Child and Adolescent Health of West Virginia. This division houses five statewide programs within the Office of Maternal Child & Family Health (OMCFH): Adolescent Health Initiative, Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) Program, HealthCheck (WV’s Early and Periodic Diagnosis, Screening, and Treatment / EPDST Program), Oral Health Program, and Violence and Injury Prevention Program (VIPP). Prior to this role, Teresa served as the Director for the Office’s Division of Perinatal and Women’s Health. In addition to supporting the State Title V Block grant activities, Teresa has written and supported multiple CDC, HRSA, and SAMHSA grants within the OMCFH and currently serves as the Principal Investigator or four federal awards, all funded by the CDC: Overdose Data to Action, Rape Prevention and Education, Emergency Department Surveillance of Nonfatal Suicide Related Outcomes, and Firearm Injury Surveillance Through Emergency Rooms. The improved health outcomes of these projects impact mothers, children, and families across the state around the public health topics of overdose, sexual assault, suicide and injury prevention. The impact of these projects along with her eleven years of state government experience, and her leadership and ability to form strategic partnerships have contributed to West Virginia’s MCH programs and results and created value for stakeholders in working with Title V.

Region IV – Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi
Marilyn Johnson, MBA
Title V/Title X Director
Mississippi State Department of Health
Jackson, Mississippi

Marilyn Johnson is Mississippi’s State Title V and Title X Director at the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). In her current role, Marilyn Johnson provides support by informing the development of program policy approaches in maternal and child health (MCH). Her accomplishments include being elected to CityMatCH Board of Directors, leading efforts to start the Mississippi Public Health Association Young Professional Special Interest Group (SIG), serving as chair of the AMCHP Workforce Development Committee, National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) Board of Directors and previous chair of Public Health Education Policy and research Section (PHEPR) of the Mississippi Public Health Association (MPHA). She has been recognized for her innovative approach of addressing the issues that Mississippi’s MCH population faces, for her passion about providing products for MCH programs or across Title V programs at MSDH, her advocacy for increasing data capacity across Title V programs, and for introducing the first block grant performance measure tracking system while working to increase traditional and non-traditional partnerships. She has contributed in numerous MCH focused projects, and her approach has helped strengthen MCH knowledge and services among the Mississippi Title V team and increased the presence and representation of Title V in Mississippi ensuring that Mississippi’s voice is heard and represented effectively. With over 10 years working with Mississippi State Department of Health, Ms. Johnson’s contributions have been reflected in her growth within MSDH; starting as a Training Coordinator (2008) and then a Special Projects Officer (2011), Ms. Johnson occupied the Division Director I within a year (2012). In 2015, she started serving as a Bureau Director I – Quality Improvement Director, and in the same year she started holding her current position.

Region V – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin
Kristie Ferris, BA
CSHCS Customer Support Section Manager
Children’s Special Health Care Services
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Lansing, Michigan

Kristie Ferris is the Customer Support Section Manager for the Children’s Special Health Care Services (CSHCS) of Michigan, and in this role, she is responsible for the eligibility and enrollment of children with special health care need into the CSHCS program. Under her leadership, the work of the Customer Support Section (CSS) has become more integrated with the work of the rest of the CSHCS Division, and thereby contributes more broadly to supporting and enhancing systems of care of CYSHCN. She has had an impact in assuring awareness of the CSHCS program across the state of Michigan and has kept health equity one of her priorities, serving as a driving force in her team to take leadership positions in programs related to these topics. Kristie currently co-leads the CSHCS Comprehensive Program Evaluation Initiative and after being one member of the Michigan team that attended the 2020 National MCH Workforce Development Center Training, she is co-coordinating the implementation of the evaluation plan. Kristie stands out for exemplifying the qualities of creativity, innovation and excellence, and has been recognized for providing superior customer support to families of children with special needs, supporting professional development and growth for her team, and significantly contributing to the overall growth and direction for the CSHCS Division.

Region VI – New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana
Claire Niday, MPH
State Child Health Coordinator
Texas Department of State Health Services
Austin, Texas

Claire Niday is the State Child Health Coordinator for the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). She holds a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion & Behavioral Science from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Austin. In her current role, Claire is responsible for Texas’ Title V programs related to Child Health, including Help Me Grow Texas, Healthy Child Care Texas, Medical Child Abuse Resources & Education System Grant Program, and the School Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey. She represents Texas as a subject matter expert in many Child Health areas such as injury prevention, childhood obesity and nutrition, and early identification of developmental delays and disabilities. Claire also serves on multiple statewide committees and has participated in cross-sector agency leadership workshops through the BUILD initiative and recently was selected to represent DSHS in the 16Th Texas Health and Human Service Aspiring Leadership Academy. She has also improved upon and expanded programs and initiatives to better align with Title V Performance Measures and meet the needs of Texas Children, including two examples, 1) the expansion of the Help Me Grow model in Texas and 2) her work as an Act Early Ambassador. In September 2020, Claire was selected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as one of two Act Early Ambassadors for Texas. Her dedication and passion for her work in Texas has impacted and improved the lives of countless children, and she continues to strive to achieve Maternal and Child Health’s common goal of healthy children, families and communities.

Region VIII – Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah
Joyal Meyer, RN, MSN
Newborn Screening Program Director
North Dakota Department of Health,
Division of Special Health Services
Bismarck, North Dakota

Joyal Meyer is the Director of the Newborn Screening Program for the Division of Special Health Services of the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH). Ms. Meyer holds a Master of Science in Nurse Administration and has been described by her team at the NDDoH as a true leader in maternal and child health (MCH). In 2011, her leadership through the Coordinated School Health Program to provide support to families in the Optional Pregnancy Outcome and Newborn Screening Program has resulted in significant contributions to promoting and protecting the health of North Dakota’s MCH population. In her current role, Ms. Meyer has; 1) taken the Newborn Screening and Long Term Follow Up program to a new level through technology and quality improvement activities, 2) grown and strengthened the working relationship between Iowa State Hygienic Lab and the NDDoH, 3) contributed to North Dakota having a role in pilot projects that has resulted in adding new conditions to North Dakota’s screening panel, 4) been able to layer and braid newborn screening general funds with MCH funds for medical and genetic consultation. Her efforts have resulted in the North Dakota Newborn Screening and Follow-Up program being viewed as a model of excellence at a national level. Ms. Meyer was selected by the NDDoH’s State Health Officer to be a trainer in the “leadership everywhere” training, and she has also stood out as part of North Dakota’s COVID-19 efforts. She is described as knowledgeable about all aspects of newborn screening and passionate about growing the program for the benefit of children and their families throughout North Dakota.

Region IX – Nevada, California, Arizona, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands (American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Island, and Palau)
Sarah Leff, MPH
Title V Director for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs
Acting Title V Maternal and Child Health Director
California Department of Public Health
Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health (MCAH) Division Sacramento, California

Sarah Leff holds a Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is the current Title V Director for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs and the Acting Title V Maternal and Child Health Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Sarah has dedicated her career to MCH, demonstrating commitment and contributions to promotion and protecting the health of moms, children, adolescents and families in California. She has been working with CDPH/MCAH since 2013 as a project staff for the California Personal Responsibility Education Program and in 2014 became the manager for the Adolescent Sexual Health Education (ASH Ed) program. She was instrumental in developing the California Adolescent Sexual Health Need Index (CAHSNI) and was a co-author on an article published in the American Journal of Public Health, titled “Reaching High-Need Youth Populations With Evidence-Based Sexual Health Education in California” which explored MCAH’s programmatic reach in various settings and the experience high-need populations in the ASH Ed programs. In 2018, Sarah transitioned into a leadership role focused on expanding California’s public health systems and strategies aimed at supporting children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN). Soon after, she became the Title V CYSHCN Director. Some of her contributions are, 1) building a strong partnership and shared vision for the Title V CYSHCN efforts in CA, 2) establishing new partnerships with the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, MCH Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities programs, universities, health care providers, professional organizations that serve CYSHCN and their families, 3) strengthening MCAH’s connection and relationship with Family Voices CA and the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health. Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began, Sarah assumed the Acting Title V MCH Director role for California, and in this role, she developed the COVID-19 guidance for CYSHCN with family and local input, along with many other contributions.

Region X – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska
Alexis Bates, MSW, MA
Perinatal Health Consultant
WA State Department of Health
Tumwater, Washington

Alexis Bates holds a master’s degree in Anthropology and Social Work. She is the current Perinatal Health Consultant for the Washington State Department of Health, and in this role, she leads WA state’s Maternal Mortality Review Panel (MMRP); contributing with recommendations that are used broadly to inform the direction of perinatal and MCH work in Washington State. She is the subject matter expert and is often relied upon to brief agency leadership and the state legislature on issues related to maternal morbidity and mortality and recommendations to address these issues. Her expertise was pivotal in 2020 to the state of Washington legislature passing a postpartum Medicaid expansion bill (which is currently awaiting approval for the Governor’s budget). She has also provided evidence to fund the Partnership Access Line for Moms, a statewide mental health intake and assessment resource. Under her leadership, Washington is considered an innovator in maternal mortality review across the country. Alexis led the team in receiving the CDC ERASE grant, and they also brought in the Institute for Perinatal Quality Improvements Explicit Bias SPEAK UP champions training for panel members as part of the state’s commitment to equity. She has also laid the groundwork for some statewide activities that involves collaborating with tribal partners, community Mini Grants and Hospital Quality Improvement.

Merle McPherson Family Leadership Award

For exemplary contributions to further family/professional collaboration within the state Title V program and AMCHP.

Angela Miney, BA
Family Partner
University of Florida College of Medicine Pediatric Pulmonary Center
Gainesville, FL

Angela Miney is the Family Partner of the University of Florida College of Medicine Pediatric Pulmonary Center (UF PPC) and the coordinator of the Florida Family Leader Network ( In this role, she works with the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (HRSA MCHB) funded organizations, proving her depth of knowledge regarding family-centered care, engagement, and leadership to related projects. Ms. Miney has accomplished and contributed in many ways to increasing family involvement across AMCHP and Title V efforts. One of the most significant examples was a proposal for Florida to benefit from a network of family leaders and health care champions, with her recommendation at a 2016 statewide meeting of HRSA MCHB funded organizations, that quickly developed into a formal partnership with Florida’s Title V CYSHCN Program and the UF PPC to develop and grow such a network. In a few short years, Ms. Miney created the framework, initiated the startup and has overseen the growth of the Florida Family Leaders Network (FFLN) to over 200 members. Currently, the FFLN is an organization committed to supporting CYSHCN with an international reach. Ms. Miney has been a member of numerous committees at the University of Florida College of Medicine and has presented several chronic illness and family-centered presentations, as well as research and publications.

Excellence in State MCH Leadership Award

For an outstanding state MCH professional whose career has made significant contributions to the health of women, children, and families in his or her state.

James Jeffries, MSL
Director, Office of Maternal, Child and Family Health/WV State Title V Director
West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources,
Bureau for Public Health
Charleston, West Virginia

James Jeffries has a long experience working for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, first for the Bureau for Children and Family, and currently for the Bureau for Public Health. Mr. Jeffries holds a Master of Science with a concentration in Strategic Leadership, and a Certification for Teaching. James has devoted 25 years in service to the West Virginia (WV) Department of Health and Human Resources, 23 of those years to the State Title V Agency, the Office of Maternal, Child, and Family Health (OMCFH). He began his MCH service in 1998 as a Quality Assurance Monitor responsible for ensuring the ongoing value of Title V services provided to individuals on behalf of the OMCFH. In 2008, James became Director for the Quality Assurance Monitoring Unit and worked to improve monitoring methodology and procedure for all programs administered by the Office. In 2009, James moved into programmatic work and served for nearly 4 years as the HealthCheck Program Director and in 2013 he became the Director for the Division of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Health (ICAH), a position in WV that also serves as the State Title V CYSCHN Director. In 2018, He became the Interim State Title V Director for the OMCFH, a transition that became permanent in 2019. James is a recognized expert in MCH knowledge in WV, particularly in the domains of adolescent/young adult health, children with special care needs, child health, and cross cutting/life course. His tireless work and dedication have contributed to 1) high-functioning collaborations and have allowed for leveraging of other HRSA and CDC resources to support MCH populations, 2) overseeing and facilitating the WV’s MCH pediatric medical advisory board, 3) addressing the impact of the opioid epidemic in WV, 4) providing communication to the state legislature annually, 5) implementing a single MCO beginning service for this vulnerable population in March 2019, and many others.

Innovation Hub Awards

Innovation Hub Awards recognize exceptional programs in the MCH Innovations Database that have demonstrated a positive difference in the maternal and child health field. The Best Practice Award is awarded to the practice that received the highest score out of the 40 practice submissions to the database in 2020. The Stakeholder Empowerment and Partnership Award is awarded to the practice which demonstrates the greatest contribution to meaningful stakeholder empowerment and partnership. Lastly, the Practice Development Award is awarded to the practice which achieved substantial gains over the past year in moving up the Innovation Hub evidence continuum.

Innovation Hub Best Practice Award Winner

Massachusetts Partnership for Early Childhood Mental Health: LAUNCH/MYCHILD Model
MA Department of Public Health
Practice Contact: Larisa Mendez-Penate,


Innovation Hub Advancing Health Equity Winner

Mothers Rising Home Visiting Program
Mamatoto Village, Inc.
Practice Contact: Aza Nedhari,


Innovation Hub Practice Development Award Winner

The JJ Way® Model of Maternity Care – Easy Access Clinic
Commonsense Childbirth, Inc.
Practice Contact: Jennie Joseph,