The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) is pleased to announce the winners of its 2022 AMCHP Annual Awards. The awards will be presented at the AMCHP Annual Conference, held virtually from May 24-25, 2022.
John C. MacQueen Lecture Award
For innovation in the field of maternal and child health
Dr. Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha, PhD, MPH, CHES
Julia A. Okoro Professor of Black Maternal Health; Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion; Associate Professor at Tuft University School of Medicine
Director and Founder of the Maternal Outcomes for Translational Health Equity Research (MOTHER) Lab
Dr. Amutah-Onukagha is an Associate Professor within the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University. Additionally, she is the Principal Investigator of an NIMHD R01 (1R01MD016026-01) study entitled “Reducing Racial Disparities in SMM Post COVID19: Assessing the integration of maternal safety bundles and community-based doulas to improve outcomes for Black women.” Dr. Amutah-Onukagha has extensive training in community-driven participatory research, health disparities, maternal and child health, and qualitative methods.
For the past 15 years, Dr. Amutah-Onukagha has worked successfully in communities of color on issues including advancing the understanding, prevention, and reduction of maternal mortality or morbidity among racial and ethnic minority women and socioeconomically disadvantaged women. She has spent substantial time building community-researcher relationships in urban communities, providing technical assistance, and serving as a member of various community-based organizations. Previously, as a recipient of the NIMH training grant, she served as the PI of a pilot study that focused on mother-daughter communication in HIV+ African American women. The pilot study, Project DASH (DIVAS Against the Study of HIV/AIDS), is a dyadic study that explores HIV risk for daughters with HIV+ mothers. This mixed-methods pilot study utilized individual interviews and a quantitative survey to examine the quality and context of the mother/daughter relationship as a predictor of sexual behavior and HIV risk in the daughter.
Dr. Amutah-Onukagha is the Director and Founder of the (Maternal Outcomes for Translational Health Equity Research) MOTHER lab, where she is training 35 students from undergrad to postdoctoral fellows. She has presented and published research in these areas of Public Health in both domestic and international settings and has published 50 manuscripts and six book chapters to date.
Vince Hutchins Leadership Award
For leadership in promoting a society responsive to the needs of women, children, youth, and families
Dr. Eugene R. Declercq, BS, MBA, MS, PhD
Professor, Boston University School of Public Health
Dr. Gene R. Declercq combines formal training in political science with almost twenty years of experience as a certified childbirth educator to examine policy and practice related to childbirth in the US and abroad. His recent work examining maternal mortality and morbidity in the US has emphasized the importance of systems approaches to improving women’s health. Dr. Declerq is part of the collaborative team that has completed three national studies and a 2018 statewide study of women’s experiences in childbirth entitled Listening to Mothers. He was a technical adviser to the film documentary, The Business of Being Born, and a producer and presenter of “Birth by the Numbers,” a 20-minute video examining outcomes associated with current US birth practices. With student collaborators, he developed and maintains the companion website, www.birthbythenumbers.org, which provides up-to-date data on trends in childbirth practices and outcomes. He was the principal investigator on two NIH funded collaborative projects examining child and maternal outcomes associated with Assisted Reproductive Technologies (MOSART project), and is one of the founders of the Pregnancy to Early Life Longitudinal (PELL) data system that has linked vital statistics, hospital, and administrative data on more than 1,200,000 births in Massachusetts since 1998. He has also been active in various public health projects in his hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts. As an educator, he is a past president of the Association of Teachers of Maternal and Child Health and has been a recipient of the Norman Scotch Award for outstanding teaching at BUSPH. He is also a recipient of the Martha May Eliot Award from the American Public Health Association for service to maternal and child health and the Greg Alexander Award for research in maternal and child health epidemiology.
Merle McPherson Family Leadership Award
For exemplary contributions to further family/professional collaboration within the state Title V program and AMCHP
Rebecca (Becky) Burns, MSSW
Wisconsin Statewide Coordinator for the Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs program, EBDM and Engagement Specialist for the National Workforce Development Center; Waisman Center, UW-Madison
Ms. Burns’s career centers on supporting children and families whose lives have been affected by unanticipated journeys through the world of disability services. She treasures opportunities to work with these families and’ the professionals who support them. With a Master of Science in Social Work, she uses her education along with her personal experience of being raised with a sister who had a disability to influence her work with families. She has worked in one capacity or another for the state of Wisconsin for over 20 years.
Emerging MCH Professional Award
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
Aidea Downie, MA
MCH Disparities Coordinator, Rhode Island Department of Health
Aidea Downie is the Maternal Child Health (MCH) Program Disparities Specialist at the Rhode Island Department of Health. She helps shape and implement Title V Grant 2020-2025 priorities and strategies, with an emphasis on addressing pertinent population disparities. Her field expertise is not only derived from her current duties but her background in education, anthropology, and history. She received a Bachelor of Arts in History and Anthropology and a Master’s in Urban Education Policy from Brown University. While at University, Ms. Downie received the Yat K. Tow Prize, Joslin Award, Young People for Fellowship, and the Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellowship. She spent five years working with prison education and exploring the population’s complex needs.
At the Rhode Island Department of Health, she participated in the Rhode Island Leadership Education in Neurodevelopment and Other Related Disabilities (LEND) Fellowship, where her project explored identifying gaps in care for sickle cell anemia patients and routes to addressing identified gaps. She aims to utilize her acquired skills and knowledge to continue to address disparities within each Title V Health Domain.
Region II – New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands
Pamela Taylor, MPH
Public Health Consultant 2, New Jersey Department of Health
Pamela Taylor is a Public Health Consultant for the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH). She established and led NJDOH’s first Community Health Worker Apprenticeship program known as the Colette Lamothe-Galette Institute. She oversees a variety of state grants such as the Preschool Development Grant, Epidemiology & Laboratory Capacity, and GAINS funding from the New Jersey Department of Labor. These grants accumulate to over 16M in government awards. She manages numerous teams in project development and implementation. She has written and secured 9.5 million in funding for NJDOH state initiatives. Ms. Taylor holds a Master of Public Health from Rutgers University.
Region IV – Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi
Rachel Heitmann, MS
Section Chief, Injury Prevention, Infant Mortality Reduction and Death Review, Tennessee Department of Health, Division of Family Health and Wellness
Rachel Heitmann is the Section Chief for Injury Prevention and Detection in the Division of Family Health and Wellness at the Tennessee Department of Health. In this position, she is responsible for the overall function of multiple statewide programs, including Maternal Mortality Review, Prevention of Maternal Violent Deaths, Injury Prevention, Suicide Prevention, Child Fatality Review, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Infant Mortality Reduction. Since being in this role, Ms. Heitmann has led efforts to implement and evaluate many new evidence-based injury prevention and infant mortality reduction initiatives in Tennessee. Ms. Heitmann has been particularly instrumental in implementing several initiatives around infant safe sleep. She has written and received federal grants to support efforts and currently serves as principal investigator for several grants. Ms. Heitmann has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Wisconsin – Stout.
Region V – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin
Sarah Dunne, MSW, MPH, BSSW
Supervisor, Children and Youth with Special Health Needs Section, Minnesota Department of Health
Project Director, Minnesota Integrated Care for Early Childhood Initiative (Minnesota’s Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems grant project) and Minnesota Pediatric Mental Health Access Program grant
Sarah Dunne works as a Supervisor in the Children and Youth with Special Health Needs (CYSHN) Program at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), where she coordinates Title V MCH Block Grant CYSHN efforts and other initiatives, including assessments, priority setting, and program planning. She also serves as the Project Director on the Minnesota Integrated Care for Early Childhood Initiative (Minnesota’s Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems grant project) and for the state’s Pediatric Mental Health Access Program grant. Prior to working for MDH, Ms. Dunne worked for the Nebraska Division of Behavioral Health where she coordinated statewide systems for adults and children experiencing psychiatric crises. She has clinical experience working with children and families of in the home and in day treatment facilities. Ms. Dunne earned both her Bachelor of Science and master’s Degrees in Social Work from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and earned her Master of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota.
Region VI – New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana
Rachel Ralya, MPH
Maternal Child Health Epidemiologist, New Mexico Department of Health Title V Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Program
Rachel Ralya is the Maternal and Child Health/Title V Epidemiologist at the New Mexico Department of Health, where she works to improve the health and well-being of maternal and child populations. In this role, she participates in Title V programmatic activities and reporting, coordinates the COVID-19 Maternal and Child Health perinatal referral response, sits on the NM Child Fatality Review panels, and leads the NM Safe Sleep Interagency Workgroup. She is an active participant in the 2022 AMCHP MCH Epidemiology Learning Lab Cohort and the 2021 ASTHO Adverse Childhood Experiences Learning Community Cohort.
She obtained her Master of Public Health with a focus in Health Promotion from Grand Valley State University, and her Bachelor of Science in Community Development with an emphasis in Health Science from Central Michigan University. She has previously worked in health education and healthcare consulting, including a large statewide opioid response with a focus on perinatal and incarcerated populations.
In her free time, she enjoys hiking, swimming, and exploring New Mexico with her family.
Region VII – Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska
Kafi Dixon, MA
Program Manager, Child Health Specialty Clinics, University of Iowa
Kafi Dixon serves as a Program Manager for Child Health Specialty Clinics (CHSC), Iowa’s Title V program for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN). In this capacity, she works to coordinate telehealth services across CHSC’s state-wide network of 13 regional centers, increasing access to care for Iowa Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs and their families. Ms. Dixon also works to expand CHSC’s workforce development initiatives through the planning and coordination of continuing education opportunities for primary care providers on the topic of pediatric mental health, as part of the HRSA funded Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PMHCA) Program. More recently, she co-established and is co-chair of CHSC’s Health Equity Committee, leading efforts toward building systems of equitable care in all areas of CHSC and ensuring that Iowa’s system of care for CYSHCN reaches underserved and underrepresented populations.
Ms. Dixon is a graduate of the University of Iowa, completing a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning. Prior to working in Public Health, she worked in the non-profit sector directing support services programs for families experiencing homelessness. Ms. Dixon has a passion for social justice, health equity and using telehealth to improve access to care.
Region VIII – Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah
Kimberly Hruby, MSN, RN
Director, Special Health Services Division, North Dakota Department of Health
Kimberly Hruby had been employed as a Program Administrator with the Division of Special Health Services in the North Dakota Department of Health since August 2010 before taking over the position as Division Director in November 2018 and Assistant Title V Director in October 2021. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the Medcenter One College of Nursing in 2008 and her master’s degree in Nursing Administration from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, in 2010. Before joining the North Dakota Department of Health, she worked as a staff nurse at a local Children’s Hospital. Ms. Hruby and her husband, Jesse, make their home on a hobby farm in rural Wilton, North Dakota. When not working tirelessly to improve the lives of children and youth with special health care needs in North Dakota, she can be found at the numerous sporting events or extracurricular activities of her three daughters, ages 11, 8, and 6.
Region IX – Nevada, California, Arizona, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands (American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Island, and Palau)
Martín F. Celaya, MPH
Chief of Office of Assessment & Evaluation, Arizona Department of Health Services
Martín F. Celaya grew up in San Luis, Arizona, a proud town of community farmworkers and migrants, and serves as Chief for the newly established Bureau of Assessment and Evaluation within the ADHS Division of Public Health Prevention Services. Before his current role, Mr. Celaya served as the Chief for the Office of Assessment and Evaluation for the past five years and led all evaluation and epidemiological efforts for the Bureau of Women’s and Children’s Health, including statewide public health assessments such as the Title V MCH Statewide Needs Assessment. He has over 13 years of working experience working in local, state, federal, and academic public health and has worked as a federal assignee with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on HIV/STD prevention, global program evaluation, Ebola and Zika prevention efforts in the U.S, and enteric disease surveillance, amongst other areas of national importance. He is the principal investigator for the Arizona Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System and the Enhancing Review s and Surveillance to Eliminate Maternal Mortality projects in Arizona. Mr. Celaya’s skills and knowledge include a deep understanding of program design, program evaluation theory, concepts, techniques, implementation science concepts, and a high data analytical ability. Mr. Celaya has a Master of Public Health from the University of Arizona in Health Policy and Management and is currently a Doctoral Public Health Student in Maternal and Child Health with a doctoral minor in Epidemiology from the University of Arizona.
Region X – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska
Rebekah Morisse, MPH, RN
Section Chief, Title V Director, State of Alaska, Section of Women’s Children’s, and Family Health
Rebekah Morisse is the Section Chief for Women’s, Children’s & Family Health and serves as the State of Alaska’s Maternal Child Health Director. She has a bachelor’s degree in Nursing and a master’s degree in Public Health. As Section Chief, she oversees public health initiatives affecting infants, young children, adolescents, and adults. She is also active in Alaska’s Perinatal Quality Collaborative, which aims to provide the highest level of care to mothers and infants across Alaska by collaborating with hospitals, birthing facilities, providers, and key stakeholders to promote the sharing of best practices and advancement of data-driven initiatives. She also serves on the Alaska Public Health Association Board and the All Alaska Pediatric Partnership.
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.
Mary Bost, MSW
Chief, Local MCAH Program Support, California Department of Public Health, Center for Family Health, MCAH Division
Mary Bost serves as Chief of Local Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health (MCAH) Program Support for the California Department of Public Health in the Center for Family Health, MCAH Division. She interfaces with all Local MCAH programs across California to coordinate activities to address maternal health issues. Ms. Bost is also a part of the Title V leadership team that develops and coordinates California’s Title V Maternal Child Health Block grant. In this role, she brings a local perspective to the state’s Title V Action Plan and manages many maternal and infant health activities and program development. She is passionate about creating policy and systems-level change to better the lives of moms and families.
Before joining public health, she worked at the California Department of Social Services at the Office of Child Abuse Prevention. Before that, she spent several years at the local level in Sacramento County as a Human Services Program Planner, developing and implementing various systems, policies, and programs.
Ms. Bost has a master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) from California State University, Sacramento, and a bachelor’s degree majoring in Social Work from Weber State University. She continues to pursue educational opportunities with interest in educational and organizational leadership.
She has two adult children and two fur babies. She enjoys traveling, hiking, camping, and adventuring with her husband and dog in her spare time.
Ryan Colburn Scholarship Award
For youth or young adult (18-25) with SHCN, who has had some connection to their state Title V program, (as a recipient of services, serving in some sort of advisory capacity or both) and can build off of this experience by going back and continuing to be involved in their state.
Youth Coordinator/Parent Trainer, Maine Parent Federation
Dylan Campbell is a 20-years young academic with an interest in the human brain and a passion for what’s right. He self-identifies with Social and Emotional Disorders. Dylan has been working with Maine Parent Federation for 4 years in the capacities of Youth Coordinator and a Parent Trainer. He is responsible for creating and implementing all the youth/young adult workshops, activities, and support groups in this role. Under his supervision, he has successfully created workshops for youth/young adults with special health care needs and/or disabilities. One of Dylan’s most significant achievements has been developing and implementing the Maine Parent Federation youth/young adult Supported Decision-Making workshop. In addition to the work Dylan has done around Supported Decision-Making he has created support groups specifically for youth/young adults.
Legislative Champion for MCH Award
The goal of this award is to recognize and celebrate the efforts of Members of Congress and their staff to improve the lives and health of mothers, children and families, including those with special health care needs. The Legislative Champions Award is given to a Member of Congress and/or their professional staff to recognize efforts to support state maternal and child health programs and advocacy on behalf of children, women and families at the national level. The award is administered by the AMCHP Legislative and Health Care Finance Committee and was awarded for the first time in 2009.
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), MA
Senator Cory Booker is being recognized for his steadfast commitment to improving maternal and child health, including lead sponsorship of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus in the Senate, MOMMIES Act (to extend postpartum Medicaid and CHIP coverage for a minimum of 12 months) and the Justice for Incarcerated Moms Act. Behind the scenes Sen. Booker and his staff have been tireless champions to ensure that crucial maternal and child health provisions were included in the Build Better Act (still in process at time of writing this nomination).
Booker grew up in northern New Jersey and received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University. At Stanford, Booker played varsity football, volunteered for the campus peer counseling center, and wrote for the student newspaper. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and went on to study at the University of Oxford, and then Yale Law School, where he graduated in 1997.
At 29, Booker was elected to the Newark City Council, where he challenged the city’s entrenched political machine and fought to improve living conditions for city residents, increase public safety, and reduce crime. Starting in 2006, Booker served as Newark’s mayor for more than seven years. During his tenure, the city entered its largest period of economic growth since the 1960s.
In October 2013, Booker won a special election to represent New Jersey in the United States Senate. In November 2014, Senator Booker was re-elected to a full six-year term. As New Jersey’s junior Senator, Cory Booker has brought an innovative and consensus-building approach to tackling some of the most difficult problems facing New Jersey and our country. He has emerged as a national leader in the effort to fix our broken criminal justice system and end mass incarceration, helping craft the most sweeping set of criminal justice reforms in a generation, the First Step Act, which became law in December 2018. Booker sits on the Judiciary Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, and the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
Representative Brian Fitzpatrick is recognized for his support of several initiatives to improve maternal and child health in current and previous sessions of Congress including being a lead author of a Congressional letter to increase funding for the CDC’s Surveillance for Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies (SETNET) program and a co-lead of a Congressional letter to increase funding for several maternal and child health programs including the Title V Maternal & Child Health Block Grant. He has also cosponsored legislation such as the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act and TRIUMPH for New Moms Act (to establish a task force on maternal mental health).
For 14 years prior to representing his hometown of Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District, Brian Fitzpatrick served our nation both as an FBI Special Agent and Federal Prosecutor, fighting both domestic and international political corruption, and supporting global counterterrorism and counterintelligence efforts – including being embedded with U.S. Special Forces as part Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Working to promote freedom and democracy at home and abroad, Brian also served as National Director for the FBI’s Campaign Finance and Election Crimes Enforcement Program and as a National Supervisor for the FBI’s Public Corruption Unit at FBI Headquarters, where he was recognized as an expert in restoring integrity to governmental institutions.
In the 117th Congress, Brian was elected Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, having previously served as Vice-Chair. Brian is the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, the Environment, and Cyber, and he was appointed by House leadership to currently serve on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) and as a Commissioner on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission. Additionally, Brian serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and he is the Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force. Brian is a licensed attorney, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL), PhD, MA
Representative Robin Kelly is widely recognized as one of the most active champions of maternal health efforts on Capitol Hill. She is being recognized for her leadership as lead sponsor of legislation such as MOMMA’s Act, Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act, Helping Moms Act (to make permanent the postpartum Medicaid extension state option), and more. Rep. Kelly was also a lead author of a Congressional letter to increase funding for several maternal and child health programs including the Title V Maternal & Child Health Block Grant.
Congresswoman Kelly is Vice Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (the main policy-writing body of the House) and serves on the Health, Energy, and Consumer Protection and Commerce subcommittees. Her Energy and Commerce work is focused on expanding access to healthcare, consumer protection for American families and economic development.
Committed to improving the health and wellness of vulnerable communities across the country, the Congresswoman serves as the Vice Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, and Co-Chairs the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls. She also Co-Chairs the House Democratic Policy Group and House Tech Accountability Caucus.
Prior to her election to Congress, Kelly was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, served as Chief Administrative Officer of Cook County (the second largest county in the United States) and was Chief of Staff to Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias – becoming the first African American woman to serve as Chief of Staff to an elected constitutional statewide officeholder.
The daughter of a small business owner and postal worker, Congresswoman Kelly moved to Illinois to attend Bradley University in Peoria, where she earned her B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Counseling. She later received a Ph.D. in Political Science from Northern Illinois University. She lives in Matteson with her husband, Dr. Nathaniel Horn, and has two adult children, Kelly and Ryan.
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.
Innovation Hub Best Practices Award
Family Connects Model
Family Connects International
Practice Contact: Winona Weindling, email@example.com
Innovation Hub Empowerment and Partnership Awards
LEND Trainees as Family Navigators: A Practicum Framework
Treatment & Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center
Practice Contact: Nina Harris, firstname.lastname@example.org
Infant-Toddler Court Teams
ZERO to THREE
Practice Contact: Jenifer Goldman Fraser, email@example.com