An AMCHP 2023 Plenary Session: Sharing Your How
April 25, 2023

Get ready to join us at the 2023 AMCHP Annual Conference, held from May 6 – 9 virtually through our conference platform and in person at the New Orleans Marriott, and be a part of our “Sharing Your How” plenary session where “how” is front and center. 

This plenary session builds on last year’s “Sharing Your Why” project, where attendees heard perspectives from a broad range of maternal and child health (MCH) professionals, youth, and families. Last year, we shared “why” they do their work in MCH, what brought them to the field, why they feel passionate about their work, and what motivates them. This year, we’ll shift our focus from “why” to “how” to learn about strategies and activities that support the development of diverse leaders in MCH. 

Through our “Sharing Your How” plenary session and our presenter’s stories, attendees will:  

  • Learn about the successful strategies employed by real people in the field to support the cultivation of a diverse workforce.  
  • Be motivated to reflect on their MCH journey, who helped to mentor and cultivate them, and what ways they could change their practice to support diverse leaders. 
  • Understand how the public health and MCH fields are enriched by having a workforce with diverse experiences and backgrounds and acknowledge the many pathways to and within MCH. 
  • Acknowledge and embrace their capacity to welcome others into the MCH field, will be inspired to create a welcoming environment, and will think intentionally about who they invite into the MCH space to support the next generation of MCH leaders. 
Get inspired by our MCH community through their stories and testimonials! 



As a Public Health Nursing Consultant for my state’s Perinatal Unit, my “how” includes a Systems Thinking lens. We cannot achieve equity within Maternal Child Health with siloed organizations. Instead, it needs to be established that MCH initiatives depend on integrating Public Health throughout every health institution (clinics, hospitals, health-related curriculum, etc.). This means all organizations should be led with a community mindset as opposed to an individual attitude. During the development and evaluation process of our work, one must consider how this impacts the community instead of just one patient.


To support this idea, my team has developed the Birth Equity Project. This project, which provides funding to BIPOC-led community-based organizations to serve BIPOC families, is rooted in Systems Thinking and focuses on community voice through our community-led advisory committee. Our team acknowledged the importance of the community’s power, which has often been dismissed regarding decision-making, resulting in poor outcomes. So, we decided to create this advisory committee of Black Americans, Africans, Pacific Islanders, Indigenous, and non-U.S born birth workers to lead this work and tell US, the state government workers, how this Birth Equity Project should be executed instead of us being in control. Our advisory committee brings in diverse perspectives and challenges us to think past the top of the iceberg and focus on upstream change with the incorporation of double-loop learning. As a result, silos are reduced, multi-sector partnerships are established, and the community is running the show. We want our MCH to shift the culture, right? Then that requires the inclusion of everyone! 

Shanell Brown, Nursing Consultant, Public Health at Washington State Department of Health 

As a father of two children with disabilities, I have had to embrace leadership in a way that I never imagined. Being the kind of leader my children need has taken a lot of learning, patience, humility, and self-awareness. Over the years, I have learned that certain qualities make me feel embraced as a leader, and I strive to cultivate these qualities in myself every day. 


Empathy is one of a leader’s most important qualities. As a father of two children with disabilities, I have learned to put myself in their shoes and see the world through their eyes. This has allowed me to understand their struggles, fears, and frustrations and given me the perspective I need to be the kind of leader they need. It has also helped me to be more patient and compassionate, which are essential qualities of a strong leader. 


Another quality that makes me feel embraced as a leader is honesty. I believe honesty is essential for any leader, whether leading a family, a team, or an organization. Honesty is not always easy, but building trust and respect with the people you lead is necessary. I have always been honest with my children about their disabilities and the challenges they may face in life. This has not always been easy, but it has helped us to build a strong foundation of trust and honesty in our relationship. 


A third quality that makes me feel embraced as a leader is adaptability. As a father of two children with disabilities, I have learned that life is unpredictable and that plans can change instantly. I have had to learn to be flexible and adaptable to meet my children’s changing needs. This has required me to be creative and resourceful and to think outside the box when faced with challenges. This quality has served me well in my role as a father and helped me be a more effective leader in other areas of my life. 


Another quality that makes me feel embraced as a leader is humility. Humility is the opposite of arrogance, and it is a quality that is often lacking in leaders today. As a father, I have learned to be humble and admit when I don’t know something or have made a mistake. This has helped me to build stronger relationships with my children and has allowed us to work together more effectively as a team. 

Nick Lutton, Program Manager, Family Voices of California 

I got involved in our field of family support back in 1990, a positive outcome of parenting a child who required extra services and support. Throughout the years, I’ve been able to learn from wise counselors, parents and professionals alike. Something that helped me along the way was to subscribe to national newsletters, magazines, blogs, etc. to hear what others outside of my community and state were talking about, the barriers they were overcoming, and opportunities for involvement. One of my favorite magazines early on was Exceptional Parent, and one of my favorite e-zines now is Medical Motherhood. (Some folks may remember the original MUMS Network (Mothers United for Moral Support). Back in the 90’s I sent $5 to the MUMS newsletter and received back a long list of parents of children with my child’s same diagnosis who were willing to correspond with me! It was glorious to have a starting place, since I thought no one I knew had a child like mine. That little newsletter, which came by postal mail, set me on a path to leadership and a wonderful career. 

Tamara Bakewell, Family Involvement Manager, Oregon Center for Children and Youth with Special Health Needs, Oregon Family to Family Health Information Center   

When I first learned of my child’s hearing difference, a parent mentor reached out to me. I remember wondering how she learned about my family, but I was so glad she reached out. She answered my “silly” questions about acronyms I was unfamiliar with and what the tests meant in the appointments we had just finished. She shared her family’s story with me and made me feel a lot less alone. 


As my son got older, we kept in touch through phone calls, deaf community events, and email. She thought of me when they started growing their parent mentor DHH program and told me she thought I would be a great fit. I learned more about the program, and I couldn’t help but try to provide some support to families that I so dearly needed in those first few months after a diagnosis. If I didn’t have my own parent mentor as a role model, we as a family would not be in the place we’re in today. 


She was a role model in the organization aspect of being a parent mentor – keeping call logs and how to keep track of the details when you’re working with multiple families at a time. But more than that, she taught me how to be open with families, to be non-judgmental, and to truly show how much you care about the parent. She modeled asking open-ended questions like how new pieces of information made me feel and if I had others to talk to about the information/decisions. 


Being a parent leader is never easy, but it is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had. I’m thankful for all of the parents that have been in this role before me and paved the way for highlighting the importance of family leadership and family engagement at the local, state, and national levels. 

Amanda (Mandy) Quainoo, Newborn Screening Follow-through Coordinator, Wisconsin Department of Health Services  



Candice Simon, Workforce Development & Capacity Building Program Manager, AMCHP  



Margarita Bautista Gay, Community Health Nursing Services Administrator, Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services/Maternal and Child Health Program 


Interested in attending AMCHP 2023? Register to engage with these and other inspiring MCH professionals. Also, subscribe to our newsletters and follow AMCHP on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook to be the first to receive updates and information about AMCHP 2023.