Celebrating the 2023 AMCHP Annual Award Winners 
May 02, 2023

The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) is pleased to announce the winners of its 2023 AMCHP Annual Awards. The awards will be presented at the 2023 AMCHP Annual Conference, held May 6-9, 2023, in person at the New Orleans Marriot in New Orleans, LA, and virtually through our virtual conference platform.  

John C. MacQueen Lecture Award 

For innovation in the field of maternal and child health (MCH)

Dr. Fleda Mask Jackson, PhD, MS 

President, Majaica, LLC 

A scholar, educator, and activist, Dr. Fleda Mask Jackson is the President of Majaica, LLC, a national research firm and think tank where she is the leader of Save 100 Babies©. Dr. Jackson led groundbreaking research on stress and resilience resulting in the development of a unique racial and gendered stress measure (the Jackson, Hogue, Phillips Contextualized Stress Measure), a dissemination /intervention model, and an advocacy approach for black women’s health. Dr. Jackson was a Professor of Applied Public Health at the Rollins School of Public Health (Emory University) and a visiting scholar in the Psychology Department at Spelman College. As a leading authority on stress from gendered racism and its impact on maternal and birth outcomes, she is the author of numerous peer-reviewed scientific articles, book chapters, and refereed and public presentations on the topic. Her work is cited in major newspapers, magazines and media outlets that include ProPublica, Vox, Ebony, Essence, CNN and NPR.  Her work has been featured in the documentaries When the Bough Breaks, an episode of the award-winning PBS series, Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick, and in the film, Crisis in the Crib. She also appeared in the Lightbox production, Death by Delivery, a documentary on black maternal mortality in Georgia. 

Her collaborations include work with the Center for Excellence in Women’s Health at the Harvard Medical School (Brigham and Women’s Hospital), The Ford Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and the Southeast Regional Office of the Children’s Defense Fund. She served as a member of the Advisory subcommittee on Health Disparities for the CDC Director and as a member of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality (SACIM) an appointment approved by the White House under President Barak Obama. As a member of SACIM Dr. Jackson was the chair of the Healthy Start subcommittee. Dr. Jackson served as the chair and co-chair of the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta’s Babies Born Healthy Initiative and recently served as a co-leader for the National March of Dimes’ Birth Equity initiative.  

She is the recipient of the Spelman College Alumnae Achievement Award in Health and Science, the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta’s Live United Award, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Torch Award for being an activist for mental and physical health, and the Center for Black Women’s Wellness Health Pioneer Award. In 2014, she received the Maternal and Child Health Award from the Georgia Public Health Association and was honored by Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) and the National March of Dimes for her contributions to MCH.  In 2022, BMMA named its inaugural research prize the Jackson, Rowley, Hogan Excellence in Black Maternal Health Scholarship Award.

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.

Dr. Vanessa Walker Harris, MD 

Director, Office of Family Health Services, Virginia Department of Health 

Dr. Vanessa Walker Harris serves as Director of the Office of Family Health Services at the Virginia Department of Health, where programs focus on nutrition security, chronic disease prevention, and MCH. She most recently served as the Secretary of Health and Human Resources for Governor Ralph Northam, and ensured equitable access to high quality healthcare and social services that promote a healthy Virginia. She advanced to the role of Secretary after serving as Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Resources and playing a key part in addressing Virginia’s maternal health inequities. Originally from Ohio, she earned a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Chemistry from Hampton University and a medical degree from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She completed internal medicine residency and endocrine fellowship at Johns Hopkins.  Dr. Walker Harris is dedicated to advancing health equity as a public health leader. 

Vince Hutchins Leadership Award 

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

Dr. Emily Naiser, PhD, MPH 

Project Director, Texas A&M University Public Policy Research Institute 

For almost fifteen years, Dr. Emily Naiser has collaborated on a variety of projects at the Texas A&M University Public Policy Research Institute in a range of disciplines, including criminal justice, education, and employment. She loves the challenge of coming up with a way to study and solve complex research questions.  

Dr. Naiser’s interests have always lied in public health. She currently oversees the Texas Youth Action Network, a program that supports Texas organizations to build youth-adult partnerships in their communities. The program is funded by the Texas Department of State Health Services as a way to spread positive youth development principles across the state. In five years, the program has collaborated with over 70 organizations, trained hundreds of individuals, and supported the development of dozens of partnerships to address youth-related issues in their communities. She loves working with dedicated, hardworking professionals on her team and community partners who are passionate about working alongside youth to make change. She is constantly awed and inspired by their work and proud to play a role in it.  

Outside of this work, Dr. Naiser is also working on a program evaluation designed to see if offering young adults in the criminal justice system comprehensive case management and other support can reduce their involvement in the criminal justice system and improve their well-being. This program aims to be a model to improve the criminal justice system. Over the years, Dr. Naiser has been involved in a number of other Title V MCH Services grants conducting needs assessments and state-level evaluations. She is also proud of her recent dissertation on safety in home care for children with special health care needs and prior research in that field. 

Merle McPherson Family Leadership Award 

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

Gina Pola-Money 

Family Advocate, Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND) 

Gina Pola-Money has been involved in MCH health initiatives, specifically children and youth with special health care needs for over 36 years and is the founder of Utah Family Voices.  She is a proud mom of five, two of which had complex medical needs due to a rare genetic disorder that was unfortunately terminal.   

Though Gina retired from full-time employment in 2020, she is still involved in Utah’s Regional LEND program as faculty and a management team member as well as a volunteer treasurer and administrator for the nonprofit organization, Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities. Because of the acquired expertise of the many years of lived experiences it continues to drive her passion to help with systems change efforts for all MCH populations.  

Some of her proud accomplishments are: 

  • Worked at the Utah Parent Center for over 31 years, retired as the Associate Director 
  • Developed Utah’s Family-to-Family Health Information Center, retired as the Director 
  • Provided family input to both AMCHP and NICHQ as a Board member 
  • Assisted in the development of the Medical Home Portal and continue with the editorial board 
  • Worked at Utah CSHCN as the Family Involvement Coordinator for 13 years 
  • Served as a Block Grant reviewer for the last 6 years and will continue 

Gina still collaborates with various partners to improve the complicated systems of care.  Though to date, one of her greatest successes is being a grandma to a little dude with a huge “tude”. 

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 MCH 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  

William Arias, MPH 

Senior Public Health Epidemiologist/MCH Epidemiologist, Rhode Island Department of Health 

William Arias received his Bachelor of Science degree at Providence College, and his Master of Public Health degree at the Yale School of Public Health. He began working at the Rhone Island (RI) Department of Health as the epidemiologist for the RI Birth Defects Program. Later, he switched to his current role as the MCH Health Epidemiologist.  William has participated in the 2021-2022 MCH Epidemiology Peer-to-Peer Cohort within the AMCHP Leadership Lab and is a member of Rhode Island’s Pregnancy and Postpartum Death Review Committee. 


Region III – Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia 

Dr. Dane De Silva, PhD, MPH 

MCH Epidemiologist Lead, Virginia Department of Health 

Dr. Dane De Silva is the MCH Epidemiologist Lead with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Office of Family Health Services in Richmond, Virginia (VA), where he supervises the MCH Epidemiology and Evaluation Unit in the Division of Population Health Data. He and his team provide consultation on all epidemiological and evaluation efforts related to the Title V MCH Block Grant and MCH programs at VDH. Prior to this role, he served as the Family Violence Programs Manager, where he facilitated Virginia’s Child Fatality Review Team in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner at VDH. 

Originally from Vancouver, Canada, he worked in clinical and public health research and surveillance around very preterm birth and pre-eclampsia. Dr. De Silva is an experienced population-health researcher rooted in the life course and reproductive justice frameworks, and his research spans from the intersection of social determinants of health with birth outcomes, reproductive health, and infant and child health. He is passionate about using data in innovative ways to answer research questions that will inspire and inform programs and policies to support the MCH population. He earned both his Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science and Master of Public Health with a focus in MCH from the University of British Columbia, and his Doctoral degree in MCH from the University of Maryland.  

Region IV – Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi 

Dr. Anne Odusanya, DrPH, MPH 

Title V CYSHCN Director, North Carolina Department of Health 

Dr. Anne Odusanya has a decade of public health experience, specifically related to MCH regarding community health behavior and education. This includes creating undergraduate and graduate curricula, working alongside minoritized communities (BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and families of children and youth with special health care needs [CYSHCN]), in addition to equity-oriented program development, implementation, and evaluation nationally and internationally. She has investigated inequities regarding CYSHCN, breastfeeding and social determinants of health, and Black women in relation to racism, stress, and depression during and after pregnancy. Having a younger sibling with Down syndrome, who passed away at a year old from an undetected congenital heart defect, fuels her passion for better serving families to move toward equity. 

Dr. Odusanya is an Assistant Director for the Division of Child and Family Well-Being, specifically for the Whole Child Health Section and serves as the CYSHCN Director at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). Additionally, she is the cross-departmental lead for developing and implementing mental health offerings for schools building on the StrongSchoolsNC COVID testing program. Prior to NCDHHS, Dr. Odusanya worked as the CYSHCN Unit Supervisor at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services alongside staff and partners concerning the newborn screening, birth defects prevention and surveillance, Title V CYSHCN, and MCH programs. Regarding the American Public Health Association MCH Section, she is a founding co-chair of the Professional Development Committee and its mentorship program and is a co-chair for the CYSHCN Committee. She is also a member of the National Resource Center for Patient/Family-Centered Medical Home Health Equity Subcommittee.  

Dr. Odusanya received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of San Francisco, Master of Public Health in MCH from the University of South Florida, and her Doctor of Public Health in Community Health Behavior and Education from Georgia Southern University.  

Region V – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin 

Sara Haig, MSW, LSW 

Adolescent Health Coordinator, Ohio Department of Health   

Sara Haig has worked at the Ohio Department of Health for over nine years. Throughout that time, she has worked in a variety of MCH programs, including early childhood health, teen pregnancy prevention, youth surveys and adolescent health. Sara was recently promoted to Section Administrator of Women and Family Health Services. Sara received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Dayton, a master’s degree in social work from The Ohio State University and is a Licensed Social Worker in the state of Ohio. Sara lives in Central Ohio with her husband Matt and three young children, Hannah, Harris, and Cora. In her free time, she enjoys physical activity and anything true crime. 

Region VI – New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana 

Audrey Young, MPH 

MCH Unit Director, Texas Title V CSHCN Director, Texas Department of State Health Services  

Audrey Young currently serves as the MCH Unit Director and the Title V Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) Director for the Texas Department of State Health Services. In this role, she oversees Title V programming that aims to improve the health of women of childbearing age, infants, children, adolescents, and children and youth with special health care needs. Programs and initiatives include the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee, TexasAIM, Healthy Texas Mothers and Babies Coalitions, Help Me Grow Texas, and CSHCN Community-based contracts. Audrey has a Master’s of Public Health Degree from Texas A&M.

Region VII – Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska 

Dr. Stephanie Radke, MD, MPH, FACOG 

Clinical Associate Professor and Iowa Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (IMQCC) Medical Director, University of Iowa Health Care 

Dr. Stephanie Radke has been a longstanding partner of Iowa’s Title V MCH program for many years through her role on the Medicaid Maternal Health Task Force and has become a strong statewide leader in the field of maternal health through her work in supporting Iowa HHS in applying to become an AIM state. She currently serves as the medical director of IMQCC and Iowa AIM, a position in which she has overseen strategic development and the successful inaugural Iowa AIM improvement collaborative. 

Dr. Radke has served as a valuable partner in implementing the IMQCC, and continuously engages with Iowa’s Title V program in a collaborative manner. She has also published numerous articles to expand the knowledge about maternity care in Iowa including articles on breastfeeding, rural maternity care, and cesarean birth. 

Region VIII – Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah 

Angie Goodger, MPH, MHA 

Pediatric Care Coordination Systems Consultant, Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Section, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE)

Angie Goodger, MPH, MHA (AN-jee GUUD-jer) is the Pediatric Care Coordination Systems Consultant within the Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Section at the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE). She describes her work as “partnering with communities to build systems that support Colorado children & youth with special healthcare needs”. Angie’s primary role is to support efforts to improve access to coordinated care for children and youth with special health care needs and their families through policy and systems improvements. She also serves as CDPHE MCH Priority Co-Lead for the Access to Supports Priority and supports state and local efforts focused on increasing meaningful access to support for the MCH population and their families. 

Prior to joining CDPHE, Angie was the Director of Best Practices at Colorado Children’s Healthcare Access Program where she developed implementation guidelines and assisted over 212 pediatric and family practices to develop quality improvement projects through on-sight Quality Improvement Coaching. Her professional career includes time as a Program Manager at the Southeastern Minnesota Center for Independent Living in Rochester, Minnesota, and as the Assistant Health Planning & Development Service Manager for Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health in Iowa. Angie earned her Master’s Degrees from Des Moines University in Public Health and Healthcare Administration.  Angie can be reached at angie.goodger@state.co.us or 303-692-6316.

Region IX – Nevada, California, Arizona, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands (American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Island, and Palau) 

Ipuniuesea Eliapo-Unutoa, MOT  

Director, Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN), American Samoa Government Department of Health

Ipuniuesea Eliapo-Unutoa is currently the Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Director (CYSHCN) of the American Samoa Government Department of Health. She is also the Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) Control & Prevention Program Manager. Ipu spearheaded the growth and establishment of the RHD Control & Prevention Program in American Samoa without dedicated funding and very low resources.  American Samoa has one of the highest prevalence rates of children with Rheumatic Heart Disease in the world.  She was instrumental in securing private local donations, funding cardiology teams from the US to American Samoa to screen school aged children for Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) or RHD and evaluate congenital cardiology cases who are not able to leave the islands.  After finding children with RHD or ARF through these screening projects, compliance was an issue as families had to pay out of pocket for bicillin prophylaxis. Ipu was able to work with a team to secure a federal program called 340B to purchase bicillin at a very low affordable cost, so every child who needed a bicillin every 21 days can receive it for free at health clinics across the island. Local professionals are now receiving training to learn echocardiography in efforts to detect heart damage early and prevent premature death. RHD continues to be a challenge for the children population in American Samoa, but the work that Ipu and her team has done in the past decade has made milestones of progress to protect the hearts of the future of this territory.  

Ipu has been instrumental in starting support groups for parents of specific disabilities in American Samoa. She is a mother to a 13-year-old boy on the Autism Spectrum, and is very vocal on autism awareness for the community, gathering parents to advocate and provide support to one another for their loved one with autism spectrum disorder. She uses every opportunity to speak on issues that impact children with special healthcare needs, such as accessibility in public places, quality of education received in the classrooms, and improving systems of care for all children with special healthcare needs. 

Region X – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska 

Caroline Sedano, MPH 

Perinatal Unit Manager, Washington State Department of Health 

Caroline Sedano serves as the Perinatal Unit Program Manager, Washington’s Title V program for pregnant and parenting people. In this role, she supervises the Washington State Maternal Mortality Review Program; the Birth Equity Project, a community-driven initiative to reduce birth disparities across the state; and the Washington State Perinatal Quality Collaborative, which implements recommendations from the Maternal Mortality Review Panel. She is the Principal Investigator for Washington’s CDC ERASE MM grant and Perinatal Quality Collaborative grant.

Caroline has a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in American Studies from Brown University and Master of Public Health (MPH) from Columbia University. Prior to her role at the Washington State Department of Health, she led strategic planning of the MCH Medicaid Transformation Project for Southwest Washington, served as a desk officer for the CDC’s Global HIV/AIDS program, and was a CDC Public Health Associate for the Shoalwater Bay Tribe.

Innovation Hub Awards 

Innovation Hub Awards recognize exceptional programs in the MCH Innovations Database that have demonstrated a positive difference in the MCH field.

Innovation Hub Best Practices Award 

Resilient Kern 

First 5 Kern Children and Families Commission 

Practice Contact: Amy Travis, atravis@first5kern.org 

Innovation Hub Empowerment and Partnership Award 

EACH Mom and Baby Collaborative 

Center for Community Health Alignment 

Practice Contact: Sarah Covington-Kolb, sc77@mailbox.sc.edu 

Innovation Hub Advancing Health Equity Award 

Building Capacity for Food Systems and Health Systems to Partner 

Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin 

Practice Contact: Geeta Wadhwani, gwadhwani@childrenswi.org