Celebrating the 2024 AMCHP Annual Award Winners 
April 08, 2024



The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) is pleased to announce the winners of its 2024 AMCHP Annual Awards. The awards will be presented at the 2024 AMCHP Annual Conference, held April 13-16, 2024, in person at the Oakland Marriott City Center in Oakland, California, and virtually through our virtual conference platform.

Recipients of the 2024 AMCHP Annual Awards include:


John C. MacQueen Lecture Award 

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

Headshot of Okunsola Amadou

Okunsola M. Amadou, TM, CPM, CD, CLC

Founder and Educator, Okunsola’s School of Traditional MidwiferyTM; Black Maternal Health Consultant, Black Maternal Health Consulting Firm; Founder and CEO, Jamaa Birth Village

Okunsola is the Founder & CEO of Jamaa Birth Village, which was founded in 2015 in Ferguson, MO. She is a 18x time award winning Black Maternal Health pioneer, recognized in Missouri as the First Black Certified Professional Midwife and First Black Registered Preceptor through the North American Registry of Midwives, and is currently training her first born son as a Black Male Midwife.

On Juneteenth of 2020, Okunsola opened Missouri’s First Black-led Midwifery clinic. She is currently leading an initiative and capital campaign to build Missouri’s First Black-led birth center and postpartum retreat haven-scheduled to break grown in late Summer 2024. Okunsola’s leadership also grew the St. Louis Black Doula community from less than 10 Black practicing doulas in 2015 to certifying 459 doulas in 8 years through her Community Doula Training as St. Louis’ First Black written, created & taught community-based doula training. Okunsola leads the STL 360 Doula Initiative through the international maternal child health organization Merck for Mothers, which will identify St. Louis as a designated Safer Childbirth City in 2024 thanks to the work of Jamaa Birth Village.

Okunsola is the recipient of 8 Black Maternal Health state and local proclamations, including 1-Congressional and 1-state Resolution, for her work in the field of Midwifery & Doula care. Okunsola currently sits on numerous local, state, national, and global Black Maternal Health task forces, boards, and committees. She is the founder of the global initiative of “Black Doula Day™” and is a kindred partner with Black Mamas Matter Alliance. Okunsola currently practices as a Global Midwife-providing Black Maternal Health consultation services for US-based hospitals to improve equitable policies, state legislators to create bills that protect and advance community birth work, and international NGOs in creating their own birthing villages, removing colonialism from community birthing practices.


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.

Headshot of Margaret Major

Margaret Major, RD, MPA

Director, Perinatal, Infant and Pediatric Care, Family Health and Wellness, Tennessee Department of Health

Margaret serves as Director of Perinatal, Infant, and Pediatric Care at the Tennessee Department of Health where she dedicates her work to the betterment of women’s, infants’, and children’s health services.

Margaret began her longstanding association with the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), initially serving as a maternal and child health (MCH) Nutrition Consultant. Her expertise and leadership qualities led her to the role of Director of Title X Family Planning Service, a position she held for a decade. Her dedication to women’s health and genetics then led her to become the Director of the Women’s Health/Genetics Section within the Division of Family Health and Wellness at TDH, overseeing programs related to genetics, newborn screening, women’s health, family planning, prenatal care, perinatal regionalization, and injury prevention. Her work encompassed a wide array of programs, including Children’s Special Services, fetal-infant mortality review, child fatality review, SIDS, and lead poisoning prevention, in addition to her ongoing responsibilities in women’s health and genetics.

Margaret received a Bachelor of Science in Food Science, Nutrition, and Institution Management from the University of Tennessee and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California.


Vince Hutchins Leadership Award

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

Headshot of Omare Jimmerson, MPH

Omare Jimmerson, MPH

Executive Director, Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative

Omare Jimmerson is the daughter of a Nigerian immigrant and also a mother of two, working to save the lives of Black women in a healthcare system that continually dehumanizes them.  As an undergraduate working with teens, she saw young girls being treated as adults and denied their right to childhood. This sparked her interest in ensuring young people had the knowledge to advocate for their own bodily autonomy. As executive director of the Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative, she works to ensure every woman is treated with dignity, respect, and, most of all, as a human. By bringing doula care to Black and Brown women, her organization gives them back the power to advocate for their care. Doula care is not just for the “haves.”

Omare has over two decades of experience in teen and women’s reproductive health advocacy. Before her role at the Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative role, Omare was the Deputy Director and Recreation Program Manager for the City of Tulsa Parks, Culture, and Recreation Department, where she managed the development of diverse, inclusive, and accessible community-based recreational programming and spearheaded pandemic preparedness initiatives to ensure safety for staff and patrons.

In addition, Omare previously served as the Coordinator of Social Services at Tulsa Public Schools, where she led changes to teen pregnancy prevention efforts and developed district-wide evaluation tools for social services. As the Program Director for Communities In Schools at Mid-America in Tulsa, she effectively implemented program models within Tulsa Public Schools, enhancing the effectiveness of school and community programs and services. During this time, Omare founded Strong Tomorrows, a program that supports expecting and parenting teens on the road to graduation.

Her earlier roles include Oklahoma State Coordinator for Provide, where she focused on enhancing reproductive health services and training across the state, and various at the Tulsa Health Department and Planned Parenthood of Arkansas & Eastern Oklahoma, which laid the foundation for her career in public health and community service.

Omare’s leadership extends beyond professional roles into community involvement, where she has held positions such as Past Chair of Leadership Tulsa and Reading Partners Boards and participated in several state and national women’s rights organizations. Her commitment to public health and community well-being is further highlighted by her active engagement in conferences and workshops focused on reproductive justice.

Omare Jimmerson holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Oklahoma and a Bachelor of Science in General Studies with an emphasis on Community Health, along with a Minor in Psychology from the University of Central Oklahoma.


Merle McPherson Family Leadership Award

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

Headshot of Tricia Brisbine

Tricia Brisbine, MA

Lived Experience Partner, Gillette Children’s Specialty Hospital and Clinics; Independent Consultant; Family Advisor, Quality Improvement Team, CoIIN Gillette Children’s Specialty Clinic

Tricia Brisbine is the parent of a child with special health needs and an advocate for all families of children and youth with special health needs and medical complexities. Tricia holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology and worked for several years with Family Voices of Minnesota (MN) and Parent to Parent of MN, as well as the F2F HIC. She currently serves as a consultant on the Complex Medical Care QI Team, as well as the Family Engagement in Research Blueprint Team, both at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. Tricia also serves as a family/parent representative on the Maternal and Child Health Task Force (MN Department of Health) and the Waiver Reimagine Advisory Committee (MN Department of Human Services). She is the Title V Family Delegate from MN and is passionate about improving the quality of life for families of children and youth with special health care needs across Minnesota. Tricia completed the AMCHP’s Family Leadership Scholar Program in 2013 and has since designed and led family leadership trainings and initiatives throughout the state. She continues to work toward Family/Professional Partnerships and Authentic Family Engagement at all levels of systems and policy design, implementation, and evaluation.


Ryan Colburn Scholarship Award

For a young adult who identifies as having special healthcare needs or disabilities to attend the AMCHP Annual Conference, grow as a leader in MCH, and continue to honor Ryan’s legacy.

Headshot of Emily CowenEmily Cowen

Youth Coordinator, Kids as Self Advocates (KASA); Nationwide Board Members Marketing Committee, Youth as Self Advocates (YASA); Youth Steering Committee Board Members and Website Committee Members for SPAN; Counselor/Advisor to the National Caregiver Coalition, the Camden Coalition, and the Connecticut Council for Developmental Disabilities.

Emily Cowen is from Bloomfield, Connecticut. She has a physical disability called athetoid quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Emily is a member of multiple advocacy groups that advocate for disabled people, including Camden Coalition, KASA (Kids as Self-advocates), YASA (Youth as Self-advocates), Youth Steering Committee (also Website Committee), Caregiver Coalition, Connecticut Council for Developmental Disabilities, and People First of Connecticut.

Emily graduated from Sacred Heart University in December 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She hopes to become a therapist in the future.


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  

Headshot of Nadine Depina Tavares

Nadine Depina Tavares

Lead Project Officer for the Health Equity Zone Initiative (HEZ), Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)

Nadine Tavares is the Lead Project Officer for the Health Equity Zone Initiative (HEZ) at the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). There she supports communities in working towards achieving optimal health outcomes by addressing the social determinants of health through community-led capacity-building strategies. Her experiences emigrating to America have led her to pursue a career in addressing the deepest fractures and inequities within health and social service systems. She began her career in public health as a sexual and reproductive health educator. She also has a background in social work and counseling, supporting families in crisis through trauma-informed care and implementing preventative and sustainable solutions. She has extensive experience bridging the divide between communities and state systems, such as child protective services. She also serves as the RIDOH Maternal Child Health Program’s Family Delegate, working with Title V programs and communities to advise, promote, and educate families and policymakers on new and existing programs and state policies impacting families. She is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and a proud mother to Abel, her 7-year-old son.


Region II – New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Headshot of Genevieve Lalanne-Raymond, MPH, BSN, RN

Genevieve Lalanne-Raymond, MPH, BSN, RN

Maternal and Child Health Epidemiologist, New Jersey Department of Health

Genevieve Lalanne-Raymond, MPH, BSN, RN, assumes the leadership role of the Maternal Child Health Epidemiology Unit within the Division of Family Health Services (FHS) at the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH). In this capacity, in addition to overseeing the research conducted by epidemiologists within the unit, she directs all activities of the NJ Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), the Fetal Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) Program, the State System Development Initiative (SSDI), and the Research and Evaluation Team.

Genevieve has been instrumental in developing health data systems designed to improve maternal and child health outcomes in NJ. In 2019, she led the design, development, and implementation of the mandated New Jersey Maternity Care Report Card (PL 2018, c.82).

As the PRAMS and FIMR Project Director, she integrates her clinical expertise with public health practice to focus on improving maternal and child health outcomes. She continuously designs and conducts complex statistical analyses to identify underlying factors associated with maternal and child morbidities at the state level. Her findings inform culturally responsive public health interventions.

In collaboration with the Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) and Maternal and Child Health Program leads within FHS, Genevieve spearheads the preparation of the Federal Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Block grant application. She oversees and ensures the alignment of the Block grant application with the activities currently being implemented in New Jersey’s communities. Her contributions are critical in expanding and enhancing state Title V Maternal and Child Health data capacity for its needs assessment and performance measures reported yearly in the Title V MCH Block grant. She also led the writing and development of NJ’s Policy Development titled “Expansion of Community-Based Doulas Through Medicaid Reimbursement” for AMCHP’s MCH Innovations Database.

Moreover, in partnership with the NJ Department of Human Services, the Department of Children and Families, the Governor’s Office, and other key stakeholders, in 2023, she led the development of the novel Maternal Health Substance Use Disorder State Action Plan. The State Action Plan seeks to increase awareness of and capacity to address substance use disorders (SUD) during and after pregnancy. In 2024, the Team launched the implementation of the State Action Plan, which focuses on expanding access to treatment, increasing stakeholder training, and improving system capacity in NJ to provide families with necessary resources and support, mainly via Plans of Safe Care.

For the past seven years, advancing efforts to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality in NJ have been the focus of Genevieve’s career. She received her Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in Epidemiology and a Bachelor in Science of Nursing from the University of Massachusetts Boston.


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

Headshot of Cynthia deSa, MPH, MSW

Cynthia deSa, MPH, MSW

Title V/MCH Director, Virginia Department of Health

Cynthia (Cindy) deSa is Virginia’s MCH/Title V Director since 2021.  Her social work background and over 15 years of experience supporting and caring for medically fragile children and their families and managing social work teams working amidst the pediatric mental health crisis in a large pediatric medical center shaped and informed her work as the Title V Director.  She completed her MPH at the University of Alabama at Birmingham – an MCH Center of Excellence, and is a very proud alumna of an HRSA/MCHB-funded interdisciplinary traineeship program that centered her career in the frameworks of interprofessional, family-centered, community-based, and culturally competent systems of care. Through strong mentorship and continued desire to engage in both social work and MCH spaces, Cindy discovered the side hustle of being a Title V Block Grant Reviewer, maintaining a strong connection to Title V, which really bridged the transition from direct clinical care to Virginia’s state director. She loves her husband of 35 years, her three grown sons who keep her fresh and youthful, and her 65-pound standard poodle named Fiona, who insists on sitting in her lap while riding in the car. She is also a proud alumna of the University of Alabama, where she was a member of the Million Dollar Marching Band, and still plays her trumpet when Alabama scores a touchdown.


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

Headshot of Tiffane Evans

Tiffane Evans

State Adolescent Health Coordinator, Florida Department of Health, Division of Community Health Promotion, Bureau of Family Health Services, Adolescent and Reproductive Health Section

Tiffane Evans is the State Adolescent Health Coordinator at the Florida Department of Health.  In her 20 years with the Department, she has worked at the community level as a health educator in schools, community organizations, and juvenile justice facilities. At the state level, she has served adolescents through grant writing and professional development for youth-serving organizations.

Tiffane has worked to intentionally integrate maternal, child, and adolescent health efforts through active contributions to Florida block grant tasks, campaign creation with Children & Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) staff, and successful youth development programming that includes families and communities.

She currently serves as the president of the National Network of State Adolescent Health Coordinators, an organization dedicated to supporting adolescent health professionals in Title V Maternal and Child Health programs across 59 U.S. territories and states.

Tiffane believes that youth and young adults are rich resources to be cultivated. Adolescents add to the value and relevance of current MCH efforts and are undoubtedly the hope and future of the field.


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

Headshot of Terra Depew

Terra Depew

Manager Policy/Program Dev., Children’s Special Health Care Services, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Terra Depew is the manager of the Policy and Program Development Section of Children’s Special Health Care Services (CSHCS) at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.  She joined CSHCS as the Transition Specialist in September 2018. During her tenure at CSHCS, Terra has implemented a transition pilot program with school-based health centers which resulted in a 36% improvement in clinic transition activities, co-led the development of a bullying prevention grant to reduce bullying in the CYSHCN population, co-led a program expansion to adults with Sickle Cell Disease, and played an integral role in the development of a targeted case management benefit for children with medical complexity.  Before joining CSHCS, Terra was the President and Executive Director of the Community Health Center of Branch County Foundation. Terra graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in health science and is pursuing her master’s degree in public health from Michigan State University.


Region VII – Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska 

Headshot of Sara Gorman

Sara Gorman, MSN, RN

Maternal and Child Health Services Program Manager, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

Sara Gorman is the Maternal Child Health (MCH) Services Program Manager at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. In this role, Sara leads a team of four MCH District Nurse Consultants statewide, working with local public health agencies to build community-based systems and expand the resources those systems can use to respond to priority maternal child health issues. Sara earned her Master of Science (MS) in Nursing from the University of Phoenix.  She began her career in nursing in 2004. Her professional experience includes a variety of nursing roles, including direct patient care provider, public health nurse, nurse consultant, nurse educator, and program manager. She has worked in various health settings; however, her passion is population-based maternal and child health through the lens of the Life Course Perspective. Sara’s public health experience includes maternal and infant home visiting, community-based health education and screening, state public health program management, and statewide public health system leadership. In her personal life, Sara is a mother to three children.


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

Headshot of Danielle Hoff, DPN, RN

Danielle Hoff, DNP, RN

Special Health Services Assistant Unit Director and the Children with Special Health Care Needs Director, North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services

Danielle attended Dickinson State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She went on to obtain a Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in Healthcare Informatics from the University of Mary and later obtained her Doctorate in Nursing Practice with a focus in Nursing Organizational Leadership from the University of Mary. Danielle has experience working as a nurse in a variety of settings, including women’s health, surgical services, and public health. Danielle currently resides in Bismarck, ND, and serves as the Special Health Services Assistant Unit Director and the Children with Special Health Care Needs Director at the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services. Within this role, Danielle strives to improve and enhance the lives of children with special health care needs and their families and advance the maternal and child health system of care in North Dakota. In her free time, Danielle enjoys traveling with her husband, spending time at the lake, and golfing when the weather allows.


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

Headshot of Wendy Ly, MPH

Windy Ly, MPH

Chief, Local Program Support Unit, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Division of the California Department of Public Health

Windy Ly has contributed to The California Department of Public Health for over two years, currently serving as the Unit Chief for the Local Support Unit in the Community Resilience and Support Section. Her work reflects a deep commitment to child and adolescent health, alongside family and community resilience. She oversees the Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) Innovation Grants and supports the MCAH Mental Health Initiative. Her background in nonprofit leadership and youth empowerment has provided her with a strong foundation in mental health and behavioral support, enabling her to manage impactful programs throughout California. Windy holds a Master’s in Public Health, with experience in developing impactful programs focused on civic engagement, mental health, and substance prevention education. Beyond her professional life, Windy enjoys exploring national parks (38/63) and dragon boating in Suisun Bay on weekends.


Region X – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska 

Headshot of Ness Verigin, MPA, MPH, BSW

Ness Verigin, MPA, MPH, BSW

Block Grant Coordinator and Maternal Child Death Review Program Manager

Ness Verigin (they/them) oversees the Health Systems Collaboration Unit within the State of Alaska Division of Public Health, Section of Chronic Disease and Health Promotion. This team works on broad prevention topics, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, and cancer. They hold a masters degrees in public health and public administration, and a bachelor’s in social work. After a decade in direct services in child welfare and justice systems, Ness began a dedicated public health role in January 2020. Until recently, their primary subject area has been MCH, as the Alaska Title V Block Grant Coordinator and program manager for the Alaska Maternal and Child Death Review (MCDR). Ness is passionate about health equity and systems improvement through innovation across disciplines and with the guidance of those holding the wisdom of lived experience. Although a recent promotion means that Ness is now working on broad prevention topics across populations, Ness holds close to their heart the awareness that there is no public health without MCH. As long as they’re a public health worker, Ness belongs to the MCH workforce and will seek to bring more awareness and resources for MCH populations across any and all areas of public health practice.


Community Partnership Award

For an exemplary collaboration between Title V entities and community-based organizations.

The SBX Fatherhood Program

Organizations: Sigma Beta Xi Inc. Youth and Family Services and the Perinatal Equity Initiative, Riverside University Health Systems – Public Health


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 Health Equity Advancement Award

Arizona Health Start

Organization: Arizona Department of Health Services
Practice Contact: Kristin Spevak; Kristin.Spevak@azdhs.gov







Innovation Hub Best Practice Award

Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK) Kindergarten Readiness Program

Organization: Early Childhood Resource Center
Practice Contact: Danielle Bunner; dbunner@ecresourcecenter.org







Innovation Hub Partnership Award


Organization: BirthMatters
Practice Contact: Amber Pendergraph-Leak; amber@birth-matters.org