Healthy Beginnings with Title V:
Resources from a Learning Cohort Advancing Anti-Racism in Perinatal Health
Designed to shift power dynamics and uplift community leadership, the Healthy Beginnings Learning and Practice Cohort convened six state maternal and child health (MCH) agencies and six local birth justice organizations for an 18-month-long journey to identify areas of improvement in policy, data, and funding structures. The first priority of the cohort was building transformational partnerships between Title V and community-rooted organizations. Following the central relationship-building stage, teams developed action plans to address policies and programs that perpetuate racism in everyday MCH practice through inequities in funding, policy, and programming. Each state MCH agency was led by a community-based organization or Tribal organization serving Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities in their state.
- Provide capacity-building assistance and support to state MCH agencies and local birth justice organizations to build transformational partnerships.
- Discover pathways to dismantle policies and programs that perpetuate racism through inequities in funding.
- Through the guidance of community-rooted partners, explore ways to support the investment in, and sustainability of, community solutions that protect birth outcomes of Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latine/x, Asian, Pacific Islander, and other birthing people of color.
On this website, you’ll find some of the most impactful topics and learning materials discussed by the cohort. Also included among the learning materials are Anti-Racism in Data training modules.
Learning Bundles and Data Modules
The Healthy Beginnings Learning and Practice Cohort developed curriculum to support equitable partnerships between Title V and CBO participants; center bi-directional learning of anti-racist strategies to improve perinatal health; and highlight areas of improvement for Title V to address. The following learning bundles provide foundational materials and resources for Title V and other MCH agencies in the process of strengthening their racial health equity competence. The resources were topical areas of expressed interest and requests from the cohort, and reflect the expertise of the community partners, Steering Committee members, AMCHP staff, and Title V participants.
Creating the Healthy Beginnings Cohort
Creating the Healthy Beginnings Learning and Practice Cohort required a different approach. Understanding that community-rooted and/or community-based organizations (CBOs) may be unfamiliar with AMCHP, we first chose to design the application process to prioritize the needs of CBOs.
Conversation on Harm Reducing Language
Practicing Harm Reducing Language (HRL) avoids stigmatization of populations and individuals for the conditions they experience because of systemic imbalances of power. Using HRL is important as it requires people and institutions in positions of power to take accountability by naming root causes of inequity.
Protecting Community Intellectual Property
Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names, and images used in commerce. The intellectual property of people, especially intellectuals, creatives, scholars, caregivers, and birth workers of color, is often violated, exploited, or misappropriated.
Understanding Power Dynamics and Privilege
Power dynamics result from an imbalance between individuals/groups in access to resources. Those with greater economic and social capital hold more power and hold greater influence. An individual’s ability, race, gender, and sexual orientation are often associated with status, power, and privilege.
Collaboration Not Competition
Collaboration not competition is all about addressing the ways white supremacy culture and anti-Blackness show up in our work, foster environments of scarcity, and stifle relationship- and power building. One of the antidotes to this is normalizing communicating about it when it comes up (e.g., internally, with funders, partner organizations, stakeholders, etc.).
Deconstructing Racism in Data (DRiD)
A collection of e-learning modules designed to understand the importance of equity in data and data inclusion. The primary objective of DRiD is to deconstruct racism in perinatal data through examinations of root causes and identifying how racism presents in data and shapes practices, policies, and narratives, and exploring solutions.
Meet the Community-Based Organizations
We are honored to have the opportunity to partner with six amazing reproductive justice and perinatal health community leaders in this learning and practice cohort. Each community–based organization/tribal organization brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience to our collaborative, and we are grateful to learn and share with them as we advance anti-racist strategies for Title V agencies. The Healthy Beginnings Learning and Practice community partners include:
Urban Baby Beginnings
Mission Statement: “Our mission is to reduce adverse outcomes and isolation experienced by families during the prenatal, postpartum and early childhood years by increasing access to maternal health hubs which provide community support, workforce development, and advocacy for birthing and postpartum families.”
Healthy Start, Inc.
Mission Statement: “The mission of Healthy Start is to improve maternal and child health and to reduce poor birth outcomes and infant mortality in Allegheny County.”
Mission Statement: “To foster allied health professions for Latinas(os) in Dane County by supporting the native and traditional knowledge nested in our community’s well-being practices. Together, we want to reclaim our collective values of childbirth and parenting.”
Sista Midwife Productions
Mission Statement: “To Make Birth Better. Specifically, we are working to improve pregnancy and birth experiences and to eliminate perinatal disparities by increasing the number of Black birth workers, teaching families about their rights and options; and creating transparency and accountability within childbirth education and the medical obstetrical system.”
Alaska Native Birthworkers Community
Mission Statement: “To serve Alaska Native birthing families so that they feel supported, well cared for, and full of the information they need to make confident choices around reproductive health, birthing, and parenthood. In doing this, we seek to reclaim as well as create new ceremony to heal our ancestors, ourselves, and future generations who may have been harmed through the colonization of our bodies, healthcare, and birthing practices.”
Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center
Mission Statement: “To empower Native women and families to exercise their cultural values with integrity, and to achieve sustainable lifeways, while advocating for justice and equity.”
Meet the Steering Committee
The Healthy Beginnings Learning and Practice Cohort was guided by the expertise and leadership of a diverse group of Black and Indigenous women representing local, community, and national perinatal health and reproductive justice organizations. The Healthy Beginnings Steering Committee advised, supported, and contributed to the development of the cohort and curriculum throughout the project.
Dr. Dodie Arnold earned her Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Washington in Seattle, with a research focus on Clinical Perinatal Epidemiology. She has over 20 years of experience developing and implementing research projects, 16 years of experience in evaluation, strategic planning, policy change, and capacity building for domestic and international public health programs and health systems. She is also an adjunct professor with 5 years of experience teaching graduate-level public health courses online. Dr. Arnold has worked and lived in Brazil and Ethiopia and supported programs in South Africa, Tanzania, and Botswana. She loves learning languages and traveling. Exploring new places and cultures makes her feel connected and present. Dr. Arnold also describes herself as a hiker, birder, aspiring master naturalist, Outdoor Afro Leader, and Board Member of the American Hiking Society.
Dr. Arnold’s career is focused on the intersections of public health and racial justice. She is the Founder and CEO of the climate justice and inclusion-focused nonprofit organization, Arnold Climate & Resilience (Arnold CR), and the public health and social justice-focused consulting firm, Intended Impact. She is an appointee to the American Public Health Association‘s Committee on Health Equity and Social Justice and serve on the Ontario (Canada) Public Health Association’s Committee on Anti-Racism. She is thrilled to be working with this group to improve black maternal health.
Dr. Twylla Dillion, MBA, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of HC One. She brings 10+ years of experience in the nonprofit sector spanning philanthropy, Medicaid reform, maternal-child health, data analytics, and academia. In her prior work at United Way of Greater Rochester, Dr. Dillion focused on using data and analytics across the fundraising, grantmaking, and evaluation cycle. Additionally, Dr. Dillion has conducted research on breastfeeding, served as program officer for maternal-child health programs, and worked as a research lead on a Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the project focused on collaborating with Black moms better to understand contributors to Black maternal mortality/morbidity and develop strategies for better outcomes. She is a graduate of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, where she received her Ph.D. in Health Services Research, Policy and Outcomes, and St. John Fisher College, where she received her MBA.
Aza Nedhari, MS, LM, CPM is the co-founding Executive Director of Mamatoto Village. She is a forward-thinking and visionary Certified Professional Midwife and Family Counselor with a proven track record of exhibiting her strengths in innovative thinking, strategic planning, advanced problem solving, and organizational development. Ms. Nedhari offers 18 years of progressive and intentional work in reproductive and maternal health, human service program development and evaluation, and curriculum design. Aza has proven her ability to cultivate and lead teams through a transformational servant leadership framework, with an eye toward fostering growth, resilience, and self-determination. Aza is a Doctoral Candidate in Organizational Leadership and Management, focusing her research on the sustainability of Black-led organizations using a racial justice framework. She is a mother to three spirited children and a partner to an amazing artist.
Dr. Janelle Palacios, PhD, CNM (Salish/Kootenai) is a nurse midwife, researcher, and storyteller originally from the Flathead Indian Reservation located in Montana. Earlier in her career, Dr. Palacios worked with tribal nations and communities to identify the strengths of young parenting. Through story work, Dr. Palacios expanded our understanding of motherhood formation among young mothers. Dr. Palacios continues research engagement through her consultation work with the Montana State University participating in large-scale studies identifying obstacles to access to perinatal care among rural populations. Dr. Palacios has served as Co-President of the Native Research Network, the nation’s largest organization of health research-focused Native American researchers and allies.
Her expertise in Indigenous maternal health has been recognized both regionally through consultation work, and nationally as she currently serves a four-year term as a committee member on the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality, under Health Resources and Services Administration. Additionally, she is the Co-Chair of the Health Equity Workgroup within this advisory committee.
Michelle Schulte, MA is a project director and educator with experience and education in both health and academics across every stage of life. As an Ojibwe citizen of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewas, a large part of her career has also been dedicated to integrating culture, the revival of the Anishinaabe language, and supporting Tribal families and children through collaboration, equity, and the improvement or development of programs and services that support them.
Zainab “Zee” Sulaiman, MSc is a reproductive justice and mental health advocate, feminist, and pan-Africanist. Zee is also a sexual and reproductive health researcher, educator, and communications expert passionate about health equity, reproductive and gender justice, and access to knowledge, information, and services to produce sustainable communities. She holds a Master of Science (MSc) in Global Mental Health from King’s College London and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London. Zee serves as HealthConnect One’s Vice President of Impact & Advocacy and Founder of OhLeSe, a women-led organization working to advance sexual and reproductive health and justice and creating a just world where all are free to exercise bodily autonomy and live full lives.
Inquiries about the Healthy Beginnings Learning and Practice Cohort? Please email the Women’s & Infant Health team (WIH@amchp.org).
Healthy Beginnings Learning and Practice Cohort website and learning materials © 2023 by AMCHP, Healthy Beginnings Steering Committee, and Healthy Beginnings Cohort Members is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0