From the CEO


Annual Conference: A Time to Reconnect 

By Mike R. Fraser, PhD  

“And time for reflection with colleagues is for me a lifesaver; it is not just a nice thing to do if you have the time. It is the only way you can survive.”

--Margaret J. Wheatley, Ed.D, Leadership Consultant

I love the Margaret Wheatley quotation because I think she is absolutely right: opportunities to connect with colleagues, to learn, share, and network, are not luxuries — they are necessities. AMCHP’s Annual Conference is the one big chance we have each year to connect and engage each other in conversations about what is new, what is important, and what is on our minds. It is our annual occasion to develop big ideas, exchange information, and take the time to understand how we can truly improve our practice of maternal and child health.

Ever tried to slice a tomato with a dull knife? It is hard and messy work, frustrating, and also quite dangerous because a dull knife can slip and cut your hand. A sharp knife makes the work easier, faster, and comes with a lot less risk. I see the Annual Conference as a chance to sharpen our knives – to refresh, to build our skills, and to think about the challenges and opportunities available to us in this amazing new era for our nation. I sure hope you can join us in Washington, D.C. in just a few short weeks!

This issue of Pulse highlights some of the “big ideas” on the Conference agenda. We wanted to do this for two reasons. First, we thought it would be helpful to give you some information about the meeting, what to expect, and showcase some highlights before arriving in Washington, D.C. and succumbing to the whirlwind of activities, events, and have-to-dos that is the AMCHP Conference. With so many opportunities to learn and so many colleagues to meet, the Annual Conference can be overwhelming. We hope this issue of Pulse helps you to focus on some of the things we are going to cover together such as a look at what we can expect in the new Administration, how to better engage families in the work of Title V, and how MCH programs may be impacted by efforts to transform our child health system. Second, for those of you who are not able to attend the meeting in person, we wanted to make sure you too were included in the Conference. The features we present in this issue will give you a good idea of what we’ll be discussing and some of the sessions and events you can attend virtually after the Conference adjourns and we post videos of the workshops and plenary sessions on our website.

I am absolutely thrilled with the program our Annual Conference Committee has produced for 2009. We have a record number of sessions, workshops, and posters for you to see. We have many key partners and MCH leaders on the agenda that I know will inspire and challenge us to move maternal and child health forward in the coming year. Our exhibit hall is sold out. And it is going to be a great chance to have some fun! The social calendar is chock full of receptions, galas, and opportunities to enjoy being with and learning from each other.

With so much to do on behalf of women, children, and families nationwide we owe it to ourselves and the communities we serve to make sure we are learning, sharing, and using state-of-the-art techniques to improve our programs. The Conference is a great chance to do just that. Whether you are with us in person or with us on the Internet post-hoc, I invite you to be a part of AMCHP 2009. As Wheatley says, time for reflection with colleagues is a lifesaver. I can’t wait to welcome you to our nation’s capital and hear just how much we have to do to launch maternal and child health in this era of new opportunities.