Q: As AMCHP’s incoming President, can you tell us what you are most excited about, and why?
I am extraordinarily excited about the potential changes that can occur in our nation with a new administration, especially the opportunities to frame a new agenda for children and their families.
Q: As we embark upon a new year, what are the most pressing MCH issues that need to be addressed?
I tend to look at this question in two parts: What needs to be addressed immediately and what changes are needed to create long term positive results. On the immediate horizon, we must attend to the funding shortfalls that threaten the very fabric of our organizations and people, including the reauthorization of the state children’s health insurance program. Ironically, some of the reductions that could be proposed do nothing more than increase the demand on a thinly supported and fragile public health and health care industry.
While I am a firm believer in assuring that everyone has health coverage, a future cornerstone of health and health care must include particular attention to the underlying causes of health problems often referred to as the "social determinants of health." How do we change our beliefs, motivations and lifestyles so that we eliminate the poor health outcomes we see today on every street corner, in our schools, and in our neighborhoods? What should our public health and health "care" system look like in the future, what will its best practices be, and how do we create and structure incentives that promote healthy lifestyles?
Finally, we have significant workforce challenges. Not only are we operating under a workforce shortage, but I am not certain that we have forecast the type and number of employees we will need for our future public health and health care systems.
Q: Looking back on 2008, what was the greatest challenge that AMCHP faced in working toward its mission? What was the greatest success?
AMCHP had to re-establish itself as a prominent face for the greater maternal and child health community and I believe through our CEO, president, board, and a re-vitalized AMCHP staff, we have successfully weathered that transition. AMCHP’s attention to the advocacy arena and to its revised methods of communication was successful strategies to achieving the goals in our strategic plan. The membership committees are much more energized with a clear plan to develop meaningful products that will benefit all of us. I believe our CEO understands the need for establishing productive networks, promoting our organization and its mission and engaging our members in the organization’s activities.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your tenure as President?
I have two primary goals. First, I earnestly want to see a strong MCH focus in any effort to reform our health care system, including the necessary resources for a robust MCH system in our communities and throughout the nation that is framed by a 21st century MCH agenda. Second, I believe the strength of any organization rests with its members and as such our activities and products should focus on the needs and input of our members. We are a diverse and spirited group of individuals who approach our careers and our lives with a great deal of passion for what we do. What a precious gift we have to offer.
Q: When you are not busy leading AMCHP and working in your state, what do you like to do for fun?
I am blessed to have a wonderful husband who enjoys traveling as much as I do. I love learning about the different social fabrics in states and countries. I also appreciate the arts and spend some of my free time volunteering at my favorite art gallery in Tallahassee. Of course, my friends and family know it also serves as an excuse to locate an unusual piece of "art" jewelry.