Annual Conference 2009

AMCHP 2009: “It made me laugh, it made me cry, I’d recommend it to anyone.”

By Michael Fraser, CEO 

I remember a movie advertisement I saw some time ago in which an emotional moviegoers states “…it made me laugh, it made me cry, I’d recommend it to anybody!” And that same line sure applies to AMCHP’s 2009 Conference!  Over 600 participants came together in Washington to learn, network, and strategize how to best address “Launching Maternal and Child Health: Opportunities for a New Era,” our conference theme.  Our 2009 attendance represented an almost 15% increase since last year’s conference which is a trend I hope will continue in the coming years as we retool and revise the AMCHP Conference and continue to seek member input on how plan the event to best meet members’ needs, engage partners and exhibitors, and develop a must-see program of cutting edge presentations.   

This year’s plenary sessions highlighted the need for state maternal and child health programs to consider what new opportunities are available to MCH in the current political environment and what changes we need to make to address our changing socio-demographics and economic situations at the local, state, and national levels.  Among the many cutting-edge sessions were Sunday and Monday plenary sessions featuring how to best transform our child health system to address current realities and provide optimal health for all children, a session on preconception care and women’s health with a spirited dialogue between Dr. Maxine Hayes and Tonya Lewis Lee, and a wonderful session on family involvement in Title V Programs using Colorado’s Title V program as a case study.  Tuesday included a moving panel on newborn screening that bridged both science and sentiment to produce a call to action on newborn screening that left no eye dry in the ballroom, a visionary and valuable MacQueen lecture presented by Dr. Magda Peck, and a informational and inspiring closing session on what the new Congress and Administration may bring forth in terms of new policy for maternal and child health in the coming year with Neera Tanden, a health policy advisor in the Obama Administration, and experts Sara Rosenbaum and Bruce Lesley.   If you missed these sessions, videos will be posted on the web in early April and we’ll send a link via Pulse and Member Briefs when they are ready. 

A sold-out exhibit hall, regional meetings, a moving welcoming performance by the School Without Walls Choir, an AMCHP Board meeting, Business meeting, Committee Meetings, Family Welcome Center, a jazz-band, Family Voices Gala, over fifty workshops and skills-building sessions, two nights of poster presentations, and a moving musical tribute to families of children with special health care needs by LJ Nguyen made the Conference an event to remember – as did the photo ops with President Obama, Vice-President Biden, Senator John McCain, and Governor Sarah Palin.  Alright, we didn’t get the fantastic four in person but we did have realistic cut outs with which many Conference attendees were able to pose!  I was particularly pleased to welcome our members who came so far to attend the conference – our Hawaiian and Pacific Island colleagues who traveled half way around the world to be with us – thank you! 

As we look toward our 2010 Conference and the 75th Anniversary of the Social Security Act, our 2009 meeting will be a tough act to follow.  We have already been making plans for next year’s meeting, including sending invitations to new Administration officials and leaders in maternal and child health.  We also have some ideas for making the program more accessible to more Title V program staff working in many different programmatic areas.  If you attended the 2009 Conference and have not yet completed your meeting evaluation, please do – we really want to hear from you!  And if you did not attend, we hope we can welcome you and your colleagues to our 2010 event.  Look for more details and a save the date in the next issue of AMCHP Pulse                                           

AMCHP Past-President Nan Streeter
admiring President Barack Obama during
AMCHP’s Annual Conference