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Spotlight on Claude Gilmore, President-Elect of the National Network of State Adolescent Health Coordinators (NNSAHC)

In June of 2009, Claude Gilmore will assume the leadership position as President of the National Network of State Adolescent Health Coordinators. He currently works in the Wisconsin Division of Public Health, Bureau of Community Health Promotion as the Youth Policy Director, Comprehensive School Health Director, and School Age Adolescent Health Consultant. He has a unique and deep understanding of issues facing today’s youth and in his new role as President of the Network, Claude plans to elevate the importance of adolescent health and the professionals that occupy related positions. In this time of looking at public health through a lifespan perspective, it is important to remember the phase of adolescent development from age 10 to age 24, and focus on key issues, such as teen birth rates, STDs, and in particular address the alarming disparities that exist. One of Claude’s goals is to ensure that both state and national policy and program bodies include someone from the Network organization to assure the adolescent health prospective is included in the development of final products.  

Claude is not only extremely knowledgeable, but also embodies a unique passion for his work. His deep understanding of adolescent health issues comes, in part, from his experiences as a community organizer, social worker, health administrator, drug prevention czar, and now youth policy advisor. His passion and the person that he is today are deeply rooted in his humble South Carolina roots that are filled with rich spirituality, meaningful community experiences, and strong family values. Claude feels blessed for the opportunities and experiences he has had throughout his life as they have helped influence and shape him, and he is the proud husband and father of three grown children. Outside of his public health role, Claude is an ordained deacon and deeply values service to his community and to other civic organizations. 

In his current roles, Claude has a unique perspective of the impacts of policy decisions on young people’s lives. He emphasizes that programs ranging from teen pregnancy, STD/HIV, alcohol, drug and injury prevention are replete with statistics involving the adolescent population, and therefore, he sees his role not only in terms of policy development but also as a collaborator. Change requires engagement of many stakeholders and commitment to the time and resources necessary to make change happen. Claude is inspired by Margaret Meade’s quote, “Never estimate what a small number of dedicated and committed individuals can do.” Claude is dedicated to providing assistance to help adolescents and their families move along the continuum of health and well-being. He believes that we are in very important positions where the most vulnerable, the poorest, and sickest are seen and treated. It is a privilege for him to serve them and he strives to treat all people with the utmost respect. Claude says that, “in the end what I do is not about me, it is about you, the neighbor, the employer, the teacher, the parent, the child, the adolescent, the community. I am just a facilitator or should I say an orchestra conductor and music sounds good when it is played on the right instruments.”


 A “Q&A” with New Region X Director Maria Nardella

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I am originally from the East Coast and got my undergraduate degree in nutrition from Cornell University. After working as a nutritionist in a vocational workshop for adults with developmental disabilities in Connecticut, I moved out west for a Master’s Degree in nutrition and mental retardation from the University of Washington. I spent a summer with the Colorado Migrant Health Program as a public health nutritionist, and then took a position with Children’s Rehabilitative Services at the Arizona Department of Health Services as a metabolic nutritionist for almost 10 years. I’ve been working for the CSHCN Program at the Washington Department of Health since 1992, first as a nutrition consultant and now as the manager. I continue to be a Registered Dietitian with the American Dietetic Association. 

Q: As the new Region X Director, what are some of the pressing issues your region is dealing with? 

Like many other states across the nation, we are dealing with crisis level state budget deficits that are presenting challenges to MCH program budgets and staffing. Our four state region (WA, OR, ID, and AK) shares contrasting needs of urban and rural populations, problems with rural access to health care, and unique multicultural community issues. 

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your tenure? 

I hope to continue to represent the interests and needs of Maternal and Child Health programs in Region X as well as my predecessors. I am in agreement with the newest leadership at AMCHP that this is an exciting time to help rejuvenate state and national efforts to tackle critical problems facing public health. I hope to help elevate maternal and child health issues that need national attention to the new administration and related appointments. In the midst of so much that must be retooled in our nation, maternal and child health issues need to be clearly visible and understood. A compelling case has to be made and heard and believed that it makes sense to more effectively and proactively support the health of women, infants, children, youth and their families. The health of our country depends on it. 

Q: When you are not busy leading AMCHP and working in your state, what do you like to do for fun? 

The last time I was featured in Pulse was in 2006 when I pedaled my bike across the country with my then 16-year-old son and a group from the American Lung Association of Washington. Cycling continues to be a big part of my life getting to work and in my free time. I also partake in a multitude of seasonal outdoor activities possible in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, like hiking, skiing, sailing, and kayaking.