A Conversation With President-Elect Stephanie Birch
Q: As AMCHP’s incoming President, can you tell us what you are most excited about, and why?
I am very excited to have the opportunity to provide leadership to the AMCHP board that is comprised of incredibly talented and passionate members and to work with an organization like AMCHP that has outstanding energy and vision. Working together, the board and the AMCHP staff have helped to move AMCHP to become a very well respected organization and a recognized leader in advocacy and education for MCH leaders. It is such an honor to be a part of this effort and I look forward to helping to fulfill the goals and objectives that have been identified in our strategic plan.
Q: As we embark upon a new year, what are the most pressing MCH issues that need to be addressed?
State MCH/CYSCHN agencies are facing very difficult times right now. We are challenged to demonstrate the worth of the programs and services that we offer in a way that is meaningful to our federal and state representatives in the face of declining revenues, significant federal and state deficits, and many other factors. AMCHP and its members will need to actively help frame messages in a clear and succinct way that illustrates what states do with their Title V MCH Block Grant that supports women, all children and teens and their families. Stating these accomplishments in measurable ways that demonstrate the cost benefit and improved outcomes will be important components to be included in the message.
Q: Looking back on 2010, what was the greatest challenge that AMCHP faced in working toward its mission? What was the greatest success?
AMCHP was very challenged to differentiate itself during the writing of the Affordable Care Act legislation and assure that funding would stay in place while other programs and funding streams for populations that we serve were lobbied for. AMCHP staff, board members and state leaders did an outstanding job articulating how the Affordable Care Act (PPACA) could not take the place of the Title V MCH Block Grant funded programs especially in those states where Title V MCH Block Grant funding is utilized or leveraged to fund services and programs for MCH and CYSHCN. As a result of work done by many people, we succeeded in not experiencing cuts to the Title V MCH Block Grant and additional funds came available through the Affordable Care Act and other federal funding streams. PPACA is not a replacement for Title V and there are significant gaps in the legislation for CYSHCN that state members and other advocates need to educate our representatives about. Sustaining our current funding levels will be an even bigger challenge this year.
AMCHP also reached a new pinnacle of recognition by peer organizations for their leadership and knowledge that they provided the membership during this last year. AMCHP often had the current information of “what was happening” in advance of other peer organizations which allowed state members to inform their leadership in an organized and knowledgeable fashion. Many of the MCH/CYSCHN leaders received kudos for sharing the well written and timely information provided by AMCHP staff.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your tenure as President?
The focus of my presidency will be on leadership. As leaders, we have a responsibility to help develop and grow future leaders to come. There are three populations that are critical to our future. Through the mentorship program, specific training and the application of the MCH competencies, I want to assure that AMCHP is doing all it can to support the development of our future state leaders. Secondly, I would like for AMCHP to focus on developing leadership and advocacy skills for our youths and young adults that we serve as they are the next generation of leaders. Finally, advancing the leadership skills of our families is so very important to the organization. We have seen the power their advocacy can bring in making a case for funding at the federal level. We need family leaders to be directly involved in the design, outreach and evaluation of health services during this critical time of health reform and systems development. We know that families are essential participants when designing services so that their needs are met and the outcomes are more effective and efficient when they are involved. AMCHP has a pivotal role to play in leadership development and I look forward to assisting in their success.
Q: When you are not busy leading AMCHP and working in your state, what do you like to do for fun?
I am an out of doors enthusiast no matter what the weather is. Any chance I get, I try and spend it outside skiing, hiking, bird watching or traveling. I am fortunate to live in beautiful state that affords diverse out of doors opportunities. I also spend my free hours working as a part time family nurse practitioner in a very diverse part of Anchorage. I get energized from the experience of caring for my patients, many of whom experience significant health challenges. I am honored that they share their life stories with me and that I have an opportunity to assist them in improving their health status.