Member to Member

This issue, Member to Member features several questions posed to two AMCHP leaders:

 Katherine Bradley, PhD, RN
AMCHP President-Elect
Administrator, Office of
Family Health,
Public Health Division,
Oregon Health Authority
 Valerie Ricker, MSN, MS
AMCHP Board Secretary
Director, Division of
Population Health, Maine
Center for Disease
Control and Prevention

How has being part of the committee changed your view of yourself as a leader?

KB: I have had the privilege of working with other national MCH leaders. Observing how others set agendas, manage meetings, conceptualize issues, and see opportunities for AMCHP and state Title V programs has helped me to learn and grow my own leadership skills.

VR: I joined the Workforce and Leadership Development Committee as a general member and found through the committee discussions that I was more aware of trends and longer term workforce issues than I had given myself credit. In addition, when I shared issues in my state and the approaches we took, their feedback boosted my confidence.

How has being involved with AMCHP in more than one way impacted your work?

KB: Serving on an AMCHP committee provides unique opportunities to work with colleagues from across the country, as well as MCH faculty and federal partners. While each state is unique, there are many common threads that are part of the experience of working in state government that can be learned from our colleagues. In the public health field, there is much to learn from other promising practices. I often find that I leave a meeting/conference call with some new information or resource from a colleague.

VR: Being an active member of AMCHP has provided opportunities to learn from Title V professionals in states that may or may not be similar to mine. I have been involved with four committees plus the board of directors and through each I have met a different mix of Title V people (and AMCHP staff) who expose me to different issues, perspectives and solutions. Because of this exposure, when issues come up in our agency, I am quickly able to respond about ways other states address an issue and can call or e-mail a colleague to get more specific information should it be needed.

What are the skills you think are needed to be an effective MCH leader?

KB: It is the same set of partnership and facilitation skills we all use in our public health partnership work. The ability to listen and learn, building consensus, attend to the process, and develop work plans with measurable goals/outcomes. We are in a time of change with the implementation of health reform, so AMCHP needs MCH leaders who are able to articulate both the value and health outcomes achieved through the MCH Block Grant, and to see challenges and threats as opportunities.

VR: Understanding the foundations of public health and the health care systems and having the ability to pass along that knowledge to staff and partners that may not have formal public health education. In addition, one needs a balance of including others (public health staff, families and consumers, and organizations external to the public health agency) in the development and improvement of public health policies and services. Lastly, you need to develop the ability to clearly communicate a vision that is compelling to your coworkers, and cheer people on as they accomplish milestones toward a goal.

How has being involved with AMCHP contributed to your role as a mentor?

KB: Mentoring is a two-way relationship, and it has been very rewarding to be involved in the Leadership Mentoring program. It is a gift to have a colleague that you can have frank conversations with about the challenges and issues that we all encounter. Both partners learn about programs the other is working on, state systems and, through the process of sharing and learning together, grow and develop.

VR: Because of my engagement in AMCHP, I have a broader understanding of the organization and the many resources available to support Title V staff. In addition, from having met and worked with people from across the United States I know of resources beyond my state and region that can save my mentee research time as I can direct them toward specific people or sources of information.