Success Story

Promoting Intergenerational MCH Leadership Development

By Kristina Risley, DrPH, CPCC
Continuing Education Director and Clinical Assistant Professor, Maternal and Child Health Program, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) MCH program trains MCH leaders through their MCH graduate program, as well as through a robust continuing education program. In July 2011 at the 4th annual UIC MCH Leadership, Legacy, and Community: A Retreat to Advance MCH Scholarship and Practice, the MCH program assessed the workforce needs of the diverse, interdisciplinary, intergenerational group of 100 retreat participants including MCH students, scholars, family leaders, and practitioners from across the country. In return, the UIC MCH program created, in collaboration with the Retreat participants, the first ever MCH Leadership and Legacy Community of Practice (MCH-LLCoP) to address the identified needs. Approximately one year old, the MCH-LLCoP is a growing community of diverse MCH professionals, emerging, mid-level and senior, that is committed to addressing the individual and collective leadership development needs of its members through a wide range of online and in-person efforts.

Based on identified needs, the MCH-LLCoP is currently focused on four primary areas: 1) leading across the generations, 2) self-care, 3) leading with authenticity, and 4) leveraging differences. Members are engaged in a variety of activities and each member determines which activities will support their development. To date, the MCH-LLCoP has hosted a series of three teleconference calls focused on self-care including how to take care of ourselves in insecure times, managing stress, and being mindful leaders. The MCH-LLCoP also began a discussion group to explore what it means to be an authentic MCH leader. This group is currently discussing Brene Brown’s (LMSW, research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work) book called The Art of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are and the implications for reaching our full potential as MCH public health professionals. All activities involve an element of intergenerational sharing and they provide opportunities for members to engage with MCH practitioners from across the country. To ensure a collaborative, supportive environment, the community developed a list of Community Agreements (have fun, speak freely and by choice, face challenging issues with an open mind, etc.) that guides how we work together.

The MCH-LLCoP is led by its members and community needs are identified and addressed by those within the community. When a member sees a gap in any of the main focus areas, s/he takes a lead role within the community to begin the process of how to best meet the needs. In this way, the MCH-LLCoP provides leadership opportunities by engaging the gifts/strengths of individual community members. The MCH-LLCoP has an online presence at www.phconnect.org, a CDC-sponsored website that provides infrastructure support for public health related communities of practice. New members are welcome anytime. For more detailed information about the Community, please visit our website at mchatuic. wordpress.com/leadership-legacy-cop/.

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