Success Stories

What the AMCHP Family Scholars Program Did for Me

By Moe Schroeder
Parent to Parent Coordinator, Family Voices of North Dakota, Region 5 Experienced Parent Project Coordinator, North Dakota Early Intervention

How can I “Lead from Here?” I was sent the AMCHP Family Scholar application from my director at Family Voices. I looked it over and thought, yah right. Why would AMCHP, a national organization, pick me to be part of one of their programs? I am a woman from a town with a roughly estimated population of 400 that sits in rural North Dakota. I then had to think about where my journey was headed and how would I get there. What did I need to do to grow as a leader within my own home and as a leader of families with children and youth with special health care needs?

The Family Scholars Program fit right into my journey! The program started by providing me with an in-depth knowledge of the MCH Core Competencies, a greater understanding of Title V and the overall role of AMCHP. We then moved on to monthly topics geared toward our personal development as leaders. Through assignments, I learned about my leadership style and how others perceived it. I learned about my strengths, how to identify others strengths and how together we can be effective. They also educated us on the importance of partnership and advocacy at a local, state and national level.

I was able to take those skills and use them at my visit to the "Hill." AMCHP staff and my mentor educated and guided me through the process of the Hill Visit. I set up meetings and chose to go by myself. I took the tools given to me and turned them into success! I educated policymakers. I provided them with a greater understanding of the needs of the MCH population of North Dakota and our country!

Since the Family Scholars Program, I have taken an active role on the AMCHP Family and Youth Leadership Committee. I am moving forward with spearheading a project with ND Children Special Health Services Family Advisory Council. My next step is mentoring parents stateside about the importance of their story and how to take the next step into family leadership.

The Family Scholars Program instilled me with the confidence I was lacking to move forward as a Family Leader. I needed more education, they educated me. I needed to be stretched to see what was beyond right in front of me. I didn’t grow in height, but I expanded my outlook. Thank you AMCHP for this wonderful opportunity and helping me to grow.


Looking into the Future as a Family Scholar

By Susan Wood
Hilopa'a Family to Family Health Information Center

Being a family scholar has been an enriching experience. Based on the Maternal and Child Health 12 leadership competencies, we are challenged to stretch our learning and experiences to new heights. These competencies include understanding the MCH knowledge base, self-reflection, ethics and professionalism, critical thinking, community, negotiation and conflict resolution, cultural competency, family-centered care, developing others through mentoring, interdisciplinary team building, working with communities and systems, and policy and advocacy. Midway into the program, we’ve touched many of the leadership competencies listed above through monthly webinars, stretch assignments based on the webinars, face-to-face meetings as well as participation at the AMCHP Annual Conference.

The Family Scholar Program gently but consistently guides us to think differently and to utilize the knowledge gained in our work back home. Developing an individual learning plan and setting goals helps us direct our focus and self-reflect on how our learning influences our future work. For me, one of the most interesting pieces of the learning process was being tasked with taking the Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment. The strengths assessment touched 34 themes and churned up about one hundred strategies for applying my natural talents (strengths) daily. The suggested strategies are my springboard for how I can utilize my strengths in my work. What I find very helpful in this process is the ongoing self-reflection on how we learn, how to transfer that learning in our work and to look for results.

My circle of friends (families) has expanded. All of the families and professionals that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with thus far are deliberate in their work of helping our children and supporting families. The building of new partnerships and the support of friends can make a difference in changing systems for our children with special health care needs. Most importantly, we always have someone we can turn to in good times and in challenging ones.

When my time as a family scholar comes to an end, it really is just another beginning; a new beginning where I will continue to learn, share what I’ve learned and apply that knowledge back home in Hawaii. A list of reading materials has been shared with us so that we can continue learning after the program ends. I am eager to continue the collaborative learning process with my cohorts as well as strengthening relationships with my new partners. One of my goals is to be more active in the legislative process and to keep in touch with our state senators and their friendly staff. Helping to support our Title V programs in family leadership initiatives and transitioning youth to the adult world are high priorities. In addition, expanding outreach to families through support groups are also on my to-do list.

I am so thankful to have been chosen as an AMCHP family scholar. The professional and caring family involvement and leadership staff has created an awesome learning program to help us enhance our leadership skills. Through their unwavering guidance, leadership and continual commitment to our work, I can surely count on them in the future for advice and new learning experiences.


Reflections on the AMCHP New Director Mentor Program

By Rachel Berroth, MS
Director, Kansas Department of Health & EnvironmentBureau of Family Health

This is truly an exciting time for the field of MCH, with more opportunities than before to collaborate with other programs, integrate systems, and translate our shared vision into reality! While opportunities to improve the health of women, infants, children, and families are abundant, there are ongoing challenges related to emerging population health needs, health care reform, and the proposed block grant transformation. As Title V directors, we make a conscious decision to view challenges as stepping stones versus obstacles. This can be extremely difficult for new directors without guidance from programs such as the AMCHP New Director Mentor Program (NDMP). The program is vital to effective leadership in this changing landscape of population health.

I am pleased to share my personal experiences as a member of the 2013 NDMP cohort. The program connected me with fellow directors, mentors, and trusted resources fundamental to continued learning. Peer mentoring, collaborative educational opportunities, and a variety of learning modes including webinars, monthly newsletters, peer-to-peer calls, and an online forum for soliciting and sharing information were all valuable in the application of these practices in my state. Technical information on topics directly related to Title V and MCH was provided on a regular basis. All discussions and activities were very clear, organized, and benefitted me in my work. Most importantly, the NDMP supports directors with sorting out Title V legislation and block grant requirements without losing focus of individual state needs and priorities. I can’t say enough about the support and direction given to me by the NDMP facilitator Jessica Teel. She demonstrates admirable commitment to supporting the unique needs of each director.

The NDMP mentor assigned to me assisted with identifying my primary areas of focus, including compiling and submitting the block grant application and annual report; improving methods to collect ongoing public input/comment; developing an informed, accountable process for Title V funding allocation; and promising approaches for the five-year comprehensive needs assessment. Identifying priorities and setting short-term goals resulted in improved processes and newly developed tools/resources intended to increase knowledge about MCH in Kansas including:

  • Informing, marketing, and increasing partner/public comment and input related to the block grant
  • Developing and disseminating an MCH Services Input Survey – Kansas increased responses by nearly 300 during one year’s time
  • Launching a Title V MCH Services Block Grant website
  • Publishing the first Kansas Block Grant Executive Summary, Quick Reference Guide and Health Status Indicator Progress Report (snapshot)

As leaders, we set the tone and pave the way for work and progress in MCH. The NDMP was critical in acclimating me to my role as the Kansas Title V director. It was my primary source for orientation to the world of Title V. Moreover, the vision, leadership, and direction I was able to provide for my agency, Family Health team, MCH Council, and state partners would not have been as structured or “developed” without the NDMP. It is truly an invaluable experience.



Bradley Planey, M.S., M.A.
Family Health Branch Chief, Arkansas Department of Health

I recently served as a mentor in the NDMP. The program offers the opportunity for new Title V directors to have regular communication with a director who has more years in this role. The majority of the communication consists of regular telephone calls and occasional teleconferences.

I had the good fortune to have a new Title V director who possessed maturity and experience. She was great at sharing her experiences and sorting through the practices that have proved effective for her. We both were able to compare and borrow from our combined experience. I found that I get as much as I give in the mentoring relationship. It is a chance to share experiences and sound out ideas with someone of a similar background. It is an opportunity that should not be passed up. The mentoring relationship can help build self-confidence and the knowledge that you are not alone in the problems and challenges you face. We all can benefit from that kind of help. I encourage you to consider participating in the NDMP either as the new director or as a mentor. It is a "win, win" either way.