By Eileen Forlenza
Wow – what a fantastic annual conference this month in DC. Considering the collaborative effort required to reschedule from the original January date – I would indeed classify this conference as outstanding! Thank you to the AMCHP staff and all the members of the AMCHP family for your dedication and ongoing commitment to learn from each other. I am always amazed at the amount of learning that can happen in 3 short days! Since my message this month is about collaboration, I’d say the timing is perfect!
One of my favorite places to visit is the Lincoln Memorial, a beautiful monument that symbolizes leadership and social justice. I have often studied the work of Abraham Lincoln, and like many of you, consider him a hero in many ways.
In the midst of all the current political discourse, I am reminded of President Lincoln’s plea to us during his Gettysburg Address in 1863. The history books tell us that he was exhausted and deeply concerned having just witnessed the ugliness of poverty, pain and powerlessness. He said, "....that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
His reminder to us then and now, is that democracy is about people. More importantly, our government should reflect the people for whom it was designed, and give voice to people. This idea of providing a place at the table for all to be heard is at the core of our work at AMCHP as we are strongly committed to collaboration and partnership. From coffee café’s in local communities to elegant board rooms in urban downtown cities, people are working together to solve challenging problems by aligning resources. AMCHP’s new strategic plan has a strong emphasis on alignment directly related to strong collaboration. Specifically, the goal area reads that "AMCHP will influence the alignment of resources at the federal and state levels to improve and increase support for maternal and child health. Objective #2 is "Increase the ability of programs to function at or towards the collaboration level."
Collaboration is anchored by mutual trust and commitment. As an MCH champion, you know firsthand that our ability to improve the lives of women and children is dependent on a collective effort over a long period of time. In public health, we often never see the fruits of our labor, but the partnerships we’ve developed are a testament to the value of collaboration. Communities are the benefactors of collaboration which is an outcome we can all be proud of. I am excited to see and hear more about your collaborative efforts!
I hope you are enjoying the spring season and the symbolism of renewal that comes with this time of year.
All the best,