By Susan Chacon
President, AMCHP Board of Directors
I am so honored and excited to be your AMCHP president this year! I would like to thank Dr. Michael Warren for his leadership this past year. Michael's compassionate, committed, and steadfast leadership helped the organization navigate the first year of a new administration that was full of uncertainty and surprises. Though there are "big shoes to fill," I am so pleased that Michael will remain on the board as past president and will be there to share his wisdom.
It was great seeing many of you at the 2018 AMCHP conference in February. Another successful conference with over 900 participants (including more than 50 youth and young adults) and over 80 Capitol Hill visits. Wow! The passion and enthusiasm to come together as a maternal and child health community, share ideas, connect, and reaffirm our mission to improve the lives of mothers, children, families, and children with special health care needs is inspiring.
I can't help but reflect on the conference theme, "Staying Focused: The Enduring Commitment of MCH to Families and Outcomes," realizing how it resonates with the day-to-day work of maternal and child health staffers across the country and territories. Even with shrinking budgets and growing workforce challenges, ever-changing political priorities, and ever-changing demands on our programs, we all find a way to get the job done. Many of these stories of perseverance were shared during the plenary sessions, where we saw: the commitment of parents who shared their personal journeys in MCH as well as their family photos; the stories of strength and determination to address the needs of the MCH population during floods, fires, hurricanes, and manmade disasters such as the opioid crisis; the commitment of fathers and young men to healthy birth and family outcomes; and the strength of Title V leaders like Dr. Richard Antonelli and Dr. Michael Lu to never lose sight of the mission.
My commitment to you is to lead AMCHP and the board of directors into strategic planning and to identify our priorities for the next three years. I heard from many of you at the conference that the time is now to expand our inclusion of youth, fathers, young men, and the broader MCH community into our goals and objectives. As a mother of two teenage boys, I feel a personal sense of duty and responsibility to do so.
The board will continue to support and promote AMCHP's activities to address health equity and social justice through promotion of evidenced-based practice and outcomes-based work. We stand ready to address emerging issues, as we did with Zika.
None of this is possible without the dedication of the amazing AMCHP staff under the invaluable leadership of CEO Lori Freeman. In addition, the board of directors is a passionate, diverse group of individuals highly motivated to move the organization forward. I look forward to working with AMCHP, the board, and all of you as we "stay focused" on our mission and values to make life better for mothers, children, and families across the nation.