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 Management Minute

However long the night, the dawn will break. ~ African ProverbLFreeman.jpg

As promised earlier this month, I'd like to share a brief update on the reschedule of the AMCHP Annual Conference. First, let me say, the quote and this column are really about perseverance. Human resiliency is astounding in the face of adversity and no more evident than with our members, partners, and other MCH professionals. It can really be humbling and rewarding to experience!   

The last time I wrote, we were not sure whether or not we could pull off a reschedule of such a large and important event. With the support of many, including all of you and your AMCHP leadership, we have moved ahead with amazing speed and nimbleness sprinkled with lots of good, sheer luck. The new AMCHP 2016 Conference has been rescheduled for April 6-9, 2016 at the beautiful and historic Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC.

Even more fantastic is that we will have the original full program available for our participants. With only five of the seventy original sessions cancelled, this week we'll be sharing the revised programmatic schedule that remains largely intact with an excellent variety of topics across maternal and child health. Of the seventy-seven original posters, only seven will be unable to make the new dates. We will have another tremendously beneficial and rich program offering to our attendees as a result. A big shout out to all of our presenters who have made significant commitments to ensure that AMCHP 2016 can and will go on and that we will provide quality educational offerings in the same spirit of excellence that has prevailed for so long at AMCHP annual conferences over the years.

With any change of this magnitude, there are many worries in addition to the programming. Can folks make the new dates and can they make appropriate arrangements to attend a new meeting? We're so pleased to share that the answer is a resounding YES! Currently, about 75 percent of our original attendees are returning for the rescheduled conference. In addition, of those that had to cancel for scheduling purposes, 11 percent are sending substitutes on their behalf. Finally, five weeks out from the new conference, we have 18 brand new attendees registered who were not able to come to the original January meeting. Welcome to you! All in all, we are proud and amazed that so many of you are able to return to DC and join us – our promise to you is our commitment to ensure you have a truly wonderful experience.                

Finally, I'll mention a crucial success factor for all of AMCHP's meetings – support from our partners. Our federal and foundation partners (funders and friends alike), our corporate partners (our extraordinarily generous sponsors and exhibitors), our state agencies, and other organizations have all been supportive, understanding, and compassionate in so many ways of this reschedule. You have called, you have emailed, and you have sent gifts of encouragement. In short, you are REMARKABLE. Thanks to you all.

With this level of planning, there are lots of moving parts. Think of a 1000-piece puzzle that you just completed that fell off the table and needs reassembling. But, we also have some new and exciting additions. We are so pleased to be working with HRSA's Maternal & Child Health Bureau, and Dr. Michael Lu, to help coordinate programming for the states preceding the start of the Annual Conference. This working meeting for the State Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Block Grantees will provide an opportunity for State/jurisdictional MCH Block Grant program staff to work collaboratively in finalizing their MCH Block Grant State Action Plans, with a special focus on identifying and developing evidence-based or –informed strategies for driving improvements in National Performance Measures, State priorities, and MCH outcomes. 

Due to some other shuffling and placing of events in the best possible slots for peak participation, we'll be holding our annual Legislative Champion Capitol Hill Reception on Wednesday evening, April 6 – the first full day of the conference. This will be a great event on Capitol Hill that also provides an opportunity to stroll along the Mall afterwards to see the Cherry Blossoms in all of their wondrous glory.  

Also, AMCHP plans to hold its Leadership Lab as a post-conference session on Sunday, April 10, 2016. For nearly 20 years, AMCHP has supported the development of maternal and child health leaders – Family Leaders, State Title V and Children and Youth With Special Health Care Needs  (CYSHCN) Directors – through formal and informal learning opportunities, experience, dialogue, feedback, peer-to-peer learning, mentoring, coaching, and more.  To meet the expanding needs of our organization's Title V staff, AMCHP redesigned its approach to leadership development by launching the Leadership Lab – a 10-month program experience, with an expanded peer support network and focus on growing individual leadership strengths.  This is a broader inclusive program that promotes leadership development and learning across the entire Title V workforce.  We are proud to host our first cohort of the Leadership Lab at the AMCHP 2016 Conference in April. 

Please help spread the word about our reschedule. Come join us in Washington in April during the beautiful Cherry Blossom Festival time for another incredibly relevant and important national exchange on Maternal & Child Health! Also, stay tuned for the latest conference scheduling and other information by visiting our Conference webpage.

Finally, just to share a usable take-away from this Management Minute related to perseverance and resilience, there's a term from the education and psychology field that I adore. It's called grit. A rather old term, there's a lot of newer research on grit and its meaning and importance. Although grit feels like something we all possessed during these past several weeks, it is really more accurate to describe grit as having a long-term tenacity and drive – over the course of sometimes years or decades – to achieve goals. I like grit so much that I plan to focus the next Management Minute on the topic. Grit also implies the strong presence of other key human characteristics including courage, conscientiousness, endurance and follow-thru, resilience, and excellence. Despite the new thinking around grit, I think we can all say we displayed some grit recently as we planned around our new conference. I hope you'll stay tuned for my next Management Minute on more about grit!

In the meantime, your comments, counter-points, suggestions, or thoughts are always welcomed. Email me at lfreeman@amchp.org.