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 2017 Board Election - Candidate Profiles

Approved Slate of Candidates (updated 1/18/2017)

The open call for nominations for the 2017 Board of Directors is now closed. The following candidates have been nominated and approved to run in the 2017 AMCHP Board Election. All AMCHP current dues-paying delegates and family delegates for FY 2017 will be sent an e-mail with a link to the ballot in mid-January 2017. THE DEADLINE TO VOTE IS 5 PM EST, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1, 2017.


Susan Chacon, MSW, LISW 
Director, Children's Medical Services, 
Title V Children with Special Health Care Needs, Santa Fe, NM  


Karin Downs, RN, MS, MPH
Director, Division of Pregnancy, Infancy and Early Childhood 
Boston, MA 

Susan Chacon, MSW, LISW, received her bachelor’s in public health from the University of Massachusetts and her MSW from Boston University. She has worked as a professional social worker for more than 20 years. Currently, she is the New Mexico Title V director for Children’s Medical Services, Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs program which includes oversight of the Newborn Hearing and Newborn Genetic Screening programs. Ms. Chacon started her work with the New Mexico Title V program in 2001 as the manager of the newborn hearing screening program in coordination with the Part C program within New Mexico Department of Public Health Title V Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs, Children’s Medical Services. Ms. Chacon has spent her career working in health care and advocating for vulnerable populations. In 2005 she became the chair of the early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI) diversity committee, a multistate, cross-agency committee, initiated by the CDC to address disparities that diverse cultures and underrepresented populations face when accessing EHDI services. 

Ms. Chacon was a member of the community of learners with the National Center for Cultural Competence of Georgetown University in 2007 and continues working to promote cultural and linguistic equality in health care for children with special health care needs and their families.

Ms. Chacon has served as the Region VI director on the AMCHP board of directors since 2013 and is currently serving her second term. As a member of the board, Ms. Chacon participated on the governance committee and is now a member of the finance committee. During her term she had the privilege to work on exciting transformational activities such as MCH 3.0 and the revision of the AMCHP strategic plan including mission, vision and core values.

Ms. Chacon's Personal Vision Statement for AMCHP:
As we enter into a new era of transformation and uncertainty, it is essential to maintain solidarity as MCH professionals. We must continue to utilize our skills as leaders, collaborators and innovators to advance our priorities around improving the health and well-being of women, children, children with special health care needs, families and our communities. We must hold fast to our integrity and accelerate the integration of health equity and social justice into our policies and everyday work. AMCHP plays a vital role with its outreach to states, national advocacy and through steadfast dedication to a thriving MCH population.

Karin Downs, RN, MS, MPH, is the MCH director for the Title V program and also serves as the director of the Division of Pregnancy, Infancy and Early Childhood (DPIE) within the Bureau of Family Health. Ms. Downs has worked with maternal-child health, systems of care, community and family economic development, and relief and reconstruction in Massachusetts and internationally for 35 years. She has received the Distinguished MCH Alumni Award from Boston School of Public Health in 2012 and completed a fellowship at the Maternal Child Health – Public Health Leadership Institute (MCH-PHLI) at the UNC Chapel Hill. 

Ms. Downs has served as the Region I director of the AMCHP board of directors since 2016 and is currently serving her first term. 

Ms. Down’s Personal Vision Statement for AMCHP:                   My personal vision for MCH is that all children, including those with special health needs, are raised in healthy, safe, nurturing environments to ensure optimal physical, social and emotional well-being. Informed by an understanding of the life course, health equity model, social determinants of health and trauma-informed care, this vision can be achieved by 1) partnering with stakeholders at the national, state and community levels; 2) aligning national, state and local priorities and initiatives; 3) using quantitative and qualitative data to inform program needs, development and improvement; 4) addressing social determinants of health through public health initiatives, education, health care policy and program development; 5) improving universal access to quality care; 6) enhancing public awareness and family and community engagement; and 7) assuring fiscal sustainability. 


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Marilyn Kacica, MD, MPH
Medical Director, Division of Family Health                                                      Albany, NY

Marilyn A. Kacica, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, is the medical director for the Division of Family Health for the New York State Department of Health.

Dr. Kacica received her undergraduate degree from St. Louis University and her medical degree from the St. Louis University School of Medicine. She completed her pediatric residency at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis and fellowship in Infectious Disease at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She also completed a Preventive Medicine residency at the State University of New York, University at Albany School of Public Health, New York State Department of Health program where she also obtained a Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology. She is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics.

Dr. Kacica serves as the medical director for the Division of Family Health, which includes women's, infant and adolescent health; child health; early intervention and dental health. She contributes to policy and program development, implementation and quality improvement for maternal and child health populations throughout the state. Dr. Kacica is also a clinical professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University at Albany School of Public Health. Prior to joining the Division of Family Health, Dr. Kacica was medical director for the regional epidemiology and health care epidemiology and infection control programs at the NYSDOH. Prior to joining the Department of Health, Dr. Kacica was an associate professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Albany Medical Center in the section of infectious diseases.

Dr. Kacica has volunteered for AMCHP previously, serving as a co-chair of the Maternal and Child Health Emergency Preparedness Workgroup, as both a member and chair of the emerging issues committee, and on various other projects. She is currently the interim Region II director and running for her first full term on the board of directors.

Dr. Kacica's Personal Vision Statement for AMCHP:
I would like to contribute to the national work to improve the health and well-being of women, children, children with special health care needs and families so all live healthy and successful lives in healthy environments. This will be accomplished through working with national and state leaders, organizations and families through various collaborative approaches. These approaches will also focus on the inclusion of social justice and health equity to address the racial and economic disparities in these populations.


Mary Frances Kornak, MPH
Epidemiologist, Public Health Advisor      Washington, DC

Mary Frances Kornak, MPH, has over 20 years of experience in the health care field, specializing in program management and project analysis. For the past 14 years Ms. Kornak has been at the DC Department of Health, and she is currently the senior health care analyst for the Community Health Administration (CHA), where her duties vary from administration of the Title V program and the SSDI grant, to working with D.C. WIC and breast and cervical cancer screening programs. Projects that she has contributed to include CHA workforce development initiatives as well as placing interns from the graduate student epidemiology program (GSEP) and the paired practice programs into CHA. She is active in AMCHP, reviewing applications for the annual conference and also supports CityMatCH, the National Organization of Urban MCH Leaders. Outside of work, Ms. Kornak is past-president of the Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association (MWPHA), where she actively champions MCH causes in the metropolitan region. She is also president of her condo association in D.C. She is currently the interim Region III director and is running for her first full term on the board of directors.

Ms. Kornak's Personal Vision Statement for AMCHP:    
My personal vision statement for AMCHP is an organization that supports regional state maternal and child health programs to better affect the health of women and children, including those with special needs. My focus as Region III chair will be to strengthen educational opportunities in our monthly conference calls as well as increase connectedness and sharing between members in my region on best practices to decrease health disparities.  


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Shirley Payne, MPH
Director, Children's Special Health Care Indianapolis, IN 46204 

Shirley Payne, MPH, is the director of the children’s special health care services (CSHCS) division at the Indiana State Department of Health. Ms. Payne’s primary responsibility for the division is to administer and manage Indiana’s CSHCS program, which is a supplemental coverage program that helps families of children with serious, chronic medical conditions pay for treatment related to their child’s condition. She also serves as the state’s Title V children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) director and is responsible for managing the CYSHCN portion of the Title V Block Grant. She currently serves as the interim Region V director for the AMCHP board of directors and has been in this role since June 2016.  

Prior to being appointed as CSHCS director in October 2013, Ms. Payne served as the CSHCS program manager for two years. She worked collaboratively with other state, local and community partners on improving systems of care for CYSHCN, served as the grant consultant for state CYSHCN Title V grantees, implemented the CSHCS Family Advisory Council and identified new grant opportunities that supported CYSHCN and their families. Ms. Payne serves on a number of boards, councils and committees on the state and national levels related to CYSHCN, disability and early childhood.  

Ms. Payne has an undeniable passion for working with people. She has found great joy in working with and on behalf of those individuals with special needs. Ms. Payne has been dedicated to serving the special needs population for over seven years. Prior to working with the state, she worked as a team leader with St. Vincent New Hope (now New Hope of Indiana) in Indianapolis and was instrumental in direct care coordination for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities on state Medicaid waivers.  

Ms. Payne earned a Bachelor of Science in biology and a Bachelor of Arts in African-American and African diaspora studies from Indiana University in May 2007. She earned her Master of Public Health degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine, with dual concentrations in epidemiology and behavioral health science, in August 2011. Ms. Payne is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in health behavior from the Indiana University School of Public Health.

She is currently the interim Region V director and is running for her first full term on the board of directors. 

Ms. Payne's Personal Vision Statement for AMCHP:
As maternal and child health transforms in the nation, it is imperative that AMCHP remain a steadfast visionary national leader in maternal and child health. AMCHP must continue to support public health leaders in the development and promotion of public health programs that ensure the optimal health of all women, children, youth and families, including children and youth with special health care needs. AMCHP must continue to be an advocate for state leaders who often times cannot advocate on their own behalf in order to convey the importance of support to and for the maternal and child health population.


Heather Smith, MPH
Director for Special Health Services for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment,                                            Topeka, KS

Heather Smith, MPH, currently serves as the director for special health services for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Ms. Smith has worked in the health care field in some capacity since 16 years of age in primary care, hospital outpatient surgery, home health and inpatient hospital care. In 2006, she began working at Children’s Miracle Network in multiple positions throughout her three year employment, including planning fundraising events and projects and serving as the liaison between the families and the organization. In this position Ms. Smith provided financial assistance and support to families of children with special medical needs. 
After graduating with a master’s in public health in 2009, she interned with the KCMO Health Department, then began working for the children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) as the project coordinator for the D-70 Integrated Community Systems grant. In October 2011, Ms. Smith was promoted to the health planning consultant position and began working more closely to assist in aligning the program’s state objectives and activities with national performance measures and national initiatives. She was accepted to the Kansas Public Health Leadership Institute and completed that program in 2012. In 2013, she began serving as the Kansas Special Health Services director, overseeing the Kansas metabolic newborn screening, early hearing detection and intervention, infant/toddler early intervention (Part C), birth defects, and special health care needs programs.

Ms. Smith serves on multiple state and national committees or councils related to CYSHCN, disability and public health. Annual participation in the AMCHP conference has supported her professional growth and development and expanded the awareness of CYSHCN and disability in Kansas. Being selected as a presenter at state, regional and national conferences allows her to continues to serve as a catalyst for change and share with others lessons learned in for systems building for CYSHCN.

She is the current interim Region VII director for AMCHP's board of directors and is running for her first full term on the board of directors.

Ms. Smith's Personal Vision Statement for AMCHP: 
I envision that AMCHP will serve as a resource and support to state Title V programs and other MCH partners. As a catalyst and advocate for change, AMCHP will help states in their efforts to build healthy communities where collaboration and partnershop supports healthy children and healthy families — communities where families are engaged and supported in working with states to make change happen.

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Marcus Johnson-Miller, CPM
Bureau Chief, Title V MCH Director,
Bureau of Family Health, Iowa Department of Public Health                                          

Marcus Johnson-Miller, CPM currently serves as Iowa’s Title V Director and Bureau Chief for the Bureau of Family Health at the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH).  Along with the Title V program, Mr. Johnson-Miller oversees the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visitation Program, Title X Family Planning, Abstinence Education Grant Program, Personal Responsibility Education Program, Newborn metabolic and hearing screening programs and other state funded MCH related programs.

Mr. Johnson-Miller began his career in the Title V program as an administrative intern in 2002, assisting with the preparation of the Title V Application and Annual Report and implementing professional development opportunities for MCH staff at the state and local level.  His first official position began in 2003 as the contract manager/claims processor for the Bureau of Family Health.  Later, Marcus managed IDPH’s Child and Adolescent Reporting System, the data system for Title V programs to report activities and services.  Most recently, Mr. Johnson-Miller served as Iowa’s Title V Block Grant Coordinator and State Coordinator for Iowa’s 1st Five Healthy Mental Development Initiative.  Through his experience, Mr. Johnson-Miller has well rounded experience including fiscal management, data management and program coordination.

Mr. Johnson-Miller is currently serving on the AMCHP conference planning committee and served on the legislative and finance committee from 2013-2014.  He has also been actively involved in the MCH Workforce Development Center.  Marcus also serves on Iowa’s Early ACCESS (IDEA, Part C) State Council and Executive Committee, Early Childhood Iowa Stakeholders Alliance, PRAMS Steering Committee, Iowa’s System of Care for CYSHCN Advisory Council and the Iowa MCH Advisory Council.  

Mr. Johnson-Miller received his Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Services in 2002 and a Graduate Certificate in Public Management (CPM) in 2003 from Iowa State University.  He is interested in maternal and child health, public policy and administration, system development and early childhood issues.  

Mr. Johnson-Miller's Personal Vision Statement for AMCHP:
AMCHP is a national resource for state Title V programs. AMCHP supports state programs by providing advocacy and training and sharing best practices regarding issues for women, children, CYSHCN and families.   


Gina Pola-Money, A.S. Social Sciences, Mo.M.
Director, Utah Family Voices, Family Involvement Coordination, Utah CSHCN, URLEND, Medical Home

Gina Pola-Money, A.S., Social Sciences, Mo.M. is a current interim family representative for AMCHP's board of directors and running for her first full term on the board of directors.

Ms. Pola-Money has over 29 years of experience navigating the health care system for her children with special health care needs, including dealing with medically complex, hospice and mental health issues. She is director of Utah Family Voices Family to Family Health Information Center, which provides supports for family needs as well as information to families and professionals about resources and health care financing. Ms. Pola-Money is also a member of the family faculty of the Utah Regional LEND program, helping to bring the family voice to leadership education for professionals and gaining the perspective of her professional partners.

Ms. Pola-Money​ has also been actively involved with medical home and quality improvement initiatives, which include coordinating parent partner activities, family centered care and parent professional partnerships. She shares that she has been fortunate to benefit from the ongoing mentorship, collaboration and technical assistance of Family Voices and Title V.

Ms. Pola-Money's Personal Vision Statement for AMCHP:
To be a passionate partner with others in shaping an effective system for maternal (including paternal) and child health populations, which include children and youth with special health care needs and their families. To impact positive attitudes and share my "never give up" attitude with others. To inspire and motivate new families and professionals to discover their crucial voices and leadership to further enhance a system of services and care based on what works at the unique and individualized family level.