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 Board of Directors

​AMCHP 2016 Board of Directors


Contact Information Bios

President (2016-2017)
Eileen Forlenza
Director, Family Leadership Initiative, Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Unit
Denver, CO

Eileen Forlenza is the President for AMCHP’s Board of Directors. She currently serves as the Colorado Family and Community Engagement Specialist and was formerly the Director of the Colorado’s Medical Home Initiative for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Ms. Forlenza has served on the AMCHP Board as a Family Representative since 2009 and is also a member of AMCHP’s Family and Youth Leadership Committee representing the constituency of families who have children/youth with special health care needs. She has also served on several state and national advisory councils including National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA), National Initiative for Child Health Quality (NICHQ), National Center for Healthcare Transition, Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC), Multi-Stakeholder Patient Centered Medical Home Pilot Project and Family Voices National; including serving as faculty for the Institute for Patient and Family Centered Care and as a curriculum consultant for University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

Ms. Forlenza has held Governor appointed positions on the Colorado Interagency Coordinating Council and the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council and served as a Colorado delegate to attend the national Family Policy Academy. She holds credentials in family leadership development, including curriculum design and implementation. Ms. Forlenza received the prestigious Woman of the Year Award from the National Association of Professional Women and graduated as a fellow of the Maternal and Child Health Public Health Leadership Institute as well as Colorado’s Leadership and Education for Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND).

President-Elect (2016-2017)
Michael D. Warren, MD MPH, FAAP

MCH Director
Tennessee Department of Health
Nashville, TN

Michael Warren, MD, MPH,FAAP, is the President-Elect for AMCHP's Board of Directors. He currently serves as the Director of the Division of Family Health and Wellness for the Tennessee, Department of Health, an Assistant Commissioner level position within the Department.

Dr. Warren received his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and his medical degree from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. He completed his pediatrics residency, Chief Residency and fellowship in Academic General Pediatrics at Vanderbilt, where he also obtained a master’s in Public Health. He is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics.

He oversees numerous child- and family-serving programs in all 95 counties, Including Children’s Special Services, Family Planning, Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems, Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening, Injury Prevention, Infant Mortality Reduction Initiatives, Child Fatality and Fetal/Infant Mortality Review, Lead Poisoning Prevention, Adolescent Health, Asthma, Newborn Metabolic and Hearing Screening, WIC and home visitation services provided through the Department of Health. Dr. Warren is also responsible for the CDC-funded chronic disease initiatives in the Department of Health, including those related to diabetes, heart disease, obesity and rape and violence prevention.

Prior to joining the Department of Health, Dr. Warren served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt and as Medical Director in the Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination, where he provided leadership in statewide infant mortality reduction initiatives. He is actively involved in the community and in 2010 was recognized as the Nashville Emerging Leader in the area of Health and Medical Services.

Past-President (2016-2017)
Sam B. Cooper III, LMSW-IPR
Director, Specialized Health Services Section,
Family & Community Health Services Division, Austin, TX  

Sam Cooper III, LMSW-IPR, is the Past-President of AMCHP Board of Directors. Mr. Cooper has over 25 years with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). He currently serves as the Director of the Specialized Health Services Section. In this role, he provides oversight of the programs operated by three units: Health Screening and Case Management, Newborn Screening and Purchased Health Services. Programs are related to child health preventive screening; oral health; case management; and children and adults with special health needs, including hemophilia and kidney disease. Work involves coordination with the Office of Title V and Family Health and other areas in the agency addressing population-based health and public health infrastructure. Mr. Cooper also provides consultation and technical assistance to DSHS executive leadership and interagency workgroups. Prior positions included serving as the Title V Maternal and Child Health Director, the Director of Children with Special Health Care Needs Division, as well as the Title V Block Grant Administrator for the state of Texas.

Mr. Cooper’s additional leadership roles at AMCHP include serving on the Executive Committee, Legislative Committee, Finance Committee and chair of the Governance Committee. His prior leadership role at AMCHP was serving as the Director-At-Large and President-Elect.

Mr. Cooper received both his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Master of Social Work with a concentration in health care from the University of Houston.

Secretary (2016-2018)
Susan Colburn
State Parent Consultant Children's Rehabilitation Service
Montgomery, AL

Susan Colburn, is the Secretary for AMCHP's Board of Directors. Ms. Colburn has been an advocate for children with special health care needs for over 20 years. She is presently employed by Children’s Rehabilitation Service, Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, (Alabama’s Title V Program for CSHCN) as the State Parent Consultant., a position she has held since 1996. Prior to that Ms. Colburn worked in Alabama’s Early Intervention System as a District Service Coordinator and a Service Coordinator for a local Early Intervention Service program. She was an appointed member of the Governor’s Interagency Coordinating Council for Early Intervention Services from 1987-1996 and a member of the Alabama Special Education Advisory Panel from 1989-1991. She is the co-coordinator of Family Voices of AL, (home of Alabama’s Family to Family Health Information Center) and served as the co-Regional Coordinator for the 8 state Southeast Region for two terms. In 1987, Ms. Colburn was also a co-founder of Friends for Life, a support group for families and friends of children with special needs.

She serves on a variety of statewide boards, councils and committees, and she is a member of the national Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, including having served as vice-chair of the Family and Youth Leadership Committee of that organization. She has a B.S. degree from Auburn University.

Ms. Colburn is the mother of three young adult children, two of whom have special health care needs. 

Treasurer (2016-2018)

Region I (2016-2019)
Karin Downs, RN, MPH
Director, Division of Pregnancy, Infancy and Early Childhood 
Boston, MA   

Karin Downs, RN, MS, MPH, is the Region I Director for AMCHP's Board of Directors.  Ms. Downs currently is the MCH Director for theTitle 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.

Marilyn K.pngInterim Region II (2015-2017) 
Marilyn Kacica, MD, MPH
Medical Director, Division of Family Health                                                      Albany, NY

Marilyn A. Kacica, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, is the Interim Region II Director for AMCHP's Board of Directors.  Dr. Kacica is currently 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 degree in Public Health. 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, 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 Healthcare 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.

Mary-Kornak-pic.jpgInterim Region III Director (2015-2017)
Mary Frances Kornak, MPH
Epidemiologist, Public Health Advisor      Washington, DC

Mary Frances Kornak, MPH, is the Interim Region III Director for AMCHP's Board of Directors. Ms. Kornak has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare field, specializing in program management and project analysis, and has worked with DC government for 12 of those years. Ms. Kornak has been performing in her role as Senior HealthCare Analyst and Title V Program Coordinator for seven years, where she has built great rapport with coworkers and collaborators helping to increase visibility of the Community Health Administration in DC. Ms. Kornak works with Title V grants to community based organizations, oversees the 5 year needs assessment, and coordinates Title V and SSDI grant submissions for the administration. She currently oversees interns from George Washington University and the Graduate Student Epidemiology Program (GSEP). She is active in the Association of Material & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) and 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 one of the reviewers for the AMCHP Annual Conference abstracts.

belinda.jpgRegion IV (2015-2018)
​Belinda D. Pettiford, MPH
Head, North Carolina Division of Public Health - Women's Health Brand

Ms. Pettiford has nearly 30 years of experience in public health. She has been with the North Carolina Division of Public Health, Women's and Children's Health Section (Title V) since November 1995. During this time she has been the Program Manager for Healthy Beginnings (North Carolina's Minority Infant Mortality Reduction Program) and Healthy Start Baby Love Plus (3 federally funded perinatal disparities programs). She was also the Unit Supervisor for Perinatal Health and Family Support within the Women's Health Branch. 

Ms. Pettiford was named the Head of the Women's Health Branch in March 2012; in this capacity, she provides oversight to the state's maternal health, family planning, preconception health, teen pregnancy prevention, sickle cell, tobacco use, and numerous programs focused on equity in birth outcomes. As part of state Title V, she has provided leadership in writing numerous grants and implementing programs with a focus on evidence based/informed strategies. 

On two separate occasions, Belinda has also served as the Interim Director of the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities within the Division of Public Health. During this time, she provided leadership and stability to the office as it was going through numerous transitions. 

Ms. Pettiford has provided leadership for numerous national, state, and local efforts. She currently chairs North Carolina's Perinatal Health Strategic Plan Committee and leads the state's efforts with the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) to reduce infant mortality. Ms. Pettiford also co-chairs the Perinatal Health Committee of the Child Fatality Task Force (CFTF) within the state. The CFTF is a legislative study commission directed by the NC General Assembly. 

She received her MPH from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and undergraduate degrees from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. 

Marilyn K.png
​​​Interim Region V Director (2016-2017)
Shirley Payne, MPH
Director, Children's Special Health Care Indianapolis, IN 46204 

Shirley Payne, MPH, has been an AMCHP member since 2013, serving in multiple volunteer capacities including as an active participant in the AMCHP Leadership Institute for CYSHCN Directors as well as the New Director Mentor Program. She joined the Board of Directors as the Region V Director representing Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

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 2007, and later earned her Master of Public Health degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine with concentrations in epidemiology and behavioral health science. She is pursuing her doctoral degree in Health Behavior from the Indiana University School of Public Health.

Ms. Payne serves with the Division of Children's Special Heath Care Services (CSHCS) within the Indiana Department of Health, where her primary responsibility is to administer 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 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, Ind., and was instrumental in direct care coordination for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities on state Medicaid waivers. This experience gave her the desire to focus her career on maternal and child health, in particular working on behalf of the special needs population.

Region VI (2016-2019)
Susan Chacon, MSW, LISW
Director, Children's Medical Services,
Title V Children with Special Health Care Needs, Santa Fe, NM  

Susan Chacon, MSW, LISW, is the Region VI Director for AMCHP’s Board of Directors. Ms. Chacon has worked as a professional social worker for over 20 years. She is currently 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 the 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 multi-state, cross-agency committee, initiated by the CDC to address disparities 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 at 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 received her Bachelor’s in Public Health from the University of Massachusetts and her Master of Social Work from Boston University.

Interim Region VII Director (2016-2017)
Heather Smith, MPH
Director for Special Health Services for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment,                                            Topeka, KS

Heather Smith, MPH, is the Interim Region VII Director for AMCHP's Board of Directors. She 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 (SHS) 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 Association of Maternal Child Health Programs conference has supported her professional growth and development and expanded the awareness of CYSHCN and disability in Kansas. Having been selected as a presenter at state, regional, and national conferences continues to serve as a catalyst for change and opportunities to share with others lessons learned in for systems building for CYSHCN. 

Region VIII  (2015-2018)

Head-Shot---Mary-Ellen-Cunningham.jpgInterim Region IX (2016-2019)
Mary Ellen Cunningham, MPA
Chief, Bureau of Women’s and Children’s Health, Arizona Department of Health Services
Phoenix, AZ

​Mary Ellen Cunningham is the Chief of the Bureau of Women’s and Children’s Health at the Arizona Department of Health Services. The Bureau houses Offices of Injury, Women’s Health, Children’s Health, Oral Health, Children with Special Health Care Needs, Assessment and Evaluation and Business.

As the bureau chief she serves as the Arizona Title V/ MCH Director. Prior to becoming bureau chief, Ms. Cunningham served as the agency’s High Risk Perinatal Program Manager and Chief of the Office of Children’s Health which manages the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting grant. She serves as the ADHS Designee to Arizona’s Early Childhood Development and Health Board and as a consultant to the Arizona Perinatal Trust Board of Directors.

Ms. Cunningham is a Registered Nurse. She has served as a nurse in the United States Navy and worked in a variety of health care settings ranging from a Cambodian Refugee camp in Thailand to metropolitan intensive care units. Several years after graduating from nursing school, Ms. Cunningham earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from American University and a master’s in Public Administration from Arizona State University.

Region X (2016-2019)
Cate Wilcox, MPH
Maternal and Child Health Manager and Title V Director   
Portland, OR

Cate Wilcox, MPH, is the Region X Director for AMCHP's Board of Directors.  Ms. Wilcox is currently the Maternal and Child Health Section Manager and Oregon’s Title V Director, Public Health Division, Oregon Health Authority, leads the state-level public health efforts for Oregon’s perinatal and early childhood populations, with specific focus on groups with multiple health risks. This includes strategic planning and program implementation with state and local partners, policy development, program and policy evaluation, fiscal management and personnel management of over 50 professional and support staff. Prior to joining the State, Ms. Wilcox gained over seven years of direct service delivery management experience at Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/Willamette. There she oversaw the medical operations for 11 health centers serving three-quarters of Oregon and SW Washington, and a staff of over 150. She led the department to improve efficiency, productivity, access, quality care and services offered, including innovations such as the Essure Female Sterilization procedure and Contraception Online. Prior to that she had over twelve years experience in international reproductive health communication, community-level health education and training. At Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs, Ms. Wilcox developed and managed global training programs focusing on all aspects of reproductive health communication. She implemented training programs at the international, national and regional levels in Asia, Africa and the Middle East and collaborated closely with key regional training institutions to improve their capacity to deliver quality, research-based training programs.

Director-At-Large (2015-2018)
Rodney Farley
Parent Consultant
Title V Children with Special Health Care Needs
Little Rock, Arkansas

Rodney Farley is the Director-At-Large for AMCHP's Board of Directors.  He is currently a Parent Consultant with DDS, Children Services, the Maternal Child Health Title V Children with Special Health Care Needs program in Arkansas. Mr. Farley is instrumental in establishing Parent Support Groups for families with children who have special health care needs throughout the state.

He was a charter member of the Children’s Medical Services Parent Advisory Council.  He served as Vice-President for two years. and was elected as President. He held the position until being employed with Title V in 1995. He is the single father of two children, a son, Jeremy age 31, born with Spina Bifida and a daughter, Kacy age 22. His involvement with his son has taught him to become an advocate for families of children
with special health care needs. He was appointed by Governor Mike Beebe to serve as a commissioner on the Governor’s Commission on people with disabilities in 2010. He received the Merle McPherson Family Leadership Award in 2012. He has served as the Chair of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Family Advisory Board and was a Family Voices State & Regional Coordinator. He also has served for five years as Secretary of the Executive Board of Directors for the Arkansas Disability Coalition which is the Parent Training and Information Center for Arkansas. The coalition works for equal rights and opportunities for Arkansans with disabilities through public policy change, crossdisability collaboration, and the empowerment of people with disabilities and their

Donna M. Johnson
Director, Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs, Georgia Department of Public Health
Donna M. Johnson serves as the Director of Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs in the Maternal and Child Health Section of the Georgia Department of Public Health. In this role she provides leadership on programming, grants and projects for federal and state funded Child Health programs, which include Children First – Georgia’s single point of entry for Child Health Services, Part C Early Intervention Services and Children’s Medical Services, which provides services and support for children and youth with chronic health care conditions under Title V. Prior to this role, Ms. Johnson served as the Child Health Project Director in which she provided leadership on grants and projects, such as the Autism Initiative and Project LAUNCH. 

Ms. Johnson joined Georgia Department of Public Health in April 2014 from Georgia State University in which she served as the Coordinator and co-author of the Autism Plan for Georgia. Ms. Johnson is a former Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities & Related Disorders (LEND) Fellow at Georgia State University, an interdisciplinary training program dedicated to improving the care of children and youth with neurodevelopmental disabilities and special healthcare needs through the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. 

She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Human Services and Nonprofit Management, as well as a master’s of Science in Health and Human Services degree from Walden University. 

Ms. Johnson is a wife and mother of three teenage daughters, each of whom has special health care needs.

Family Representative (2015-2018)
Donna Macan Yadrich, MPA, CCRP
Family Advisory Council, Kansas Special Health Services, MCH Title V Program
Topeka, KS

Donna Macan Yadrich, MPA, CCRP, is the Family Representative of AMCHP's Board of Directors. In 2014 Ms. Yadrich was invited to serve as a member of the advisory committee to the National MCH Development Workforce Center and a member of the Kansas Maternal and Child Health Council. In 2013 she was appointed as the Kansas AMCHP Family Delegate, and following mentorship by Martha Hanley, Iowa, she completed the Family Scholars Program the same year. She has served on the State of Kansas CYSCHN Family Advisory Council since 2009, taking a leadership role in Medical Home initiatives. She is also the parent of a typical 21-year old son Peter and daughter Audrey who passed away at the age of 15 spending her life as a medically complex and fragile young lady. In addition to advocacy work, Ms. Yadrich is a tele-health interventionist and research operations coordinator at the University of Kansas for a NIH funded study supporting geographically distant families with a family member relying on intravenous nutrition.

In honor of her daughter's memory, Ms. Yadrich founded AudreySpirit, LLC a social entrepreneurship venture creating therapeutic garments for children and youth with complex medical needs that is indistinguishable from street wear. She also completed the Entrepreneurship Scholars Program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in May 2013.  Ms. Yadrich has authored and co-authored several peer-reviewed journal articles on the cost of chronic health conditions to the family and web-based patient education.

Interim Family Representative (2016-2017)
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, has been an active AMCHP member since 2001. She joined the Board of Directors this year as a family representative. 

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.

Board Members
For a list of the states and territories in each HHS region, click here.



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