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Kim Williams – Leading Change in New Orleans

What brought you to the organization and your current work?

I have been working as the Director for Healthy Start New Orleans for 9 months and I think we are on the path to a healthy new baby! I have been working in maternal and child health with social marketing and with the Nurse-Family Partnership National Service Office for seven years and love the world of maternal and child health. It’s been my life dream to improve outcomes for African Americans in what I consider my home state of Louisiana while trying to build on the beautiful culture and history of the state. I came to Healthy Start because it provides an opportunity for us to touch clients directly in their communities and we have a unique role in hearing the community voice to define their own resources, challenges, and asking for our clients help in defining services that work for them. I’m so excited about leading our Best Babies Zone work because it’s a “lab” for taking policy to practice to see if we can change birth outcomes by making community change.

What are you most excited about or what is your favorite aspect of your project on reproductive life planning?

I’m excited to be part of an effort to get women in my community and my state to start thinking about their reproductive health and planning for their future. For so many women here, pregnancy “just happens”. I hope that families can use our tools and services to reflect more about their goals, dreams, and their bodies and use the Life Map we provide to begin thinking about how they want their family to be shaped.

What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenge with this project?

Throughout the world of maternal and child health, we need to do a better job of listening to the families we serve. Our clients tell us what their families need and oftentimes our maternal and child health priorities are not aligned with our families’ priorities. In a city with tremendous violence and a state with persistent poverty, health is not on the top of people’s lists of concerns. We have to use the tools we have and put them into context for why health matters, how it impacts all areas of your life, and how having a healthy pregnancy and baby can set your child up for a way out of poverty and violence.

Can you share any books, articles, websites that help you with your work?

Required reading for all my staff includes “The Gardener’s Tale” by Camara Jones, “Cultural Humility” by Melanie Tervalon, “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Birth Outcomes: A Life-Course Perspective” by Dr. Lu.
Books That Inspire me include: Good to Great, Adaptive Leadership, The Social Entrepreneurs Handbook and Seven Tribes of Hattie- A fictional tale that tells the story of a mother from the Deep South after migrating north and a challenging life trajectory due to infant mortality

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