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MCH Leaders in the Southeast: Mississippi

Another one of our featured leaders from Mississippi is Juanita Graham, DNPc, MSN, RN, FRSPH. She is the Health Services Chief Nurse for the Mississippi State Department of Health. She serves in a nurse consultant role to the seven offices of Health Services and participates in a variety of activities including grant writing, continuing education for nurses, and research. She is currently a full time doctoral student at the University of Mississippi. Juanita has a significant leadership background representing several organizations. She has given dozens of presentations at the local, state, national, and international levels. She has published multiple infant mortality-related research articles. Her current research interests include assessing the relationship between maternal health and Mississippi birth outcomes. Juanita shared her thoughts about her work and why she is involved with Every Woman Southeast.

How long have you been in your current position?

I’ve served as Health Services Chief Nurse for the Mississippi State Department of Health since 2005. Only in the past few months my title has changed to Director, Program Development and Effectiveness.

What is your favorite thing/task/part of your work?

I really enjoy networking opportunities and working with other groups and partners at local, state, regional, and national levels who are interested in improving the health and welfare of families in the Southeastern U.S.

What is your biggest challenge?

Funding has always been the biggest challenge for Mississippi.

Why are you involved in Every Woman Southeast?

I’m very interested in improving Mississippi birth outcomes and reducing Mississippi infant mortality. Besides having several good friends from neighboring states who work with EWSE, I feel that improving the health of Mississippi infants begins with improving the health of women and participating in EWSE is one way to accomplish that.

If you had a million dollars what would you do with it? 

I believe that education and health literacy among Mississippians must be addressed if Mississippi is ever going to pull ourselves up from being the negative benchmark or worst case scenario to which other states compare themselves and measure progress. If I had a million dollars, I would devote it towards peer-based train-the-trainer health education and health literacy programs. $1 million is not nearly enough to solve Mississippi’s problems but if “each one could teach one”, perhaps we could improve some of our stats and indicators.

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