SARAH VERBIEST

Looking Forward , Sarah Verbiest, founder of Every Woman Southeast, reflects on the new year and what it holds.

first_time_attendee_ribbonsAs a first time attendee of the AMCHP conference in Washington, DC, it was great to hear and learn from national leaders in the field of maternal and child health. The keynote speeches from the plenary sessions were very motivating. I most especially loved the speech given by Dr. Maxine Hayes, MD, MPH, with the Washington State Department of Health, when she accepted the Vince Hutchins Leadership Award. As an early career public health professional, learning about initiatives, programs, and strategies that have a focus in health equity is very important to me. Therefore, it was refreshing and affirming to hear the charge of Dr. Hayes, in which she stressed the importance of reducing health disparities by truly addressing the social determinants of health in MCH work. Additionally, it was truly inspiring to have had the opportunity to be among the first the view an episode from a soon-to-be ground-breaking documentary, the Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation from California Newsreel.

Since I’m new to the EveryWoman Southeast Coalition, it was great to meet some of our regional and national partners. I had the fortunate opportunity to listen to the EWSE Pilot Projects’ presentations, which was a valuable learning experience. Hearing about how some of the pilot projects incorporated reproductive life planning and preconception health messages into their health promotion programs and the lessons learned was very insightful. Listening to the accomplishments of the PASO’s radio project in South Carolina and the Reproductive Life Planning project with CHOICES in Memphis, Tennessee, helped to shape my understanding of the impact and reach of the initiatives developed through the EWSE Coalition. It is clear that EWSE is an important initiative for women’s health and health services in the south region of the U.S., especially during these times of reduced funding and increasing health burdens. It was very encouraging to see that the conference provided a space for young MCH and public health professional to link with national and regional leaders. The AMCHP conference is definitely value-added to my professional development, more importantly, in the area of networking and leveraging resources. Of note, it was awesome to see my supervisor, Sarah Verbiest in action as she used the conference as an opportunity to connect with existing partners and gain new partners and resources for the coalition. I am very grateful to have her and Erin McClain as a mentor! Thank you both and the staff at AMCHP for the experience!

By Angela Aina – CDC PHPS Fellow and First Time Attendee of the AMCHP Conference – January 2014

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