Posts tagged ‘CityMatCH’

Networking for Social Justice

Several of our MPH students attended the 2017 CityMatCH MCH Leadership Conference & Healthy Start Convention, held September 18-20, in Nashville, Tennessee. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Jordan Stephens-Moseley, BA

Kathy Morris of Crescent City PIC Healthy Start, Jordan Stephens-Moseley, Denise Evans of Spectrum Health, and Kiara Cruz

Conferences are both intimidating and energizing in my opinion. There is an expectation to network with people who you wish to seek help to further your professional career, but this is also the same reason conferences can be energizing. What you don’t expect from a conference is to finally level the field between students, researchers, doctors, and health professional of all levels. CityMatCH allowed for me to no longer feel intimidated to ask questions and have thought-provoking conversations that not only challenged others to think differently about the work they do in Maternal and Child health but also challenged me.

The opening and closing sessions at CityMatCH really allowed me to think about how I want to be viewed as a public health professional. The professionals who I was there to learn from seemed to be growing as much as I was, so when I listened to presentations on research and program interventions, I could contribute to the conversation as well. I could talk about the opening and closing sessions which reinvigorated my commitment to naming racism and calling out persons on their implicit bias, but meeting the people who served on the panels of these session is what captivated my attention. Within their relatable personal stories and public health experiences, I saw where I was on the right track and how I could push myself further. The goal was not only to walk away with new relationships and possible career ideas, but to really examine what I want to achieve in Maternal and Child health and what truly inspires me to do this work.

Jordan Stephens-Moseley, Kiara Cruz, Shokufeh Ramirez, Shanice Roache

Imagine walking into a hotel resort where the extravagance of the resort is shown through the glass ceiling, an indoor water show, and the indoor boat ride. Upon arrival, there is no way I would have thought I would be taking my own boat ride to find my purpose as a public health professional in Maternal and Child health.


Jordan Stephens-Moseley is a second-year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. She plans to graduate in May 2018. Her interests include women’s health, sexual health, reproductive rights & justice, and the integration of race justice in clinical health & public health initiatives.  She also loves dancing, cooking, music, reading, photography, and watching film & TV.



October 31, 2017 at 9:35 am Leave a comment

Foundations of health

Several of our MPH students attended the 2017 CityMatCH MCH Leadership Conference & Healthy Start Convention, held September 18-20, in Nashville, Tennessee. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

by Kara Hoffman, BS

Coming in to the CityMatCH conference this year, I was not sure exactly what to expect. However, within moments of the opening plenary session beginning I knew that I was going to have a life-changing experience in Nashville. The conference as a whole placed an emphasis on the role of public health professionals in changing the current national dialogue around racism, both on the systemic and individual levels. The multitude of ways in which racism in America affects health outcomes is truly astounding – and I know as a future healthcare provider and public health professional that I need to take a stand for my patients and for the health of the entire nation.

One of the first sessions I went to was about housing inequities. Several panelists presented their work, all coming from different parts of the country yet all showing the same results: the color of a person’s skin negatively affects their ability to get fair, good quality, affordable housing regardless of their socioeconomic standing. One of the presenters, who works in the affordable housing sector in Cincinnati, said, “The home is the foundation of health. If we want to really improve the health of Americans in this current moment, we need to address the housing issues at play today. That means looking at everything from why the housing markets are failing in some of our cities, to realizing that people will give up almost anything – even food – before they will give up their shelter. Without a safe home, no woman or child will be in good health. Period.”

This really struck a cord with me because I had worked throughout college with some homeless services in the Washington, D.C. area and had never once thought about the fact that just a home is not good enough. People need safe homes that are lead and mold and parasite free in order to be truly healthy, both mentally and physically. As I embark on the next steps of my career journey, I will always keep at the forefront of my practice as a public health nurse that it is critical for people to be living in safe homes, and working to address this issue in my interactions with them in any way that I can. Coalitions need to be formed and strengthened between the public health and housing sectors in order to connect people to the resources they need to find affordable, safe housing for their families, and I hope to contribute to this movement throughout the rest of my life.

Kara Hoffman received her Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise and Nutrition Science from The George Washington University in 2013. She is currently a second-year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health, and she plans to graduate in December 2017. She will be attending nursing school in January to become a public health nurse. Her interests include improving access to health care services, child and adolescent health, and holistic family health. She also enjoys doing yoga, going hiking, and spending time outside with her dog!


October 30, 2017 at 8:33 am Leave a comment

CityMatCH Was My Match

Several of our MPH students attended the 2017 CityMatCH MCH Leadership Conference & Healthy Start Convention, held September 18-20, in Nashville, Tennessee. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Shanice Roach, BSPH

Shanice Roache at CityMatCH

Day 1 started with the first open plenary: Advancing Equity and Human Rights through Reproductive Justice, which was a wonderful opening, to a wonderful conference. The panelists spoke on everything from the criminalization of poverty to the environmental threats. A quote that one of the panelists stated that stayed with Shanice through the whole conference, paraphrasing Audre Lorde, was “we cannot have single issue movements, because we do not live single issue lives.” No matter what Shanice does in life this quote will continue to stay with her. The conference ended with the third plenary: Challenges in Achieving Health Equity: Addressing Implicit Bias, Racial Anxiety, and Stereotype Threat. This plenary explained that implicit bias is something that our brain does automatically even if it does not match what we have explicitly stated. The panelists even discussed the importance of showing different images and not just associating bad habits with African Americans.

Whether it was the cool Nashville air or the fact that everyone at the conference was lost together (in the huge hotel/convention center) at one point or another, this had to be one of the most diverse and inclusive conferences she has ever attended. As a second year Shanice always knew that she would enter the “real world” soon, but it did not sink in until she experienced CityMatCH. Individuals at this conference did not treat her as a student or someone below them, they made her feel like a colleague, as if she was in the field as long as they were. They were all in Nashville together to fight for something they were all passionate about and it was at that moment that she had a calming feeling. She was ready for the MCH world, but was the MCH world ready for her?

Shanice Roache is a second-year MPH student, concentrating in Global Maternal and Child Health. She plans to graduate in May 2018. Her interests include preterm births in African American women, breastfeeding, perinatal/infant health and reproductive justice. She is learning to love working out and enjoys cooking.

October 27, 2017 at 12:30 pm Leave a comment

Intersectionality, partnership, and networking

Several of our MPH students attended the 2017 CityMatCH MCH Leadership Conference & Healthy Start Convention, held September 18-20, in Nashville, Tennessee. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

by Kiara Cruz, BSPH

“White Supremacy is the water that we all swim in.”– Corrine Sanchez, PhD,
Tewa Women United

Kiara Cruz at CityMatCH

There is no one or nothing that could have prepared me for the experience I would have at the 2017 CityMatCH Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. As a public health student interested in Maternal and Child Health I was not prepared for the self-reflection, inspiring catharsis, and passion refill I experienced.

The three main points I want to highlight in which I will go more in depth are the following:

  • Reproductive Justice includes an intersectionality and human rights framework.
  • Community Partnership is essential for effective program and interventions
  • Networking is key to building professional and career relationships

The opening plenary: Advancing Equity and Human Rights through Reproductive Justice was the perfect opening for this conference. This session had reproductive justice leaders including Monica Simpson, Executive Director of SisterSong; Corrine Sanchez, Executive Director of Tewa Women United; and Laura Jimenez, Executive Director of Latina for Reproductive Justice. All women of color from different backgrounds. This opening was very interesting to me because I never thought of reproductive justice through the lens of intersectionality. The systems of oppression that are in place like racism, incarceration, immigration laws, the criminalization of poverty and white supremacy are all part of the waters we swim in. The goal is to research and understand how these systems play and how they infiltrate the various areas of our life, and the populations we serve as public health professionals. Understanding that these systems may not be as visible and may need some digging in order to see any limitations in place. There cannot be limitations to have full decision making power when it comes to our health, our choices, and our rights. Overall, it is our duty to disrupt the systems of oppression that fill the water in which we swim.

I attended various sections and workshops on Community Engagement, an area of focus I hope to work in. The main takeaway I received was that communities can take care of themselves. We can engage communities by building community leadership within the community. Some ways include strengthening the community’s economy by providing trainings and job opportunities in the community for residents, having an asset-based approach, and valuing the communities’ expertise. Communities know what works best, what doesn’t, and the rhythm to which the community beats its drums. Letting go of the old ways public health approaches community engagement and trusting the process of collective impact. The most effective impact is through community driven programs.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” – African Proverb

Hearing and speaking with powerful, public health professionals, women of color really inspired me and reminded me why I decided to embark in this field. It was truly amazing to have meaningful interactions with people that I aspire to be. For example, I met with various people from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (one of the places I hope to work), Healthy Start Brooklyn. Having a network of women or individuals that can provide guidance, advice, and support as you maneuver through career and life obstacles is important. This conference granted me the opportunity to gain new mentors from which I hope to learn. I hope the public health field is ready because I am prepping for my mark.

Kiara Cruz is a second year MPH student and a scholar in the Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health at Tulane.  She received a bachelor degree in Public Health from the University of Rochester and continues her passion for working in public health by interning at the Covenant House. Her interests include prenatal and postpartum care, community health, maternal and infant health, and monitoring and evaluation of MCH interventions.



October 26, 2017 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment

Public Health in Preschools and Prisons

Two of our MCH Scholars attended this year’s CityMatCH Urban Maternal and Child Health Leadership Conference, held in conjunction with the Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Conference, in Philadelphia, September 14 – 16.

By Thea Lange, BA

Mass incarceration is a national issue that threatens the health and human rights of all citizens. In the United States, one out of every three black boys is expected to be incarcerated at some point in his life. This involvement with the criminal justice system could interrupt his schooling, impact his employment and earning potential, increase his risk of disease, and disrupt his social capital. As a result, mass incarceration is disproportionately impacting, not only young black men, but their entire communities.

The majority of detainees and inmates are adults, but the criminalization of black bodies starts as early as preschool. Young black students make up only eighteen percent of preschoolers but represent almost half of all out-of-school suspensions. As black students continue through the school system, they are three times more likely than white students to be suspended. In addition, “zero-tolerance” discipline strategies quickly involve the criminal justice system for minor juvenile offenses creating a pipeline from schools to prisons.

Keynote Speaker Bryan Stevenson and Tulane MPH student Thea Lange

Keynote speaker Bryan Stevenson and Tulane MPH student Thea Lange

This year, the City MatCH/Epidemiology Conference in Philadelphia placed an emphasis on the role of public health in mitigating the structural racism embedded in our country. The conference opened with keynote speaker, Bryan Stevenson, reminding public health professionals of their role in addressing the injustices perpetrated against people of color both inside and outside the criminal justice system. As a public interest lawyer, Mr. Stevenson has dedicated his career to serving the poor, incarcerated and condemned.

In his work and in his life, Mr. Stevenson has witnessed the detrimental effects of structural racism on the health and well-being of people of color. He encouraged us, as public health leaders, to think and talk about our identities and implicit biases. He told us to stay proximate to the populations we serve and retain our cultural humility. He implored us to change the narrative around race in our country by acknowledging the injustices of the past and recognizing the terror black families live in everyday. He told us to hold onto hope because, despite the challenges, people and systems can change. And he encouraged us to be willing to do uncomfortable things because discomfort is part of the healing process. With his keynote speech, Bryan Stevenson set the tone for the rest of the conference.

With tears in my eyes and passion in my heart, I was elated to be immersed in a community that recognizes the structural racism embedded in our society and how it intersects with the public health, criminal justice and education systems. I engaged in lengthy conversations about criminalization of young black children in schools and the progression of that bias into correctional settings. I attended symposiums on how to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and integrate trauma-informed practices into school settings. I obtained insights into how to effectively communicate with legislators and influence policy on the local level. In the end, I came away from the CityMatCH conference with greater insight into how to effectively continue doing the work I am doing.

Thea Lange is a second-year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. She received a bachelor degree in Anthropology from Mount Holyoke College and continues to integrate her undergraduate background into her public health work. Her interests include early childhood education, criminal justice reform, and trauma-informed care.



October 7, 2016 at 10:10 am Leave a comment

Opening Hearts and Minds to Create Change

Two of our MCH Scholars attended this year’s CityMatCH Urban Maternal and Child Health Leadership Conference, held in conjunction with the Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Conference, in Philadelphia, September 14 – 16.

By Miranda Pollock, BS

Miranda Pollock and Thea Lange, MPH students, at CityMatCH/MCH Epi

The 2016 CityMatCH/MCH Epidemiology conference theme was Creating Change: Data, Programs and Policies for Healthy Mothers, Children and Families. The sessions were incredible, and definitely adhered to the theme by sparking plenty of positive change. It took place in Philadelphia, PA, which, as one speaker mentioned, is “The city of brotherly love…and sisterly affection.” The conference took off to a running start as Bryan Stevenson was the opening plenary speaker. He is a lawyer, social justice activist, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a clinical professor at New York University School of Law. His TED Talk can be seen here.

Bryan called attention to the health disparities that exist in MCH populations due to race being an issue of power, and as those with access to power are disconnected from the poor.

He also talked about the importance of knowing your own identity in order to start difficult conversations which may ultimately lead to change. He stated, “I do what I do because I’m broken, too!” This was particularly inspiring and encouraging as he provided an example of vulnerability and authenticity – two qualities that foster great leadership. Bryan then called upon the audience for action, as he urged that certain zip codes in the United States should be considered to be in a state of emergency. This is due to terrible health and incarceration outcomes as compared to other neighboring zip codes. Bryan also alluded to the importance of self-care in a field that demands so much of people. He called on the room full of Maternal and Child Health professionals to protect ourselves from things that make us feel hopeless.

The city of brotherly love... and sisterly affection

The city of brotherly love… and sisterly affection

Aside from CityMatCH having a tear-jerking and motivating opening plenary, the breakout sessions, symposiums, and workshops were also fantastic. I was able to attend sessions related to my passions in equity, community health, reproductive justice, preconception health, and was even lucky enough to hear Belinda Pettiford (my practicum preceptor, and the North Carolina Women’s Health Branch Head) highlight her team’s powerful work on infant mortality reduction and the social determinants of health. All in all, the conference was a success and I look forward to attending in the future.

Miranda Pollock is a second year MPH student in Maternal and Child Health. She plans to graduate in May 2017. Her interests include reproductive and LGBTQ health, qualitative methods, and storytelling for social change. She also loves cycling, yoga, and the arts.




October 6, 2016 at 2:09 am Leave a comment

Feeling Refreshed

One of our MPH students recently attended the CityMatCH Leadership Conference (September 27 – 30, 2015, in Salt Lake City, UT) and was asked to share a few thoughts about her experience.

by Keara Rodela, BA

CityMatCHThere is something very energizing to be surrounded by people of a like mind who are discussing issues they are passionate about and that energy was felt throughout the entire CityMatCH conference.  The energy was even more vibrant as we gathered and celebrated CityMatCH’s 25 years of dedication to urban MCH leadership and capacity building.   The theme for 2015 was Refresh Passion, Purpose, and Possibility and everyone in attendance left feeling refreshed and with clear focus on the next step.  This smaller conference, compared to APHA, allows you to personally meet and interact with experts from the highest governmental bureaus down to the smallest rural county health department administration.  You will hear constant discussions flowing around the many innovative ways organizations are addressing MCH issues, and how heath disparities are being addressed within the program planning and implementation processes.

I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to take the technical skills learned at the conference and immediately apply them to my class projects and internship work at Best Babies Zone.  I would strongly encourage anyone who has even a small interest in MCH to attend CityMatCH.  The experience will strengthen your interest and introduce you to the people who are on the front lines fighting to make our women, children and families healthier mentally, emotionally and physically.

Keara Rodela is a second-year MPH student and CEMCH Scholar, with a focus in Maternal and Child Health and health disparities. 

October 22, 2015 at 4:50 pm Leave a comment

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