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Maternal and Child Health Program Supports Trainees Attending MCH and Public Health Conferences

Attendees at the 2022 Making Lifelong Connections Annual Meeting
Attendees at the 2022 Making Lifelong Connections Annual Meeting

July 21, 2022

Each year, the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Program at Dornsife supports MCH trainees to attend conferences related to MCH and public health. The awards are intended for MCH-related professional development activities such as conference attendance and oral or poster presentations at a meeting or conference.

This year, MCH trainees attended four national conferences. Learn more about these conferences and trainee experiences below.

Table of Contents:

Making Lifelong Connections Annual Meeting

Making Lifelong Connections Conference

Gabby O'Leary, a recent MPH graduate (2022) with a concentration in Health Management and Policy and MCH trainee, received MCH funding to attend the 12th Annual Making Lifelong Connections Meeting in San Diego, California this past April.

The Making Lifelong Connections Annual Meeting is funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), part of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an operating division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The objective of this year's meeting was for current and former MCH trainees to enhance skills through leadership, networking, career development, and learning ways to weave equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism into a MCH career.

Throughout the conference, O'Leary worked with fellow MCH trainees across public health, social work, nursing, medicine, education, and nutrition backgrounds within various skill building and leadership workshops. The conference kicked off with a keynote speech by Natalie S. Burke, President and CEO of CommonHealth Action. Burke's speech, entitled “Unleashing the Power of Equitable Leadership: MCH Careers Poised for Impact,” set the stage for the conference’s theme of weaving equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism into MCH work. Burke provided key resources for equitable leadership practices and asked participants to think deeply about the roles of individual and social identity and privilege and oppression in MCH work.

Other DEI learning activities at the conference included a session on empathic listening, where attendees practiced active listening and connecting emotionally with others that are different from them; a session on connecting through cultural identity objects where conference participants each brought an item that represents part of their identity and shared it with others; and a presentation by Caprice D. Hollins from Cultures Connecting, LLC titled “Norms for Courageous Conversations,” which provided guidelines for having difficult discussions with colleagues when talking about race, racism, and race relations.

Conference activities also included several presentations by MCHB and a panel discussion with past MCH trainees. Lastly, conference attendees had the opportunity to take part in several career building workshops and activities on networking and elevator talks.

O'Leary said, “I had a wonderful time attending the 2022 Making Lifelong Connections Meeting. As I make the transition from a current to former MCH trainee, I’m excited about all the MCH opportunities that lie ahead of me. I also look forward to taking the skills and knowledge I gained during this conference with me as I start my fellowship at Jefferson Health this summer. I feel more prepared as a MCH leader to weave equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism into my career and MCH work.”

Learn more about the Making Lifelong Connections Annual Meeting.

American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting

APHA Annual Meeting and ExpoThe MCH program supported Emily Katzen, a recent MPH graduate (2022) in the Executive MPH Program and MCH trainee to attend the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting in October 2021.

The theme of APHA’s Annual Meeting this year was "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Strengthening Social Connectedness." The conference kicked off with the General Session, “State of Public Health: Where Do We Go Next?” moderated by Dr. George Benjamin. This session emphasized the importance of governmental and nongovernmental entities working together to serve communities and ensure equity, as well as the need to create systems to identify public health threats and have advanced plans in place.

Katzen attended a range of MCH-related presentations including “Longitudinal analysis of COVID-19 pandemic and postpartum care: An electronic health record study,” “Examining the financial burden of severe maternal morbidity using 2012-2016 national inpatient sample data,” and “Doula support and respectful care among racial and ethnic minorities and Medicaid recipients.”

Katzen said, “Due to the generosity of the Maternal and Child Health Program, I was able to virtually attend the conference. The live presentations, posters and on-demand content enhanced my educational and professional development. I was able to utilize information learned and directly apply it to the following courses: HMP 519 Maternal Child Health Policy, PBHL 1599 MCH Leadership, Project Management and Evaluation and CHP 517 Maternal and Child Health. Additionally, the information ascertained is relevant to my current employment position as a program manager and clinical social worker of an infant mortality prevention program.”

Learn more about the APHA Annual Meeting.

Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) Annual Conference

Two MCH trainees, Sarah Weinbrom and Lorena Chavez-Melendez, received MCH funding to attend the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) Annual Conference in May 2022. Additionally, Lawryn Fowler and Lani McQuilken, recent MPH graduates (2022) with concentrations in Community Health and Prevention (CHP) and MCH trainees, received department funding to present their 2021 Title V Internship projects at the conference.

The AMCHP Annual Conference featured workshops, student poster sessions, and roundtable presentations led by a wide array of MCH professionals from federal officials to researchers, to healthcare providers. The conference aims to highlight the work of MCH programs and provide participants with the resources and tools to enhance and sustain important MCH programs. The 2022 AMCHP theme was "Reflecting on our Past, Shaping our Future." Students attended sessions such as “Elevating MCH Stories for Social Change Workshop,” “Student and Early Career Professional Roundtable,” “A Massachusetts Roadmap for Family Engagement through a Health Equity Lens Workshop,” and “Empowering Women in Leadership and Systems Advocacy.”

During the student poster session, McQuilken presented work from her Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Internship with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Her presentation was titled “Prioritizing Youth & Family-Professional Partnerships in Creating a Statewide Title V Health Transition Toolkit for Youth and Young Adults with Special Health Needs.”

Reflecting on her experience presenting at AMCHP, McQuilken said, “It was inspiring to witness the amazing work people are doing at every level across the country to advance health equity for all children, youth, birthing people, and families. AMCHP 2022 opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about and engaging with MCH issues, which will be crucial as I start my career. I realized how greatly our work in the field connects and impacts us all, especially when we share what we do with each other and amplify the voices of the communities we work with. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in AMCHP 2022 and I will never forget the experience and what I learned!”

In addition to insightful presentations on a range of MCH topics, students found the AMCHP Conference particularly helpful for career development, as students have the opportunity to attend various career building workshops.

Sarah Weinbrom, a second year MPH student with a concentration in Epidemiology and MCH trainee, said, “One session that I found particularly useful as a graduate student was a career exploration workshop, in which several MCH professionals in different areas talked about their roles. I was able to speak with the manager of a Doula program about her journey in MCH, and get her advice on finding the right path. I also attended a session in which individuals shared stories of their own personal interaction with MCH systems, and I found these stories very powerful. Overall, the conference gave me a lot of insight into some of the directions that I might take with my career.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many conferences like AMCHP moved online. Although virtual conferences create a different experience for participants, students appreciate the flexibility that virtual conferences provide. Lorena Chavez-Melendez said, “I like virtual conferences because you connect from anywhere and it gives you the freedom to attend as many sessions as you want.”

Learn more about the AMCHP Annual Conference.

National Home Visiting Summit 2022 Virtual Conference

Markolline Forkpa, a second-year MPH student with a concentration in Epidemiology and MCH trainee, received funding to attend the 2022 National Home Visiting Summit Virtual Conference in March 2022.

Each year, the National Home Visiting Summit brings together policy makers, researchers, leaders, practitioners, and key partners to discuss the latest research, innovation, and policies to advance the field of home visiting and improve child and family outcomes. Conference sessions ranged from the impact of COVID-19 on home-visiting service delivery, to challenges in workforce retention.

Forkpa attended sessions such as “Partnering with Tribal Communities for Trauma-Informed Home Visiting,” “Centering Parent Leadership in All We Do,” “Making Research More Meaningful through Community Engagement Challenges and Opportunities,” and “Improving Recruitment and Retention in Home Visiting Programs.”

Forkpa said, “The 2022 Summit was the perfect opportunity to learn more about home visiting nationally, and hear from actual visiting nurses, advocates, policy makers, administrator, and investigators about research initiatives, program developments and current challenges with various models. That the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, which in some states makes up a considerable amount of funding for EBHV models, is currently due for reauthorization, made this year’s conference even more timely. Attending the conference not only increased my knowledge of an important two-generational family support intervention for families here in Philadelphia. It also helped me prepare my final project for MCH Policy.”

Learn more about the National Home Visiting Summit.

To learn more about MCH conferences, conference awards, and to request an application, please contact the program at Please note that conference award applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but should be submitted no later than 30 days before the requested conference dates.

Dornsife's Maternal and Child Health Program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit