After completing undergraduate degrees in sociology and anthropology at Montana State University, Liz worked with non-profits addressing food insecurity, mental illness, substance use, homelessness, and adolescent pregnancy primarily as a case manager. She enjoys making connections between public health and other industries to address health issues from a holistic approach which prompted her to pursue an MPH working with the maternal and child health population. Liz is minoring in epidemiology and sexual health to support her research interest in reproductive health and equitable access to care.
“My entry into maternal and child health was working as a case manager with young mothers receiving services through a community mental health center. This experience has provided me with enough personal anecdotes about the multiple ways that systemic and socio-cultural barriers can negatively impact access to services as well as the value of partnering with community organizations to address gaps in services. I could describe disparities in the context of a family I was working with and knew quite a bit about what is available in my community but had no knowledge of national maternal & child health programs and a larger systems approach to providing maternal and child health services.
My student deployment with the Title V Needs Assessment team in the Community & Family Health Division at the Minnesota Department of Health has allowed me to approach disparities and strategies in an entirely new way by gaining insight into how federal funding is managed, dispersed to community health boards, and how statewide data is collected on measurable outcomes. I have worked with the results of the Discovery Survey, a brief 2 question open-ended question survey that was completed by 2,000 people across the state of Minnesota, to code this data and support the prioritization process. I am writing data briefs on selected topics ranging from pregnancy intention to a culture of safety, abuse, and power to utilize with stakeholders, practitioners, and grant recipients this summer. There are 42 defined topics for consideration that have been whittled down from a much longer list making very clear the wide scope and diversity of issues addressed by maternal and child health programs.
Collaborating across the state with numerous diverse partners is certainly challenging but discussing priorities and developing strategies together is the foundation of the first MCH leadership competency to have a well-informed knowledge base of MCH in general while applying this knowledge to specific communities and programs. There is always more to learn as MCH changes in response to policy, new research, and an ever-evolving cultural landscape with new opportunities to implement innovative programs to ensure that we as MCH leaders are constantly striving to improve population health through empowerment, partnership, and education. My experience providing direct services to mothers has proven invaluable when considering impact of programming and I highly encourage all MCH professionals to work directly with clientele in any way possible to further deepen their understanding of the real effects of the work that we do and deepen their understanding of diverse health experiences. “