Meeting Purpose

Join OASH and HRSA Regions 4, 6, and 7 for our second maternal health conference. This year’s one-day conference will build upon the 2022 event and re-convene partners who influence birth outcomes (i.e., doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas, peer educators, community health workers, community members, and other public health workers) to identify actions that address persistent disparities in maternal health and reduce pregnancy-related death and disease for racial and ethnic minority birthing people residing in Regions 4, 6, & 7.

Regions 4, 6, & 7 include: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, as well as 83 federally recognized tribal nations.

Meeting Objectives

  1. Share promising practices from the membership and the Advisory Board of the Communities Improving Maternal Health Alliance. Disseminate to community groups, community leaders, and state and local government organizations.
  2. Continue to build our network of multi-sectoral collaborators which includes individuals with lived experience, community groups, state and local governments, as well as federal and tribal partners with the shared goal of replicating evidenced-informed promising practices that address maternal health disparities.
  3. Promote the adoption of culturally and linguistically appropriate services as a critical element to improve maternal healthcare. Amplify National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care and other training curricula that support providers and users of healthcare to access high quality services.
  4. Review the Communities Improving Maternal Health Alliance accomplishments to date and create plans for collaboration on efforts to eliminate disparities moving forward.

Meeting Location

In-Person 1301 Young St. Dallas, Texas 75202
with option to participate virtually


April 18, 2023

8:30 a.m. Registration
9:00 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks
CAPT Mehran Massoudi, PhD, MPH, Regional Health Administrator, Region 6, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), Dallas, TX
Sima Ladjevardian, J.D., Regional Director, Region 6, Office of the Secretary, US Department of Health and Human Services
9:15 a.m. Believe Her: Pushing the Envelope
Wanda Irving, MPA, Co-Founder/President, Dr. Shalon's Maternal Action Project, Atlanta, GA
Kevin M. Greene, PhD, MPH, MA, Women’s Health Analyst, Region 4, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), Atlanta, GA

Objective: Tell the story of how the crisis of maternal health is affecting our families and our communities. Center the voices of those most impacted by the crisis. Explain why some women are not being heard in healthcare settings when facing critical and dangerous health conditions. Offer additional strategies to promote health, especially in the post-partum context.

10:00 a.m. Break
10:10 a.m. Partnership to Eliminate Maternal Health Disparities
Prinscilla Moore, CPD, CLE, CNPE, Delighted to Doula, Dallas, TX
Heather Emmanuel Ormand, Chief Executive Officer, Nexus Recovery Center, Dallas, TX
Courtney Polk, MSN, RN, IBCLC, OB Practice Consultant Maternal Child & Women’s Health, Elevance Health, Dallas, TX
Paige Jackson, Vice President of Clinical Services, Abide Women’s Health Services, Dallas, TX

Moderator:Ella Ewart-Pierce, MA, MPH, Minority Health Analyst, Region 6, OASH, Dallas, TX

Objective: Describe a successful multi-sectoral partnership supporting birthing people in Dallas, Texas. Share strategies to expand provision of doula services, support for substance use disorders, and other supports in the perinatal and post-partum periods. Highlight the importance of ongoing and broad support for birthing people and families throughout the continuum of care in the maternal health space to impact health outcomes.

11:10 a.m. Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Training in Reproductive Health
DeLawnia Comer-HaGans, PhD, MS, MBA, University of Texas Dell Medical School, Austin, TX
Jesus Ortega, LMSW, University of Texas Dell Medical School, Austin, TX
Andrea Serano, BS, CLC, IBCLC, Program Director, Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), Lithonia, GA

Moderator: Roshunda Ivory, DrPH, CHES®, Regional Minority Health Analyst, Region 4, OASH, Atlanta, GA

Objective: Share strategies to promote culturally competent care in healthcare settings. Explain how training that promotes the uptake of CLAS standards in both clinical training and community settings is being developed and implemented and why it is critical to improving maternal health outcomes for all.

12:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00 p.m. Regional Landscape Overview and the Communities Improving Maternal Health Alliance Next Steps
David M. Johnson, MPH, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of Regional Health Operations, OASH, Washington, DC
Ella Ewart-Pierce, MA, MPH, Minority Health Analyst, Region 6, OASH, Dallas, TX
LT Monica Angelique Geiger, MSN, RN, Women’s Health Analyst, Region 6, OASH, Dallas, TX

Objective: Preview the planned end of year deliverables of the Alliance. Briefly share plans to move the objectives of the Alliance forward and how each HHS Region will take these lessons home.

1:30 p.m Bridging the Gaps to Support Maternal Mental Health
Kay Matthews, LCHW, Founder & Executive Director, Shades of Blue, Houston, TX
Shajuane Jones, SAFE Care State Director, Children’s Policy Cooperative, Birmingham, AL
Honour McDaniel, MPH, Director of Maternal Infant Health, March of Dimes, Birmingham, AL
Suzanne Muir, Associate Director, Department of Psychiatry and Neurobiology, Comprehensive Addiction in Pregnancy Program, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Comprehensive Addiction in Pregnancy Program (CAPP) Program, Birmingham, AL

Moderator:Kristie Brooks, MS, LPC, Regional Administrator Region 6, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Dallas, TX

Objective: Share strategies that are supportive of health among pregnant people and their babies who are suffering from mental health conditions to include substance use disorders. Highlight policies that are counterproductive to health outcomes, such as criminalization of pregnant people seeking substance use treatment.

2:30 p.m. Break
2:45 p.m.


A: Doulas and Birth Workers - Inclusivity and Cultural Humility in the Perinatal Period
Jacqueline McLeeland, MBA, MLS, Founder & President, Push Birth Partners: A Maternal Health Partnership, Sugar Land, TX
Joel Austin, CEO, Daddy University, Philadelphia, PA
Abriona Markham, Executive Director, Topeka Doula Project, Topeka, KS

Moderator: Simone Taylor, MS, RN, Women’s Health Analyst, Region 7, OASH, Kansas City, MO

Objective: Explain what doulas do and why they impact maternal health outcomes. Discuss the need for expanded support for the whole family, to include culturally and linguistically appropriate services. Share challenges to integrating doulas and other non-traditional birth workers in healthcare and community settings.

B: Maternal Health Workforce Support and Development
CAPT Tracy Gualandi, PT, DPT, Public Health Analyst, Bureau of Health Workforce, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Region 6, Dallas, TX
CDR Sharyl Trail, PsyD, Regional Administrator, Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs (IEA), HRSA, Region 5, Chicago, IL
Juan Irby, PD, LD, NPE, Birth/Postpartum Doula and New Parent Educator, From Dad to Dudla, Kannapolis, NC

Moderator: Rachel Piotrowski, MPH, CPH, Public Health Analyst, IEA, HRSA, , Region 6

Objective: Highlight and amplify diverse opportunities to expand maternal health workforces, particularly in areas with high unmet needs. Address existing needs of birth workers, including mental health and burnout.

C: Social Determinants of Health – Healthy and Safe Living Spaces and Maternal Health Outcomes
Mary Schultheis, Founder & CEO, Crescent City Family Services, New Orleans, LA
Tracy Russell, Executive Director, Nurture KC, Kansas City, MO
Shannon Williams,KC Healthy Start Initiative Program Director

Moderators: Steven C. Richards, MPH, LMSW, CPH, Public Health Analyst, IEA, HRSA, Region 6

Rae Hutchison, Deputy Regional Administrator, IEA, HRSA, Region 7

Objective: Examine maternal health outcomes in the broader context of social determinants of health and share practices that support the pregnant person/infant dyad in meeting holistic needs that play a critical role in overall physical and mental health.

4:00 p.m.


4:15 p.m. Breakout Report Out

Moderator: LT Monica Angelique Geiger, MSN, RN, Women’s Health Analyst, Region 6, OASH, Dallas, TX

Objective: Distill key points identified in all the breakouts and potential opportunities for action identified in discussion.

4:30 p.m. Supporting One Another to Create Change
Natasha Yokley, MSPH, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN

Moderator: Roshunda Ivory, DrPH, CHES®, Regional Minority Health Analyst, Region 4, OASH, Atlanta, GA

Objective: Call to action relying upon the vision and experience that the Alliance has offered, and the expertise shared.

5:00 p.m. Adjourn