In 2015, the Maternal & Child Health Bureau’s (MCHB) Division of MCH Workforce Development (DMCHWD) established an ongoing vehicle for working collaboratively with trainees of the MCH Training Program through the Trainee Ambassador Group (TAG).
The goals of the TAG are to foster connections between trainees across the MCH Training Program, provide trainees with leadership development opportunities, and strengthen the link between trainees and MCHB.
Through the TAG, MCHB is:
The TAG provides trainees with the opportunity to conceptualize, develop, and lead efforts to facilitate trainee connections via activities such as a mentoring program, trainee forums, and collaborative research projects.
For information about previous TAG cohorts, please visit the 2015-2016 and 2017 archives. Ambassadors attend monthly virtual meetings and work collaboratively to create trainee-focused products. The 2018 Ambassadors are supporting continued implementation of MCH Connects and are shaping a new phase of the TAG that includes a new trainee volunteer role, the TAG Connection and Engagement Leader (CEL). TAG CELs will help connect trainees in their local university’s training programs to MCH and TAG-related initiatives, news, and opportunities.
Ambassadors and CELs are trainee representatives from a range of the DMCHWD’s graduate and undergraduate education programs including:
Please review the 2019 TAG and CEL Overview and Highlights document for more detail on roles, responsibilities, and leadership opportunities.
Applications for the 2020 TAG will be available in August 2019.
MCH Nutrition Marissa Black is a Dietetic Intern and Public Health Nutrition Master’s student at the University of Tennessee. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Business Administration and Japanese at the University of Florida and finished her Didactic Program in Dietetics coursework at the University of Tennessee. Throughout her graduate career, Marissa has served as a nutrition educator for several nutrition, gardening, and culinary programs for youth throughout her community. She has a passion for helping youth learn about food and nutrition and hopes to practice as a dietitian serving the maternal and child health population in the future. Her experience as an MCH Nutrition Trainee has given her the opportunity to learn more about this population while gaining valuable leadership skills.
Centers of Excellence in Maternal & Child Health (CoE)
Originally from the greater Houston area, Breanna is a public health professional and aspiring physician who attended Rice University, where she received a BA in Psychology and a minor in Poverty, Justice, and Human Capabilities in 2013. Following graduation, Breanna worked as a school dropout prevention coordinator for 3 years in the Houston area, serving as a liaison between community organizations, schools, and students/families. In 2016, she began attending Boston University School of Public Health, graduating in 2018 with an MPH and certificates in Community Assessment, Program Design, Implementation, and Evaluation (CAPDIE), Maternal/Child Health, and Chronic/Non-Communicable Diseases. In Fall 2018, Breanna joined the Boston Medical Center Department of OBGYN working under the direction of the Perinatal-Neonatal Quality Improvement Network of Massachusetts as Project Manager for the Massachusetts Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health Initiative (MA AIM), where she coordinates the statewide implementation of maternal safety bundles to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. Breanna's research passions and experience meets at the intersection of preconception health, MCH, and chronic disease prevention; how these are related to adverse outcomes among communities of color, including maternal and infant mortality, and can be addressed clinically through quality improvement methodologies, and ultimately through social justice and reproductive justice lenses.
Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH)
Emily Denight Kelly graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health with an MPH concentration in Maternal and Child Health in August 2018. Prior to graduate school, she worked for four years at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services as the health educator for the Adolescent Health Program. While in this position, she provided trainings for grantees on evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programming, as well as technical support on program implementation and evaluation. Emily’s participation in the LEAH fellowship improved her skills in areas such as data analysis and working in public health systems, as well as increased her passion for supporting the health of adolescents, especially for youth experiencing social and health inequities. She is excited to continue to learn from and collaborate with her colleagues within the Maternal and Child Health Training Program through her involvement in the Trainee Ambassador Group.
Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics (DBP) & Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND)
Sandhyaa Iyengar M.D. is a fellow in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her research investigates the effect of adverse childhood experiences, such as poverty and violence, on developmental, emotional, and physical health. She has also been involved in improving the transition to adulthood for individuals with Down syndrome and tackling childhood obesity through exercise and nutrition programming in urban food deserts. Sandhyaa also founded a successful program targeting early literacy through teaching parents the techniques of dialogic reading. Her other career passions are global health for children’s mental health and legislative advocacy. She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Pennsylvania to help advance these interests. Sandhyaa’s hobbies include world travel, learning martial arts, knitting, and volunteering at an animal sanctuary.
Seun Kutse is third year pharmacy student at Texas Southern University. Currently inducted into the RhoChi honors pharmacy student body. Prior to pharmacy school, she completed her associate degree in science with highest honors and her dream is to work with UNICEF. The MCH program opened up opportunities for research and created a platform for her to be more interested in research involving women and children. She worked on two abstracts, one of which involved the effects and outcomes of opioid use in pregnant women. She is interested in developing more of her research skills while getting more involved in the MCH program on a nationwide level. Seun volunteers with Girl Scouts and the Houston Food bank. Her hobbies include cooking, playing around with her kids, and knitting.
MCH Public Health Catalyst
Bella Mazzetti is in the second year of her Master of Public Health program at the School of Public Health at the University of Albany in Albany, NY. In addition to being a student interested in maternal and child health and global public health, Bella is the sexual assault prevention educator at Bard College and a sex educator and consultant in New York's Hudson Valley. Bella graduated from Bard College in 2015 with a Bachelor's degree in Russian and Eurasian Studies, where she wrote a thesis that served as a comparative analysis between Soviet and contemporary Russian reproductive health policies and ideologies. Bella is passionate about reproductive health and justice, medical racism, gender inequities in health care and delivery, and family health in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.
MCH Pipeline & Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND)
Sabrin Rizk is a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences PhD program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UW-Milwaukee). Her research interests include secondary data analysis with a focus on children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) medical home model. Sabrin was a school-based occupational therapist working with children with disabilities and their families for 10 years. Sabrin participated in MCH Pipeline at UW-Milwaukee in 2006-2007. She later was a Wisconsin LEND fellow from 2013-2015. Sabrin credits her experience in MCH Pipeline as the catalyst for her MCH work, including her research interests and publications, professional practice working with children with disabilities and families, LEND, and her doctoral work. Sabrin was a 2018 TAG Ambassador and will continue her role on the 2019 TAG as the Making Lifelong Connections (MLC-TAG) Liaison. Her first year on the TAG was one of the most enriching experiences within her MCH training; the opportunity to be innovative and collaborative with elite MCH professionals and students on a national level advanced her interests in the MCH arena. Sabrin hopes to remain active in MCH initiatives while expanding her MCH leadership even further with the 2019 TAG.
Centers of Excellence in Maternal & Child Health (CoE)
Lauren Schwerzler is a second year Master of Public Health student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, with a focus on maternal and child health epidemiology. She is also a registered dietitian. Over the summer, she interned at the Minnesota Department of Health where she worked on Minnesota's Title V MCH needs assessment. Throughout the school year, Lauren works as a research assistant on various MCH projects. She analyzes Illinois Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) data to assess changes in breastfeeding patterns. Additionally, she produced state data reports for the national Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program for their needs assessment. Her research and professional interests include early childhood education, adverse childhood experiences, and food security. She is especially interested in systems-level work with a focus on health equity and social justice.
Pediatric Pulmonary Center (PPC)
Suzanne Stern-Brant received her MSW from New Mexico Highlands University Facundo Valdez School of Social Work in 2018. She completed her Pediatric Pulmonary Center traineeship in 2017, at the University of New Mexico. Her capstone project focused on best practices for transitioning adolescents from pediatric to adult care, which included a patient-centric art intervention to facilitate the transition process for cystic fibrosis patients. Currently, Suzanne is a childhood bereavement facilitator and facilitator trainer at the Children’s Grief Center of New Mexico. Supporting children through the grieving process requires a systems approach, extending beyond the child and family unit. Training members of the community- mental health professionals, educators, first responders, and medical professionals- is an important aspect of Suzanne’s work. The skills and core values gained through the PPC traineeship and participation on the 2018 TAG consistently inform her client interactions and professional outreach activities. Suzanne is committed to issues of social justice, and is interested in serving minority children through developing research-based mental health interventions specific to New Mexico’s unique population. Suzanne draws on her background as a professional artist; Buddhist psychology; and auricular acupuncture as a volunteer supporting underserved populations at the southern US/Mexico border.
Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND)
Catherine Yount is as Evaluation Coordinator and Research Analyst at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Her work is focused on secondhand smoke exposures in apartment buildings in Los Angeles. She has a degree from UCLA in Human Biology and Society and a Master of Public Health from University of California, Irvine. Prior to her current position, Catherine worked with the City of Irvine Disability Services where she supported children and adults with disabilities in one on one and group environments. She collaborated with the California Department of Public Health, Biomonitoring to analyze data related to sources of perchlorate exposure in California residents. She also completed the LEND Fellowship at Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles where she partnered with interdisciplinary colleagues to examine use of public-school meals among families with children with disabilities in Southern California and create educational materials to help families effectively utilize this resource. Catherine’s interests include environmental exposure impacts on maternal and child health. She hopes to pursue a PhD in epidemiology focusing on maternal and child health.
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