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Strengthening the evidence base for maternal and child health programs

New: MCHbest strategies database for sample ESMs

Team of Experts

people collaborating around a coffee tableNCEMCH has assembled a team of 30 research and implementation experts (an academic and an expert from the field per National Performance Measure) who will be tapped on for ongoing technical assistance, review of evidence reports, and development of interactive educational tools, multi-state presentations, and training opportunities.

Building on an evidence-based model. Peer-reviewed literature finds that teams without substantial support from a coordinating body “are less able to produce results than staffed [teams].”1 NCEMCH utilizes the public health team broker (concierge) model to provide staff time to support this team, leveraging their effort in support of this project. Key staff from the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) graciously serve as our Title V Partners on this activity.

Advancing health equity. To ensure that MCH Evidence Center products and services address the cultural, racial, linguistic, and geographic diversity of the populations and communities served in programs supported by the MCH Block Grant program, staff consult with our colleagues at the National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC). NCEMCH and NCCC have worked together for over 25 years at Georgetown University to increase the capacity of health care and mental health care programs to design, implement, and evaluate culturally and linguistically competent service delivery systems to address growing diversity, persistent disparities, and to promote health and mental health equity.

Team of Experts Members


1. Research Expert: Beth DeFrancis Sun, M.L.S., is a researcher and special collections librarian at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). She has written a summary of the evidence on the well-woman visit and has developed a professional resource guide on women’s health. Ms. DeFrancis is author of The Parents' Almanac.
2. Implementation Expert: Sarah Verbiest, M.S.W., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. is Research Assistant Professor, UNC School of Medicine, and Director of its Center for Maternal and Infant Health. The center conducts health services research, coordinates statewide programs, and translates evidence-based care into practice. She is co-author of “Promoting Maternal and Infant Health in the 4th Trimester.” Zero to Three, March 2017.


3. Research Expert: Eugene Declercq, Ph.D., is a Professor of Community Health Sciences at Boston University School of Public Health. His work focuses on maternal and infant morbidity associated with low-risk cesareans and repeat cesareans as well as programmatic and policy influences on childbirth practices. He has served as lead author of three national reports on women’s experiences in childbirth.
4. Implementation Expert: Carol Sakala, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., is Director of Childbirth Connection Programs at the National Partnership for Women & Families. Her work has focused on improving maternity care quality. She is lead author of the Milbank Report, Evidence-Based Maternity Care, a leader of the Transforming Maternity Care initiative, and co-investigator of national Listening to Mothers surveys.


5. Research Expert: Elliott Main, M.D., is Medical Director of the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative and has led both state and national quality improvement projects. He has served on national committees on maternal quality measurement for ACOG, the American Medical Association, the Joint Commission, and CMS; and has co-led national quality initiatives with ACOG, CDC, and MCHB.
6. Implementation Expert: Barbara Murphy, M.S.N., R.N., is Program Director of the Children’s Hospitals Neonatal Consortium at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. As Director of the Mid-Coastal California Perinatal Outreach Programs, Ms. Murphy provided oversight for the Regional Perinatal Programs, the California Perinatal Quality Care Collaborative, and all perinatal professional outreach programs. 


7. Research Expert: Kinkini Banerjee is Coalition Relations Director of the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee, leading capacity-building efforts for the network of state breastfeeding coalitions. These efforts seek to increase and enhance coalition participation in state and national strategic collaborations to improve the reach and impact of breastfeeding support and strengthen the public health infrastructure.  
8. Implementation Expert: Barbara Himes, I.B.C.L.C., is Director of Infant Health Education and Training for First Candle. In addition to working as a lactation consultant, she was the CoIIN Co-Lead for Region V to institute holistic and systemic approaches to reducing infant mortality. She currently provides TA to national organizations.


9. Research Expert: Rachel Moon, M.D., is Chair of AAP’s Pediatric Taskforce on Infant Sleep Position and SIDS and author of the AAP Policy statement: SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment and Infant Sleep Position in Licensed Child Care Centers. She is Professor in Pediatrics at the University of Virginia.
10. Implementation Expert: Mary Adkins, R.N., M.S.W., is an independent safe sleep consultant. For 15 years, she served as Program Director for Tomorrow’s Child, a statewide organization in Michigan dedicated to preventing infant death. Her work in Michigan formed the basis of the publication Building Integrated Systems to Address Sudden Infant Death.


11. Research Expert: Paul Dworkin, M.D., is Executive Vice President for Community Child Health at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He is the founder of Help Me Grow, a national initiative to promote the early detection of children at risk for developmental and behavioral problems and their referral to programs and services.
12. Implementation Expert: Kimberly Martini-Carvell is Executive Director of the Help Me Grow National Center. She recently served as Associate Vice President of Programs for The Village for Families and Children in Hartford, CT, where she launched and managed prevention, early intervention, and treatment programs for families and children. She has also served as an adjunct professor in the School of Family Studies at UConn.


13. Research Expert: Carol Runyan, M.P.H., Ph.D., is Professor of Epidemiology/Community & Behavioral Health at the Colorado School of Public Health and Director of Programs for Injury Prevention, Education and Research. She founded the PREVENT Program, a national training program designed to introduce practitioners to principles of evidence-based practice.
14. Implementation Expert: Angela Mickalide, Ph.D, MCHES, has served as program director for the EMSC National Resource Center and as Director of Research for Safe Kids Worldwide. She has held academic appointments at Johns Hopkins and George Washington Universities. She serves on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion and APHA’s Nation's Health.


15. Research Expert: Ross C. Brownson, Ph.D., F.A.C.E., is Professor of Public Health at Washington University School of Medicine and Core Director for the Siteman Cancer Center. He is a leader in the field of evidence-based public health. His research interests include policy effects on physical activity. He is the lead author of Evidence-Based Public Health and Community-Based Prevention: Programs that Work.
16. Implementation Expert: Dianne Stanton Ward, Ed.D., is Professor in the Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on prevention of obesity and promotion of healthy diets and physical activity through interventions implemented in child care, schools, communities, and homes. She is co-author of Physical Activity Interventions for Children.   


17. Research Expert: Marla Eisenberg, Sc.D., M.P.H., is Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota, and Associate Director for Research for the MCHB-funded Leadership Education in Adolescent Health program. She conducts research focusing on social influences on health behaviors of adolescents, including teasing and bullying. She is co-author of “Bullying and Peer Victimization” Journal of Adolescent Health.
18. Implementation Expert: Julie Hertzog is Founding Director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center and a nationally recognized leader on bullying prevention. She has created content for the center’s websites, toolkits, and curricula. She also helped develop initiatives including National Bullying Prevention Month; Unity Day; and Run, Walk, Roll Against Bullying, which are now nationally recognized events.  


19. Research Expert: Charles E. Irwin, Jr., M.D., is Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at the University of California School of Medicine. He heads The National Adolescent and Young Adult Health Information Center. He also is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Adolescent Health.
20. Implementation Expert: Claire Brindis, Dr.P.H., is Professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy, UCSF. She directs the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and is Co-Director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Health National Resource Center. She developed a monograph on implementing Healthy People 2010 Adolescent Health Objectives, Improving Adolescent Health: A Guidebook for States and Communities.  


21. Research Expert: Jean L. Raphael, M.D., M.P.H., is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and Director of the Center for Child Health Policy and Advocacy. His work focuses on reducing health care disparities among children with chronic conditions and improving minority health. He is Chair of the Public Policy and Advocacy Committee of the Academic Pediatrics Association.
22. Implementation Expert: Mark Weissman, M.D.,is Chief of General Pediatrics and Community Health at Children’s National Health System.  He is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the George Washington University. He established the DC Partnership to Improve Children’s Healthcare Quality, which leads collaborative clinical quality improvement initiatives in the District of Columbia region.


23. Research Expert: Patience White, M.D., M.A., is Co-Director of Got Transition and Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at George Washington School of Medicine. She provides TA to integrated health care delivery systems, Title V agencies, and specialty-care practices. She is co-author of Supporting the Health Care Transition from Adolescence to Adulthood in the Medical Home.
24. Implementation Expert: Margaret McManus, M.H.S., is President of The National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health and Co-Director of Got Transition. For more than three decades, she has directed federal, state, and private foundation projects related to adolescent health, CYSHCN, health insurance coverage and reimbursement, and pediatric subspecialty workforce.


25. Research Expert: Elizabeth Lowe, B.S.D.H., M.P.H., is Health Education Specialist for the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center (OHRC). She leads efforts to develop a national set of oral health quality indicators to measure and assess processes and outcomes of oral health systems affecting MCH populations as part of the Center for Oral Health Systems Integration and Improvement.
26. Implementation Expert: Harry S. Goodman, D.M.D., M.P.H., served as President of Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors and co-chair of the Maryland Dental Action Committee. He also served as Director, Office of Oral Health, at the Maryland Department of Health, and as a Region 3 oral health consultant providing training and TA for Head Start programs.


27. Research Expert:  Cathy Melvin, Ph.D., M.P.H., is Associate Professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. She has more than a decade of experience in research, policy and program development related to treating tobacco use among pregnant women. She previously served as Director of Smoke-Free Families, National Dissemination Office at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
28. Implementation Expert: Laurie Adams is founder and Executive Director for the Baby & Me—Tobacco Free Program and a certified cessation specialist. She was a project director in tobacco control programs for 15 years in New York State and helped implement policy and system change through Clean Indoor Air laws and Tobacco Free Outdoor policies.    


29. Research Expert: Sabrina Corlette, J.D., is Research Professor at the Center on Health Insurance Reform at Georgetown University. Her areas of focus include state and federal regulation of health insurance plans and markets. She has authored papers on implementation of insurance reforms and has provided TA to HHS.
30. Implementation Expert: Beth Dworetzky, M.S., is a project director for Family Voices. She also served as project director of the Catalyst Center where she provided state TA around evidence-based/informed strategies. She is author of Leveraging Title V Partnerships to Advance NPM 15: Adequate Health Insurance.



1 Wolff, T. 2001. A Practitioner’s guide to successful coalitions. American Journal of Community Psychology 29(2):173–191.


This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number U02MC31613, MCH Advanced Education Policy, $3.5 M. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.