AAMC Maternal Health Equity Webinar Series Part Two - May 14

Bridging the Urban-Rural Divide: Maternal Health Across Appalachia and Indian Country

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women—and this disparity increases with age. Pregnancy-related deaths for Black and AI/AN women older than 30 are four to five times higher than for white women.  The AAMC Maternal Health Equity Webinar Series highlights the unique role of academic medicine in the fight for maternal health justice and features physicians, community leaders, and researchers who are committed to eliminating these inequities. The second installment of the AAMC Maternal Health Equity Webinar Series focuses on the health disparities faced by mothers of color in rural America, especially American Indian and Alaska Native women. 

More Than Rural: Maternal and Infant Health Equity in West Virginia
Dr. Lauri Andress of West Virginia University School of Public Health will present how the rural state of West Virginia has handled maternal and infant mortality disparities in the 21st century told from the sociopolitical perspective of her experiences as a public health communications expert, political aide, and academician. 

Not Just Surviving, But Thriving: Cultural Practices that Promote Positive Maternal Health Outcomes in Native Women and Families   
While Native communities face disparate health conditions, traditional practices, cultural values and language resiliency help sustain healthy Native families and children. Hannabah Blue, MS and Vanessa Tibbitts, MA will provide introductory information about Native public health and clinical systems and health disparities. Presenters will share cultural practices, success stories, resources and best practices in supporting the care of Native communities, with particular focus on Native women and families.

Lauri Andress, PhD, MPH

Assistant Dean for Public Health Practice and Workforce Development; Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Leadership West Virginia University School of Public Health

As a community engaged place and health scholar, Dr. Andress’ scholarship is informed by the basic notion of social justice and the inquiry into power differentials that shape the places where populations "live, work, and play."  The goal being to shift the way that a community thinks about and conceptualizes notions of good and poor health.   During her studies, Dr. Andress secured a Master of Public Health and Ph.D. in Community Health Science (University of Texas Health Sciences Center, major in health policy; concentration in Management and Policy Sciences), and a law degree from South Texas College of Law, Houston, Texas.  At West Virginia University, School of Public Health she has served as an Assistant Dean for Public Health Practice and Workforce Development and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Leadership. A qualitative public health assessment on the connection between place and health, Dr. Andress’ research incorporates a range of qualitative research skills including ethnographic techniques with content analysis of documents, and data collected from interviews, focus groups, print media and videos. Her scholarship portrays the lived experiences of underrepresented (UR) groups as told by and through their stories, photos, narratives and video recordings.  These digital records are intended to help us see the connections between lived experiences and larger historical, social, and structural forces of a place.  Dr. Andress says, “from a 60, 000-foot level my place and health scholarship examines the agenda setting process, what counts as evidence and the role that ideas, framing, narratives, and political ideology versus science, facts, and evidence play in policy discussions”.  Prior to joining academia Dr. Andress worked in government as a policy aide to local and congressional policymakers and lead teams from 2007-2010 that launched the Centers for Health Equity in Wisconsin and Louisville, Kentucky. Image credit: WVU Photo

Hannabah Blue, MS

Consultant, John Snow, Inc.

Hannabah Blue, MS is Diné (Navajo), originally from Kirtland, New Mexico. As a Consultant at John Snow, Inc. with over 10 years of experience, she specializes in conducting training, technical assistance and evaluation with national, regional, statewide, tribal and local organizations. Mrs. Blue's areas of expertise include health and racial equity, tribal public health, particularly on topics pertaining to maternal and child health. Mrs. Blue provides technical assistance nationwide on various public health projects, including as a Capacity Building Assistance Specialist for the CBA@JSI HIV Prevention Program and with the Alcohol and Substance Exposed Pregnancy Prevention (AStEPP) Program for the Healthy Start EPIC Center. Previously, she served as the Public Health Services Project Manager at the American Indian Public Health Resource Center at North Dakota State University, where she oversaw the implementation of a statewide tribal maternal and child health symposium. She also served on the North Dakota Infant Mortality CoIIN and the Governor’s Interagency Coordinating Council on Children with Developmental Disabilities. She has an undergraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism, and Gender and Sexuality Studies from New York University, and a Maternal and Child Health Graduate Certificate focusing on Native women through the University of Arizona. She earned a Master of Science degree from the Harvard School of Public Health, with concentrations in women, gender, and maternal and child health.

Vanessa Tibbitts, MA

Program Leader, American Indian Public Health Resource Center, North Dakota State University

Vanessa Tibbitts is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and serves as the program leader for the American Indian Public Health Resource Center at North Dakota State University. Vanessa received her Bachelor of Science in Human Services and Master of Arts in Lakota Leadership and Management from her tribal college - Oglala Lakota College. Vanessa has worked in public health for the last 15 years with tribal nations focusing on various topics including commercial tobacco prevention, maternal and child health, and utilizing culture as prevention. Vanessa works to serve American Indians using the skills she has acquired professionally, through academia, and through her Elders for the future of her people. 

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