A primary focus of my external service work is improving public health at the intersection of policymaking and community engagement. I have built ties with state and national policy leaders as well as local and international community partners and with members of the media, who tell the stories that shape public knowledge and opinion. The core focus of my service work is policy change, made possible through the individual and organizational relationships I have built.
My service has focused on and achieved critical advances in public health and health equity, through translation of my academic work. Childbirth, the vitality of rural communities, and a commitment to equity are cornerstones of public health, from international to local levels, and I am proud to make service contributions that have impacted each of these, through policy change, community resources, and through my academic and University community engagement.
In the field of health policy, I have contributed to shaping the science of our field. I was a founding associate editor of a new journal – Healthcare: the Journal of Delivery Science and Innovation – which publishes research on policy and health systems innovation to spur action and improvement in clinics and communities across the country. I also have served on the editorial board for the journal Women’s Health Issues, currently serve on the board of Health Services Research, and regularly review work on maternal health and rural health for top journals in which I publish. I have served on the advisory committee for the Child Health Services Research Interest Group for AcademyHealth, and my contributions to the field were honored when I received the Alice Hersh New Investigator award in 2016.
Policies on maternity care are more evidence-informed as a result of both my research and service efforts. This engagement has had results, and my research and guidance has now informed the passage of legislation on Medicaid coverage for doula services in three states (Minnesota, Indiana, and New Jersey) and the passage of federal legislation to address rural maternity care access and maternal mortality. These policies, when fully implemented, will impact the lives of millions of families every year. My contributions to public policy were recognized when I received the Heinz Award for Public Policy in 2020.
Beyond legislation, my research has impacted funding support and community resources for improving maternal health. For example, in 2019, the CDC modified a funding opportunity for state maternal mortality review committees, in response to a blog posting I led with 3 colleagues. Also in 2019, the Health Resources and Services Administration drew upon our research and guidance to create the RMOMS grant program, which will pour millions of dollars into rural maternity care delivery.