2020–21 Class of Child Health Advocates Named

Posted April 13, 2020
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Faculty members for the Child Health Advocacy Network

The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, the David and Lucile Packard Foun­da­tion and The Atlantic Phil­an­thropies are pleased to announce the 202021 class select­ed to par­tic­i­pate in the Children’s Health Lead­er­ship Net­work, a rig­or­ous Results Count® lead­er­ship devel­op­ment ini­tia­tive. The 17-month pro­gram helps par­tic­i­pants build their skills as pol­i­cy advo­cates to improve health and well-being for all chil­dren in the Unit­ed States and, most specif­i­cal­ly, chil­dren at great­est risk for poor health.

The 202021 class — which con­sists of teams from Kansas, Mis­souri and Texas — faces some steep chal­lenges, includ­ing the vast eco­nom­ic and pub­lic health con­se­quences of the coro­n­avirus cri­sis and sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant decreas­es in children’s health insur­ance cov­er­age, which pre­ced­ed the crisis.

Each team includes pub­lic health pol­i­cy ana­lysts, pro­gram direc­tors and non­prof­it child advo­cates who will be work­ing to strength­en their col­lec­tive capac­i­ty to achieve last­ing change. The teams will col­lab­o­rate — often across agen­cies and sec­tors — on strate­gies that focus on one or more of the fol­low­ing health pol­i­cy issues:

  • max­i­miz­ing Med­ic­aid enroll­ment for all eli­gi­ble chil­dren and families;
  • improv­ing Med­ic­aid cov­er­age, such as pro­mot­ing healthy devel­op­ment for infants in their first year; and
  • pur­su­ing pol­i­cy and reg­u­la­to­ry oppor­tu­ni­ties to make gains in child health outcomes.

The expe­ri­ence gives lead­ers a set of tools and skills designed to accel­er­ate equi­table health out­comes for kids and fam­i­lies,” says Bar­bara Squires, direc­tor of Lead­er­ship Devel­op­ment at Casey. The par­tic­i­pants con­tribute to results imme­di­ate­ly because as they learn the results-dri­ven strate­gies they apply them to present-day pol­i­cy and advo­ca­cy efforts.”

All three par­ti­ci­at­ing states are part of the Packard Foundation’s Fin­ish Line Project, which sup­ports orga­ni­za­tions in states that are best posi­tioned to make sig­nif­i­cant advances in children’s health care cov­er­age. Their teams demon­strat­ed a his­to­ry of col­lab­o­ra­tion, com­mit­ment to racial and eth­nic equi­ty and inter­est in using the Children’s Health Lead­er­ship Net­work process to accel­er­ate their Med­ic­aid expan­sion efforts.

Now more than ever, it is cru­cial that we invest in the next gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers focused on children’s health,” says Dr. Kather­ine Beck­mann, a pro­gram offi­cer in the Chil­dren, Fam­i­lies, and Com­mu­ni­ties pro­gram at the Packard Foun­da­tion. Amid so much uncer­tain­ty as the world bat­tles the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, it is such an hon­or to sup­port this new gen­er­a­tion of inspir­ing lead­ers and advo­cates, each work­ing to ensure chil­dren are sur­round­ed by a net­work of sup­port­ive adults pro­vid­ing them with qual­i­ty care for their phys­i­cal, emo­tion­al and social well-being.”

The 202021 pro­gram is slat­ed to kick off with a vir­tu­al sem­i­nar — the first in a six-part series — in May 2020. These inten­sive learn­ing ses­sions are designed to build skills in the areas of child health pol­i­cy, child advo­ca­cy and Results Count lead­er­ship in order to improve out­comes in mea­sur­able ways.

In addi­tion to the sem­i­nary series, teams will ben­e­fit from indi­vid­u­al­ized coach­ing, site vis­its and tai­lored learn­ing plans. Assign­ments between for­mal ses­sions will enable par­tic­i­pants to apply their new skills in their home orga­ni­za­tions and sys­tems, and each team will devel­op and exe­cute a child health pol­i­cy agen­da with defined tar­gets to improve state-lev­el outcomes.

Meet the newest mem­bers of the Children’s Health Lead­er­ship Network


  • Bren­da Bandy, exec­u­tive direc­tor, Kansas Breast­feed­ing Coali­tion, Inc
  • Brod­er­ick Craw­ford, pres­i­dent, NBC Com­mu­ni­ty Devel­op­ment Corporation
  • April Hol­man, exec­u­tive direc­tor, Alliance for a Healthy Kansas
  • Bertha Men­doza, instruc­tor for nutri­tion edu­ca­tion, K‑State Research and Extension
  • Adri­enne Ole­jnik, vice pres­i­dent, Kansas Action for Children
  • Alice Wein­gart­ner, chief strat­e­gy offi­cer, Com­mu­ni­ty Care Net­work of Kansas
  • Don­na Young, exec­u­tive direc­tor, Com­mu­ni­ty Health Coun­cil of Wyan­dotte County


  • Lucas Cald­well-McMil­lian, man­ag­ing attor­ney of the Health and Wel­fare Pro­gram, Legal Ser­vices of East­ern Missouri
  • Shawn D’Abreu, pol­i­cy direc­tor, Mis­souri Health Care for All
  • Iva Eggert-Shep­herd, out­reach pro­gram man­ag­er, Mis­souri Pri­ma­ry Care Association
  • Traci Glea­son, vice pres­i­dent for exter­nal affairs, Mis­souri Bud­get Project
  • Tracey Greev­er-Rice, direc­tor, Uni­ver­si­ty of Mis­souri Cen­ter for Health Pol­i­cy; pro­gram direc­tor for Mis­souri KIDS COUNT, Mis­souri Fam­i­ly and Com­mu­ni­ty Trust
  • Casey Han­son, direc­tor of out­reach and engage­ment, Kids Win Missouri
  • Brie M. Wag­n­er, engage­ment coor­di­na­tor, Mis­souri Coali­tion of Children’s Agencies


  • Melis­sa McCh­es­ney, pol­i­cy ana­lyst, Cen­ter for Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Priorities
  • Auro­ra Har­ris, south­ern regi­nal direc­tor, Young Invincibles
  • Kaeleigh Her­nan­dez, pro­gram coor­di­na­tor, Chil­dren at Risk
  • Bryan Mares, pub­lic pol­i­cy fel­low, Texas CASA
  • Eri­ka Ramirez, direc­tor of pol­i­cy and advo­ca­cy, Healthy Futures of Texas-Texas Women’s Health­care Coalition
  • Alis­sa Sughrue, pol­i­cy coor­di­na­tor, Nation­al Alliance of Men­tal Ill­ness Texas

The Children’s Health Lead­er­ship Network

Launched in 2016, the Children’s Health Lead­er­ship Net­work is designed to strength­en the field of state-based advo­cates for children’s health policy.

The estab­lish­ment of the Children’s Health Lead­er­ship Net­work builds on the Casey Foundation’s core con­vic­tion — devel­oped and rein­forced over the past 20 years — that pro­fes­sion­als using the tools and skills of Results Count lead­er­ship are far more like­ly to have a last­ing and mea­sur­able impact on the lives and prospects of today’s chil­dren and their families.

With fund­ing from the Casey Foun­da­tion, the Packard Foun­da­tion and The Atlantic Phil­an­thropies, as well as pol­i­cy exper­tise pro­vid­ed by the George­town Uni­ver­si­ty Cen­ter for Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies, the Children’s Health Lead­er­ship Net­work aims to devel­op a pool of near­ly 100 health advo­cates who are dri­ving change and forg­ing part­ner­ships with­in their com­mu­ni­ties. Its most recent class, in 201819, brought togeth­er teams of advo­cates to help shape the health pol­i­cy land­scape in four states in the South and Southwest.

Upon fin­ish­ing the pro­gram, lead­ers join the advo­ca­cy alum­ni net­work, with reg­u­lar oppor­tu­ni­ties to share lessons and results, col­lab­o­rate with peers and serve as net­work ambas­sadors to strength­en nation­al child health advo­ca­cy efforts.

Review results for the first class

Review results for the sec­ond class

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