UWPRC Annual Meeting

Graphic announcing to register now for the 2022 Virtual Annual Meeting under the UWPRC logo. The dates are October 25th between 1:00PM-5:00PM and October 26th between 8:30AM-1:00PM. A headshot of Dr. Monica McLemore is next to her bio: Dr. Monica McLemore PhD, MPH, RN is a tenured professor in the Child, Family, and Population Health Department at the University of Washington School of Nursing. Her research is focused on reproductive justice. A headshot of Evelyn Cruz is next to her bio: Evelyn Cruz is the Director for Program Planning and Evaluation at Centro Hispano, Inc. She is focused on improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations in Wisconsin.

The UWPRC Annual Meeting will be held October 25, 2022 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM and October 26, 2022 from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM. Registration is required.


The purpose of the UWPRC Annual Meeting is to bring together researchers, practitioners, and community partners to facilitate growth and collaboration in the areas of prevention, community engagement, and maternal and child health.

For questions about the Annual Meeting, please email us at prc@wisc.edu.

Welcome | 1:00-1:15 PM

Keynote | 1:15-2:15 PM

Retrofit, Reform and Reimagine to Achieve Health Equity
Monica R. McLemore PhD, MPH, RN

Break | 2:15-2:20 PM

Panel | 2:20-3:20 PM

Navigating Mental Health Needs of Students in the School Setting
Andy Garbacz, PhD, Bri Collins & Monicka Whitehead

The purpose of this session is to describe ways to promote equity in school mental health through strengthening partnerships with families and communities.

Learning Objectives:
1. Participants will learn about school mental health practices
2. Participants will learn strategies to promote equity
3. Participants will learn approaches to build and strengthen partnerships with families

Break | 3:20-3:25 PM

Breakout Room Sessions | 3:25-4:25 PM

Room 1:

Unique Health Issues in Rural Wisconsin: The Social Determinants that Impact the Health of Tribal and Rural Populations
Walter J. Orzechowski, MSPH, MBA, BS & Candi Cornelius, MSN RN, CLC

The federal government is obligated to provide health care to American Indians/Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) either through Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities, tribally controlled facilities or a combination of the two.
This has been a long-standing agreement to improve the health status of AI/AN population. However, the patient load and needs have never been met due to lack of funding and providers or challenges in accessing care due to rural locations.

Brief presentation on the history of Indian Health Services (IHS), the tribal health facilities present in Wisconsin along with examples of challenges families encounter to access care.

Learning Objectives:
1. Learner will be able to list at least two tribal health facilities in Wisconsin.
2. Learner will be able to identify two barriers to access health care among American Indian/Alaskan Native families at the tribal health facilities in Wisconsin.

Room 2:

Guaranteed Income Program
Katherine Magnuson & Blake Roberts

Description coming soon.

Room 3:

Why Fathers Matter: Where Do Fathers Fit in Prevention Research to Improve the Health of Low-Income Women, Infants and Families?
Brooks Griffin, Tova Walsh, PhD, MSW & Alvin Thomas, PhD

The presence of a caring, involved father is associated with positive developmental outcomes for children, beginning in the prenatal years and extending across the life course. This session will feature discussion among fathers, researchers, and practitioners. Topics to be explored include the role of fathers in pregnancy and early childhood; barriers that fathers may face to full participation in their children’s lives; strategies for engaging fathers in child and family services; and fatherhood in the context of rural and urban communities.

Learning Objectives:
Participants will be able to:
1. Understand the strengths and challenges of being a father.
2. Recognize how a father’s positive involvement can influence maternal and infant health and young children’s development.
3. Identify strategies to create a welcoming environment for fathers and help strengthen father-child relationships.

Room 4:

Abortion Access, Population Health, and Reproductive Justice in Wisconsin after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs Decision
Jenny Higgins, PhD, MPH & Zakiyyah Sorenson, RN, BSN

In this session, Jenny Higgins and Zakiyyah Sorensen from UW CORE (core.wisc.edu) will present information about the impacts of Roe v Wade’s​​​ reversal on Wisconsinites, then contextualize abortion access into a broader reproductive justice perspective. Attendees will have ample time to pose questions. At the end of the session, attendees should be able to:

1. Identify recent changes to abortion access in Wisconsin and bordering states, as well as the likely impacts of these changes on people’s health and wellbeing.
2. Be familiar with how abortion fits into a broader framework of reproductive justice (RJ), and consider how an RJ perspective is critical to any efforts to improve Wisconsinites’ reproductive lives.

Closing | 4:25-4:30 PM

Welcome | 8:30-8:40 AM

Keynote | 8:40-9:40 AM

Grieving to Heal from Oppression: Integrating my Spiritual and Professional Life
Evelyn Cruz

Break | 9:40-9:45 AM

CAB & Small Grants Competition | 9:45-10:05 AM

What Community Engaged Research & Community Advisory Board Means
Brooks Griffin, Fiona Weeks & Janice Valenzuela

Description coming soon.

Breakout Rooms | 10:05-10:50 AM

Room 1:

The Impact of Pregnancy Accommodation Laws on Employment and Infant Health
Jessica Pac, PhD & Alejandra Ros Pilarz, PhD

In the absence of a federal law requiring employers to provide reasonable workplace accommodations to pregnant women in the United States, 31 states passed their own pregnancy accommodation laws since 1990 that substantially expand protections beyond the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act. As the loss of employment and income can be detrimental during pregnancy, a central question is whether pregnancy accommodation laws impact maternal employment and infant health, strong predictors for adulthood health and human capital. In this presentation, we will discuss the implications behind the proposed Pregnant Workers Fairness Act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2021, and the laws potential impacts on employment during pregnancy and infant health.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe pregnancy accommodation laws and their role in the larger context public policies that affect working during pregnancy
2. Demonstrate the importance of pregnancy accommodation laws in terms of employment among expecting mothers and infant health

Room 2:

A Community-based Pilot Feasibility Study to Adapt the CHIME+ Program to Build Resilience Among Minoritized Families
Holly Hatton

Description coming soon.

Room 3:

Engaging Youth, Parents, and Pharmacists in the Design of MedSMA℞T Families: A Game-based Approach to Improving Opioid Safety
Olufunmilola Abraham, PhD, MS, Bpharm

This presentation will highlight the methodological approach for engaging youth, parents and pharmacists in designing MedSMA℞T Families, a novel family-based intervention that utilizes a game-based participatory approach to facilitate parent-teen communication about medication safety in the homes, schools, and other relevant community settings where medication misuse might occur. In this session, Dr. Abraham will highlight how the MedSMA℞T Families intervention incorporates the co-creation of a personalized family medication safety plan by parents and their teens to proactively foster family conversations about safe and responsible management of medications.

Room 4:

Centering Community Voices of Parents and Caregivers of Children 0-11 years old in Wisconsin through Community-led Conversations to Support Health, Wellness, and Well-being for Children and Families
Janean Dilworth-Bart, PhD, MS

Description coming soon.

Room 5:

“She told me no, that you cannot change”: Understanding Provider Refusal to Remove Contraceptive Implants
Leigh Senderowicz, ScD, MPH

This presentation will use data from 17 focus group discussions with women of reproductive age in an anonymized African setting to understand how users approach providers to request method removal, and how they understand whether or not such a request will be granted. By the end of the presentation, participants will be able to:

1. Understand how medical misogyny and scientific racism shape access to contraceptive method discontinuation in this setting
2. Describe the gendered nature of contraceptive coercion

Break | 10:50-10:55 AM

Managing the Psychology of Change: Embedding Equity and Inclusion in a CQI System | 10:55-11:55 AM

Abigail Eskenazi, MPP, BA & Sharon Gilbert, BS

This session will provide information on how Wisconsin’s Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program began embedding inclusion and equity into its CQI system, including specific publicly available resources that supported this effort. In order for this type of organizational change to be effective, the people within the organization (CQI teams) need to embrace it. Embedding equity and inclusion into a CQI system is an example of an organizational change and this session will provide specific strategies to support CQI leaders in managing situations where there is hesitance. Attendees will also have an opportunity to engage with their peers on how to manage hesitation or challenges embedding equity and inclusion in CQI systems and will have the opportunity to steal shamelessly from each other.

Goal 1: To provide attendees with specific strategies and resources to embed equity and inclusion into their CQI system.

Objective: Attendees will learn specific strategies to embed equity and inclusion into their CQI system.
Objective: Attendees will access publicly available resources to embed equity and inclusion into their CQI system.

Goal 2: To discuss strategies to manage the psychology of change when met with hesitation on embedding equity and inclusion.

Objective: Attendees will engage with their peers to discuss effective strategies for managing the psychology of change when a CQI system moves toward embedding equity and inclusion.

UWPRC Core Research Project Update | 11:55 AM-12:55 PM

Kathleen Hipke, PhD & Jane Mahoney, MD

Closing | 12:55-1:00 PM

Monica R. McLemore PhD, MPH, RN

Dr. Monica R. McLemore is a tenured professor in the Child, Family, and Population Health Department at the University of Washington School of Nursing. Prior to her arrival at UW, she was a tenured associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco and was named the Thelma Shobe Endowed Chair in 2021. She retired from clinical practice as a public health and staff nurse after a 28-year clinical nursing career in 2019, however, continues to provide flu and COVID-19 vaccines.

Her program of research is focused on understanding reproductive health and justice. To date, she has 93 peer reviewed articles, OpEds and commentaries and her research has been cited in the Huffington Post, Lavender Health, five amicus briefs to the Supreme Court of the United States, and three National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine reports, and a data visualization project entitled How To Fix Maternal Mortality: The first step is to stop blaming women that was published in the 2019 Future of Medicine edition of Scientific American.

Her work has also appeared in publications such as Dame Magazine, Politico, ProPublica/NPR and she made a voice appearance in Terrance Nance’s HBO series Random Acts of Flyness. She is the recipient of numerous awards and currently serves as chair for Sexual and Reproductive Health section of the American Public Health Association. She was inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 2019. She became the Editor in Chief of Health Equity Journal in 2022.

Evelyn Cruz

Evelyn Cruz is currently the Director for Program Planning and Evaluation at Centro Hispano, Inc. where she provides leadership for Esperanza: Nuestra Cultura de Salud, a community and academic partnership funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program to promote equity for Latine mental wellbeing and wellness. The Esperanza work is grounded on healing ethno and racial trauma (HEART) and radical healing models. Evelyn is a co-facilitator for the statewide Centering Voices of Those Most Impacted, a workgroup for public health equity priority in the Wisconsin Healthiest State Initiative. She’s also a preceptor in the Wisconsin Population Health Service Fellowship Program.

Evelyn has over 20 years of program development and implementation focused on improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations in Wisconsin. She has provided direction and leadership in the design, implementation and evaluation of strategies that build capacity for equity through cultural and linguistic access, diversity, inclusion, community engagement, monitoring and technical support. Evelyn’s volunteer work include member for Board of Health for Madison Dane County Public Health Department; the City of Sun Prairie Safety Committee, Board Member for Literacy Network and Malawi Women’s Health.

Evelyn’s career and volunteer work have centered on promoting systems change, accessibility, inclusion that lead towards health equity.

Andy Garbacz, PhD

Andy Garbacz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology.

Bri Collins

Bri Collins is a Doctoral Student in the Department of Educational Psychology.

Monicka Whitehead

Monicka Whitehead is a Parent in the Madison Metropolitan School District.

Walter J. Orzechowski, MSPH, MBA, BS

Wally Orzechowski is the Executive Director of Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program (SWCAP). He has master’s degrees in health care planning and business administration. His background includes public health, hospice, affordable housing, housing market research and development and community development. For almost twenty years Wally has been the Executive Director of SWCAP a rural, Wisconsin anti-poverty agency and has focused on reducing health disparities, developing affordable housing, encouraging local food production, job creation, small business development and many other projects to eliminate or reduce the problems faced by the rural poor. In recent years Wally’s focus has been on developing housing for specific rural populations including farm worker housing, small scale housing in rural communities and housing for person recovering from opioid addiction. Most recently helping low income persons and families recover from the Covid 19 pandemic has been another top priority.

Candi Cornelius, MSN RN, CLC

Candi Cornelius is from the Oneida and Menominee Nations of Wisconsin. She has lived on the Oneida reservation all her life with her three daughters. Candi received her Bachelor’s in Nursing from UW-Eau Claire and her Masters in Nursing from Bellin College. Candi has been working for the Oneida Community Health Center as the Prenatal Care Coordinator for over ten years. Her role is to ensure all local Native American pregnant women have access to medical, emotional, social, educational and any other needed services during pregnancy. Candi is there to guide, support and educate expecting parents to improve birth outcomes. Candi also sought out to become a Certified Lactation Counselor to provide the best education and support to nursing mothers in the community.

Brooks Griffin

Brooks Griffin is a Motivational Speaker, Father Advocate & Corporate Social Responsibility Coordinator with the 2021 NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks. In his role, Brooks coordinates a team dedicated to addressing racial injustice and social inequities in the state of Wisconsin, especially as they impact Black and Brown communities. Brooks uses his experiences, learned lessons, and evidence-informed approaches to rejuvenate his audiences to experience their fullest significance, potential and purpose. As the President of The INSPIRED Network, Brooks delivers empowering keynotes, workshops, and training on youth success, overcoming adversity and mental health awareness. He has delivered hundreds of presentations and has inspired over 10,000 young leaders in Wisconsin and across the world. While engaging with young leaders and inspiring students, families, and professionals, he enjoys spending his time traveling with his two beautiful daughters, Harmonee & Brylee. That’s right! He’s a #GirlDad!

Tova Walsh, PhD, MSW

Tova Walsh is an Assistant Professor and PhD Program Director in the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work. Walsh’s research focuses on understanding and improving health and wellbeing in multi-stressed families, with an emphasis on pregnancy and early parenting in contexts of risk. She studies the needs of underserved groups including new fathers and military-connected parents, and collaborates to develop and test interventions to meet those needs.

Alvin Thomas, PhD

Dr. Alvin Thomas is a Phyllis Northway Faculty Fellow and clinically trained assistant professor of Human Development and Family Studies in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he explores positive youth development and father involvement especially among Black families.

Jenny Higgins, PhD, MPH

Jenny Higgins is the director of UW CORE, an interdisciplinary research initiative at UW-Madison that focuses on abortion, contraception, and other aspects of reproductive autonomy in Wisconsin and beyond. She is a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Zakiyyah Sorenson, RN, BSN

Zakiyyah serves as Outreach Manager and Engagement Hub Director for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a registered nurse by training, and a former public health nurse who specialized in sexual and reproductive health within the reproductive justice framework. Zakiyyah’s approach emphasizes reproductive and knowledge justice principles as guiding frameworks for collective liberation.

Jessica Pac, PhD

Jessica Pac is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Jessica’s work is motivated by the notion that that inequalities in infancy drive adulthood disparities. Jessica’s research broadly harnesses applied econometric and data science methods to provide novel insight on mandatory reporting behaviors and the effects of antipoverty and work-family policy supports on maternal employment, safety, and health, and infant and child safety and health. Jessica holds an MPA with a concentration in Social Policy from Cornell University and a PhD with concentrations in Economics and Social Policy at Columbia University School of Social Work.

Alejandra Ros Pilarz, PhD

Alejandra Ros Pilarz is an Assistant Professor at the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Pilarz’s research examines how parental employment and children’s early care and education experiences matter for child development and family wellbeing, and the role of public policies in supporting parents and their children’s development.

Olufunmilola Abraham, PhD, MS, Bpharm

Dr. Olufunmilola Abraham is an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) School of Pharmacy, Social and Administrative Sciences Division. She is a NIH/UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) KL2 Scholar Dr. Abraham has over a decade of experience in conducting research to improve pharmacy practice and quality of patient care. Her research focuses on development and dissemination of innovative interventions such as serious games to promote medication safety and adherence. Dr. Abraham uses human factors and system engineering concepts and techniques to characterize pharmacy practice and the medication use process. Currently, her research foci include: opioid medication safety, vaping prevention, and game-based learning. Dr. Abraham is the author of over 40 publications and has over 70 scientific presentations which include invited lectures, seminars, and conference presentations.

Leigh Senderowicz, ScD, MPH

Leigh Senderowicz is an Assistant Professor of Gender and Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned her doctorate from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the department of Global Health and Population, and recently completed a postdoc in the Health Disparities Research Scholars Program. Leigh’s mixed methods research focuses on reproductive autonomy, exploring the ways that new approaches to measurement and evaluation can promote person-centered care, health equity and reproductive freedom.

Abigail Eskenazi, MPP, BA

Abigail (Abby) Eskenazi, MPP is the Home Visiting Quality Improvement Coordinator at the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF). Abby has engaged in the planning and implementation of home visiting continuous quality improvement (CQI) projects for over four years, focused on several topics including infant safe sleep, child development, and family engagement. Abby is trained as an Improvement Advisor through the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Breakthrough Series Collaborative. Prior to working at DCF, Abby managed a Head Start financial capability program and completed her master’s in public policy, with a focus on program evaluation, advanced statistics, and survey design in early childhood policy. In her spare time, Abby enjoys hiking, baking, and snuggling with her orange tabby cat, Gus.

Sharon Gilbert, BS

Sharon Gilbert is the Home Visiting Nurse Consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). Ms. Gilbert’s primary role involves connecting shared crosswalks and objectives between DHS and the Department of Children and Families. Sharon is trained in the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Breakthrough Series Collaborative. Prior to her work at DHS, Ms. Gilbert served at Ramsey County Public Health. Initially, she served as a nurse within the Mothers First program, which provides families with supportive services to address substance use disorder and chemical health needs, and later worked for the Nurse-Family Partnership home visiting program. Since beginning her career as a registered nurse, Ms. Gilbert has had the opportunity to work within acute, chronic, and corporate settings. Ms. Gilbert’s highest joy is spending time with immediate and church family. Being with her husband, three married children and their spouses, five grandchildren and church family are her motivational highlights.