Monthly archives: June, 2010

Pelvic Health Research in Adolescents

Hi All.  Below is an article about one of our recent MCH grads who works with the local Women’s Health Foundation.  Jenni Hebert-Beirne, PhD, MPH was awarded a Pfizer Investigator-Initiated Research (IIR) grant to conduct research related to adolescents and pelvic health.


Molly Kirk Parlier



Women’s Health Foundation Announces Receipt of Grant for Pelvic Health Research in Adolescents

Chicago Women’s Health Non-Profit to Research Knowledge, Attitudes and Behavior Regarding Bladder and Pelvic Health among Urban Adolescent Females

Chicago, IL (June 18, 2010) — Women’s Health Foundation (WHF) proudly announces that Jeni Hebert-Beirne, PhD, MPH, WHF Director of Research has been awarded a Pfizer Investigator-Initiated Research (IIR) grant expanding WHF’s recently launched Adolescent Initiative. The study’s goals are to discern baseline knowledge and perceptions on pelvic health and to improve adolescent females’ knowledge, awareness and behavior with respect to basic bladder and pelvic health through an adaptive educational curriculum.

Since 2004, WHF has created unique, community-based, wellness and educational programs for all women combining a specialized wellness program with an educational component involving bladder and pelvic anatomy, nutrition and lifestyle tips to prevent manage or alleviate bladder symptoms. Recently, WHF expanded their traditional programs and services to adolescents by launching a pilot program at a high school on Chicago’s west side testing a curriculum assessing and intervening on the attitudes, beliefs and knowledge regarding menstruation, bathroom behaviors, sexual health issues as well as pelvic health.

“Arming young girls with pelvic health education, we aim to equip teen girls with the knowledge to take care of their health. Adolescence is a time to encourage health behaviors associated with optimal long term health. Since the risk of pelvic dysfunction increases with age, adolescence is the ideal life stage to educate and shape current and future health behaviors.” said Missy Lavender, Founder, Executive Director of Women’s Health Foundation.

Through this initiative, WHF will teach basic pelvic health education – anatomy, hygiene, the basics on pelvic function and disorders to teen girls as well as behavioral guidelines to pregnant and parenting teens.

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About Women’s Health Foundation

Founded in 2004, Women’s Health Foundation (WHF) is a nonprofit organization focused on providing life strategies, community-based programs and services, and events to encourage women to proactively manage their pelvic health and wellness.  Dedicated to eliminating the Sisterhood of Silence and creating a Sisterhood of Strength, WHF is becoming the nation’s most visible and passionate champion of women’s pelvic wellness issues.  Headquartered in Chicago, Women’s Health Foundation sponsors programs in Alaska, Massachusetts, Colorado, Arizona, Indiana, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and throughout the Chicagoland area.  To learn more, visit

Tiana Kieso – MCH Graduate

Below is a story written about Tiana Kieso, one of MCH graduates.

A Daily Dose of Dedication

Confucius once said, “Do something you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” It is this sort of passion that drives Tiana Kieso who worked as a medical doctor in Iraq for almost 15 years before moving to Chicago with her family in 1993 to start a career in public health.

In the years after graduating from medical school in Iraq, Dr. Kieso joined Kumait Health Center in Omara, a rural area in southern Iraq. As the first female physician on staff, she partnered with a midwife in 1982 to open the center’s first delivery room.

“Women would not go to a hospital to deliver their babies, because the doctors were all men,” she said. “The center had all the delivery equipment in a special room, but they couldn’t use it until I started.”

Kieso’s pioneering achievements didn’t come to an end when she moved to the U.S and stopped practicing medicine. After raising three children, she went on to earn a Master of Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health in 2004 and also gained certification as an asthma and nutrition educator, the latter from the UIC Neighborhoods Initiative Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion.

Today, Kieso works as a health education coordinator for the Near North Health Service Corporation, a nonprofit federally qualified health center that provides health care and social services to uninsured residents of Cabrini Green, Humboldt Park, West Garfield Park and other Near North side and Uptown communities. Here, Kieso teaches patients about their illnesses while they wait to see their doctors, a concept she introduced to the health center when she joined the team in the summer of 2007.

“This model was developed in a third-world country,” Kieso said. “In Iraq, women used to go to health clinics for follow-up exams for their pregnancies and for their childrens’ immunizations. As a physician, I saw 60 to 90 patients a day back then. And in the waiting area, there was a health educator who trained the women with the basic messages they needed to know about immunization, breast feeding and nutrition.”

Her waiting room conversations today have evolved since her days at the health center in Iraq, and they draw on a wide variety of medical training and life experiences. Kieso teaches patients how to manage diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleeping problems and other chronic illnesses.

“Patients visit a doctor for 15 minutes only,” she said. “How much can the doctor tell them?”

Though the model is gaining momentum in the U.S., Kieso admits it comes with challenges. “It’s the same concept but not as easy as it was in Iraq. Within the first two to three months, I’ve seen about 600 patients, but we still need to prove our point here, ask for funding, and this all takes time.”

The Near North centers offer many programs including nutrition services, social services, HIV education, case management, Healthy Start/Healthy Families programs and even cooking classes. Kieso has also begun group classes on stress management and meditation.

“Managing an illness involves a multidisciplinary approach, and repetition will help them adapt to healthy behavior,” she said. “I am trying to link all the good services here. I want the diabetes patients to use our cooking classes and our social workers and our therapy.”

While Kieso has started collecting data to support her public health education model, her commitment toward helping people extends not just to her patients. As a way to give back to her alma mater and provide a valuable experience to future public health leaders, she hires UIC SPH students as interns.

“I believe it’s important to give back,” she said. “Chronic diseases cannot be treated by one person. It has to be a team. I want more students. This is such a good experience for public health students. I want them to learn the real life experiences, because what you read and what you do at school are not the same as what you learn here [at the center].”

Coming from a family of doctors and health practitioners, Kieso has much to offer her students, her patients and her own children, all of whom are following in her footsteps and pursuing health-related careers.

There is no shortage of need in Chicago for Kieso’s intervention skills, and it is quality of life improvements that helps her measure her success with the medically indigent patients she serves.

“Patients have seen decreases in their pain. At least now they learn how to deal with their lifestyle. They’re learning. The patients are connecting with us. That means they’re changing. When I think about what I’m doing for these patients, that gives me hope and self-confidence that maybe this will work,” she said.

>> by Tina M. Daniel

Dr. Morris

Dr. Naomi Morris, MD, MPH founded our UIC MCH Program here at UIC some 27 years ago.  Check out this story about her (written by Kathleen Spiess, UIC, SPH, Director of Advancement)!

And, to see a picture of Dr. Morris and her family, check out this photo on our SPH homepage ( NOTE: these photos change periodically so this photo will not always be on our homepage.

Building on a Family Tradition of Humanitarianism

UIC School of Public Health Professor Emeritus Naomi Morris gives back to recognize alumni who make a difference.

“Give time, help, knowledge, effort and inspiration to others,” said Naomi Morris, a physician, public health practitioner and teacher who lives by these words.

Dr. Morris has dedicated her career to helping people, and now, she is building on her legacy as a philanthropist.

With a generous contribution to the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, where she once was director of the Community Health Sciences Division and taught for over 30 years, Morris will establish the Naomi Morris Distinguished Alumni Awards.

“It’s important to recognize and honor our alumni and their impact on the health and wellness of our communities,” she said. “I’ve worked with so many dedicated and talented students over the years, and this is the least I can do to distinguish their strengths as public health professionals.”

The awards will be given annually, beginning in fall 2010, to two alumni from the division, one of which will be a graduate of the Maternal and Child Health Program, which Morris established at UIC SPH in 1983. Morris’ story of compassion and giving begins with her parents, who helped shape her life and work.

“My father was a doctor. My mother was a concert pianist,” she said. “Her whole life she gave people pleasure with her playing, but she always said, ‘Don’t be a musician, you won’t be able to support yourself.’ My father always said, ‘Medicine is a good field; no matter what happens in the world, you will always be appreciated and protected.’”

Morris has her parents to thank not only for their insight in her career path, but also their influence in her marriage.

“My father-in-law-to-be had been my dentist and an old friend of my father’s. When I was 16 and Charles [my future husband] was 18, our parents introduced us,” she said. “We discovered we had mutual interests, including nuclear physics. I think that did it. We married four years later.”

Together they attended the University of Colorado School of Medicine, graduated at the top of their class, and eventually moved to Boston. He began his residency in neurology and she trained in pediatrics at the Massachusetts General Hospital. After having her first child, Morris moved to the Massachusetts State Department of Public Health, where she gained a deeper understanding of maternal and child health and its impact on public health.

Pregnant with her second child, she enrolled in the Master of Public Health program at the Harvard School of Public Health, where her professor and mentor asked her to evaluate her personal maternity experience at the Boston Lying-in Hospital, one of America’s first maternity hospitals.

After receiving an MPH from Harvard, Morris devoted 17 years of her career to maternal and child health education at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health. When she left UNC, she was chair of the MCH department there.

After moving to Chicago, she quickly made an impact at UIC SPH by establishing the Maternal and Child Health Program, which has been funded by a federal grant ever since.

A community health assessment program at the school was named after her, the Naomi Morris Collaborative, and in 1999, one year after her husband passed away, the American Public Health Association honored her with the Martha May Eliot Award, named for her Harvard mentor.

Morris has touched many lives throughout her career. Even her two sons have chosen the path of medicine and public health. David is a neurologist, and Jonathan, a psychiatrist with an MPH degree, was named by the Governor of Guam an honorary Chamorro (the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands) for the service and medical training he has provided the people of Guam for 17 years.

It was in 1970 in Guam, where Morris’ husband was recruited to head up a laboratory to study Lou Gehrig’s disease, and when she recalls some of her best learning experiences.

“This was a high point in our lives,” she said. “We visited Hawaii, Taipan, Hong Kong, Japan, India, Denmark, Sweden and various European countries. My Harvard classmate from India, now the family planning director for the Punjab, entertained us in her mountain home close to Pakistan. It was all very interesting, educational and so much more.”

Emerging from her parents’ wisdom and teachers’ influence, Morris has undoubtedly created a life of professional and personal accomplishments, traveling around the world educating and learning. The UIC SPH alumni awards in her name are a testament to the many lives she has helped shape along the way.

“We do feel almost at home wherever we go,” Morris said of her travels and humanitarian family traditions. “We are small pieces of a large world, and we have enjoyed contributing to it.”

IL MCH Coalition Seeks new Executive Director

The Illinois Maternal & Child Health Coalition (IMCHC) is looking for a new Executive Director!

IMCHC’s mission is to improve the health of women, families and children in Illinois. Its main objective is to identify and overcome the major barriers, which include poverty and racism, that prevent achievement of maternal and child health and well-being. Founded in 1988, the Coalition has provided leadership on maternal and child issues for over 20 years.

IMCHC currently leads five major projects and has 14 staff. The Illinois Premature Infant Health Network brings together physicians, hospitals and community and health organizations to increase quality health care access for premature infants and their families in Illinois. Covering Kids and Families project works to decrease the number of uninsured children and families. The Chicago Area Immunization Campaign increases immunization rates of infants, adolescents and adults. The Campaign to Save Our Babies, seeks to reduce racial health disparities in maternal and infant mortality. The Illinois Coalition for School Health Centers strives to improve the physical and mental health of children and adolescents in Illinois by fostering the development, stabilization and expansion of school health centers.   For more information you can review our website at

Position Summary
The Executive Director will give direction and leadership toward the achievement of IMCHC’s philosophy, mission, strategy and its annual goals and objectives. The Executive Director will be responsible for the implementation of the strategic goals and objectives of the organization and, with the Board Chairperson, will enable the Board to fulfill its governance function. The Executive Director reports directly to the Board of Directors.

To see the full job description on our website, visit:    p


In the July UIC MCH Leadership Retreat, Robert Kegan will present exciting work around immunity to change.  This work is built on 30 years of research and innovation at Harvard University by the two founding partners, Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey.  Bob and Lisa are responsible for two major breakthroughs that are influencing leadership learning, personal growth, professional development, and organizational improvement around the world.  First, they conducted the original research on the development of adult mindsets. Their theory and books have led to new understandings of the possibilities for continued growth and development in adulthood.

Building on this work, they then discovered the hidden mechanism which prevents people from making the changes that are most important to them. This discovery and the tools they have developed to overcome these barriers, including the acclaimed Immunity-to-Change™ approach, has revolutionized the practice of personal and organizational change. Organizations and businesses throughout the world make use of these ideas and practices.

Join us in July to be part of this amazing work!

UIC MCH Training Grant Re-Funded!

Hi everyone!  We were recently notified that our UIC MCH Training Program was re-funded for the 2010-2015 grant cycle!  We submitted a very strong application in part due to you, our tremendous MCH collaborators and colleagues!  As you know, our commitment is to the development of strong MCH graduate and continuing education programs that support workforce needs, MCH research and service, and improving the health and well-being of women, children and families!  We look forward to working with all of you over the next 5 years.  If there is anything you would like to explore with us, please let us know!  And, if we can support you in any way, please let us know!  Thank you!