ARLINGTON, VA, DECEMBER 14, 2018 – The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (JB-LF) announces that applications are now open for the inaugural $25,000 Prize for Prenatal Innovation at JB-LF.org/Prize.
More than one-third of births in Washington, DC, receive no prenatal care in the first trimester, according to a recent report from the city’s Department of Health. That number is not much better in neighboring Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, where 29-30% of women didn’t receive prenatal care during their first trimesters. In Arlington County, VA, 1 in 5 births in the county lacked care in the first trimester — a number that is worse than the state average.
The first trimester can be a critical time for doctors to catch chronic health conditions of the mother that could affect the health of both mom and baby. Too many economically vulnerable moms also miss prenatal appointments in the second and third trimesters because of lack of leave or flexibility with work, childcare concerns or problems with transportation. JB-LF, which works to increase access to pre- and post-natal care for economically vulnerable moms and their babies, wants to change that.
By launching this inaugural $25,000 Prize for Prenatal Innovation, the Foundation seeks to uncover and support forward-thinking solutions that have the potential to improve access to prenatal care for disadvantaged women in the greater Washington, DC region.
Who Should Apply
JB-LF welcomes applications from any nonprofit, government or for-profit entity that has an innovative or creative project targeting prenatal care for economically disadvantaged women in the DC area, with a preference for projects that are measurable and have the potential to scale. We see the Virginia, Maryland and DC region as an incubator for these innovative ideas, and by tracking the effectiveness of any project or intervention funded by the prize, our goal is to be able to share successes with other cities and regions tackling similar issues.
“Our country’s maternal health and mortality crisis shows that the way we’re delivering prenatal care right now, especially for economically vulnerable women, simply isn’t working well enough. We need to fund and test new and innovative ideas and then share those solutions broadly. That’s exactly what this Prize seeks to do,” said Neal Lawson, founder and chair of the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation.
Applications are now open for the Prize and the deadline to apply is February 28, 2019. Our three-judge panel will then review applications in March and April 2019, with finalists expected to be announced in early May 2019 and a winner in late May/early June 2019. (Timeline subject to change based on the number of applications received.)
Applications will be reviewed by a three-person panel of experts and practitioners. They are:
Dr. Sarahn M. Wheeler is a practicing maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Wheeler was born and raised in Mt. Laurel, NJ. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University. She completed medical school at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine. Dr. Wheeler went on to residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Wheeler completed her maternal-fetal medicine sup-specialty training at Duke University in June of 2016.
Dr. Wheeler currently serves as Assistant Professor in the Duke University School of Medicine. In this role, Dr. Wheeler is both a practicing clinician and research faculty. in her clinical role, Dr. Wheeler is the director of Duke’s Prematurity Prevention Program, a specialty clinic that is geared for women with risk factors for preterm birth. In her research role, Dr. Wheeler has published several peer-reviewed articles on topics ranging from fetal brain injury to vaccination during pregnancy. Dr. Wheeler’s current research focus is on race disparities in preterm birth. She is actively involved in research to develop interventions to improve utilization of preterm birth prevention therapies.
Dr. Wheeler also serves as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the OB/GYN department. In this role she leads efforts to ensure an inclusive environment for the diverse patients, faculty, staff and trainees within Duke OB/GYN.
Toni G. Verstandig
Toni G. Verstandig is currently the Chair of the Children’s Hospital Foundation Board and the Executive Vice President at The S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. From November 1994 until January 2001, Ms. Verstandig served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department. In this capacity, she directed and coordinated U.S. bilateral relations and overall policy developments concerning Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, as well as U.S. economic and commercial policies in the Middle East.
Ms. Verstandig worked directly with the Secretary of State and the Special Middle East Coordinator as a member of the Peace Team where she participated in bilateral and multilateral Middle East peace negotiations. She has a particular expertise in economic, civil affairs and water issues. She also chaired the bilateral Committees on Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Prior to joining the Peace Team, Ms. Verstandig served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula, where she coordinated the Bureau’s relations with the congress. In that capacity, she was also responsible for the development and management of U.S. bilateral relations with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen.
She also served for 17 years as senior staff to the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the U.S. House of Representatives where she specialized in international terrorism policy, aviation security issues and U.S. military assistance programs.
Ms. Verstandig is a graduate of Boston University and Stephens College, and also holds an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Seton Hill College. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She serves on the Board and Executive Committee of Children’s National Medical Center, the Board of the University of Denver Korbel School for International Affairs, the National Advisory Board for the Catholic Center for the Study of the Holocaust, the Board of Trustees of the American Friends of the Yitzhak Rabin Center, and of the Center for Global Development. Ms. Verstandig is married, and they have one child.
Terri D. Wright
Terri D. Wright, PhD, MPH, is the Vice President for Program and Community at the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation. She has employed her extensive leadership skills and expertise advancing equity and public health through policy, practice, and management in local and national government, philanthropic and non-profit organizations throughout her career, with a specific interest in maternal and infant health.
She served as the first executive director of The Steve Fund, and as director of both the Center for Public Health Policy and the Center for School, Health and Education at the American Public Health Association (APHA). She also served as program director for health policy at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation for 12 years, where she developed and reviewed the Foundation’s health programming priorities and initiatives, evaluated and recommended proposals for funding, and administered projects and initiatives. She assisted in public policy funding and related policy program development, as well as provided leadership to the Foundation’s policy programming for systemic change.
Prior to the Kellogg Foundation, Dr. Wright was maternal and child health director and bureau chief for Child and Family Services at the Michigan Department of Community Health. In that role, she managed policy, programs, and resources with the goal of reducing preventable maternal, infant, and child morbidity and mortality through policy and programming in Michigan. She improved the availability and utilization of community-based social support programs for positive pregnancy outcomes and secured federal waivers to demonstrate innovative approaches to reducing unplanned pregnancies and improving pregnancy outcomes.
She has also served as the women’s health director for the Family Health Section in the Georgia Division of Public Health, where she directed statewide program policies, practices and budgets for improving the access and quality of family planning and maternal and infant care services to families in rural and urban communities.
Dr. Wright holds a master’s and a doctorate degree from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor’s degree in community and school health from the City University of New York. She is an active member of APHA and was honored with their 2018 Executive Director Citation, and is a former member of the Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and the Elimination of Health Disparities. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband.
More information about eligibility and criteria, as well as the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation, is available at JB-LF.org/Prize.
About the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation
Established in honor of Jenn Lawson, who lost her life in 2014, the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, serves economically vulnerable mothers and infants by working to increase access to high-quality maternal and infant health care and support. Jennifer was a loving, dedicated mother of three, driven to advocacy after receiving high-quality care during her own complicated pregnancies. JB-LF seeks to embody her generous spirit by giving all mothers and newborns the means to thrive.