The Western Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Nutrition Leadership Network (NLN) is an annual conference of public health and nutrition professionals among 13 western states. In February 2019, as part of our training, the trainees of Arizona State University, including myself, had the pleasure of attending the 11th NLN meeting in Redondo Beach, California. Over two days, we attended sessions including updates of federal programs such as SNAP, utilizing PSE (policy, system, environment) concepts in rural communities, a leadership workshop, and more. We also had several networking opportunities in which state leaders discussed accomplishments and challenges specific in their respective states. Five trainees (three from ASU) also had the opportunity to share their research work with conference members.
Throughout these sessions, we discussed topics such as understanding your journey map and ‘why’ for the work you do, building coalitions and partnerships, and how rural and tribal communities experience challenges that might not be experienced among urban communities. For me, discussing my ‘why’ for the work I do has helped to reaffirm my passion for both nutrition and maternal/child health. While we know our fellow trainees and coworkers have a shared goal in our current positions, this activity was the first time I had discussed this topic with my fellow trainees. Understanding unique perspectives will help strengthen our team and identify unprecedented partnerships. I look forward to being able to continue these conversations and begin new ones with trainees from other states at our MCH Nutrition Grantee meeting later in March.
I highly encourage everyone to take a few minutes to ask yourself or someone you work with: what journey has brought you to where you are now? Why do you do the work you do? How might your passion shape your future?
For more information on the NLN conference, please visit http://www.mchnutritionpartners.ucla.edu/