March of Dimes hosts mother’s day event alongside California first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom to highlight California’s success in advancing maternal health

May 17, 2023

Celebrating Moms - Healthy Babies Begin with You

May 17, 2023 - March of Dimes, the leader in the fight for the health of all moms and babies, hosted a virtual event alongside First Partner of California Jennifer Siebel Newsom and California Surgeon General Dr. Diana Ramos, to celebrate moms, acknowledge efforts to improve the welfare of expectant mothers and newborns in the state of California and to inspire leaders in communities and state capitals across the nation to elevate maternal health as a key priority.

The U.S. has become the most dangerous developed nation for childbirth and the data shows persistent racial disparities across maternal and infant health measures. While the preterm birth rate has steadily increased since 2014, earning the country a D+ grade in the 2022 March of Dimes Report Card, California earned a B-, one of the best grades in the nation, showing that state-level action regarding maternal health leads to direct improvements. In light of this, the Celebrating Moms event addressed the current maternal health crisis across the country while highlighting the recent success in the state of California, led by Governor Gavin Newsom’s maternal and child health policies, namely SB 65 (the California Momnibus Act), built to deliver comprehensive reform in the state.

Led by Karen Walker Johnson, Interim President and CEO of March of Dimes, the event brought together various stakeholders in the maternal health sector to discuss how to best replicate California's success in other states to strengthen health outcomes for moms and babies across the U.S.

Event Panelists Included:

  • Dr. Diana E. Ramos, California's 2nd Surgeon General
  • Stacey Y. Brayboy, Senior Vice President of Public Policy & Government Affairs at March of Dimes
  • Jennifer Siebel Newsom, First Partner of California
  • Tonya Lewis Lee, March of Dimes Board of Trustee

“California has shown how a comprehensive, focused approach, which centers the experience of pregnant people, can help all moms and babies have the best possible start,” said Brayboy. “March of Dimes is proud of the work we have accomplished with the Newsom administration and encourage other states to look at California’s approach.”

The event also examined actions that can be taken outside of government by leveraging the authentic voices of those who have experienced the crisis firsthand and engaging the business community in prioritizing maternal health.

“Mothers are the backbone of their families, yet we live in a society with patriarchal structures that were not built with us in mind and that negatively impact our ability to not just survive, but thrive– especially when it comes to our physical and mental health,” said First Partner Siebel Newsom. “I’m proud California is leading on maternal and infant well-being and that we are demonstrating what is possible when we value women- mothers in particular. It is because of this that we have some of the best maternal health outcomes in the country. However, as long as Black and Indigenous women experience disproportionately high rates of maternal mortality, our work is far from done. So, I’m committed to uplifting the voices and experiences of these women as we continue to drive policies that support their health alongside their ability to flourish and thrive.

All attendees were encouraged to continue efforts in their communities and engage in the March of Dimes' advocate network to advance comprehensive maternal health reforms that will help America become the best place for women to be pregnant and babies to be born. To learn more, please visit


March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every family can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 85-year legacy, we support every pregnant person and every family. To learn more about March of Dimes, please visit