MARCH OF DIMES CALIFORNIA VOLUNTEERS CONVENE AT THE STATE CAPITOL TO RAISE AWARENESS FOR MATERNAL-CHILD HEALTH ISSUES

Senator Holly J. Mitchell to Be Recognized as 2017 March of Dimes Legislative Champion For Her Impact on California Moms and Babies

Sacramento, CA | Monday, May 22, 2017

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Elizabeth Williams
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On Tuesday, May 23, more than eighty March of Dimes volunteers and staff will convene in Sacramento to raise awareness for maternal-child health issues at the annual March of Dimes day of advocacy and awareness. March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit for pregnancy and infant health. The March of Dimes volunteers represent a diverse group of health care professionals and families who have been touched by heart-wrenching and costly maternal and infant health issues. The cohort of passionate March of Dimes volunteers and staff will meet with state legislators to speak about 2017 March of Dimes advocacy priorities. These priorities are to increase awareness of the Task Force on the Status of Maternal Mental Health Care and its recommendations and to request funding to support expanding newborn screening to include Pompe disease and Mucopolysaccharidosis Type I (MPS I), diseases which were added to the federal Recommended Uniform Screening Panel in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The Department of Public Health’s Newborn Screening Program tests all newborns for certain genetic, metabolic, hormonal, and functional conditions that are not otherwise apparent at birth. During the morning advocacy training there will also be the celebration of two dedicated volunteers who have significantly impacted the lives of California moms and babies and the recognition of Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) as the 2017 March of Dimes Legislative Champion.

Senator Mitchell is the seventh legislator to receive the March of Dimes Legislative Champion Award.  She is being honored for her leadership and actions on the Senate Budget Committee, where she has been instrumental in many key budget decisions that have improved the health of women and children.  This includes restoration of funding for the Black Infant Health Program, the top March of Dimes advocacy priority in 2014, and protecting the California Children’s Services Program, a top priority over the past two years. 

“March of Dimes wishes to recognize Senator Holly Mitchell’s leadership,” said Tim Curley, Chair of March of Dimes California Advocacy & Government Affairs Committee and Director, Community and Government Relations for Valley Children’s Healthcare. “Her efforts are helping to protect the health of women, infants and families.  She’s a true champion for maternal and child health.”

March of Dimes is also celebrating two dedicated volunteers: Arlene Cullum and Gail Margolis. Arlene Cullum, a twenty-six year March of Dimes volunteer, is being honored as the first recipient of the Gail Margolis March of Dimes Advocacy & Government Affairs Volunteer Champion Award.  Arlene is a member of the March of Dimes California Advocacy & Government Affairs Committee. She is currently the Director of Women’s and Children’s Ambulatory Services at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento.  As a volunteer for the March of Dimes, she has made significant contributions to supporting numerous advocacy efforts including policies related to newborn screening, health care access and maternal and child health programs.  In 2016, she was a lead volunteer on March of Dimes top priority issues – to protect the California Children’s Services (CCS) Program and to attempt to restore funding for the Adolescent Family Life Program. 

This year, March of Dimes renamed the volunteer advocacy award the “Gail Margolis March of Dimes Advocacy & Government Affairs Volunteer Champion Award” in honor of Gail Margolis, the past Chair of the California Advocacy & Government Affairs Committee.  Gail passed away in September 2016.  She was Vice President, Government, Business and Community Relations for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and served as Chair of the Advocacy & Government Affairs Committee for ten years.  Her advocacy leadership led to numerous legislative achievements at the State Capitol including several expansions of newborn screening to require testing for cystic fibrosis, hearing loss, severe combined immunodeficiency and critical congenital heart disease, restored funding to key maternal and child health programs and increased access to health care for women and children.  In addition, Gail was a member of the March of Dimes California State Board of Directors and was a faithful donor to March of Dimes. 

“We are delighted to be able to recognize these two dedicated individuals who have made such an impact on the lives of California women, infants and children,” said Justin Garrett, March of Dimes Regional Director of Advocacy & Government Affairs, West Region. “Arlene’s record of volunteer service has been instrumental to countless advocacy successes in California and she is the perfect first recipient of the renamed award that recognizes Gail’s leadership of our advocacy initiatives over the past decade.”

Past March of Dimes Legislative Champions Recipients in California

2016 – Senator Ben Allen (D–Santa Monica) for co-authoring SB 277, which eliminated the personal belief exemption from school immunization law.

Assembly Member Catherine Baker (R–Dublin) for her leadership and votes on key maternal and child health bills including bills related to immunizations, newborn screening and tobacco control.

2015 – Assembly Member Weber (San Diego) for ensuring that the state budget restored $4 million in funding for the Black Infant Health (BIH) Program

2014 – Senator Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa) for leading efforts as Chair of the Senate Health Committee to expand access to and improve the quality of health care for women and children

2013 – Assembly Member Marty Block (D-San Diego) for authoring and getting signed into law AB 1731 in 2012 to require newborn screening for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD)

2012 – Assembly Member (now Senator) Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) for authoring and getting signed into law AB 395 in 2011 to require newborn screening for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)

Past March of Dimes Volunteer Champions in California

2016 - Erin Richardson, (Simi Valley) for her support of SB 277 and Cindy Wyvill (San Francisco Bay Area) for helping to protect newborn screening and testifying in 2015 against AB 170 when March of Dimes was opposed to the bill. 

2013 –Dr. Balaji Govindaswami (San Jose), Laura Rothgery (Palmdale) and the Peltier Family (Oceanside) for supporting and testifying their personal experience which helped get signed into law AB 1731 in 2012 to require newborn screening for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD)

2012 – The Mullan Family (San Francisco Bay Area) for supporting and testifying their personal connection which helped enable getting law AB 395 (require newborn screening for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)) signed into law in 2011

About March of Dimes

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 baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family.

Visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org for more information. Visit shareyourstory.org for comfort and support. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.