Opening Plenary Session

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Laurel Leslie, MD, MPH is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician and researcher. She is currently Vice-President for Research at the American Board of Pediatrics and facilitates and oversees all research, evaluation, and other special initiatives funded by the American Board of Pediatrics Foundation. She also maintains her position as Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine and has worked with a number of pediatric initiatives to improve the future of physician training and practice. She has extensive research and policy experience in the areas of identifying, treating, and delivering health services to children and adolescents with medical, developmental, and mental health needs.  She has served as a consultant to multiple stakeholders with respect to improving children’s behavioral mental health needs including consultation with the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate and the federal Administration on Children, Youth, Families; work with the National Academies of Medicine on meeting the behavioral health needs of children through workforce development; and participation with TEAM UP for Children as a member of our Scientific Advisory Board.

James M. Perrin, MD, is a distinguished leader in child, adolescent, and family health, bringing research to efforts to improve child and family policy and the health and wellbeing of young families.  A professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and former director of the Division of General Pediatrics at the MassGeneral Hospital for Children, he previously led a similar division at Vanderbilt.  He holds the John C. Robinson Distinguished Chair in Pediatrics at the MGH.  He was president (2014) of the American Academy of Pediatrics, chair of its Committee on Children with Disabilities, and past president of the Ambulatory (Academic) Pediatric Association.  He co-chaired an AAP committee to develop practice guidelines for ADHD.  He directed the Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health for seven years.  Dr. Perrin was founding editor of Academic Pediatrics, a leading journal in child health and health policy.  He spent two years in Washington working on rural primary care and migrant health.  After fellowship at Rochester, he ran a rural community health center in upstate New York.  His research has examined asthma, middle ear disease, children’s hospitalization, health insurance, and childhood chronic illness and disabilities, especially the changing epidemiology of childhood chronic illness and the organization and financing of services for children and adolescents with chronic health conditions.  He received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research and also served as a member of the National Advisory Council for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.  He has been on several national commissions and committees relating to children and youth with special health care needs and their families, including current service on the National Academy of Sciences Board on Children, Youth, and Families.  He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.  A graduate of Harvard College and Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, he had residency and fellowship training at the University of Rochester and held faculty appointments at Rochester and Vanderbilt.

Donna Cohen Ross is an independent consultant working with nonprofit organizations, private foundations and states on health coverage policy issues. She focuses on designing and promoting strategies to optimize how Medicaid can be used to help finance new ways of delivering pediatric care and other critical services. Donna has devoted her career to reducing poverty and improving access to public benefits for children and families through policy innovation, advocacy and outreach. 

As a Vice President at the Center for the Study of Social Policy, Donna led the organization’s work to achieve better, more equitable outcomes for the nation’s youngest children and their families. Before joining CSSP, Donna was a Principal at Health Management Associates where she worked to advance opportunities to secure Medicaid support for early literacy, school nursing, and community health worker programs.

From 2010 to 2016, Donna served as a Senior Policy Advisor and Director of Enrollment Initiatives in the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. There she directed Connecting Kids to Coverage, the first-ever federal campaign to enroll eligible children and parents in Medicaid and CHIP. She also crafted federal guidance on Medicaid coverage for maternal depression screening conducted during pediatric visits. Prior to her federal service, Donna directed the outreach division at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, where worked to improve access to Medicaid coverage for eligible individuals and led the Center’s widely acclaimed Earned Income Tax Credit Campaign.

Kate Ginnis, MSW, MPH is Senior Director of Child, Youth, and Family Policy and Programs at MassHealth.  She spent the previous 5 years as the Director of Behavioral Health Advocacy and Policy in the Office of Government Relations at Boston Children’s Hospital and as a member of the leadership team of the Children’s Mental Health Campaign, a coalition whose goal is to guide advocacy and policy strategies for youth with mental health disorders and their families, including access to care, quality of care, and system/organizational analysis and improvement.  Kate worked clinically for over a decade as the Associate Director of Emergency Psychiatry at Boston Children’s.  Throughout her work as a clinician, advocate, and policy-maker, Kate has worked on ways to provide high quality integrated pediatric care.

Lissette Blondet, EdM, is the Director of the Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers (MACHW). She has dedicated most of her professional life to supporting community health workers (CHWs) as public health professionals. In 1993, she founded the Community Health Education Center (CHEC), one of the first training and resource centers for CHWs in the country. CHEC’s standards for CHW curricula and core competencies have been replicated in other states. The program was so successful that in 1997, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health funded its expansion to the northeast region of the state. Both centers — CHEC Boston and CHEC Northeast — are still thriving and have graduated over a thousand CHWs. More recently, Ms. Blondet provided technical assistance to the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund on community health and CHWs. She also previously served as Director of Community Benefits for Cape Cod Healthcare, focusing on making healthcare accessible to the under-served while building her experience in healthcare financing.