New Jersey’s maternal mortality rates are among the worst in the nation, ranking 47th in maternal deaths according to America’s Health Rankings. Forty-seven women die, on average, for every 100,000 live births in New Jersey, compared to 20 nationally. For women and babies of color, the statistics are even more dire. A Black mother in New Jersey is seven times more likely to die than a white mother due to pregnancy complications, and a Black baby is three times more likely to die than a white baby in their first year of life. This is one of the widest racial disparities in the nation.
First Lady of New Jersey Tammy Murphy officially launched Nurture NJ in early 2019 as a statewide initiative committed to ensuring equity in maternal and infant health outcomes for Black and brown women, and to reducing overall maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in the state. Nurture NJ is a multipronged, multi-agency initiative that aims to make New Jersey the safest place in the nation to give birth and raise a baby. Improved maternal and infant health outcomes for the state overall will be possible when the racial inequities in health are eliminated. Health equity, in turn, can only occur when racial equity in the social, political, and economic arenas occurs.
The disparities in maternal and infant outcomes are not the result of differences in genes or behaviors but are mostly explained by the differential historical, social, economic, and health environments experienced by Black and brown women. These economic and social differences matter for health; they are determinants of health, and as long as they exist, so will the disparities in maternal and infant health.
Nurture NJ recognizes that addressing these disparities and changing outcomes will require nothing less than the transformation of health, social, economic, and political contexts, systems, and mindsets. As such, Nurture NJ has three primary objectives:
Ensure all women are healthy and have access to care before pregnancy, whether or not an individual is actively seeking parenthood.
Build a safe, high-quality, equitable system of care and services for all women during prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum care.
Ensure supportive community environments and contexts during every other period of a woman’s life so that the conditions and opportunities for health are always available.
About the Nurture NJ Strategic Plan
To advance Nurture NJ and achieve its strategic goals, the Nurture NJ Strategic Plan provides an evidence-based, comprehensive, and actionable plan focused on equity and improved outcomes for all women and infants. The Plan is designed to be an organizing force for government, private stakeholder and community partnership action focused on ensuring women are healthy before pregnancy, building a system of equitable pregnancy-related care, and designing supportive community environments and contexts for mothers and their babies. In order to achieve these proximal outcomes, and the ultimate goal of Nurture NJ, the Plan recommends transformation through nine domains of action that prioritize racial equity, community engagement, and shifts in statewide mindset and ideology.
A Note on Language:
This document and the Nurture NJ Strategic Plan use language conventions that are intended to be universal and inclusive. We use the phrase “maternal and infant health” to refer to the health of pregnant individuals, which can include cisgender females, non-binary individuals, and transgender men, and their biological infants. We do not assume that all individuals that give birth to a child will care for that child, so we refer to caregivers, partners and spouses, and the Nurture NJ Strategic Plan intends to address their wellbeing as well.
In the fall of 2020, four New Jersey private grantmaking foundations – the Burke Foundation, Community Health Acceleration Partnership, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and The Nicholson Foundation – formed the NJ Birth Equity Funders Alliance to support New Jersey in becoming a national leader in maternal, infant and reproductive health, racial justice, and health equity. The Alliance, now also consisting of The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation and housed at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, will create an efficient and equitable way to further the Nurture NJ efforts and ensure that community members and community-based organizations are at the heart of this work. Specifically, an initial investment will include the provision of funds for the salary for a Nurture NJ Director (“Director”).
The Director Opportunity
We are seeking an exceptional candidate to share their expertise with the State of New Jersey, leading and coordinating statewide efforts to support New Jersey in becoming the safest and most equitable place to give birth and raise a baby. The Director will advance systemic change by building an inclusive process and engaged community around the initiative. As the primary representative for the initiative, the Director will build and foster relationships across sectors, listening deeply and centering the voices of those most impacted. Through these relationships, they will align and activate individuals, organizations, and communities to transform the systems and structures that impact mothers and infants in New Jersey.
The Director will serve as a key leader in supporting all of the activities of the Nurture NJ initiative, including implementing the Nurture NJ Strategic Plan, which seeks to reduce maternal mortality and eliminate racial disparities in birth outcomes; an annual Black Maternal and Infant Health Leadership Summit; the First Lady’s Family Festival event series; and quarterly interdepartmental maternal and infant health meetings, among other initiatives advancing the Nurture NJ agenda. The Director will work closely with leaders within government, community members and organizers, leading funders, and others to move this work forward and transform the ecosystem around maternal and infant health in New Jersey. Specifically, the Director will:
Oversee implementation of the Nurture NJ Strategic Plan, including:
Working with state, local, and community members to reduce maternal mortality and eliminate racial disparities in birth outcomes through policy development, innovative training, service delivery reform, and research;
Cultivating meaningful relationships with government officials, community constituents, and other stakeholders in New Jersey and supporting infrastructure for power-building and engagement;
Developing detailed implementation plans, including responsible parties, action steps, and time lines to further the goals of the Plan;
Coordinate and plan quarterly meetings, convened by the First Lady of New Jersey, among state departments and agencies to further the achievement of the strategic objectives of the Plan;
Defining, collecting, monitoring, tracking, and reporting progress on the Nurture NJ Strategic Plan performance measurement data; and
Writing and disseminating quarterly reports on the status of the Nurture NJ Strategic Plan objectives to the Office of the First Lady of New Jersey, NJ Birth Equity Funders Alliance, New Jersey Department of Health, and other interested parties as appropriate.
Develop and chair an advisory group composed of sector-specific, state, and community leaders to participate in and guide the implementation of the Nurture NJ Strategic Plan, in cooperation and coordination with existing advisory groups within the Department of Health. This will include:
Building and regularly convening meetings of an advisory group with diverse representation, including community members, mothers of color, clinicians, birthing professionals, researchers, policy experts, and funders;
Identifying and pursuing effective maternal and child health programming for replication and scaling;
Supporting the development of a health inequities policymaking agenda;
Facilitating discussions and learning opportunities for advisory group members; and
Presenting and promoting advisory group recommendations to the Office of the First Lady for implementation in the Nurture NJ Strategic Plan
Develop the Nurture NJ evaluation plan and criteria, including:
Contributing to and advising on Nurture NJ Strategic Plan evaluation metrics;
Building evaluation processes with partners and ensuring evaluation;
Aggregating and reporting ongoing learning and evaluation findings quarterly or as appropriate; and
Preparing quarterly budget and expense reports.
Ensure public and private stakeholders have the infrastructure required to meaningfully engage the community to address racial inequities in maternal and infant health;
Coordinate initiatives to shift ideology and mindsets around racial equity, including the development of statewide marketing campaign to build support for racial equity in maternal and infant health;
Identify grassroots/community-led maternal health efforts across New Jersey and the nation, offer partnership and support, and provide opportunities to coordinate with the statewide Nurture NJ Strategic Plan;
Catalyze new initiatives to prevent maternal and infant deaths and promote healthy beginnings; and
Represent and communicate about Nurture NJ and related initiatives at meetings, conferences, and public events in New Jersey and nationally.
The Director will possess many of the following qualifications, experience, and skills:
Active engagement with work on maternal health at the national or state level and familiarity with research, interventions, and evaluation related to maternal and infant health and health equity;
Recognized leadership as a change agent and movement builder who can engage and activate a wide range of constituents and communities toward a shared vision;
Deep understanding of the needs and intrinsic resources of communities that are facing the biggest disparities in outcomes related to health and well-being;
Demonstrated ability to form and manage relationships defined by respect and collaboration with public, private, and community leaders; build leadership capacity among other constituents; and thoughtfully incorporate feedback into their work;
Proven success as an organizational leader, likely with at least ten years’ experience leading and administering social or health programs;
Demonstrated ability to facilitate complex change processes and manage long-term and large-scale projects;
Ability to synthesize complex information quickly and present to and engage diverse audiences;
Excellent oral and written communication skills (bilingual skills considered a plus);
An advanced degree in Public Health, Public Administration, Social Work, Nursing, Medicine, or a related field is preferred but not required.
Compensation & Benefits
The NJ Birth Equity Funders Alliance provides a competitive salary, commensurate with experience, for this position. The Director will be eligible for a comprehensive benefits package through Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.
The position will be a two-year contract with the NJ Birth Equity Funders Alliance and the Director will function as an Executive on Loan assigned to the New Jersey Department of Health and the Office of the First Lady of New Jersey within the Office of the Governor of New Jersey.
The position will be based in Trenton, NJ, with frequent travel throughout the state.
The Director shall be advisory and he or she shall have no financial decision-making authority while working on behalf of the State of New Jersey.
The Director must comply with all New Jersey confidentiality requirements.
While the Director is working with the State of New Jersey, the Administration shall be mindful of any potential conflict of interest involving the loaned executive and executive branch agencies.
The Director shall not be employed by, nor represent any entity that is a vendor to or plans to become a vendor to the State of New Jersey.
Salary, including expenses, are to be paid by the NJ Birth Equity Funders Alliance.
Eligible candidates must undergo and successfully complete a background investigation.
The NJ Birth Equity Funders Alliance has engaged Cassie Scarano and Kirstin Griffiths of Koya Partners to help in this hire. Inquiries and referrals can be emailed via [email protected]. To apply for this position, please submit a compelling cover letter and resume here.
All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors values diversity in all senses – people, viewpoints, and approaches – and recruit staff and board members who reflect the communities in which we live, work and serve. We strive to be an organization where talented people flourish and promote a healthy work environment that respects our colleagues’ professional and personal lives.
About Koya Partners
Koya Partners, a part of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.
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