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March of Dimes President Wins Graven Leadership Award For Improving Infant Health

Dr. Jennifer L. Howse Honored for Dedication to High-Risk Infants in Intensive Care

Clearwater Beach, Florida — Friday, January 28, 2011

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For two decades of championing the needs of babies and their families, Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes, today received the Stanley and Mavis Graven Award for Leadership in Enhancing the Physical and Developmental Environments for the High-Risk Infant.

The award was presented by Joy Browne, PhD, RN, CNS‐BC, associate professor of Pediatrics & Psychology, at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, CO, and Robert White, MD, Memorial Hospital of South Bend, South Bend, IN during the 24th Annual Gravens Conference.

The award, initiated in 2005, acknowledges the contribution of an individual who has shown outstanding leadership, innovation and creativity in improving the physical and developmental environments for high-risk infants and their families. As president of the March of Dimes since 1990, Dr. Howse has advocated for expanded newborn screening tests, broader access to health care coverage for women, infants and children, and services for families with a baby in intensive care. Research funded by the March of Dimes also has led to new therapies that help premature babies survive and thrive.

“I have known Dr. Howse more than two decades and have worked with her and the March of Dimes to improve the health of mothers and babies and, in particular, the care infants receive in the neonatal intensive care unit,” said George A. Little, MD, from Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth, during the award ceremony.

Dr. Little commended Dr. Howse for her leadership in programs and research that benefit babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and their families. In 2001, Dr. Howse initiated the March of Dimes NICU Family Support® program, which provides comfort and support to some 75,000 families in 105 hospitals across the United States.

Under Dr. Howse’s leadership, the March of Dimes has invested $450 million in research to improve infant health, led the effort to enact legislation to expand newborn screening programs in every state, helped to secure folic acid fortification of the grain and cereal supply, and advocated for improved access to health services for pregnant women and babies. Also, she launched a global program in the late 1990s which extends the mission of the March of Dimes throughout the world.

It is an honor for me to be the recipient of the 2011 Graven Award for Leadership,” said Dr. Howse. “This award draws attention to the March of Dimes ongoing work to address the serious problem of premature birth and other serious health problems that result in NICU stays. We’ve made tremendous strides in our knowledge, in our application of science, and in sharing our best practices in the NICU. Now it’s time to truly reflect the family’s role in NICU care.”

Dr. Howse earned her doctorate in psycholinguistics from Florida State University and has served as an advisor to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health and Human Services Secretary’s National Commission for Infant Mortality. Her recent awards include the 2010 Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Humanitarian Award and the 2010 National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) Woman of Excellence Award.

About March of Dimes
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies®, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. The Foundation supports on an online community for NICU families. The March for Babies is sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes number one corporate supporter Kmart, Farmers Insurance Group, Bayer HealthCare, CIGNA, United Airlines, Famous Footwear, FedEx, Sanofi Pasteur, First Response, and Mission Pharmacal. 

For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org. To participate in our annual signature fundraising event, visit marchforbabies.org. If you have been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit our shareyourstory.org community to find comfort and support. For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit persistats.org. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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