Governors’ Convening Highlights Ways Data Can Impact Maternal and Infant Health

The meeting included a conversation with a panel of experts focused on improving and utilizing maternal and infant health data systems by incorporating data on maternal health experiences, linking state data and increasing accessibility to data to improve accountability.

National Governors Association (NGA) Chair New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Snyder Murphy held a roundtable discussion in Santa Monica, California, with those on the frontlines of youth mental health care to advance the NGA Chair’s Initiative: Strengthening Youth Mental Health. As part of the convening, First Lady Murphy hosted a conversation on improving maternal and infant health (MIH) data collection, use and reporting. Colorado Governor Jared Polis, California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and North Carolina First Lady Kristin Cooper also spoke at the event to highlight holistic efforts to support children and parents, focusing on efforts to improve birth outcomes and reduce overall maternal and infant mortality and morbidity, an issue of national importance.

During the meeting, Governor Murphy emphasized the interconnectedness of youth mental health and maternal and infant health. “When we connect these two issues, we can start [ … ] to help secure a stronger foundation for all children and in turn our families and communities and our country,” said Governor Murphy. “All of you in the mental health space know how important early intervention is. Research shows that adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, can begin in the womb [ … ] and these early years have the potential to lead to many adverse consequences for the child’s mental health.”

The meeting included a conversation with a panel of experts, including Dr. Neel Shah, Carole Johnson, Dr. Socia Love-Thurman, Alexis Cobbins and Dr. Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha. The panelists focused on improving and utilizing maternal and infant health data systems by incorporating data on maternal health experiences, linking state data and increasing accessibility to data to improve accountability.

When introducing the topic of the panel discussion on maternal and infant health, Mrs. Murphy stressed the power “data holds to transform our national maternal health landscape [ … ] with up-to-date information, we can create policies that are informed by reality. We can direct our strategy to target specific goals. And, most importantly, we can measure our performance and make essential revisions, change direction and learn from our experiences.”

Panelists echoed Mrs. Murphy’s thoughts about the need for current, accurate, thoughtful and thorough data collection, analysis and reporting. They emphasized the importance of responsible data collection and use as well as the value of partnering with communities to collect and share more accurate information. The conversation also focused on ways Governors and state officials can ensure that maternal and infant health data is being used effectively to inform policies and programs that will help improve maternal and infant health outcomes.

“There’s obviously so much to be done in this space,” said First Partner Siebel Newsom, “as we continue to break down state by state silos and work together to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies across the country.”

First Lady Cooper shared, “We have to treat the entire family. That’s where it starts.”

To help augment the conversation about improving and effectively using data, First Lady Murphy and First Partner Siebel Newsom visited Black Women for Wellness (BWW). BWW works in Los Angeles County as well as parts of Northern California and is “committed to the health and well-being of Black women and girls through health education, empowerment and advocacy.”

The visit to the organization provided insights into ways a community-based organization serves local women with the aim of improving overall health and well-being. The BWW leaders provided meaningful insights into ways Governors and states can better address maternal and infant health, and the information shared will be folded into a roadmap NGA will release later this year regarding possible state solutions for meaningfully addressing maternal and infant health.

The NGA commentary “Strengthening Youth Mental Health By Building Awareness And Reducing Stigma” provides more details about the youth mental health discussions held during the convening.

NGA would like to thank the maternal and infant health speakers and their respective organizations for sharing their knowledge and expertise during this roundtable. For more information on these panelists and their work, please use links provided below.

Additional roundtables for the 2022-2023 NGA Chair’s Initiative will take place in the first half of 2023. The additional roundtables will focus on expanding access and quality care and elevating innovative maternal and infant health policies, programs and technologies. States, organizations and individuals interested in becoming involved in the Chair’s Initiative work on improving maternal and infant health can contact Brittney Roy (, Program Director for Public Health.