“My practice is servant leadership aimed at achieving strategic systems change, my passion is elevating women’s voices in the field of maternal and child health,” said USF College of Public Health alumna Dr. Jordana Frost.
Frost graduated from Indiana University with her BS in business administration, but was introduced to public health after becoming a mother.
“I started learning about women who had experienced a traumatic childbirth experience. That led me to learning about variation in practice in the U.S. maternity care system, coupled with the large prevalence of poor maternal and infant health outcomes,” she said. “I felt called to becoming a part of the solution, to help elevate women’s voices in the process of improving how maternity care is delivered in our country.”
In 2015, the Association of Maternal Child Health Programs awarded her the Region I Emerging MCH Professional award in recognition of her professional contributions in the state of Connecticut, where she moved to shortly after earning her MPH in community family health from the USF COPH in 2011. Dr. Frost went on to earn her her DrPH in maternal and child health from Boston University in 2018, where she focused her research on equitable access to maternity care practices that promote high value, family-centered intrapartum care.
Frost has 17 years of professional experience in leading successful projects, programs and diverse partnerships domestically, as well as internationally.
She served over two years as a small enterprise development agent for the U.S. Peace Corps in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, where she helped women’s cooperatives build income-generating activities. While there, she also supported the local community in opening and running a girls mentoring center, as well as infant feeding centers in remote areas of the local part of the Sahara desert.
Her domestic experience includes managing maternal and child health home visiting programs, serving as a lactation counselor in a high-risk clinic, leading a small community-based organization serving recent immigrant populations, serving as a lead consultant for the development of a statewide plan to improve birth outcomes, supporting mothers and their families as a certified childbirth doula, and working with local health districts on policy, systems and environmental changes to promote health and reduce risk factors.
Frost now serves as the director of Maternal and Child Health and Government Affairs for March of Dimes in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
“Through this role, I have the privilege of partnering with statewide and local leaders, organizations, agencies and providers to strategically advance programs and policies that improve the health of women and their families, with a particular focus on populations that are experiencing a disproportionate burden of poor birth outcomes,” she said. “I thrive on the opportunity to engage in and lead collective impact approaches to solving complex problems that require multiple stakeholders and system-wide strategies.”
One of Frost’s proudest professional achievements is co-founding and co-leading a state wide collective impact initiative named Every Woman Connecticut. The learning collaborative is focused on integrating pregnancy intention screening and related services and care into routine practice across different settings.
To date, they have engaged 300 public health and clinical professionals from over 90 agencies and practices across the state.
“I am particularly proud of the strategic planning work that I led early on in the life of this initiative, facilitating a process that helped identify common objectives, readiness of partner agencies and feasibility of prioritized interventions,” she said. “It was not an easy process, but it led to increased trust among partners and strong sustained buy-in, as well as a documented synergy and alignment of priorities that continue to attract resources and support.”
Frost initially chose the USF COPH for her MPH degree because of its strong maternal and child health track, as well as the ability to take classes online before she was able to physically move her family to Tampa, Fla.
While at the COPH, Frost helped create the Maternal and Child Health Student Organization (MCHSO) and served as its founding president. She also helped launch the annual MCHSO symposium that has continued to grow over the years contributing to the strengthening of the local student, faculty and practitioner community.
Frost said that she was fortunate to connect with many individuals at the COPH who inspired her.
“I was very lucky to have the opportunity to work closely as a student research assistant for Drs. Ellen Daley and Rita DeBate. That experience allowed me to connect on a more personal level with them as strong mentors,” she said. “They, along with Drs. Kay Perrin and Russell Kirby, Dee Jeffers and Dr. Charles Mahan encouraged me to really dig deeply into my public health passion and pursue additional professional development and academic training opportunities.”
Frost was also selected as an MCH Leadership Trainee. She said that this opportunity was another impactful opportunity to further her training in key MCH competencies such as self-reflection, critical thinking, cultural competency and professional community relationships.
“These experiences helped round up my training, as well as made me feel extremely personally connected within the COPH community,” she said. “Community-building is one of the many things that the COPH is really good at: making students feel heard and valued as part of a vibrant community of current and future public health researchers, teachers, practitioners and leaders.”
To Frost, there is so much more to health than the mere absence of disease.
“Public health professionals carry an incredible responsibility to ensure that key decisions, programs and policies strive to attain optimal well-being for all, by addressing root causes and promoting effective preventive solutions to enhance people’s lives,” she said.
Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health
Tags: Charles Mahan, doula, Ellen Daley, Every Woman Connecticut, Jordana Frost, Kay Perrin, March of Dimes, Maternal and Child Health, Maternal and Child Health Student Organization, MCH Leadership Trainee, Peace Corps, Rita DeBate, Russell Kirby