Dr. Martha Coulter receives Berkeley alumni award

| CFH, Departments, Featured News, MCH Training Grant, Monday Letter, Our People, Programs

For Dr. Martha Coulter, professor in the Department of Community and Family Health at the USF College of Public Health, maternal and child health has been at the forefront of her public health passion for decades.

Upon earning her master’s degree in public health from the University of California at Berkeley in 1977, she’s devoted her public health career to bettering the lives of families and children.


Martha Coulter, DrPH, MSW. (Photo courtesy of USF Health Communications)

Martha Coulter, DrPH, MSW. (Photo courtesy of USF Health Communications)

Her alma mater has noticed her impact and the maternal and child health program at Berkeley named her an outstanding alumna honoree for her work in the field.

“When I went to Berkeley in the 70s I was just starting out in my public health maternal and child health career,” Coulter said. “Now I’m getting close to retirement and it just means a great deal to look back and feel like I’ve accomplished some of things I wanted to accomplish in those years, so from that perspective, it’s very meaningful to me.”

Coulter also holds a DrPH from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in maternal and child health.

She served as the state program director of the Developmental Evaluation Centers Program at the North Carolina Division of Health Services and as a lecturer at the UNC School of Public Health.

When she moved to Florida in 1985, she joined the COPH as an assistant professor. In 1986 she also served as the health officer for Prevention and Early Intervention at the Florida Department of Health in Children’s Medical Services where she was tasked with implementing the newly passed Public Law 99-457 which provides early intervention services to infants and young children.

In 1994 she was named Director of the USF COPH’s Harrell Center for the Study of Family Violence, a center focused on integrating knowledge with best practices to strengthen community responses to family violence. The center conducts and translates research into usable information for practitioners to provide education and training, as well as serves as an advocacy center.


Dr. Coulter with the late Janet Reno, former U.S. attorney general, at an event to commemorate the Harrell Center. (Photo courtesy of USF COPH)

“I was working in North Carolina and I thought it would be interesting to be in a college of public health on the west coast and Berkeley had a wonderful reputation for their maternal and child health program,” she said. “They were one of the early program starters and they offered me a maternal and child health training grant.”

Coulter said that UC Berkeley exposed her to some of the early maternal and child health thinkers and policy developers in the country. This exposure solidified her decision to continue her career in maternal and child health.

Coulter said the same training grant program that helped her obtain her MPH is now being offered to current students here at the USF COPH.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Maternal and Child Health funds 13 Centers of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health nationally, including the one at USF.

These centers, such as the USF Center of Excellence in MCH Education, Practice, and Science, was funded for a five-year term in 2015 with the new addition of a postdoctoral enhancement component, focus on promoting health equity through an interdisciplinary, culturally competent approach.

coulter, liller, ejiofor

(From left): Dr. Martha Coulter, principle investigator of the Maternal and Child Health Training Grant, Dr. Karen Liller, co-director of the program’s postdoctoral enhancement component, and Dr. Chukwudi Ejiofor, former project coordinator and COPH alumnus. (Photo by Natalie Preston)

Awardees of the training grant program receive full-time in-state tuition waivers for three semesters, a stipend, travel support to attend conferences and mentoring.

Each year, a small group of graduate students are selected as MCH scholars, taking part in an enhanced curriculum with special training opportunities.

To learn more about applying to become a MCH scholar, visit the MCH Center of Excellence website.

“I could not have been luckier to have had all of the experiences in MCH that I have had, in studies, in practice, in program implementation, and in academia here at USF,” Coulter said.

Story by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health