Introducing Our New Executive Director

The HealthConnect One Board of Directors is pleased to announce Brenda Blasingame as the new Executive Director. She will be joining the organization effective Monday, July 2, 2018.

Brenda brings over 20 years of experience in the public and non-profit sectors at the local, state, and national levels leading organizations and teams towards a common vision and through her work has demonstrated a deep commitment to issues of equity, diversity and inclusion. Most recently, Brenda served as the Senior Director of Programs and Partnerships for Save the Children U.S., overseeing the U.S. portfolio of education and psychosocial programs in approximately 16 states and serving as a member of the organization’s U.S. programs’ senior leadership team.  During her tenure at Save the Children, she was responsible for leading the development of a community engagement approach to create a place-based community continuum for children and families pre-natal through 3rd grade focused on literacy, safety and resiliency.

Prior to joining Save the Children in 2012, Brenda was the Director of Programs at Thrive Washington, where she implemented two early learning demonstration communities, in partnership with the Gates Foundation and working with other national partners such as the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Ounce of Prevention Fund. Brenda also served as the Executive Director of First 5 Contra Costa (California) from 2000-2005, where she founded and led the development of a comprehensive set of early childhood development programs, services and activities for children 5 years of age and younger and their families living in marginalized communities. Brenda served on the Board of Directors of Open Arms Perinatal Services from 2012-2015.  Open Arms is a long-standing partner of HealthConnect One and currently implements a HealthConnect One-accredited Community-Based Doula Program.

Brenda and her spouse recently moved to Chicago.  Looking forward to her new role, Brenda comments, “I am both excited and honored to join the HealthConnect One team and be part of the important work of ensuring the health and well-being of mothers, babies, families and communities across the country.  I have personally witnessed the transformation that takes place when community doulas are incorporated into a community’s early childhood system and are able to provide support from pregnancy through birth and into early parenting. This support is empowering, life affirming and life changing for mothers and babies as well as their families and communities.”

The HealthConnect One Board and staff look forward to working with Brenda to advance equity in maternal and child health, so that every baby, mother, and family can thrive in a healthy community.

As announced last summer, Rachel Abramson, founding executive director, will be retiring on June 30, 2018 after more than 30 years of tireless service to build and lead HealthConnect One.

Please join us in welcoming Brenda to HealthConnect One and wishing Rachel all the best in her retirement.


Mairita Smiltars, AM
Board President
HealthConnect One

Join us in writing HealthConnect One’s next chapter!

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One for the Books

Thursday – June 14, 2018 – 6 p.m.

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American Writers Museum

180 N. Michigan Ave.

Chicago, IL 60601

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