- Posted by: Diana Pando
HealthConnect One is excited to announce that Khadija Gurnah has joined our team as the Policy and Advocacy Director. Khadija brings 15-years of experience in policy advocacy and organizing with a wide range of partners, including with the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Department of Health and Human Services on outreach on the Affordable Care Act. Her successful national outreach campaign to bolster enrollment in the Affordable Care Act in Muslim communities led to her recognition as a White House “Champion of Change” by the Obama administration.
In her prior role, at MomsRising, Khadija focused on immigration advocacy through public education outreach and coordinated engagement with legislators on policies that supported women and families. She is a graduate of the Yale School of Public Health and received the EMAC Special Award in Health Disparities from the Yale School of Public Health for her work on social policy advances to improve the health and safety of immigrant children and families.
We did a short Q & A with Khadija to learn a little more about why she’s so dedicated to maternal and child health.
Why are you committed to policy and advocacy work around birth equity/maternal / child health?
I was born in Kenya where I saw my aunts experience difficult pregnancies and adverse health outcomes due to lack of access to care. It’s devastating that the United States has some of the most technologically advanced care in the world, but Black and Latinx mothers in particular experience adverse maternal health similar to women in places like Kenya. As a public health practitioner, I can think of nothing more important than being part of a team that is on the frontlines of working for birth equity and maternal and child health.
Why did you decide HealthConnect One is the place to do this type of work?
I’ve long followed the work that Health Connect One does and I’m deeply honored to be joining the team. I truly appreciate the depth of services that Health Connect One provides, from peer-to-peer mentoring, to issuing policy briefs and advocacy. It’s a powerful and holistic approach and I am excited to have found my advocacy home here.
What is your vision for the type of impact you want to have around maternal and child health?
I strongly believe that policy and advocacy work should center impacted communities. My goal is to listen to the communities we serve and to my colleagues who have been on the frontlines of this work for years and even decades, to continue the work HealthConnect One has done to center and bring community voices to the table.
What else would you like to share about yourself?
I’m a mother of three children who are aged 16, 10 and 8. I started snorkeling because I didn’t want to sit on the sidelines as my children went out snorkeling. They convinced me to go zip lining with them, which I don’t think I’ll try again, and now they’re working on convincing us to go on a family white water rafting trip. My children are Afro-Latinx Muslim, and I want them to be able to love and embrace every part of who they are. It’s my goal as a parent to give them the space and support they need to define themselves before the world attempts to define them. The most incredible thing is that their growth and exploration has opened up the world for me – it’s been a joyful journey to experience the world with them.