A mother with her 2 young children

UCLA School of Nursing Assistant Professor Dr. Dana Beck is co-leading a new research project designed to improve health and wellness of African American mothers and children across LA County. 

A principal investigator on the project, Beck is collaborating with co-MPI’s Diamond Lee, MSW, and Savanna Carson, PhD, and Co-I TaVia Wooley-Iles of the EmpowerTHEM collective.

This project, funded by a UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Community Partnered Research Award, will evaluate the impact of MotherBoard, a novel 3-year pilot program for a paid lived experience advisory board comprised of individuals most affected by maternal and infant health disparities.

Researchers hope to understand how paid, lived experience advisory boards can be integrated and included in public policy decisions and how their input influences the design and quality of county services through community informed decision making. They also expect to learn how public systems may better provide equity focused skill-building and leadership positions to those most affected by maternal and infant health disparities. 

“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to contribute to our collective understanding of how sharing institutional power with the lived experience of Black moms impacts individual empowerment and informs programs and policies,” said Lee, an MPI on the project. “I am also eager to embark on this journey with our UCLA research team, Dr. Dana Beck and Dr. Savanna Carson, alongside my colleague TaVia Iles, Executive Director of the EmpowerTHEM Collective.”

This is a community-government-academic research partnership between the innovative county-wide paid lived experience advisory board, MotherBoard, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, the county-wide African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiative, the EmpowerTHEM Collective, Liberation by Design, LLC, and UCLA.

“Evidence shows enabling environments that center lived experience expertise result in better health outcomes, but integrating this expertise into systems can be a bit of a process,” said Beck. “Our team is so excited to collaborate on these efforts to explore what this experience is like for MotherBoard members and for the DPH and AAIMM staff who they interface with, and how we can contribute to our collective ultimate goal of sustainable integration of lived experience expertise to improve perinatal and infant outcomes.”