If Black children and their families in Pinellas County seem to be healthier and happier these days, you might want to thank Kimberly Brown-Williams. As the program manager for Healthy Start at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, she is making a significant impact on many lives in the community.
The Federal Healthy Start Grant, managed by the hospital, helps reduce maternal and infant mortality, specifically among African-American women in south St. Petersburg and areas in Clearwater.
In her role with Healthy Start, she works with traditional and non-traditional stakeholders to raise awareness and provide community education about maternal and child health issues. In addition, she is responsible for managing the program budget and making sure the grant guidelines are followed. Annually, the grant serves 300 pregnant women, 300 infants and women in the pre- and interconceptional phase and 100 fathers. The program follows women through pregnancy and babies until 18 months of age.
One of the reasons Brown-Williams is good at her job is that she has a passion for the work and her community, which is evident by her 22 years of service. As a St. Petersburg native, she is familiar with the ins and outs of the community she serves. She knows where this high-risk population lives and how to help them find programs and services available to assist them. She is often referred to as the “go-to” person for health and social service resources in the Black community.
“I serve on several boards representing both Healthy Start and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital,” Brown-Williams says. “This affords me opportunity to gain knowledge and establish connections in health and human services. In many cases, we are providing services to the entire family. So, I can often refer other children and family members to services they might need through the hospital, Healthy Start, as well as throughout the community.”
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Celebrating successful deliveries and first birthdays! I really like collaborating with other community partners to coordinate services, and facilitate local action toward addressing political and social determinants of health related to poor birth outcomes. I’m very community oriented and driven.
This year's theme for Black History Month is, “Black Resistance.” What does that mean to you?
First, I would rename it Black Resiliency. Sometimes resistance can be viewed as negative; however, resiliency provides an opportunity to rise above your circumstances, whatever they may be. Within the Healthy Start program, we provide the platform of engagement on an individual and community level for the improvement of all wellbeing.
What Black American do you most admire or want people to learn more about?
While it is important to learn about nationally known people, it is equally important to learn more about people who have grown up and lived in your community. There is a wealth of knowledge and history in our backyards. Several that come to mind include: Leon Jackson, one of the “Courageous 12” Black police officers that successfully helped integrated the St. Petersburg Police Department in 1965 or Mary Murph, founder of Sickle Cell Disease Association of Pinellas County who has been leading the charge for over 40 years to be an advocate and educate the community about this disease.