Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso Appoints Initial Members to Maternal Health Taskforce

In its first phase, taskforce members will help lay the foundation to the Borough President’s maternal health agenda. Taskforce fulfills Borough President Reynoso’s commitment to reduce disparities of maternal mortality and morbidity found between birthing people of color and their white counterparts

 

 

BROOKLYN, NY (April 11, 2022) Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso today announced the appointment of the initial members to his Maternal Health Taskforce. Co-chaired by NYC Health + Hospitals Chief Women’s Health Service Officer Dr. Wendy Wilcox and NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull Director of Midwifery Services Helena Grant, additional members of the taskforce include former NYC Councilmember Hon. Una S. T. Clarke, Assistant Commissioner of Brooklyn Neighborhood Health at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Dr. Zahirah McNatt, Executive Director at Brooklyn Perinatal Network, Inc. Ngozi Moses, and mental health advocate Christina Sparrock.

 

In its first phase, Borough President Reynoso’s taskforce will help lay the foundation for strategizing around his maternal health agenda and expanding the taskforce. The Maternal Health Taskforce fulfills Borough President Reynoso’s commitment to reduce disparities of maternal mortality and morbidity found between birthing people of color and their white counterparts. Currently, Black birthing people in New York City are 9.4 times more likely to die due to childbirth complications than their white counterparts.

 

“The initial members of our Maternal Health Taskforce bring decades of expertise in maternal healthcare, wraparound services, community engagement, advocacy, and other spaces that are needed to holistically approach the crisis of maternal mortality disparities seen in our communities,” said Brooklyn Borough President Reynoso. “I look forward to working with these experts and literally saving lives.”

 

In his new position, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso intends to allocate a majority of his FY23 Capital Funding to the three Brooklyn public hospitals to upgrade birthing facilities at each, including but not limited to utilizing state-of-the-art technology to improve patient safety, expanding birthing options, providing new opportunities for patient education, improving continuity of care, and prioritizing privacy and infection control. Borough President Reynoso also looks forward to supporting outpatient services, such as social services and community care models, that address underlying issues facing people of color, increasing health insurance access for all birthing people, and more.

 

“Every maternal death is a tragedy, not only for the grieving family and community left behind,  but for society at large,” said Dr. Wilcox. “Maternal mortality is a key indicator of the health of a society, and is a reflection of the functioning of the overall health system in the United States. I commend Brooklyn Borough President Reynoso for shining a spotlight on this tragic issue and I am honored to be chosen as the co-chair of this taskforce. I look forward to working with the Borough President and other stakeholders in Brooklyn to solve this complex and difficult problem.

 

“I am humbled to accept the appointment as Co-Chair of Borough President Antonio Reynoso’s maternal mortality and morbidity taskforce. I am excited to work with someone so on fire for the holistic health of families,” said Grant. “I look forward to helping co-create new energy that gets activated around what we can do to empower birthing people, families, and communities to live their best lives through increased education, care, understanding, and resources. The Brooklyn Borough President shares my long-held desire to ensure that birth is safe, satisfying, and sacred. Collaborative midwifery care has the power to reconcile the abysmal statistics in Brooklyn as it has in other industrialized nations because it utilizes a relationship-based, shared-decision-making philosophy that addresses issues of reproductive justice, birth equity, health disparities, maternal and infant morbidity and mortality, and primary care.  I have absolutely no doubt that in this season, under his leadership, shifts will happen that change the trajectory of the birthing experiences and outcomes in the borough of Brooklyn, making it the sought-out place to receive care and give birth in our city.”

 

“I was pleased to serve as the co-chair of the Brooklyn Borough President’s Transition Team and look forward to serving on this taskforce. In my tenure in City Council, I have advocated on many health issues, including maternal health and will continue to advocate for funding and collaboration between providers, hospitals and community-based organizations to improve maternal health outcomes,” said Hon. Clarke.

 

“I am honored to be serving on the Taskforce at such a key moment in public health history, where we are addressing injustices and inequities, and crafting sustainable solutions that center people who have been pushed to the margins,” said Dr. McNatt.

 

“I am extremely excited to support our new Brooklyn Borough President in his focus on comprehensive maternal health care; particularly, to tackle the crisis of Black and Brown women experiencing severe morbidity and mortality,” said Moses. “Brooklyn Perinatal Network, Inc. supports a holistic approach to care offered by community-based organizations, such as social health wrap-around service and community care models, that address underlying social determinants of health. I’m sure this taskforce will encourage a holistic care delivery environment that values alignment of outpatient resources, connection to care, and community care models that address underlying determinants that influence individual health outcomes and mitigates risks.”

 

“I am honored to be appointed by Brooklyn Borough President Reynoso to his maternal health taskforce.  Health care is a human right, and race should never be a factor in how health care is delivered. Especially during the perinatal period, it’s imperative that women of color receive culturally humble, trauma-informed, and person-centered care as this will strengthen and maintain their emotional wellness,” said Sparrock.

 

Taskforce members were selected due to their involvement in the Borough President’s transition team who have helped outline his maternal health priorities. Others were selected due to their work leading system transformations around care models in maternal health.

 

About Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso’s Maternal Health Taskforce Members:

Wendy Wilcox, MD, MPH, MBA, FACOG is the Chief Women’s Health Service Officer at NYC Health + Hospitals, where is responsible for the strategic development for the women’s health service line, enhancing the performance of clinical teams, and implementing quality and safety initiatives across the City’s public health system. Most recently, Dr. Wilcox was responsible for the design and implementation of the NYC-funded NYC Health + Hospitals maternal mortality and morbidity reduction initiative, which established the Maternal Medical Home that provides enhanced wrap around services for pregnant persons at risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes.

 

Helena Grant, MS, CNM, LM, CICP has been a practicing midwife in Brooklyn for 25 years. She is currently the Director of Midwifery Services at NYC Health and Hospitals/Woodhull and Co-Chair of the NYC public health system’s midwifery counsel. She is also immediate past Co-Chair of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Committee. She is currently the Acting President of New York State Midwives, Vice-Chair of the Black Caucus for the American College of Nurse-Midwives and Co-Chair of Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso’s taskforce to end Maternal Mortality and Morbidity.

 

Honorable Una S. T. Clarke is a former Councilmember for Brooklyn’s 40th District. During her 10 years tenure she sponsored more than 300 pieces of legislation on a wide range of issues including child welfare, education, health and mental health issues, economic development, public safety, and transportation. Her portfolio in the Council included committees on Aging, Youth Services, Economic Development, Health and Mental Health, and General Welfare.

 

Zahirah McNatt, DrPH, MHSA is the Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of Brooklyn Neighborhood Health at NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Dr. McNatt oversees and manages the successful development, implementation, and evaluation of community-level and systems-level strategies in North and Central Brooklyn that aim to address health inequities. She also leads the Bureau’s programming, planning, and recovery work to address racial and other social inequities resulting in premature mortality, including for neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 due to histories of systemic and structural inequities driven by racism and oppression. Dr. McNatt’s expertise lies at the intersection of global public health, humanitarian systems, and human rights. She has more than 15 years of experience in the Americas, the Middle East, East Africa, and Southeast Asia. Her work has spanned academic, non-profit and government sectors.

 

Ngozi N. Moses, MSc is the founding Executive Director of Brooklyn Perinatal Network, Inc. (BPN), an organization composed from a community taskforce to address high infant mortality. As a network of several community organizations, BPN helps provide medical care, behavioral health care, and supportive services. Her leadership is variously acknowledged for development, facilitation, and management of community-based organization initiatives addressing policy and program resources for maternal and child health. Moses also currently leads efforts to introduce the evidence-based Pathways Community HUB program model, helping community-based organizations to coordinate their work and address social determinants of health more effectively with a financially sustainable strategy.

 

Christina Sparrock is a certified public accountant and mental health advocate. As a person who lives with a mental health condition, she is a staunch supporter of the emotional and social well-being of those living with mental health concerns. Ms. Sparrock coordinated the first ever NYC Mayoral Candidate Mental Health Town Hall, currently serves on Correct Crisis Intervention Today (CCIT-NYC), and designed a Person-Centered Intervention Training Mental Health Response pilot model in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn, and testifies to ensure that people with lived experience are always “at the table”.

 

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Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso Appoints Tazin Azad To Panel For Educational Policy

BROOKLYN BOROUGH PRESIDENT ANTONIO REYNOSO APPOINTS

TAZIN AZAD TO PANEL FOR EDUCATIONAL POLICY

 

Azad has worked in various capacities in school advocacy groups,

parent associations and school leadership for the past eight years

 

A person wearing a black head scarf Description automatically generated with low confidence

 

BROOKLYN, NY (March 24, 2022) Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso today announced the appointment of Tazin Azad as the Brooklyn representative to the NYC Panel for Educational Policy (PEP). In this appointment, Azad will work with the Department of Education Chancellor and the other fourteen members of PEP, serving as an advocate for students, parents, and teachers. She will also continue to be a leader in promoting language access and a culturally responsive social and emotional environment to our school children. Azad has worked in various capacities in school advocacy groups, parent associations, and school leadership for the past eight years.

 

“Tazin Azad’s diverse experience within our city school system clearly demonstrates the capabilities, fresh thinking, and strong advocacy she will bring to our city’s school children and their educators through this appointment,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “She has a demonstrated and wide-ranging record of working with all elements of our education system and elected officials to provide access to information, establish budget priorities, and bridge language barriers for families in School District 22. I am proud to have her serve as the Brooklyn representative on the Panel for Educational Policy, where I know she will serve as a strong voice for the students at Brooklyn public schools and the City as a whole.”

 

“I look forward to representing the students and parents of Brooklyn public schools, and to work closely with my fellow PEP members to ensure education policies emanating from the Department of Education are designed with an awareness and sensitivity to the cultural and linguistic diversity of the students and families our public schools serve,” said Azad.

 

As a member of PEP, Azad will collaborate with the other members of PEP to advocate for policies and approaches within DOE that will further the education system’s agenda of closing equity gaps and improving academic achievement.

 

A certified translator and interpreter, fluent in Bangla and proficient in Urdu, Tazin Azad has served as Chair on the District 22 Parent Advisory Council, Chair of Community Education Council 22’s Equity Council, as well as the District’s Leadership team, working closely with school supervisors and administrators, as well as representatives of the United Federation of Teachers leadership and District Council 37. She is past co-president of the multiple District 22 schools parent associations.

 

Azad was an elected parent leader, who held leadership positions in school, district, borough, and city-level parent engagement platforms. She centers her work around equity and inclusion, in the educational context and beyond, with particular focus on racial justice and language justice for NYC’s Black, indigenous, students of color, students in temporary housing, students with disabilities and neurodivergence, multilingual students, and those who are socio-economically disenfranchised. She has been intentional in addressing systemic racism and marginalization in order to dismantle them.

 

Azad is a mother of three public school children, dedicated parent advocate and a hyper-local community organizer. She is a Bangladeshi Muslim, and a Brooklynite since she emigrated to the United States in 1998.

 

PEP consists of 15 appointed members and the Chancellor. Each borough president appoints one member, the Current Education Councils Presidents elect one member, and the mayor appoints the remaining nine members.

 

The Brooklyn Borough President has the power and authority to appoint nearly 1,000 members to various boards of community organizations, city agencies, and non-profit organizations that impact that future of Brooklyn and the city at-large. Borough President Reynoso is keen on ensuring appointees to these various boards are reflective of Brooklyn’s diversity, valuing and elevating underrepresented voices that are typically not at the table.

 

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“I am so proud to be congratulating Tazin Azad’s appointment to the Panel for Education Policy. Tazin is not only a good friend of mine but will be the first Bangladeshi Muslim woman appointed to the citywide Panel for Education Policy,” said Council Member Shahana Hanif. “Tazin has been a longtime education equity advocate who I have had the privilege to work with for years. She is a true parent of Brooklyn and a real advocate for immigrant parents, always ensuring they have a seat at the table. Her work on Bangla interpretation and translation in the education movement has embodied the values of language justice I fight for every day in the City Council. I applaud Borough President Antonio Reynoso for this historic appointment and look forward to working with both of them in the future.”

 

“Tazin is a deeply committed and dedicated advocate for BIPOC students and their families, particularly those who are immigrants.  She consistently reminds us to ensure language accessibility for families with limited English proficiency, to be inclusive of religious diversity, and to elevate the voice of the voiceless. We have all be better advocates because of Tazin and we are incredibly fortunate to have her serve on the Panel for Educational Policy so that her advocacy work can reach even more people,” said the Co-Chair of the Education Council Consortium Shino Tanikawa.

 

“The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF), the nation’s only pan-Asian children and families’ advocacy organization, is proud to support Brooklyn Borough President Reynoso’s appointment of Tazin Azad to PEP. A powerful member of CACF’s Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Education Equity Campaign Steering Committee, Tazin is a dedicated parent leader and advocate for language access, data disaggregation, culturally responsive-sustaining education, and other policies and investments that support those most marginalized in New York City public schools, including AAPI students, who are too often rendered invisible. She will be a thoughtful, engaged, and committed member of the PEP, fighting for policies that center and benefit those who struggle the most,” said Anita Gundanna and Vanessa Leung, Co-Executive Directors of CACF.

 

Congratulations to Tazin Azad. Brooklyn Borough President, Antonio Reynoso made the best choice possible in appointing her as the Brooklyn representative for PEP. Tazin has worked with, for, and in service of Brooklyn children and families to improve the public schools in their community. She has also been an active and dedicated advocate for public schools funding across NYS. The children and families of Brooklyn should feel assured that they will be represented fairly and justly,” said Advocacy Director at the Alliance for Quality Education Zakiyah Ansari.

 

“Tazin embodies a devotion to community development and growth that only very few possess. She knows what it is to give of herself for the advancement of those marginalized by lack of access, language barriers, and an oppressive system towards racial minorities. The Brooklyn Borough President could not have chosen a more selfless and uncompromising Brooklynite who will fight until the very end for our communities,” said Administrative Assistant at Community Education Council District 16 Silvia Belmonte.

 

“Tazin Azad is the ideal choice for Brooklyn Borough Representative to the Panel for Educational Policy. I am grateful to have known Tazin for a decade as a fellow District 22 mother, education advocate, and friend. Tazin is a sharp policy analyst, a principled leader, an insatiable learner, and a relentless community builder. Tazin’s journey embodies what is possible with authentic, culturally responsive family engagement. Eight years after first volunteering as a Bangla parent liaison and interpreter in her children’s school, she will now be leading citywide as the first Bangladeshi parent to serve on the PEP. She will be a tremendous asset to the Panel for Educational Policy, and to families citywide, in courageously advancing equity and justice for all NYC public school students,” said Megan Hester, National Project Director, NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools.

Brooklyn Borough Hall Hosts “Brooklyn Is Africa” Exhibit; Featuring A Selection of Rare and Historic African Artifacts From The Eric Edwards Collection

BROOKLYN BOROUGH HALL HOSTS “BROOKLYN IS AFRICA” EXHIBIT; FEATURING A SELECTION OF RARE AND HISTORIC AFRICAN ARTIFACTS FROM THE ERIC EDWARDS COLLECTION

 

Partnering with the Cultural Museum of African Art, this free, publicly accessible exhibit, the first of the Reynoso administration, represents the diaspora of the borough

To RSVP, visit www.brooklyn-usa.org/bk-is-africa

 

 

BROOKLYN, NY (March 9, 2022) Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso today announced the “Brooklyn is Africa” exhibit being displayed at Brooklyn Borough Hall in March. Partnering with the Cultural Museum of African Art (CMAA), the exhibit will feature a selection of Eric Edwards collection of rare and historical African artifacts, representing the diaspora of the borough. The free exhibit will be open to the public weekdays, 10:00AM to 4:00PM, from March 10th through March 21st.To RSVP, visit www.brooklyn-usa.org/bk-is-africa.

“As home to the largest population of Africans in the United States, it is Brooklyn’s pride and obligation to celebrate this rich and diverse history that’s still omnipresent in our communities,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “Further, we are honored that our first event open to the public at-large is featuring pieces from the Eric Edwards collection, someone who has dedicated his life to the preservation of this history right here in Brooklyn.”

“The Cultural Museum of African Art appreciates Brooklyn Borough President Reynoso’s commitment to the African contributions in the areas of art, culture, science, and history,” said Cultural Museum of African Art Founder and Executive Director Eric Edwards. “We look forward to elevating Brooklyn to a new awareness, commemorating the end of Black History Month and celebrating Woman’s History Month in March. The goal of our exhibition at Brooklyn Borough Hall is to make the peoples of the diaspora cognizant of our contributions, value systems, which leads to righteousness and the protective care of our ancestors. The messages they are whispering through the artifacts leads to us giving nurture to all standing amongst us.”

The exhibit will feature three main themes: maternity, music, and awareness. The maternity theme will honor women and birth, revered as a symbol of life and perpetuation of life in Africa, an important symbol in African ceremonies. The theme of music was one used in many ceremonies for initiation and to summon spirits, and used for communication within and between tribal groups. The awareness theme showcases pieces used in ceremonial initiation for when young boys were transitioning from child to man and young girls from child to woman.

Brooklyn is home to the largest population of Africans in the United States, underscoring the importance of showcasing this rich history and heritage at Brooklyn Borough Hall. The themes of the exhibit have a direct correlation to the priorities and mission of the Brooklyn Borough President, including his goal of reducing crisis-level maternal mortality rates within the borough, and reintroducing art, music, and cultural celebrations to Brooklynites.

Visitors to the exhibit can expect to see pieces like “Standing Maternity,” a statue originating in Mali in the early 20th century from the Dogon people that was created to display the maternal female’s relevance and importance she played in the community in survival of everyday life in Africa; and the “Poro Secret Society” mask that has origins in the Ivory Coast in the mid-20th century to the Baule people. This mask was commonly used in ritual rites for the purpose of initiation, symbolizing a boy’s elevation to manhood and superior knowledge.

In addition to reserving tickets for the limited time exhibit, walk-ins will be accommodated weekdays between 1:00PM-2:00PM. Each guest will be allowed 45-minutes to enjoy the art. Background on each artifact will be available.

CMAA is the creation of African artifacts collector Eric Edwards, who has amassed the most significant and important African artifacts collection in the world. Edwards’ journey spans more than 50 years, in which he has carefully selected these unique pieces, which include all 54 countries on the African continent, and date back more than 4,000 years of human history.

In 2021, CMAA was awarded a substantial grant by the New York State Assembly, sponsored by Assembly Member Stefani Zinerman, and supported by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, which will be utilized to create CMAA’s first public-facing museum at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Brooklyn, NY. CMAA is slated to open its doors in July of 2022.

Brooklyn Borough President hosted an opening reception for the exhibit on Tuesday, March 8. To view photos of the reception, visit the official Brooklyn Borough President Flickr page.

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