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2003 Betty Hubbard Award Ceremony: from left to right, Linda Matti, MCH Advisory Task Force Chair, Kathleen Fernbach, award recipient, Mary Story, award recipient, and Carol Woolverton, Assistant Commissioner Minnesota Department of Health.

2003 Betty Hubbard Award Recipients

Two health professionals to receive awards for contributions to maternal and child health

Minnesota Assistant Commissioner of Health Carol Woolverton this week will present the 14th annual Betty Hubbard Maternal and Child Health Leadership Awards to Mary Story and Kathleen Fernbach, both from the Twin Cities area. The awards, which recognize leadership and achievements in advancing the health of mothers and children, will be presented at a Maternal and Child Health Advisory Task Force meeting on Nov. 14.

The annual awards are presented in two categories: one that recognizes achievements at the community level and one that recognizes accomplishments of statewide significance. Mary Story, professor and associate dean of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, received the community award. Kathleen Fernbach, public health nurse and director of the Minnesota Sudden Infant Death Center at Children's Hospitals and Clinics, received the statewide award.

"This year's award recipients have devoted themselves to improving the health and well being of Minnesota mothers, children and families," said Asst. Commissioner Woolverton. "This kind of unwavering commitment symbolizes the dedication and leadership that are characteristic of past recipients of the Betty Hubbard Award."

Mary Story received the community award for her 20-plus year commitment to maternal and child health issues, especially child and adolescent nutrition. Dr. Story is an associate dean of Student Affairs at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and is a professor in the School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology, and the Medical School, Department of Pediatrics.

Story is known to the community as an inspirational teacher and mentor, training health professionals to improve the nutrition of children and youth. She has conducted extensive research on child nutrition and obesity. Story's research has been instrumental in exposing the nature and extent of the health and nutrition issues of adolescents and in developing public health intervention models to address these issues.

Story's work includes collaborative projects on weight management and obesity prevention in children and adolescents, environmental and policy change in schools and communities to promote healthy environments, and the role of families and other social factors in adolescent eating patterns.

Story has worked in a variety of school and clinic based nutrition programs. She developed and tested a school-based project to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among children and encouraged the use of successful nutrition programs in Minnesota schools.

In addition to her work at the community level, Story has served on national advisory groups to promote child nutrition. For example, she has worked with the American Public Health Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Kathleen Fernbach received the statewide award for her commitment to reducing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Fernbach implemented the Back to Sleep campaign in Minnesota, which has contributed to a greater than 40 percent decline in SIDS deaths in Minnesota from 1994 to present. She also advocated at the state Legislature for the development of consistent guidelines for scene investigation and autopsy in the event of an unexpected death of an infant.

In addition, Fernbach developed a curriculum for training childcare providers and conducted training throughout the state. She also prepared information for funeral directors to help them prepare for and handle in a more sensitive manner the rare infant funerals they perform.

Fernbach worked with the National Institute of Health (NIH) to develop a resource kit to reduce the risk of SIDS in African American communities. Fernbach is currently working with NIH on a national SIDS risk reduction strategy for American Indian families.

Fernbach has worked with medical examiners and coroners, public health nurses, pediatricians, family practitioners, hospital staff, paramedics, funeral directors, childcare providers, and families in an effort to properly educate and support all those touched by SIDS.

Finally, Fernbach coordinates an Annual Day of Remembrance each fall at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum for any Minnesota family whose baby died of SIDS.

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dianne Mandernach said the award recipients and nominees deserve credit for their contributions to public health. "These dedicated individuals have made a significant contribution to improving life for mothers, children and families. They deserve our thanks and gratitude."

The Betty Hubbard Awards have been presented annually since 1990. They are sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Health and the state Maternal and Child Health Advisory Task Force. They are named in honor of Betty Hubbard, one of the original members of the MCH Task Force and a lifelong advocate for the health of mothers and children.

More information can be found on the Minnesota Department of Health Web site at