Jessica Johnson was focused on the needs of mothers and babies during the pandemic.  While most don’t think twice about diapers, for families in need and with limited funds, the gift of diapers can have a significant impact. Although there are numerous services available for families, diapers are not one of the commodities offered. The North Carolina Perinatal Association: A Coalition of Healthy Mothers and Healthy Babies, is an organization with the purpose to improve perinatal health for childbearing families throughout the state, providing leadership, education, and advocacy for healthy mothers and healthy infants. The coalition identified that families were in need as a result of the pandemic and in particular there was a need of diapers.  Alamance Partnership for Children made the connection between the Diaper Bank of NC – Triangle Branch and the CityGate Dream Center identified to be the perfect place to coordinate getting diapers to those who needed them most.  Jessica, as Chair of Healthy Mothers and Healthy Babies Coalition of Alamance County went to work.  Every Thursday, hundreds of diapers and more were distributed to families in need. Jessica’s leadership and passion were clearly demonstrated in that effort.  She inventoried the diapers and feminine products, placed orders, coordinated volunteers for distribution and promoted the vital resource in the community. Because of the collaboration between multiple agencies serving the needs of the community, this weekly benefit has continued very successfully. 

Jessica built a career in human services, working for several years at the Alamance County Health Department where she touched the lives of countless mothers and babies.  She was Infant Mortality Reduction Program Coordinator, provided case management services for women during and after their pregnancy through the Healthy Beginnings program and Partners for the Healthy Baby Curriculum, wrote and oversaw state and local grants, lead committees and coalitions such as Centering Pregnancy Standard of Care taskforce, Teen Friendly Services Work Group and Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition.  Jessica was instrumental in implementing volunteer doula service in Alamance County. Doulas are trained to offer physical and emotional support before, during, and after childbirth. They contribute to improved health outcomes for both mother and baby and help overcome maternal and child health disparities.  In all her roles, Jessica makes certain that those working with moms understand diversity and equity.  Throughout her career, Jessica has focused on improving inequitable outcomes in maternal and child health.

She most recently accepted the role as Perinatal Health Strategic Plan Coordinator at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services in Raleigh where she also represents the Women’s Health Brand and Perinatal Health Strategic Plan on statewide and local advisory groups and committees.  When asked what she considered her favorite quote, Jessica said “We can do hard things” – Glennon Doyle.    This Rising Star said it reminds her that it is “okay to have big feelings about things beyond our control, all while pushing forward to do what is right”.