Legal epidemiologist, public health strategist, and health equity champion, Jennifer Pettie’s 14+ year career has led her to become a thought leader and changemaker, forging global health equity and healthcare social reform pathways. She leads the Health Equilibrium Group and serves on both the Emory University Board of Visitors and March of Dimes Georgia Chapter’s Executive Leadership Team.
In March 2021, Jennifer’s work and personal life unexpectedly collided when she almost lost her life after giving birth to her daughter. Determined to turn this near miss experience into an opportunity to improve maternal health outcomes, she created the Maternal Health Conversations Web Series – a national campaign that has helped raise awareness, highlight resources, and inform next steps. Her biggest reward has been hearing from moms, partners, support people, nurses, OBGYNs, and doulas and learning how they have found this content helpful.
On June 26, 2022, Jennifer was crowned Mrs. Georgia American 2022-2023 at the Mrs. Georgia America Pageant and went on to represent the State of Georgia on the national stage at the Mrs. American Pageant. As a titleholder, she has leveraged her platform and influence to raise awareness and help improve maternal health outcomes for moms and families in Georgia and throughout the United States.
A proud alumna of Brooklyn Law School, Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, and Villanova University, Jennifer has worked to become recognized as a leader in her field. She has been recognized with the Atlanta Hawks Healthcare Heroes Award, March of Dimes Woman of Distinction Award for Healthcare Leadership, NMQF Health Leader Award at the Annual Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, and Atlanta Young Government Leaders Award.
For Jennifer, self-care is spending quality time with her wonderful husband Jason and their amazing daughter, Jayla Ann Rose.
Life has taught me that “when I dare to be powerful — to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” This Audre Lorde quote captures me: a black, millennial wife, mompreneur, and pageant-queen determined to bring my whole self as I empower health equity. As a legal epidemiologist and maternal health champion, my work and personal lives unexpectedly collided when I almost died after birthing my beautiful daughter. I remember lying in the hospital overwhelmed that a public health leader who led CDC initiatives could become a maternal mortality or near miss statistic. In this moment, I committed to expand my impact with non-traditional leaps into purpose. I created the Maternal Health Conversations Collaborative, a national campaign featuring policymakers, OBGYNs, nurse leaders, doulas, and midwives. I was crowned Mrs. Georgia American 2022-23 and have used my platform to impact maternal health initiatives. I embed my maternal health work with a three-prong approach in response to common barriers, including awareness, policy, and implicit bias.
To increase awareness, I have educated birthing and support people about life-threatening conditions. In my professional career, I helped confront health inequities for birthing people in vulnerable communities, authored action plans and digital toolkits that turned around negatively trending maternal health outcomes, and informed screening awareness for conditions like preeclampsia or high blood pressure, diabetes, and tobacco cessation. In addition, I created the Maternal Health Conversations Web Series, a national campaign that spreads awareness from healthcare experts. I have also served as panelist and keynote for maternal health awareness events, including those with March of Dimes, the Black Maternal & Child Health Alliance, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.
As a legal epidemiologist, I empower policymakers to facilitate health equity and reduce maternal morbidity and mortality. I have championed policy advancement with key U.S. Congress members, widened my social impact footprint by advocating on public health gaps pertaining to maternal care, and informing organizations with tools to capitalize on industry resources when lobbying for policies that facilitate access, screening, affordability, and healthy lifestyle practices. Most recently, I met with Congresswoman Lucy McBath about the Momnibus Act and explored potential ways to address barriers to getting it passed. Implicit bias contributes to the maternal mortality crisis and I have provided resources to help healthcare organizations address this barrier. I collaborated with Rose Horton, White House Black Maternal Task Force appointee and Executive Director of Women and Infant Services at Emory Decatur Hospital. As a guest on the Maternal Health Conversations Web Series, she empowered nurses with tools to support, listen to, advocate for, and follow evidence-based practices in caring for a diverse spectrum of birthing people.
Honorees selected for the Health Innovators to Watch Awards come from across the globe, representing health and healthcare innovation in traditional public health fields, research, academia, architecture, and more. In addition, innovators are intentionally diverse in backgrounds, from public health founders and co-founders, inventors, national and international leaders, directors, researchers, academicians, and curriculum developers