Serving New Jersey: A Visit with First Lady Tammy Murphy

Dec 20 2021
Amaney Jamal, Dean

Dear SPIA Community,

Early this year, New Jersey First Lady Tammy Snyder Murphy unveiled a plan to reduce the state’s maternal mortality by 50% over five years and eliminate racial disparities in birth outcomes. Here at SPIA, maternal and infant health and wellbeing is a research and policy focus for several of our faculty, researchers, and students. How might we effectively address this public health challenge right outside our doors?

Earlier this month, I was honored to host a visit and roundtable with First Lady Murphy and her staff, SPIA faculty and students, and University administrators. Together, we discussed not only how to tackle this vital issue affecting New Jersey’s mothers and children, but also how to begin building an effective and lasting partnership between state policy leaders and SPIA. I aim to facilitate ongoing dialogue, pathways for sharing SPIA’s evidence-based research, and build innovative collaborations between our School and the First Lady’s office, as well as other state and local policymakers. That’s why this visit was so important to me.

Murphy — joined by her Chief of Staff Stephanie Lagos, Policy Advisor Lauren Lalicon, and Aide to the Governor Ruth Hartnett — has been a champion of policies that aim to decrease maternal and infant mortality and morbidity, improve birth outcomes, and encourage healthy families. Following brief research presentations by SPIA’s Janet Currie, Betsy Armstrong, and Adriana Corredor-Waldron, we all engaged in a thought-provoking Q&A. I’m thrilled that we were joined by SPIA students Turquoise Brewington ’22, Sophie Graham MPA ’22, Conor Hussey MPA ’22, and Christine Zizzi MPA ’22, who are all focused on maternal and infant health and were able to engage directly with these thought leaders.

To support this priority, Murphy and her team are in the process of creating a Center for Maternal and Infant Health in Trenton that will be dedicated to innovation and research, with an emphasis on addressing racial disparities and ensuring equity in care and outcomes. I’m committed to working with her office and to leveraging the expertise of our faculty and students to assist the emerging Center in its policy mission and research efforts. I’m also excited to partner with her office on potential internships for our students.

I’m so grateful First Lady Murphy and her team took the time to travel to campus and speak with us. Here’s to healthy futures and more collaborations!

Special thanks to B. Rose Huber in SPIA’s Office of Public Affairs and Communications, as well as Karen Jezierny, Maura Fennessy, and Nicole Moen in Princeton’s Office of State Affairs, for organizing and participating in the visit.


Amaney Jamal, Dean