Healthy Start pioneers keynote annual meeting

Dee Jeffers and Charles Mahan at the January 17 Coalition meeting

Dr. Charles Mahan, former state health officer and dean emeritus of the USF College of Public Health, and Dee Jeffers, longtime women’s health advocate, joined the Coalition at its annual meeting and 20th anniversary celebration January 17th.

Co-founders of the Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center at the University of South Florida, Mahan and Jeffers traced the history and accomplishments of Healthy Start beginning from BC (Before Coalitions) to present day. The couple worked with the late Governor Lawton Chiles in designing the state’s landmark maternal and child health program which has contributed to significant improvements in birth outcomes.

Mahan underscored Gov. Chiles personal commitment to the initiative, particularly his efforts to place control in the hands of communities. Jeffers challenged the Coalition membership to continue working to ensure the families served by Healthy Start have a voice in decisions that impact their lives.

They recognized the work of the Coalition, its volunteers and staff in improving the health of women, infants and families in Northeast Florida over the last two decades.