20 Years at Maternity Care Coalition: JoAnne Fischer

By Wendy |

From 2009 – 2011, Our Bodies Ourselves honored the work of women’s health advocates worldwide by asking readers to nominate their favorite women’s health hero. View all nominees by year: 2009, 2010, 2011

Entrant: Olivia Hamilton

Nominee: JoAnne Fischer, Maternity Care Coalition, Executive Director

joanne20fischer20color20headshotJoAnne Fisher is not only my Women’s Health Hero, she wears that cape for every birthing woman in Pennsylvania.  This year she celebrates her 20th year as Executive Director of the Maternity Care Coalition.

MCC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the needs of mothers and their families visible through policy advocacy and research, and meeting those needs in the community every day through the outreach of teams of Community Health Workers.

Since 1989, JoAnne has raised MCC from a fledgling neighborhood project with a staff of 3 to a statewide organization with staff of over 70, and a budget of $116,000 to over $4.5 million. MCC’s programs include the operation of MOMobile outreach sites providing services to at risk mothers right in their neighborhoods including one in the Riverside Correctional Facility,  two Early Head Start locations, The Cribs for Kids program which provides safe sleeping options to families in need, the Smoke Free Mom’s initiative, and an HIV/Aids prevention program for at risk women.

In addition JoAnne leads MCC’s efforts to advocate for policies that support the women served by these programs – most recently through the report “Insuring Healthy Births” which she will present jointly with area mothers impacted by the faulty insurance system at a rally in Harrisburg at the Capitol Rotunda on Monday May 4th.

JoAnne says of her work, “Birthing is a powerful experience whether it results in a baby or an organization. I am grateful to have been a midwife to MCC, to work with passionate and talented people and to advocate for women and children every day.” Joanne’s own talent and passion are evident everywhere I go, when I say I work for MCC inevitably someone says “Oh, you know JoAnne Fischer?” Her reputation, energy and warmth precede her.

At a recent staff meeting JoAnne’s anniversary was recognized by those who work with her every day.  We were all invited to stand and convey our own experience of that warmth and vitality.  It was evident to me, even as a new member of the MCC community, that she had made an effort to connect with every woman (and the two men as well!) in that room.

I had my own experience of this: at another meeting I had the chance to contribute some of my own ideas – and shook like a leaf the whole time I was speaking because I was so nervous. When I got home that evening there was a message on my Facebook page (yes, JoAnne is on Facebook!) complimenting me on my effort and my ideas. It is a small thing, but when you consider how large a job she has, and how many people she takes the time to connect with in that way in any given day it is no wonder that her name is known far and wide.

I literally found out about this contest ten minutes ago and today is the entry deadline. If I had the chance I could compile story after story just like those tributes I heard at the Maternity Care Coalition staff meeting about what a fantastic leader and mentor JoAnne is. I know there is no better, stronger, more dedicated champion of the health of childbearing women than JoAnne Fischer and no one is better deserving of the recognition of the Our Bodies Ourselves community. Celebrate with us at MCC by joining with us to honor her 20th Anniversary year of serving the women of Pennsylvania!


  1. Nancy says:

    JoAnne Fischer is a passionate leader in the field of Women and children’s health care. She has given unselfishly of herself to this cause all of her adult/professional life. She has been a role model for many young men and women. I am honored to be able to vote for her as a Health Hero — no one deserves it more than JoAnne!

  2. Joan says:

    Joanne is truly a wonderful person, a friend to many, and a fine example of what perseverance and dedication can accomplish both at Maternity Care and other communities also. I vote for her!

    Joan Manley

  3. Carolyn Cohen says:

    Joanne is tireless in supporting others to be all that they can be and in creating a world where every woman/family has equal access to the care they need. She is the epitome of one who understands what community means. I vote for her.

  4. Emily Bradley says:

    What a profoundly responsive community vision Joanne has birthed and care-fully nurtures with passion and expertise. I vote for her.

  5. Bobbi Amato says:

    This is a highly deserved recognition for the supportive work JoAnne has been committed to over these many years. Not only has she positively impacted so many mothers and babies lives, but, as an advocate, she has brought an expanded awareness of the need to address health at the earliest stage. I vote for JoAnne.

  6. Mary Lou says:

    I have seen first hand the dedication and passion with which you have done this health hero work for so many years. Your commitment to awareness, education, and action to ensure good health for women, mothers, and babies is visible in your work. Congratulations on a well deserved nomination. I vote for JoAnne!

  7. Judy says:

    Joanne is truly an inspiration and innovator who has significantly impacted the lives of mothers and families through her two decades with MCC, I vote for JoAnne.

  8. Carol Lutter says:

    JoAnne is an inspiration in so many ways. Her work for and with women truly stands out and makes a difference to all. Please count my vote for JOANNE!

  9. Judith Katzburg says:

    JoAnne has provided tremendous leadership to the Materna & Child Health Section of the American Public Health Association, including in her current role as our section president. She has my full support and my vote!

  10. Lynne Piersol says:

    JoAnne is a wonderful person and advocate for women’s health issues, and she runs a top notch organization. I vote for JoAnne!

  11. Jane Warren says:

    I vote wholeheartedly for JoAnne Fischer, an untiring, inspiring, and remarkably effective advocate for mothers and babies.

  12. Betsy says:

    I vote for JoAnne. She is an enthusistic and infectious promoter of mothers’ health.

  13. Ellen says:

    JoAnne Fisher is a wonderful person and advocate for women’s health issues, and she runs a top notch organization. I vote for JoAnne!

  14. Marcy Bacine says:

    JoAnne Fisher DEFINITELY deserves this award. She is an amazing advocate for women, mothers and babies. Congratulations on the nomination.

  15. Vivian says:

    Joanne’s vision, hard work, leadership and compassion has made the Maternity Care Coalition a model organization. My vote is for Joanne!

  16. Rosemary Northcutt says:

    JoAnne’s contribution to the physical and emotional health of community families is an inspiration to many and a gift to us all!

  17. linda weinstein says:

    There is nothing left to say…that hasn’t already been said about this amazing woman.

    Words cannot express her dedication & energy.

    She has taught me a lot though the yrs.

  18. Julio says:

    I add my enthusiastic vote for JoAnne, a true advocate for maternal and child care.

  19. Clare Feinson says:

    I have known JoAnne Fisher for almost 30 years, through the Women’s Caucus and the Maternal and Child Health Section of the American Public Health Association, and there are not enough words to describe how much she deserves this award. Her unflagging energy and enthusiasm have not only benefited the MCC and APHA, but they have also helped many of us to keep going when the going was tough. JoAnne is a great leader and an inspiration to us all, and she greatly deserves this recognition.

    Clare Feinson

  20. Rita Lourie says:

    Joanne is an amazing person, connector, colleague and a true innovator for public health. What a wonderful nomination- well deserved!!!!

  21. John says:

    Through Joanne’s leadership, MCC has had a positive impact on the lives of thousands of women, children and families in the Philadelphia area. She is a leader of exceptional quality whose commitment, incredible hard work and dedication is the hallmark of MCC. She is truly deserving of this recognition.

  22. Cindy says:

    I heartily support Joanne for all her tireless commitment and passion over the many years at MCC.

  23. Eric Hoffman says:

    JoAnne is amazing. As her husband for over 30 years, I can add that her 20 years at Maternity Care Coalition and leadership in the American Public Health Association tell only part of the story. She was on the founding board of the National Women’s Health Network, which she Chaired in the late 1970’s; she has contributed to earlier editions of Our Bodies, Ourselves; and she has been a tireless advocate for women’s health through founding over a dozen other organizations. She also supports the leadership of women and girls by her involvement in Girl Scouts nationally and internationally. And there is more for which there is not enough room. She certainly has my vote.

  24. Melanie Brennan says:

    JoAnne has been a life-long active creator of opportunities for enhanced physical and emotional wellness of women, children and families in the community. I join my voice with others in the public acknowledgement for the place JoAnne holds in so many individual lives as one of todays Heroines for women’s health.

  25. Dolores says:

    I have known JoAnne for many years and can attest to her unswerving dedication to women’s issues and her warm and wonderful way. She deserves this honor. She has my vote.

    Dolores Menapace

  26. Sara says:

    JoAnne care deeply for women and children, especially babies, our most vulnerable citizens. and she has translated her caring into action! she is to be commended for her work and her lifestyle that directly reflects her passion!

  27. Joan says:

    I can not think of anyone more deserving of this honor than JoAnne. She works tirelessly on behalf of mothers and children, and is a model of leadership for girls and women of all ages. I vote for JoAnne.

  28. Michael says:

    JoAnne, in my opinion, serves as a great example of a “Servant Leader.” She has continued her steadfast devotion to serving the needs of The MCC Family, develops employees to reach their potential; by supporting their personal/professional growth, is a coaches-coach, and a listener who builds a strong sense of community and ownership. JoAnne is truly deserving of this recognition.

  29. Chris G says:

    Joanne has been an inspiration to Moms and women working in jobs that support mothers, children and healthcare in the Philadelphia area for over 30 years. I think she is a wonderful nominee.

  30. Tina says:

    JoAnne is an amazing woman who reflects to others her commitment, leadership, dedication, compassion and knowledge through her work and personal life. She is an inspiration to me and others and is deserving of this award.

  31. Sol says:

    Joanne is truly a great person, who is following her dream, just because its her job, but its her passion.. Congratulations and keep it up ..

  32. Hope says:

    I am voting for JoAnne. Through her work she has helped thousands of our neediest mothers and children. What an honor to be nominated with such an inspiring group of health heroes.

  33. Dale says:

    Not only has JoAnne led Materinity Care Coalition to have the impact that it does but she has done it with a leadership style that is an exemplary model for all. She is wise, brilliantly creative and full of grace.

  34. Cecilia Cannon says:

    JoAnne, you have my vote! Congratulations on a well earned nomination for this wonderful work that you continue to do.

  35. Brenda Bary says:

    Joanne, you definitely have my vote. You are one of the most empowered and effective women I’ve ever met. Having known you for almost 20 years now, I can say that you work tirelessly to improve conditions for women and children in the world. And, of course, improving conditions for women and children upgrades life for all humanity. I think you are marvelous and I hope you get all the recognition you deserve.

  36. Mary Jo says:

    JoAnne, you are an inspiration to women everywhere. It is an honor to vote for you.

  37. Robin says:

    Congrats JoAnne. As your “on the way home from work call” I am amazed by all that you do in each day. As your little sister I am so proud of the example you have always lead. I got to see first hand on a daily basis the passion in which you work when we were at Booth Maternity Center. Now 20 years later MCC has been the result of that passion. Amazing! You got my vote

  38. Dale Allen says:

    JoAnne is that rare combination of skill, intelligence, vision, creativity and perseverance that you rarely find in one person. She is able to motivate others to compassionate action and she is tireless in her commitment to making this world a safe and nuturing place in the face of truly severe and relentless obstacles. I have been honored to know her through her work at The Maternity Care Coalition and I know that she is extraordinarily deserving of this recognition as a Health Hero.

  39. Madalyn Purcell says:

    JoAnne is a role model for all. She works with passion and committment, not only for MCC, but with all she is dedicated to. She makes this a better world to be in and I am honored to vote her a Health Hero.

  40. Elissa Chandler says:

    I wholeheartedly vote for JoAnne Fischer as a Health Hero, for her inspirational leadership of MCC over the past 20 years and tireless advocacy for underserved women and children.

  41. Regine says:

    JoAnne Fischer has done phenomenal work as the leader of Maternity Care Coalition. She is most deserving of this honor and she would represent the “Our Bodies, Ourselves” name with distinction. I vote for JoAnne Fischer.

  42. Brenda Keller says:

    JoAnne Fischer’s outstanding accomplishments in such a short time make her an absolutely perfect candidate to be the health hero. Her dedication to improve the life of others year after year shows her commitment to making the world a healthier place. Please accept my vote for this very worthy candidate.

  43. Lydia Livestro says:

    In the short amount of time I have known her since I moved to Philadelphia from abroad, she has helped me to integrate into the community with such warmth and care. JoAnne definitely has my vote for this award!

  44. Ray Garassino says:

    We met JoAnne when we went to Essential Experience workshop in the 1990’s and learned about her work with MCC. We shortly afterward moved to Florida, but always remembered JoAnne. She is a remarkable woman, and is indeed worthy of recognition. She impacts lives of others deeply, and long after they are in contact with her.

    Ray Garassino and Tom Millner

    Ft. Lauderdale, Fl

  45. Deb Jones says:

    As a member of the maternity health care community, I have known Joanne and her work for many years. She is a wise leader. A visionary in her field. A graceful, compassionate mother and role model for all mothers. She is deserving of the title Health Hero. Many mothers and babies are alive and thriving because of her work. It is my privilege to vote for Joanne for the Health Hero Award!

  46. Harold says:

    JoAnne is a tireless leader with vision and passion. Her creation of life and selfless possibility for others is inspirational. I have witnessed her tireless efforts, and her passion for life. GO JO!!!

  47. Michelle Wilkins says:

    JoAnne is making a difference in the lives of so many! She has my vote:)

  48. Iliana Dejesus says:

    Joanne, Congratulations. She’s an inspiration to all of us “The MCC Family.” Thanks for all you do. Great nomination! I VOTE for JOANNE!

  49. Pheobe Wilson says:

    Congratulations JoAnne. What you do is wonderful. You are truly a hero. Good Luck!

  50. Elaine says:

    Congratulations Joanne! I am thrilled to vote whole heartedly for Joanne. [I seem to be having trouble both voting and posting this comment.

  51. Annette says:

    JoAnne’s activities and work have been changing the lives of different generations of women. She definitely has my vote.

  52. Sue Harvey says:

    JoAnne has been a role model for me and so many others in countless ways – as a community organizer, professional woman, mother, friend. This award is wll-deserved and fitting tribute to the many women and families whose lives are better thanks for JoAnne’s talent, compassion, vision, and dedication – I am proud to vote for her!

  53. Anisha Robinson Keeys says:

    JoAnne is a fearless, tireless innovator who is truly deserving of this honor.

  54. Priti says:

    JoAnne-congratulations on the nominations. Thanks for all that you do to impact so many lives! Wishing you the best.

  55. Judith Kurnick says:

    JoAnne has my vote. No one puts more of her passion and drive into making a true difference in the lives of women, children, and families.

  56. Beth says:

    JoAnne absolutely has my vote. Health hero indeed. Thank you for all you have done and all you are about to do!

  57. Cathy says:

    JoAnne is tireless in her commitment to health,women, and community. This is a fitting tribute and recognition of her life’s work.

  58. Marj D. says:

    One of the things JoAnne has done that I most admire — she has not forgotten women who are incarcerated. She has fought for and brought care to the women who are pregnant in the City’s jail — helping ensure healthy babies and healthy moms. Kudos, JoAnne!

  59. Shari Baron says:

    Congratulations, JoAnne – having witnessed your energy and advocacy efforts since we were in Girl Scouts together in high school, I am happy to give you my vote!

  60. sally Sakin says:

    I am voting for Joanne Fischer, a woman I came to know through the life and untimely passing of my mother. Joanne is filled with energy and compassion. She has masterfully brought together woman of varying economic and cultural backgrounds to create and grow an organization that meets critical needs of woman and their children in Philadelphia. There is a need for MCC’s all over the country. You go Joanne!!

  61. M. Scot Ailes says:

    I vote for Joanne. She is an amazing woman with a wise and caring heart, an advocate with a sharp and focused mind , and an inspiration to so many from children to seniors. She helps us see that all progress begins with clear intention and our measured “baby steps”.

  62. Cathie Harvey says:

    JoAnne IS a Health Hero. She consistently and effectively provides services for pregnant and newly deliverd women and children, she advocates for policies to support access to quality maternal-child health care, and she engages in research to broaden and deepen the body of knowledge about pregnancy and early parenting. JoAnne understands what is needed to effect change – and she works tirelessly and successfully to get the job done for women and young chidlren.

  63. Michele says:

    JoAnne’s 20 years with Maternity Care Coalition has made such a difference in the lives of women and their new babies. She has been a wonderful advocate for maternal health. Go JoAnne!

  64. Georgette Bartell says:

    Joanne has the strong voice and gentle spirit to speak on behalf of mothers and children to the general community of Philadelphia and beyond. Thank you, Joanne, for your vision and leadership.

  65. Lisa says:

    Joanne ‘s work has impacted so many women and children in such important ways. Thank you JOanne for all your tireless dedication. I cast a vote for you.

  66. Judy says:

    JoAnne has done so much for the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition and so many other organizations dedicated to health promotion. It’s wonderful to see her recognized in this way for her service to the field and to families.

  67. Kathrin says:

    I am so proud to be working for the Maternity Care Coalition under such dedicated, compassionate and inspiring leadership. JoAnne is a true role model for all women!

  68. Stephani says:

    JoAnne Fischer is an inspiring and captivating leader! It is an honor to work at Maternity Care Coalition with JoAnne at the helm.

  69. Katja says:

    Congratulations JoAnne! You are truly an inspiration, and a great example that there is nothing that empowered women can hold back to achieve their hopes and dreams. I am proud to be a part of MCC and my vote is for you!

  70. jenny says:

    I vote for Joanne because she is an inspiration and motivation to me and to so many women. Congratulation!!!

  71. Marianne says:

    JoAnne definitely gets my vote as Health Hero. She’s an inspiration to all women!

  72. Agnes says:

    I am pleased and honored to vote for JoAnne. Keep up the Gooooooooood work JoAnne.

  73. MaryP says:

    JoAnne is amazingly passionate about serving pregnant women and new moms and their families and has an incredible talent for motivating her staff, board and everyone she meets to join her as witness all her support here

  74. Toni Burgoyne says:

    JoAnne is so very worthy of this recognition. Her dedication to MCC and the women it serves is nothing short of inspirational!

  75. MaryRose Main says:

    I concur with others that JoAnne is well qualified for this award. So, I definitely vote yes!

    Mary Rose Main

  76. Carole Gravagno says:

    JoAnne is a making a difference in the community every day. The work she has done with the Maternity Care Coalition is exemplary. The women who have received the services of this organization are truly blessed. I am grateful to JoAnne for all she does to make life better for families in our region.

  77. Diane says:

    I cast my vote for Joanne , who is truly passionate about her work and many benefit from her dedication and committment.

    Diane Greenblatt

  78. Karen Bell says:

    JoAnne has stayed the course of tireless advocacy for women and children not only her community but in the global community of maternal and child health leaders. She deserves to be recognized by another outstanding advocacy organization, Our Bodies, Ourselves.

  79. Monica says:

    My vote is for JoAnne. She has worked so hard to serve as an advocate for women and children.

  80. Pam Hinden says:

    Jo is a wonderful role model of effective and passionate advocacy for girls, women and families from every racial and economic background. I vote for JoAnn.

  81. Tom McCoy says:

    The proof is in all of these comments as to how much JoAnne is so loved and respected in her community, not only for her work as the Executive Director of Maternity Care Coalition but also as a person who changes for the better almost every life she touches.

  82. Linda Tafolla says:

    Congratulations, JoAnne!

    You deserve all the honors for your hard work.

    Best wishes.

    Linda T.

  83. Susan Robbins says:

    Congratulations to JoAnne!

    She is an amazing individual and great leader. Her wonderful vision and compassion and knowledge and many skills have combined to better the lives of women and children in need in the Philadelphia area and beyond. JoAnne inspires many. The kudos are greatly deserved!

  84. Sally Roberts says:

    Congratulations on providing such competence to such a worthy cause. Your record deserves tp be honored.

  85. Jen says:

    Star link didn’t work for me.

    I vote for JoAnne for all the amazing work she has done to bring pre-natal care to women who wouldn’t otherwise receive it.

  86. Carol says:

    I can’t think of a more dedicated or talented person than JoAnne. Her leadership in providing services in support of mother’s and babies health and well-being is extraordinary!

  87. Adelaide says:

    JoAnne is completely deserving of this award. She is smart, effective, strategic and has dedicated her life to making a difference! I vote for JoAnne!

  88. Linda says:

    I have been honoring my mother every Mother’s Day with a contribution to the MCC for the last several years. I can’t think of any other organization so worthly of my contribution. Indeed, my mother cries every year she receives the Mother’s Day card from MCC. I thank JoAnne for the wonderful work she has done and will do as Executive Director. She certainly has earned my vote.

  89. Linda silverstone says:

    Congratulations on this distinguished nomination, JoAnne! You are a tireless leader and we in PA are so lucky to have you. You certainly have my vote!

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