The PA Safe Sleep program was developed by a multi-disciplinary team of maternal-infant healthcare professionals and faculty from The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Hospital, and The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in partnership with the Maternity Care Coalition.
Marilyn Stringer, PhD, WHNP, FAAN is a Professor of Women’s Health, Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Professor of Women’s Health Nursing in Obstetrics & Gynecology (Secondary), University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. Stringer is a consultant in the Women’s Health Department at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where she provides leadership to numerous research projects and evidenced based practice projects. She is known globally for her expertise in the promotion of healthy pregnancies and newborns. Dr. Stringer has a distinguished and sustained record of funding as a Principal Investigator and subsequent dissemination of research through publications and presentations. Dr. Stringer has over 50 peer reviewed journal publications, book chapters, and evidenced based practice guidelines,. Most recently, Dr. Stringer’s team positioned the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to embark on a 3-year journey that culminated in the receipt of Baby Friendly designation in Fall 2015. During this journey, Dr. Stringer worked closely with the Maternity Care Coalition (MCC), our community partner with our Philadelphia Safe Sleep Awareness For Every Well Newborn (S.A.F.E.) Program.
Nursing Senior Project Leaders
Jessica Lazzeri MSN, RN, NEA-BC, is a Clinical Director at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), and in this position, she assumes executive leadership for four Women’s Health inpatient units and an outpatient perinatal evaluation center. During her tenure at HUP, Ms. Lazzeri played a significant leadership role in the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program designation and redesignation. Building on these strengths, she also led a multidisciplinary task force to transform maternity care practices at HUP that resulted in the recent Baby Friendly Hospital designation. She is an active member of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics, and Neonatal Nursing, American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE). She was selected to represent HUP as a 2012 AONE Nurse Manager Fellow. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. She is board certified as a Nurse Executive.
Elizabeth Quigley, MSN, RNC, NEA-BC, is the Clinical Director for Women’s Health at Pennsylvania Hospital. In this role, she oversees the clinical operations of a 5,200 birth delivery service including Labor and Delivery, Perinatal Triage, the Mother Baby Unit, the Intensive Care Nursey, and an outpatient lactation and family education service. Elizabeth has a passion for quality improvement and has had success implementing improvement efforts focused on diverse topics including but not limited to: inpatient fall prevention, breast milk safety, management of escalating behavior in the inpatient setting, and patient throughput. Elizabeth also assisted Pennsylvania Hospital to achieve Magnet designation, Baby Friendly USA designation and the Joint Commission Perinatal Care Certification. She is a board certified Nurse Executive and has completed the American Organization of Nursing Leadership’s Nurse Manager Fellowship Program.
Bonnie Renner Ohnishi, BSN, RNC-MNN, has been caring for women and infants in Philadelphia for over 19 years. During her tenure with Penn Medicine, Ms. Renner Ohnishi has worked as a clinical nurse on the Maternal Newborn units at both Pennsylvania Hospital and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She has also worked with Obstetric and Gynecologic patients in the Clinical Practices of the University of Pennsylvania. Ms. Renner Ohnishi is a Certified Maternal Newborn Nurse and was an active member of the Baby Friendly Task Force at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She also served as her unit's Patient Centered Nurse Report Champion and was Co-chair of the Unit Council. Bonnie earned her Bachelor's of Science Degree in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania.
Nurse Experts & Educators
Allene Pulsifer, RN, MSN, CRNP, is the Supervisor of Medical Programs and the Advanced Practice Nurse Manager of the Newborn Nursery at Pennsylvania Hospital. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley and went on to obtain her Masters of Science in Nursing from the University of California at San Francisco. While obtaining her advanced practice nursing degree, she worked as a Registered Nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the University of California at San Francisco Hospital. In 2003 she joined the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner for the Department of Pediatric Urology. She has also worked as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for the Department of Pediatric Anesthesiology. Currently, Ms. Pulsifer works for the Division of Neonatology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, as the primary Advanced Practice Nurse in the Newborn Nursery at Pennsylvania Hospital.
Whitney Zachritz MSN, CRNP, RN, is the Clinical Practice Leader in the Intensive Care Nursery (ICN) at the HUP. In this role, Ms. Zachritz is accountable for nursing practice, quality and patient safety, professional development and nursing research in the ICN. During her tenure at HUP, she has lead numerous quality initiatives in the ICN including: Improving transitions from the ICN, reducing ICN catheter-associated blood stream infection (CLABSI) rates, standardizing nurse hand-off communication processes, decreasing unplanned extubations and safe infant sleep. She also co-led the development and implementation of a successful Safe Sleep Program in the ICN. This body of work has been accepted at both the American Nurses Association Annual Conference 2016: Connecting Quality, Safety and Staffing to Improve Outcomes, and the American Nurses Credentialing Center 2016 National Magnet Annual Conference. Ms. Zachritz received her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing at the University of Michigan and her Master’s Degree in Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a board certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.
Judy Vitali, BSN, RNC-NIC, CIME, CPFI, CHBE, has over 25 years of clinical experience in the women’s health division at Penn Medicine. She practices as a Clinical IV Nurse in the Intensive Care Nursery at Pennsylvania Hospital as well as a nursing instructor at the Penn Medicine Simulation Center. In this role, she has developed and directed strategic initiatives to drive change and improve outcomes; namely, the design, development, and implementation of an extensive parent education program for ICN families along with spearheading the design and development of a comprehensive evidence based ICN discharge education book. Her passion for quality outcomes is demonstrated by her project work on but not limited to facilitating optimal practices for placement and verification of neonatal gastric tubes, establishing best practices for breast milk feeding safety and improving the patient experience through development of a standardized process for communicating updates to ICN families both live and by way of the EMR. With a strong dedication for teaching colleagues and patients’ families, Judy has achieved multiple instructor certifications in BLS (Basic Life Support), NRP (Neonatal Resuscitation Program), Infant Massage, Prenatal/Postnatal Fitness, Happiest Baby on the Block, and Neonatal Developmental Care Specialist. She is certified in Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing and a member of the professional organizations of NANN (National Association of Neonatal Nurses), DVANN (Delaware Valley Association of Neonatal Nurses) and Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society.
Physician Senior Project Leaders
Karen Puopolo, MD, PhD, is Chief of the Section on Newborn Pediatrics at PAH and Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. is a neonatologist who specializes in neonatal infectious diseases. She received her undergraduate degree in physics from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and went on to obtain her M.D. as well as a Ph.D. in molecular physiology from the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. She completed Pediatric residency and Neonatal-Perinatal fellowship training at Boston Children’s Hospital. Upon completing fellowship, Dr. Puopolo was appointed to the faculty of Harvard Medical School and joined the staff of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Channing Laboratory, where she was an attending neonatologist and researcher from 2000-2014. Dr. Puopolo began her neonatal research career as a laboratory-based scientist investigating mechanisms of virulence in Group B Streptococcus (GBS). More recently her research has focused on the epidemiology of neonatal infection, with an emphasis on molecular epidemiology and risk assessment. Recent publications focus on the results of NIH-funded research describing the results of the largest case-control study of risk factors for neonatal early-onset sepsis done in the era of GBS prophylaxis. Dr. Puopolo is a member of the editorial board for NeoReviews. In addition, she is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on the Fetus and Newborn, whose members study issues and current advances in fetal and neonatal care and make recommendations regarding national neonatal practice. Dr. Puopolo is currently on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. She is a member of the Division of Neonatology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Section Chief for Newborn Pediatrics at Pennsylvania Hospital.
Lori Christ, MD is the Medical Director of the Intensive Care Nursery at HUP, an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, and a member of the Division of Neonatology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and she completed a residency in General Pediatrics and a fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She is also a graduate of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Improvement Advisor program. In addition to her current administrative role, Dr. Christ oversees quality and patient safety initiatives for well and critically ill newborns at HUP. Current and past initiatives include: Supporting Premature Infant Nutrition, Reducing Intraventricular Hemorrhage in the Intensive Care Nursery, and implementation of an Early Onset Neonatal Sepsis Risk Calculator at HUP which have been recognized locally at Penn Medicine and disseminated through national presentations and peer-review publications. Dr. Christ also mentors neonatal-perinatal medicine fellows with an interest in quality improvement, health care innovation, mixed methods research design, and implementation science. She is an active member of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Mulit-Media Marketing Team
Maternity Care Coalition (MMC)
MCC is a community-based nonprofit organization serving Southeastern Pennsylvania. We work in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty, infant mortality and health disparities. Our mission is to improve maternal and child health and wellbeing through the collaborative efforts of individuals, families, providers, and communities. MCC envisions a future in which all families receive solid support throughout the critical period of pregnancy through age three in a manner that enables lifelong health and wellbeing. MCC was founded in 1980 as an advocacy organization by professionals and community members concerned with the appalling rate of infant mortality in the region. MCC opened its first MOMobile site in 1989, providing critically needed support to pregnant women and families with young children. Since then, MCC has provided direct services to 135,000 families across the region. We currently serve approximately 5,000 families a year.
Marianne Fray, is the CEO of Maternity Care Coalition. Throughout her 30+ year career, Marianne has inspired diverse teams to do more together than they could alone. As the daughter of immigrant missionaries from Jamaica, Marianne grew up at a Rescue Mission in North Philadelphia. The Mission served the homeless in North Philadelphia, and it was here that Marianne’s commitment to service was born. Marianne attended The Shipley School, Temple University, Bryn Mawr College and St. Joseph’s University. She held increasingly responsible positions in Sales, Marketing and Operations in the Publishing, Telecommunications, Consulting, Project Management and Healthcare industries. Marianne also earned multiple Sales Awards and professional credentials in Project Management and Association Executive Management. Marianne established two successful cross-company industry communities that continue to drive business innovation in the project management and life sciences industries. Marianne also advised Fortune 100 companies on their Diversity and Inclusion practices. She is a Founding Member of a 501 c6 nonprofit organization called Women of Color in the Pharmaceutical Industry (WOCIP). Marianne is an active member of her local church, and serves on board committees for a summer camp program and her neighborhood association. Marianne has 3 adult sons and resides in South Jersey with her husband. She and her husband enjoy traveling the world.
Ashley Lake attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City where she majored in Advertising & Marketing Communications. After a brief stint in the fashion industry, Ashley’s minor in Ethics & Sustainability led her to the non-profit sector, working for the Fresh Air Fund as the Communications Assistant. From there she went on to work as the Publicist at Housing Works, overseeing the organization’s marketing and public relations, and then on to enCourage Kids Foundation as the Special Events & Stewardship Manager. While there, she worked to to strengthen relationships between donors and their support of the organization. After serving as a consultant for Maternity Care Coalition (MCC) in early 2020, Ashley is happy to now be the Marketing & Communications Manager at MCC, and working with the PA Safe Sleep team!
Sayda Conteh is the Marketing and External Affairs Coordinator for Maternity Care Coalition. She graduated from Holy Family University in Philadelphia with a degree in Communications. As a native Pennsylvanian and the daughter of immigrants, she has always had a passion for seeking ways to improve the community. Sayda spends her free time playing with her kitten Yo-yo and visiting the local library.
MaryGrace MacAvoy is the Freelance Graphic Designer for Maternity Care Coalition and PA Safe Sleep. She graduated from Molloy College on Long Island, NY with a degree in New Media & Digital Arts. In undergrad, MaryGrace worked for a children's non-profit organization, Sunrise Day Camp as a multimedia designer and content creator. After a brief time post-graduation working in publishing, she joined the multi-media marketing team in 2022 and is currently working towards a master's degree at Parson School of Design in New York City.