HERE Center

San Fernando Valley African American Infant and Maternal Mortality (SFV AAIMM)

SFV AAIMM is a local collaborative of agencies, CBOs, faculty, students, and others who seek to listen, learn, research, inform, and make policy change around intolerable inequities for African American Women in the SFV, 4x as likely to die in childbirth than any other ethnic group, their infants being 3x as likely to die before the age of 1 year.

In the San Fernando Valley (SFV) and Los Angeles at large, for decades, African American women die at about 4 times the rate of women in all other racial/ethnic groups; their infants are about 3 times as likely to die before the age of one year. In response, SFV AIMM was formed by the Department of Public Health as a collaborative of SFV agencies, community-based organizations, and CSUN faculty and students who conduct research, provide university research intensives, public health data collection and education, grant-writing, service delivery evaluation, and policy advocacy in response to this intolerable and inhuman inequity in our local community.

The central African American Infant and Maternal Mortality (AAIMM) program of First5LA is an initiative based in decades of racial inequities in infant and maternal mortality for African Americans in the Los Angeles and San Fernando regions. The HERE Center is working with the SFV Department of Public Health (DPH), El Proyecto del Barrio, First5LA, and the Valley Care Community Consortium (VCCC) to implement recommendations from an extensive report prepared by AAIMM central to work on issues specific to the San Fernando Valley. Funding for this initiative has been removed from the SFV as region-wide initiative to focus on SPAs 1, 6, and 8, yet the SFV continues to see unnecessary deaths attributable to racism that translate to 3 times as many African American infants dying before the age of 1 year and 4 times as many African American women dying in childbirth compared with any other racial/ethnic group in the Valley.

With our community partners, we are identifying a piece of the puzzle for intervention around: (a) working directly with pregnant women and new mothers to understand their rights, (b) working with an entire clinic staff to introduce humanizing processes and interactions and anti-racism training, (c) conduct an experiment that compares health and cost outcomes for an experimental and control clinic for all women and, more specifically, African American women and infants, conducting an in-depth study of the experiences of African American women in humanizing and traditional health care systems.

Coalition Members:


  • Cesar Sanchez, Department of Public Health (DPH)
  • Olga Vigdorchik, Department of Public Health (DPH)
  • Marlene Rowlett, El Proyecto del Barrio (“El Proyecto”)
  • Anthony Ortiz-Luis, Valley Care Community Consortium (VCCC)

Coalition Members:

CSU Northridge

  • Carrie Saetermoe, HERE Center and Psychology
  • Kacie Blackman, HERE Center and Health Sciences
  • Marlene Rowlett, El Proyecto del Barrio (“El Proyecto”)
  • Jose H. Vargas, HERE Center and Psychology
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Student Opportunities

Seeking African American women students at CSUN who are interested in serving as interviewers, focus group leaders, and researchers for SFV AAIMM. Learn Action Research principles and ethics while digging deeper into why needless deaths of African American families persist after decades. Taught by Dr. Kacie Blackman, Professor in the Department of Health Sciences and Dr. Jose Vargas, Postdoctoral Scholar and Professor in NIH BUILD PODER and in the Department of Psychology, the course will provide you with the research basics to take on a community issue by providing evidence and support that will lead directly to policy and practice change. With influential agency and community partners, you will join a collaborative determined to provide the SFV with direction, voice, and resources to end this inequity!

For more information, please contact: Dr. Carrie Saetermoe, HERE Center Co-Director,

Faculty Opportunities

Faculty who would like to become involved in this initiative can be helpful in: (a) speaking in the action research class about the African American community and families, (b) speaking in the class about research in the African American community, or (c) participating in our research initiative as an interviewer, focus group leader, participant, or advisor.

We also need collaborators for grant opportunities to replace Black Infant Health in the SFV and to study this initiative to help agencies and policy-makers recognize the ethics of closing this loop. The problem persists because resources are re-allocated to areas where there are greater numbers of African American women. This triage method means that we have been left to fend for ourselves, since our outcomes aren’t the worst in the region. If there is sufficient interest, we can develop a faculty group to work on this initiative.

If you would like to serve as a speaker or participate in a CSUN SFV AAIMM faculty group, please contact: Dr. Carrie Saetermoe, HERE Center Co-Director,

Community Partner Opportunities