A Tribute to Cindy Pellegrini-Johnson
Last week the world lost a wonderful person, Cindy Pellegrini-Johnson. Cindy was one of the most brilliant and effective advocates I’ve had the honor to work with, who was deeply committed to improving the lives of children and families. As Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Government Affairs at the March of Dimes, she worked tirelessly to advance federal policy on behalf of women and babies, as well as policies in all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico. Whether it was working tirelessly to address the Zika virus, or playing a key role in enacting the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act of 2018 to help prevent and treat preterm birth and the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act, Cindy was strategic and knew how to get things done.
Power to Decide was incredibly fortunate to have Cindy serve on our Public Policy Advisory Council for a number of years. We’re eternally grateful for her many excellent contributions. Whenever we’d send out a request for feedback, invite suggestions on strategy, or ask for help from our advisers, Cindy responded quickly and generously. Even when she was managing many priorities – both professional and her own health – she found a way to show up.
I also had the pleasure of co-chairing the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign Collaborative Public Policy Workgroup with Cindy for nearly the past year, which aims to achieve equity and demonstrated improvements in preterm birth. There I learned even more about her encyclopedic knowledge of state policy and her extensive network of state contacts. Again, even under very difficult circumstances – as she went through the ups and downs in her battle with ovarian cancer -- Cindy was gracious, responsive, thoughtful, and focused.
Cindy has been a model for me and many others in so many ways. There’s no doubt she has contributed immeasurably to making life better for the families she advocated for, the colleagues she worked with, her large circle of friends, her community, and her own family who was so dear to her.
I last saw Cindy about a month ago, when she, her wonderful mother, daughter, and I took a walk in our neighborhood. Her garden was producing prolific mint, which she generously shared with me. I enjoyed that mint for quite a while - in summer salads and various drinks, and I thought fondly of Cindy each time. It was refreshing and made everything around it so much better -- just like Cindy.
Details about ways to honor Cindy can be found here.