Asare named CEO of N.J. Maternal and Infant Health Innovation Authority

Creating a first-of-its-kind in the nation, New Jersey officially launched the state Maternal and Infant Health Innovation Authority on Wednesday. Heading it as CEO and president will be Lisa Asare.

The division will oversee the New Jersey Maternal and Infant Health Innovation Center based in Trenton, and will be the arm of government that continues the vital work of Nurture NJ, according to Gov. Phil Murphy and first lady Tammy Murphy, who made the announcement at the inaugural public board meeting held in Trenton.

The role will mark the beginning of a cabinet-level position working on supporting maternal and infant health.

“I am pleased to announce the appointment of Lisa Asare as president and chief executive officer of the Maternal and Infant Health Innovation Authority,” Gov. Murphy said. “Lisa’s track record in supporting mothers, babies and families of our state over the past two-plus decades makes her the ideal candidate to oversee our state’s progression in the maternal and infant health space. I am certain her work leading the authority will continue to move our state in the right direction for years to come.”

“I’ve had the honor of working closely with Lisa Asare, who has been instrumental to the success of our Nurture NJ initiative,” Tammy Murphy said. “The strategic plan, which she co-authored, has been our guiding light in establishing New Jersey as a national model and gold standard for maternal and infant health. I cannot think of a better individual to lead the authority, especially at such a crucial time, as we move closer to breaking ground on the Maternal and Infant Health Innovation Center in Trenton. The mothers and babies in our state are in the excellent hands with Lisa, who will make sure the critical work of Nurture NJ lives on well past our administration.

“Today’s board meeting marks a major milestone in the years of work by countless partners who have dedicated themselves to improving maternal health across the state. In New Jersey, we respect and cherish women and mothers, and the work of this board serves as an expression of those values.”

“It is my honor and privilege to be appointed as the first president and chief executive officer of the MIHIA,” Asare said. “It has been my life’s work to deliver programs focusing on the health and well-being of birthing individuals, children and families. I am passionate about advocating for communities that face disparities and inequities, not just related to maternal and infant health outcomes, but on all elements that are fundamental to living a full life. It is my honor and a full circle moment for me to step into this role and build on the momentum of so many maternal advocates across the state.”

For over two decades, Asare has served in various roles in New Jersey public service at the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services. Most recently, Asare served as the deputy commissioner of health services, where she oversaw the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services, which administers NJ FamilyCare, oversaw the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and led the Department of Human Services’ work on the Nurture NJ initiative. Additionally, Asare supported the Catastrophic Illness in Children’s Relief Fund.

Previously, Asare served in the Department of Health as the assistant commissioner for the Division of Family Health Services, where she oversaw units that provide public health programs and services, including maternal and child health, special child health, early intervention services, WIC nutrition services, and SNAP-Ed. It was in this role where she co-authored the first lady’s Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan, which was unveiled in January 2021 and serves as a blueprint to make New Jersey the safest, most equitable state in the nation to deliver and raise a baby.