Maternal and Child Health

The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Epidemiology Section collaborates with the Early Childhood and Family Support Division programs and MCH partners to effectively use data in monitoring and addressing maternal and child health issues in Montana. The section analyzes and interprets data for use in program planning, evaluation, assessment, and policy development.


  • Population Health Needs Assessment and Surveillance: To assess the status, needs, and disparities within the maternal and child health population through data collection, data analytics, and GIS.
  • Measurement and Reporting: To measure and report the impact of health conditions and respond to data requests by agency executives, legislators, federal and local partners, advocates, media, and the public-at-large.
  • Program and Intervention Evaluation: To measure the impact and return on investment of MCH programming and highlight potential improvements for future interventions.
  • Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS): To collect, analyze, and report Montana-based data on maternal behaviors and experiences before, during, and after pregnancy.
  • State Systems Development Initiative (SSDI): To develop, enhance, and expand maternal and child health data capacity in Montana and provide epidemiological support for the Title V MCH Block Grant program.

Dr. Miriam Naiman-Sessions, PhD, MS, is the State of Montana’s Lead MCH Epidemiologist and supervises the MCH Epidemiology Section. She completed her PhD in Sociology in 2013, with a research emphasis on the social determinants of maternal health and has over 10 years of experience in the field of public health and early childhood education. Her experience includes; administering and analyzing population-based surveillance systems including the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS); establishing data linkages across multiple surveillance systems for the purpose of cross-program, longitudinal analysis; designing and implementing evaluations for evidence-based programs; and conducting statewide needs assessments for MCH programs. Dr. Naiman-Sessions has been nationally recognized for her significant contributions to health of Montana’s women, children, and families (AMCHP Emerging MCH Professional Award, 2019). In her free time, she likes to garden, cross-country ski, camp, float the Missouri river, and explore Montana with her family.

Kris Larson, GISP, is the Maternal and Child Health GIS Analyst. Kris has over 20 years’ experience working in GIS, both in the public and private sector. She has won national and international recognition for her GIS work. Kris has a B.A. from the University of Montana in Geography with a Cartographic Emphasis. Kris has extensive experience in training others in GIS, including numerous ½ or full-day workshops, the Introduction to GIS and Cartography courses at Carroll College, and tutorials for individuals. Outside of work, she enjoys kayaking and participating in ultraruns, even though she doesn’t run (She calls them “catered hikes”).

Walker Hopkins, MS, is the Family and Community Health Bureau Epidemiologist. Walker is a formally trained statistician, holding a dual B.S. in Statistics and Mathematical Science from Montana Tech and a M.S. in Statistics from MSU-Bozeman. Walker has previous experience working as a Data Analyst for the Legislative Fiscal Division performing forecasting for Montana’s criminal offender population and Montana state expenditures, as well as, an Actuary for the Office of the State Auditor regulating insurance products and rate changes. He has developed strong interest in keeping the women and children of Montana healthy, and enjoys using his expertise in statistics to collaborate on methodologically complex projects. When not in the office, he can be found hiking, golfing, fishing, or hanging out with his wife and dog.

Silvana Hackett, MPA, is the Healthy Montana Families (HMF) Program Epidemiologist. In this role she is responsible for defining state level data collection policies and outcomes measure calculations, conducting program evaluations, supporting continuous quality improvement processes, and conducting analysis of home visiting performance outcome trends using programmatic data, vital records, Medicaid and child maltreatment data. Prior to her current role as the HMF Epidemiologist, Silvana worked for the Montana Preschool Development Grant (PDG), evaluating early childhood classroom environments and collaborating with the Montana Head Start Association to integrate Head Start and K-12 data to enable the analysis of early childhood outcomes. Her past work has also involved supporting the work of the Best Beginnings Council of Yellowstone County by conducting needs assessment, program evaluation, and providing data support to coalition members. Silvana lives with her husband, toddler, two dogs, two cats and is the reluctant owner of a heard of goats. In her free time, she enjoys napping, scrapbooking and spending time outdoors.

Carrie Jo Riordan, MPH, is the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) Epidemiologist. Carrie Jo completed her MPH with an emphasis in Epidemiology and Social and Behavioral Science in 2015 and has since held positions as a research leader at an academic research institution as well as her current position as an Epidemiologist. Prior to her work in public health, Carrie Jo worked in psychology research and for 9 years at an environmental services consulting firm. Carrie Jo has experience in project management, Institutional Review Board (IRB) administration, study and sample design, survey instrument development, data management, and analysis. Her public health interests are diverse and include evaluation, maternal, child, and adolescent health, global health related to environmental policy and water sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and human subjects protections. She was born at 7,300 feet above sea level and feels most at home surrounded by mountains and pine trees.

Maren Weber, BA, is the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) Data Manager. Maren completed her BA in History with a minor in Psychology after a broad education through the Montana University System with a short stint at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks. She has spent several years working as an adjudicator and hearings officer for Social Security Disability, working primarily with medical records to determine the objective severity of individuals reported disabilities. Prior to that, she worked in Admissions and Registration at Helena College, where she learned the foundations of accurate records management and the importance that data plays in shaping an institutions future. Outside of work, she is married to a wonderful man who owns and operates a busy automotive and fabrication business and mothers an exceptionally active and deceptively charming toddler. They both keep her perpetually busy with off-roading, boating, camping, traveling, tumbling, exploring, and are in constant motion. She and her dog, Nova, can often be found hiding from their antics under the covers of the bed.


Miriam Naiman-Sessions

Senior MCH Epidemiologist Supervisor

406 444-1921

Have a data request? Please email