Mary Payton, Health Educator, Indianapolis Healthy Start

“Grassroots programs, as well as faith-based efforts, can make a significant difference in the health of our communities. They are critical to increasing awareness about challenges like infant mortality rates.”

As a health educator for the Minority Health Coalition of Marion County and the Indianapolis Healthy Start Program, Mary Payton specializes in initiatives that meet a wide range of needs throughout the community. For more than 10 years, she has served in this role — hosting community presentations, events and consultations to help people throughout the area lead healthier lifestyles. Her work specifically focuses on health issues impacting women, infants and their families.

Mary believes in a healthy start for every child born in Marion County. “I want to make sure that every baby born is healthy and is able to see their 366th day of life,” Mary says.

She says turning around the infant mortality rates in Marion County and throughout Indiana continues to require hard work and many people working together. “It takes a village. We still have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation, especially among African Americans,” she says. “Right now, the infant mortality rate is hovering around 15 per 1,000 births. We have a lot of work to do.”

In her role as Health Educator for MHCMC and Indianapolis Healthy Start, Mary hosts educational classes on parenting, safe sleep techniques, prenatal care and healthier lifestyles.

For many years, Mary has had a deep passion for serving those in need and matching them with the necessary resources that can help them most. In recognition of her dedication to this ongoing work, she has been recognized with numerous awards and appointments to numerous community and faith-based organizations.

Mary holds a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from Martin University. She also has a master’s degree in Community Psychology, along with several certifications.