Maria Church is a U.S. Navy veteran and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from Eastern Kentucky University. In the summer of 2024, Maria plans to return to EKU to begin coursework toward a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in Emergency Management and Disaster Resilience. Before coming to work for the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) in April 2022, Maria worked for Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government’s Division of Emergency Management as the Access and Functional Needs (AFN) Coordinator with the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program. Maria authored several plan annexes and best practices, adopted by 10 local jurisdictions, and was published in the annual Report to Congress. She also created numerous online accessible resources for use by caregivers and public safety officials featured on the PrepareKy.com website.
Maria began with KDPH as the Long-Term Care Preparedness Coordinator but transitioned to the role of AFN Program Coordinator in March 2023. Among her contributions to the Emergency Preparedness and Response Branch of KDPH, Maria has worked with a team of epidemiologists to develop a series of AFN map layers that will assist planners and emergency managers throughout Kentucky in responding to the needs of vulnerable population groups. The data portal can be accessed through the Kentucky Environmental Public Health Tracking website. The mother of an autistic adult and native Spanish speaker, Maria has a lifetime of lived experience working with vulnerable population groups, including seniors in long-term care facilities.