Debbi Simmons Harris

Joshua Harris was born eight weeks early, an example of the disparities occurring in medical care for African American mothers in pregnancy, labor and delivery. Josh had a Grade IV brain hemorrhage at birth and was for a time the sickest baby in the neonatal intensive care unit. The Harris family’s story is one of  how tribulation builds courage and changes lives.

Other than caring and managing her family, as well as an ICU-level nursing staff in her home, Debbi is a Director for the incoming Board of The Arc US; a family navigation specialist for Family Voices of Minnesota; a family leader for the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) to Advance Care for Children with Medical Complexity (CMC); and, a Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs National Research Network (CYSCHNet) partner.  Debbi is a public policy advocate as well, working with the national Workers Advisory Group (WAG) for Paid Leave and the National Caregiver Advocacy Collaborative of the National Alliance for Caregiving.

An undergraduate of Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, Debbi has an M.S. in Health Science Administration, and an M.A. in English and Creative Writing, with a concentration in Nonfiction, Narrative Medicine. She has published in Today’s Caregiver magazine, Kaleidoscope, Existere—-Journal of Literature and Arts, at, JAMA Pediatrics as a co-author, and has co-authored a manuscript on COVID-19 and children with disabilities to be published in the Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine.

Debbi lives in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and cares for Josh with her spouse Victor, a retired USMC officer with 33 years of service.