The inaugural 40 Under 40 Public Health Catalyst Awards aim to highlight the rising leaders and innovators of the public health field. The Boston Congress of Public Health (BCPH) and the HPHR Journal selected a group of “leaders, entrepreneurs, researchers, scientists, activists”, and doctors that will inspire the next generations of public health workers to change the world. The individuals featured for this award have not only shown excellent work performance and an extensive academic history but have also brought innovative solutions to public health issues around the world.
The NYC Daily Post interviewed 40 under 40 award winners to learn about their career journeys leading up to their nominations.
Q1. What’s a piece of advice you’ve received that has impacted your career journey?
To fail early and fail often. It has helped me lean in to change, and not attach success to perfection.
Q2. Do you have a mentor you’d like to recognize? If so, what would you like to say to them?
I had a Coach, Marte Siebenhar, during my time in a leadership boot camp who really challenged me to explore the personal reasons that I was drawn to my work in public health. I’d like to thank her for helping me get in touch with my deeper sense of purpose, and also for teaching me how to bring joy and play into the often difficult work of social justice.
Q3. What advice would you give a young professional beginning their career in your field?
Be flexible in your job title, and stay focused on aligning your personal mission with the work you are doing in the field.
Q4. If you could do one thing, leave one mark, on your profession, what would it be?
To show that collaborative work is more fulfilling, impactful, and fun than the pursuit of individual achievements.
Q5. Name a challenge you’ve faced and how it turned out.
When we started Trans SOCIAL, our team did not have any non-profit or public health experience. We made a lot of mistakes and had a lot of failed projects in the beginning. I learned a lot from Google and YouTube, and I found mentors in the community to teach me. Even though you may not have experience in a certain area, don’t let that stop you from creating something you believe is needed in the world.
Q6. What is your ultimate career goal as you see it today?
To mentor other Trans and gender-expansive people to lead and grow the organizations that I’ve helped create.
Q7. What alternate role(s) would you be interested in pursuing?
I’m interested in creative interventions for systemic barriers to health, so any role that would give me the freedom to experiment in that area would be a fun challenge.
Q8. What core values are important to succeeding in your professional field?
Accountability to the community you are serving, and the courage to try something new and risk failure.
Q9. Ten years ago, I thought I would be…
Living on a farm and working on food justice.
Q10. Ten years from now, I want to be …
Proud of the progress we’ve made in ending the HIV epidemic.
Q11. Would you want to acknowledge any family/friends/partners (beyond mentors)? If so, who?
Morgan Mayfaire, my husband, co-creator, and best friend.
Q12. Please indicate your hometown, place of study, degree field(s), and an interesting fact about yourself.
I was born in Virginia but lived in Florida and Maine as a child. I studied at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and earned a BFA degree. As far as an interesting fact about myself, I worked as a dog walker in Boston to pay for my college tuition!