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.
What’s a piece of advice you’ve received that has impacted your career journey?
One piece of advice from my law professors that always stuck with me was to always treat everyone with respect: Adopt an attitude of civility and respectful discourse even with people you disagree with; treat everyone with dignity and respect from your clients to everyone that works in the building . It might seem simple and obvious but we live in an increasingly polarized society where civility often becomes lost. I now pass this advice along to the law students I teach now and all our interns and fellows.
Do you have a mentor you’d like to recognize? If so, what would you like to say to them?
So many wonderful mentors. Standouts are Gary Weiskopf, who I worked for at the New York State Department of Health, and Regina LaBelle who I currently work for at Georgetown. Thank you for believing in me, and modeling true servant leadership.
What advice would you give a young professional beginning their career in your field?
Two pieces of advice:
- There have been times in my journey that I worried I was dreaming too big. Life is sometimes two steps forward and one step back, but always forward again. Dream big, you never know what opportunity is waiting for you around the corner!
- Approach each new opportunity with humility and with the goal of making your boss’s job easier and your colleagues’ jobs easier. An attitude of service ensures success for all.
If you could do one thing, leave one mark, on your profession, what would it be?
I am a person in long term recovery from addiction. That lived experience has driven many of my personal and professional goals. One project we have started at Georgetown is to build a pathway for people recovery to become leaders in the policy reform space and have a true and impactful seat at the table where decisions are made. If I could leave one mark, it would be an established capacity building project to build a diverse bench and pipeline of people with lived experience to impact public policy.
Name a challenge you’ve faced and how it turned out.
Moving from the advocacy space to a government role was very challenging, however it turned out to be an incredible learning experience. I am now a big believer in a role in public service for anyone the wants to make an impact!
What is your ultimate career goal as you see it today?
The ultimate goal is to impact public policy in a way that helps people live and thrive.
What alternate role(s) would you be interested in pursuing?
The role of mom to my little kiddos 🙂
What core values are important to succeeding in your professional field?
The most clear driving core value has been an attitude of servant leadership
Ten years ago, I thought I would be …
I originally wanted to be a speech writer ! In my role working for the Governor of New York, I was able to contribute to some of the Governor’s speeches.
Ten years from now, I want to be …
In ten years I would love to continue the work I’m doing , and hopefully by then I will have found some semblance of balance between my career and being a mom! Dare to dream, I know 🙂
Would you want to acknowledge any family/friends/partners (beyond mentors)? If so, who?
So many incredible people have believed in my along the way on this wild and beautiful path – my parents and family, countless friends and colleagues, my wonderful husband John, and our new little one Jack.
Please indicate your hometown, place of study, degree field(s), and an interesting fact about yourself.
My hometown is Houston, Texas. I have a bachelors degree in Public Relations from the University of Houston and a law degree from Seton Hall University School of Law. I am a first generation American on my father’s side – when he moved to the US one of his first jobs was selling flowers on the street! Both my parents instilled a strong work ethic and sense of family and community in me.
Interview prepared by Brianna Gray
Feature Image: Shelly Weizman, personal archive