My Year as a Philanthropy Fellow: 5 Favorite Moments

At the de Beaumont Foundation’s 2018 holiday party, Katie Sellers (right) was the proud winner of the “I Love Rachel” shirt, created by Lizzie Corcoran (left).

By Rachel Locke

My time as the ASPPH Philanthropy Fellow at the de Beaumont Foundation has ended, and as I begin my new role as a program associate, I wanted to look back at some of my favorite moments, projects, and events I got to be a part of as a Fellow. After graduating with my MPH in Environmental Health Sciences from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, I didn’t really know what types of initiatives I would get to work on, but the experience far exceeded my expectations. Here are five highlights:

1. The Foundation’s First-Ever Tweetup

I had participated in Twitter chats but had never attended an in-person Tweetup until the event we held with the American Public Health Association (APHA) at the APHA annual meeting in San Diego in November. There was something about the in-person experience, held outdoors at sunset with food and drinks, that brought out the best in the Tweeters. While it addressed important issues, the chat also brought out the creativity and humor among public health folks, as demonstrated by the memes and GIFs we got In response to questions like “How would you describe public health to a child?” and “How confident are you that health in the U.S. is moving in the right direction?”

2. Launch of the 40 Under 40 Program

The de Beaumont Foundation announced in early November a new initiative – the first-ever list of “40 Under 40 in Public Health.” This initiative provides a platform for young public health professionals to apply to be recognized as a public health leader who is showcasing new ideas, creative problem solving and innovative solutions. There are lists like this for people in healthcare, but our list will specifically showcase leaders who recognize that health is more than healthcare. As we have been working on this new initiative, we have received many nominations for candidates. It’s been uplifting to see how many people want to showcase the work of their supervisors and colleagues, and the Foundation is excited for the announcement of the first cohort of 40 Under 40 winners in the spring.

3. Unleashing the Creativity and Innovation in the Governmental Public Health Workforce

Using data from our PH WINS survey (Public Health Interests and Needs Survey), the Foundation identifies high- and low-scoring metrics that help to characterize and understand the governmental public health workforce. When asked if creativity and innovation are rewarded in their workplace, fewer than half of public health professionals said yes. Without fostering creativity and innovation, the public health workforce will be unable to tackle new and complex health challenges. Public health professionals who say creativity and innovation are rewarded are more likely to be satisfied with their job and are less likely to consider leaving their organization. This new research on creativity and innovation is a call to action for public health leaders to think about how to foster creativity and innovation in their workforce to help improve workplace measures and to drive change in health departments.

4. Attending the BUILD Health Challenge 2018 Annual Convening

In September, I attended the 2018 annual convening for the BUILD Health Challenge. I heard from BUILD sites and grantees about the population health problems they are tackling and how the unique BUILD collaborative model has catalyzed their work. Sharing learnings across BUILD sites, real-time examples of cross-sector collaborations in practice and an in-depth look at systems thinking for community health were just a few of the topics I was able to delve into at the meeting.

5. Seeing Policy Change in Action

One of the most inspiring things about working at the Foundation has been celebrations of local policy successes. For example, working with CityHealth, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, partners in San Antonio passed a new Tobacco 21 policy and Baltimore signed a Complete Streets policy. Many other cities are working gaining or improving their bronze, silver, or gold medal status with CityHealth. Members of the Big Cities Health Coalition like San Francisco moved policies banning the sale of menthol cigarettes and all flavors of e-cigarettes, and members are taking up gun violence prevention as a key issue to focus on. These movements and concrete policy wins that will protect population health are public health policy successes that can be replicated and scaled across the nation.

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Written by Rachel Locke

Rachel Locke, MPH, CPH, is a Program Associate at the de Beaumont Foundation. She manages grants across de Beaumont’s portfolios and assesses the impact of the Foundation’s programs. Before starting her current role, she completed the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) Philanthropy Fellowship at the Foundation.