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Leadership Institute Alumni Mentor Emerging Public Health Leaders

To help emerging public health leaders apply new skills and respond to changing times, NWCPHP matches Northwest Public Health Leadership Institute alumni with current scholars.
Leadership Institute Alumni Mentor Emerging Public Health Leaders

2018 Leadership Institute scholars converse at the first onsite session, in May

To help emerging public health leaders apply new skills and respond to changing times, NWCPHP matches Northwest Public Health Leadership Institute alumni with current scholars.

August 8, 2018

NWCPHP’s Northwest Public Health Leadership Institute has been operating since 2003, so it’s no surprise that many Leadership Institute alumni in the region have become public health leaders and key advocates. Now, many of those alumni want to give back and help current Leadership Institute scholars succeed.

Through the Leadership Institute’s alumni mentoring component, now in its second year, alumni connect one-on-one with program scholars to help them apply what they learn in the program and plan for the future. Through alumni mentoring, NWCPHP and Leadership Institute alumni hope to help emerging public health leaders make decisions about their careers and respond to changing times, which is particularly important as the field addresses its needs for succession planning and change management.

Interest on both sides has been strong. Since NWCPHP asked alumni whether they might be interested in informally mentoring a 2018 Leadership Institute scholar, over 80 alumni have responded affirmatively—four times as many as the program has scholars. Leadership Institute alumni can also connect with scholars and each other in other ways, such as via the Leadership Institute alumni group on LinkedIn.

Some scholars were previously familiar with the work of their mentor before being matched, and are pleased to make a stronger connection. Laura Luginbill, MS, RD, Assessment and Healthy Communities Director at Island County Public Health in Washington, was enthusiastic about being matched with a leader whose work she already admired. “My alumni mentor is a great match for me,” said Luginbill. “In my five years at Island County Public Health, she has provided state-level support to me twice, on two separate projects, but we’ve never met. I am so interested in the work she’s done at a state level, all of which lines up with my interests, so I’m thrilled about the excuse to get to know her better.”

Scholars are paired with a mentor based on factors such as shared professional interests, or because the mentor has experience from which they can draw insights to help a scholar navigate a particular role, career challenge, or goal. The matching happens before scholars start their second onsite, which takes place this week, from August 8–10. Mentors and mentees typically have one conversation during the summer and another around the end of the program year.

Scholars ultimately decide the most valuable way to use the connection. “One thing I really appreciated about my alumni mentor was her lens on undoing institutional racism from within a health organization,” said 2017 Leadership Institute alumna Tatsuko Go Hollo, MSW, Developmental Systems Strategic Coordinator at the King County Developmental Disabilities Division. “Though we have very different positions, we have had similar experiences in pushing racial equity initiatives, analyses, and lenses in our work. It was really helpful to hear about what has worked well for her and get advice about how I can approach barriers that bureaucratic institutions can present when it comes to making changes.” Go Hollo, in turn, is now volunteering as an alumni mentor to a 2018 Leadership Institute scholar.

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