Q&A with Sheila Baxter, president of the Public Health Alumni Association

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Sheila BaxterSheila Baxter MPH ’10 is President of the Public Health Alumni Association. She is also Senior Director of Business Development for Healthy Communities Institute, a Xerox company, where she is responsible for the development and growth of partner relationships nationwide. Before joining Xerox, she worked for the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization in Western Samoa where she carried out national policies and projects aimed at improving community health. Her interests include community service, guest lecturing at UC Berkeley, and international travel.

Q. What motivated you to become involved in the Public Health Alumni Association?

A.When joining the PHAA Board, close to four years ago, I knew right away this would be the prime opportunity to stay connected and continue to serve the school that helped me get to where I am today. My motivation to join the board stemmed from wanting to stay engaged with the activities going on within the School of Public Health and finding ways to mentor current students as it relates to identifying job or internship opportunities. As president, I am very excited to be serving on a board full of passionate game changers whose mission is to also find opportunities to connect and give back to both students and our treasured alumni.

Q. What would you like to see PHAA accomplish while you are president?

A. As president, I would like to establish a framework that can be replicated and expanded upon for those serving on the board in terms to come. With that in mind, this is the first year we consolidated our subcommittees to be the following: 1) Events and Networking, 2) Professional Development, and 3) Diversity and Scholarship. Each subcommittee plans to accomplish various goals. The Events and Networking subcommittee intends to throw several alumni and student networking events along with co-sponsor events with student government and the Center for Public Health Practice & Leadership representatives. The Professional Development subcommittee is finding ways to partner with the school on mentorship and skill-based workshops. The Diversity and Scholarship committee is aiming to raise $10,000 for a Diversity Scholarship via a crowdsourcing event being hosted in the month of February. We have also created a Master Calendar of Events so that students and alumni are aware of activities going at the school throughout the year. Finally, I plan to attend ASPPH next year to learn from other school’s alumni associations on best practices to bring back and share with the board.

Q. What are some of the challenges facing PHAA? What are some of the opportunities?

A. The biggest challenge we continually face is finding ways to communicate with alums. Last year we established the role of a communication officer, which Victoria George currently fills, as an opportunity for the board to work more closely with the school on getting messages out to alums. As part of her role, Vicki works with the School to develop content of particular interest to alumni to be published in Berkeley Health Monthly. The board is also considering crafting a quarterly PHAA newsletter to send out to the alumni list serve as another means to stay connected.

Q. What would you like to say to your classmates and fellow alumni?

A. First and foremost, thank you for your contributions and keeping UC Berkeley School of Public Health proud! We would love to hear from you around ideas of what else the board can do to serve you or if you’d like to volunteer on one of our subcommittees. Please feel free to contact me directly at: Sheila.s.baxter@gmail.com. Also, we are always in search of new board members. If interested, please submit your CV and application form by March 1, 2017, for next years term starting July of 2017.

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