Communications Associate for AIDS.gov, JSI Consultant
How did you come to work for JSI?
I had just finished college in my home state of California when I took a summer internship with JSI’s Health Services Division. My family thought it was ridiculous for me to move to cold Boston, but I was ready for a change.
What did you do as part of your internship?
Most of my internship was spent working on the Ryan White technical assistance grant rebid. I often worked late into the night. I didn’t mind though because when we stayed late, we’d get dinner and a cab ride home. I was the Excel expert on the proposal team. That and my willingness to give up my summer nights were, I’m pretty sure, the reasons that my internship became a full-time position.
California to Boston is a big switch! How did you manage it?
The Boston summers were fine, but winter was another thing. During my first blizzard, I realized that Boston probably wasn’t the right fit for a California girl. I stuck it out for two years but when I heard that there was an opening for a parallel position in the D.C. office, I muscled my way in. For another two years I worked on the Managed Care Technical Assistance contract.
“When I was in the Boston office, I developed my observational skills on the Coast Guard lifejacket study… I got to go to some really wonderful places that I wouldn’t have otherwise visited.”
But that’s not the current position you have. Where did you go from there?
In 2004, I left JSI to get an MPH in health behavior/health education at UNC-Chapel Hill. After that, I moved back to D.C., got involved with the local chapter of the American Association of Public Health and eventually became president. Much of the D.C. chapter’s work involves HIV, and I kept running into former JSI colleagues. One thing led to another, and in 2011 I was rehired at JSI because AIDS.gov wanted to fill the communications director position with someone in D.C. As a D.C.-based, erstwhile Health Services employee, I was uniquely qualified. After being here for three years, I have moved on to other projects that can use my digital skills.
How long were you gone from JSI?
There was a seven-year gap between my JSI stints.
How is your position now different than what you did before?
It’s different this time because, as one of the few HS person in the D.C. office, most of my communication is virtual. Our AIDS.gov project team is spread over four U.S. offices, and I only see these colleagues a few times a year. I get a ton of emails because I have to be online all day in order to communicate with my team, which means that I can’t walk around and talk to people in my actual office much. I’m glad they are there, though.
How do you manage having a predominantly digital job?
I have to work really hard not to be online all the time. I’ve gotten really good at compartmentalizing my social media spaces. My Twitter and LinkedIn accounts are my work/business/public health outlets. Instagram and Facebook are my private social network spheres. If I haven’t accepted your Facebook friend request, don’t take it personally; you can always follow me on Twitter.
What do you do outside of work?
I live with my husband Brent and my dog Marley. When we aren’t online (okay, even when we are!), our life revolves around food. Brent is a semi-professional chef so we like to try new restaurants and go to food and wine festivals, but we also do a fair amount of cooking at home.
Do you think you’ll ever move back to the West Coast?
I do miss California in August, when the D.C. humidity is unbearable. But there is always the JSI San Francisco office if I want to go home—without leaving JSI!