Alexia Eslan

With JSI since 2007

aeslanWhat was your life like before you came to JSI?

My father can’t stay put so I’ve moved often in my life. I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, but when I was four, as apartheid grew, my parents, my sister, and I moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where our family is from. As a teenager, I moved to the U.S. with my family, and in college I lived in Paris. I inherited my parent’s love of adventure, and the exposure to different cultures and languages from a young age has shaped my personality.

Did that background influence your career?

I pursued a degree in international business thinking that it would allow me to follow my passion. I realized along the way, however, that what is most important to me—having a positive impact in the world—was not being fulfilled by that line of work. As I was trying to figure out my next step, I temped at an organization in Denver, Colorado, that provided health care to people who had none. I soon realized health was my calling.

“I am still a bit of an adrenaline junkie so I still find it exhilarating to write a last-minute proposal, travel from one end of the country to the other to conduct a training, and present at a conference-sometimes all in one week!”

How did you get connected with JSI?

While getting my MBA in health administration, I had heard about JSI through a friend (now colleague) and whenever she would talk about her job, I would think, “What an incredible place!” A few years later, she mentioned that there might be an opening at JSI and I thought, “This is fate.” I interviewed and was hired to manage the CDC-funded HIV Prevention Capacity Building Assistance project. At that time our funding focused on helping health departments and community-based organizations provide comprehensive HIV prevention services to Latinos.

What kind of work do you do now?

I’ve been at JSI for over seven years, and I still work on a hybrid of that project, as well as a multitude of others. I help community health centers streamline their practices, become patient-centered medical homes, and expand their network and services to align with the Affordable Care Act. I also work with organizations to improve their HIV treatment and prevention services, and help them enhance their cultural awareness and responsiveness.

Rob and Ale_Avon0112_1

Alexia and her husband Rob.

What kinds of things do you enjoy doing?

Like my father, I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so I still find it exhilarating to write a last-minute proposal, travel from one end of the country to the other to conduct a training, and present at a conference—sometimes all in one week! At times, it’s just as thrilling as my other hobbies—paragliding, downhill skiing, riding motorcycles, sailing in open waters, and raising two children.

What has working at JSI been like?

Everywhere I’ve lived as an adult people ask me where I’m from and then question me when I say Argentina. It took me a while to realize that I’m from many places and no one place defines me. JSI is a bit like that—no one project defines anyone here, we work on many projects helping many different organizations. I can’t ever foresee leaving JSI. It is as much a part of me as are my family, friends, and home.

A Project to Remember

When I started working on the Capacity Building Assistance project one of my colleagues said, “Do you realize that when this project is over, you will be five years older?” After we won the rebid, he said to me, “You realize that when this project is over, you will be another five years older?” If you continue with JSI and this project, you will be able to tell your age by how long you have been on this one project!” I remember thinking, Who knows where I’ll be in five or ten years?” It’s taken me six years to realize that he was right. Our projects are as much part of our lives as everything else is. We are sort of married to them!

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