Elizabeth Costello

With JSI since 2011

elizabethcostello

Health Services Consultant, JSI Boston

You’ve had a long road to get to JSI in Boston. What did that path look like?

Sometimes people are surprised by the number of states I’ve lived in over the past 11 years (North Carolina, Florida, New York, Arizona, and now Massachusetts), but each place represents a set of experiences that have shaped my path to JSI and career in public health. When I graduated from college with a degree in journalism, my dream job was creating multimedia packages for the New York Times website, but given the lack of traditional journalism jobs, I ended up working on a web-based training project at a journalism school. I eventually moved to New York City and found work at a digital ad agency, but despite its allures, it didn’t take me long to realize that advertising wasn’t for me. I was lucky to land another job working on the Sesame Street website, but the content didn’t hold my attention, so I set out to discover what did.

What brought you from communication work to public health?

I love cooking, eating, and reading about food and toyed with the idea of becoming a nutritionist or health journalist. As I began to devour information about healthy food through books, classes, conferences, and volunteering, I learned more about the systems that influence our entire environment, and subsequently, our health. I realized that an MPH could be my ticket to a career working to improve those systems. I left NYC, followed my (now) husband to Tucson, and enrolled in the MPH program at the University of Arizona.

“I’m proud of the work we do here and wish that everyone could have a career that makes a positive mark on the world.”

What opportunities did you have to explore your passions in Arizona?

In Tucson, I was still focused on improving the food environment and complemented my graduate school assignments with volunteer work at the local food bank’s farmers’ market. I also took every opportunity to develop a website or write a newsletter and was thrilled to discover the many overlaps between communications and public health in my coursework.

Elizabeth and Riley.

Elizabeth and Riley.

How did you find out about JSI?

When I graduated, I had the option to stay at the university as a program coordinator and gave myself a month to search for other jobs. It was then that a friend forwarded me the JSI job posting for a health communication specialist. One month later I was piling into my station wagon with my husband, our dog, and two cats, with the desert behind us and Boston on the horizon!

What do you like about working at JSI?

I’m proud of the work we do here and wish that everyone could have a career that makes a positive mark on the world. While I missed most of JSI’s formative years, I’m thrilled to be a part of its future and can’t wait to see where we go next.

 

A Project to Remember

I had only been at JSI a few months when I went to New York City to conduct an onsite social media training with Iris House, a community-based organization that provides services and advocacy for women, families, and AIDS-affected communities. We helped them develop a social media strategy to support their prevention and outreach programs. A year later the director of Iris House had become such a prolific social media user that she participated on a panel about new media and HIV at the U.S. Conference on AIDS. It is really gratifying to work with people and know that you are giving them useful information and skills!

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