Naima Cozier

With JSI since 2007

Naima-Cozier-240

What inspired you to work in public health?

My maternal and paternal grandparents were immigrants who instilled the importance of education in their children. Both my parents became anthropologists and raised my brother and sister and me with the philosophy that we had an obligation to help those who did not have the privileges we did. I always knew I wanted to work on reducing health disparities and assumed that medical school would give me the credibility to become a leader in health. I had a change of heart when I came to the realization that I didn’t want to serve individual patients; I wanted to improve the health of entire communities, and decided public health was the way to attain that goal.

Where did you start your career?

After public health school, I got a job at the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies (IWES), a woman of color reproductive and sexual health organization in New Orleans, where I coordinated and implemented an HIV-prevention program for young African American and Latina women. After Hurricane Katrina, I relocated to Atlanta and worked at the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

“JSI provides a forum for bringing local perspective to the national level.”

Naima hiking with nieces Elisa and Jadziah and nephew Nick in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Naima hiking with nieces Elisa and Jadziah and nephew Nick in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

How did you hear about JSI?

I had heard of JSI but only within the context of international health. Though one of my public health school concentrations was global health, I wanted to focus my efforts on addressing poverty, health inequity, and injustices in the U.S. JSI’s strong reputation for quality public health work internationally sparked my interest in doing the same domestically.

What has your JSI experience been like?

JSI provides a forum for bringing local perspective to the national level. Most of my current colleagues have worked at the community level and bring that insight to every JSI project. Our experiences in—and as members of—the community keep us mindful of how our work will affect communities even as we meet our clients’ needs.

A Project to Remember

The Project Helping Organizations Provide Effective HIV/AIDS Prevention for Women and Girls (Project HOPE) worked with community-based organizations (CBOs) to increase their awareness of gender as a crosscutting and key social determinant of health. I often describe my work on that project as my gender awakening because it helped me realize how significantly gender affects our daily decisions, relationships, and interactions. The project even made me reflect upon the gender norms I pass on to my nieces and nephews. Project HOPE not only built the capacity of CBOs, it enhanced my personal ability to think critically about gender.

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