PHX Perspectives | April 9th, 2019
I founded Circle of Health International in my last semester at BUSPH. In fact, a group of other alum who were graduating that semester helped me to come up with the name and original logo in the library at the med school when we should’ve been studying for finals. It was a great escape and release at a time when as upcoming graduates we were all unsure of what our professional lives would come to look like. In the fall of 2003, the Iraq war had started just months before and many of us wanted to be there, on the ground, making a difference for the thousands of refugees fleeing Iraq into neighboring Jordan. We wanted to put our skills, our talents, that we’d honed at BUSPH to work, and we were impatient to do so.
Today, 15 years after graduating from BUSPH and having recently left my post as CEO at COHI, I can say with that specific kind of confidence that hind sight allows, we need not have been so eager. While many of the humanitarian crisis settings that we studied and watched as they emerged in 2004 still require our attention, there are new arenas, as well, and sadly, there always will be. COHI is based in Texas and I never would’ve guess that the work I did with COHI internationally along borders in the Middle East would prove itself to be very useful in 2019 as I work with US/Mexico border based groups from Texas to California to support the asylees arriving here each day. Texas also has some of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the US, enabling me to apply the strategies learned in global settings like Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, and Sudan to keep mothers and babies safe here.
The tactical and programmatic skills we acquired at BUSPH equipped me with the capacity to make a real difference, and I am grateful for that. That said, when I was at BUSPH learning to write USAID style grants, Facebook didn’t exist yet. Neither did LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter. These are essential tools in my fundraising arsenal that I deploy daily as I work to raise funds for the public health programs that I am involved with. Understanding how emerging platforms and technologies can help us raise the funds needed to save lives is exciting to me and I love passing these skills on to other fundraisers in public health as diversified funding streams are what is needed to truly sustain impact and programs.
My post-founder reality is sunny, and I am thrilled about the opportunities I have now to mentor and teach the next generation of change makers. I take this role very seriously and look forward to helping to steward and champion emerging leaders in public health, advocacy, and activism as they lead the movements we are counting on make the change we all want to see in the world.
Join Sera during the PHX Summer Institute this June for her short program, “Online Fundraising Bootcamp for Public Health Programs and Non-Profits”. Click here for more information.