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Who is public health?

Happy National Volunteer Week!

April 21-27, 2024

Thank you to our 1,000+ volunteer leaders, who commit their time and effort to advance ѻý's vision of optimal, equitable health and well-being for all. We appreciate you!

Want to volunteer with ѻý? Check out current openings for leadership appointments, Sections, Executive Board and Student Assembly.

ISC Steering Committee members smiling for a group photo inside

Spotlight on volunteers: Why and how do you give your your time to ѻý?

APHAowes its strengths to the thousands of members who volunteer their time to the Association. In fall 2022, The Nation’s Health asked some of those volunteers to share why they devote themselves to the organization and talk about the work they do. Members cited their passion for making a difference, helping others and the ability to work with like-minded advocates to improve health.

For example, volunteer Kim Townsend, MHA, said she was inspired by the spirit of her “extraordinary” APHAcolleagues.

“Their passion, dedication, courage and commitment to creating the healthiest nation are ever-empowering,” Townsend said. “And yet, it is their endless compassion, understanding, kindness and empathy toward each other that leaves me in awe.”

Read volunteer testimonials below, and share yours to help inspire others. Thank you to all of our member volunteers!

Jean Armas, MPH

International Health Section

Jean ArmasI've been volunteering for various organizations since I was a child. It's been a lot of fun being able to learn from and meet other Section members through my volunteer work.

As communications chair, I help our leadership share important news and updates on Section governance and activities. Most importantly, our committee showcases our members' perspectives and expertise by sharing interviews, articles and updates about them through our social media channels, our blog and our newsletter. As Section councilor, I work with our other councilors to discuss and make decisions on important Section issues as well as to help set up and run our Section booth at the Annual Meeting.

Raga Ayyagari, MS

Community Health Planning and Policy Development Section

Raga Ayyagari photoI'm grateful for the opportunity to learn from and contribute to a community of diverse and dedicated public health professionals through ѻý. Through the past several years, I have volunteered with the CHPPD Section, facilitating our annual awards and recognition, helping coordinate our Day of Action to highlight the work of local community-based organizations, and supporting other initiatives.

My goals for volunteering are to honor and celebrate the important contributions of public health professional; connect with and learn from people working on public health issues from a variety of topics and approaches; and to continue to hone my leadership and professional development skills.

Kaitlyn Esposito, MPH

Community Health Planning and Policy Development and Disability Sections

Kaitlyn EspositoI feel very strongly that public health education is critical to the continuation of a healthy, happy society. I'm driven, specifically, to volunteer with APHAbecause I can only do so much good at my job, since it is focused on a very small area of public health.

My volunteerism with APHAas a whole allows me to make a difference in various areas of public health work and education. My goal is to ensure that all public health practitioners are continuously reminded of the intersectionality of public health and science.

It can be easy to fail to "see the forest for the trees" as it were, when we go back to our day-to-day lives in our public health work. My goal is to ensure that neither I nor any other practitioners forget to be inclusive in their ongoing work.

I am passionate about accurately and responsibly communicating information about chronic disease, chronic pain and public health.

Erica Hamilton, MPH

Mental Health Section

Erica HamiltonI volunteer with APHAbecause I see the boundless opportunities available to work with other like-minded public health professionals on important topics involving mental health. I have enjoyed working on two APHApolicy statements focused on mental health which have the potential to encourage systemic change.

The goal of my APHAvolunteer work is to increase awareness around and reduce the stigma related to mental illness via my representation as a person with lived experience of mental illness. People with lived experience should be involved at all levels — including leadership — of planning and implementation of programs and research involving them and should not just be included as a token team member.

I am also active in the Intersectional Council Workgroup on Suicide Prevention and recently joined the Global Maternal Child Health Network.

Inyang Uwak, MPH, DrPH

Environment Section

Inyang Kwak photoI am an environmental epidemiologist who is passionate about linking real-world environmental exposures to health effects. I find joy in helping others. I enjoy volunteering within APHAprimarily because it gives me the opportunity to meet and network with outstanding public health professionals.

The goals of my volunteer work are to learn, grow and be of service. As the co-chair for program planning in the Environment Section, I am involved in creating the call for abstracts, establishing a review committee through the call for reviewers to review abstracts, assigning abstracts to the review committee, making the final acceptance decisions of abstracts, scheduling and organizing the abstracts into sessions, scheduling business meetings and social hours, organizing invited sessions and coordinating publicity.

Andrea Medeiros, MPH, CHES

Public Health Education and Promotion Section

Andrea Medeiros photoI first started volunteering for APHAbecause of its history in public health, along with how much work was currently happening in each Section through its volunteers. I’ve always volunteered in different organizations and once I got involved in public health, I wanted to make sure I found a place that made me feel at home.

APHAhas always been welcoming to me, from the first conference calls to the first in-person meetings. I aspire to continue growing within APHAand to continue assisting my Section’s growth. I hope to inspire students and early-career professionals that there is always room to grow in public health and make sure mentoring is a part of ѻý.

I served as a Governing Councilor for two years in 2017 for PHEHP and served one year for the Aging Section in 2021. I am now on my second term serving as an Education Board member and have been a program planning chair for the last four APHAconferences.

My biggest accomplishment is that I’ve been consistently volunteering since 2015 and starting November 2022 I am the chair of the PHEHP Section.

Kim Townsend, MHA

Mental Health Section

Kim Townsend photoIt has been an honor to volunteer with ѻý. Since joining in 2019, I have shared knowledge, wisdom, hope and heart with a diverse and inclusive volunteer community and joined collaborative efforts that respond to our nation’s most pressing public health challenges.

As a member of ѻý’s Mental Health Section and the Intersectional Council Topical Workgroup on Suicide Prevention, I have unique opportunities to advocate for mental and behavioral health equity and champion emotional well-being for all. My greatest goal as a volunteer is to uphold our collective public health duty to elevate the stories of communities most impacted by our work.

I remain constantly inspired by the spirit of my extraordinary APHAcolleagues. Their passion, dedication, courage and commitment to creating the healthiest nation are ever-empowering. And yet, it is their endless compassion, understanding, kindness and empathy toward each other that leaves me in awe.

I am so proud to call APHAmy professional home, and I am even more excited to build the next 150 years of our APHAhistory together.