February 2012 Member Spotlight - Jeanie Holt, NHPHA President

With the birth of a new website, the NHPHA has devoted a section for our valued members to tell their public health stories. Every month, we’ll be highlighting one of our members and tell their story.

NHPHA Public Health Stories: What does public health mean to you?

February 2012 Member Spotlight - Jeanie Holt, NHPHA President

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How long have you been doing public health work?

Sometimes it is hard to decide when I started doing “public health work”. I can remember cleaning up trash, building and repairing hiking trails, and taking around flyers for polio vaccination days as a child! Public health and health promotion has been a part of my life ever since. But more formally, I really began working in public health in 2000 when the NH Minority Health Coalition hired me to direct a CDC grant to plan and test community interventions to prevent diabetes and hypertension in Latino and African-descendent communities in Hillsboro County.

How did you first get involved with NHPHA?

I attended NHPHA annual meetings for the first time in 2005 when Kathy Mandeville was Association President. Now, Kathy and I are the same age but I remember seeing her as so knowledgeable and capable and feeling pretty young and inexperienced! Five years later I am President of the Association?! When I look at the list of people who have served NHPHA as presidents or as Board members, I still like a public health novice. But I am so lucky that so many of these folks are still very involved and always so available to me!

What do you do as a public health “champion” or worker?

What I most want to do as a public health champion is to inspire and mentor younger folks and create an environment in which they can thrive. In my work as Association President, I have opportunities to interact with people working in public health across the state and beyond. I look for opportunities to reach out to students, to meet with people who are new to public health, and to create a broader understanding of and respect for public health. In addition to my Association work, I teach public health. Two years ago, I teamed up with my sister, a professor of finance, to create and teach a course on Microfinance and Public Health. We are preparing to teach this the 4th time. This year will be the 3rd time we have taught it to semester abroad students in the Dominican Republic—you can follow our experiences on our blog http://microfinancepublichealth.wordpress.com

Tell me about yourself?

Many of you know my husband, Dennis, who works at NH DHHS and is finishing his MPH after a long career as an engineer. We are ridiculously proud of our 5 sons and 5 grandchildren. John is married to a hydrogeologist and works as a database programmer. They have 2 school-aged children. Ben works for Apple computers as a software engineer. He and Abbie have a 5-year-old son. Jeff does lighting research for Sylvania. He and his wife, Alyson, are adopting a baby born in Ohio on January 6, 2012. Greg is a professional dancer—which means he basically supports himself by writing grants, fellowships, and the like. Maybe I should beg for some services for NHPHA from him! Steve teaches Spanish in a private middle school. He and spouse, Stevie, have adopted a beautiful baby girl, born May 30, 2011, in New Jersey.

And I am a rock climber. Most of the time, Dennis and I climb in a gym—Vertical Dreams in Manchester. Grandkids, work, NHPHA, and school have stolen a lot of our climbing time this past year. In prior years we climbed 4 to 7 times a week; this year I was lucky to get in one evening a week. Once Dennis graduates we sure hope to get back to the gym more regularly.

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