Grant Barbosa, CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Health Graduate Fellow
Hello again! I’m excited to be blogging month. While we’re only maybe a month and a half into the fellowship (side note: wow!), I’ve had the opportunity to do a great deal of substantive work and learn a significant amount through my work at the American Public Health Association (APHA) as well as CHCI’s Friday programming.
At APHA, I have worked on a great deal of issue areas and topics in a variety of settings. I’m currently in the process of drafting guides for APHA’s membership in order for them to better understand the acceptable bounds of personal advocacy as well as how to reach out to a congressional staffer. I also had the chance to utilize my legal background and review amicus briefs that the APHA’s outside counsel was working on as well as briefs that organizations had asked the APHA to join. I imagine one of the organizations was a bit surprised when we forwarded a slew of substantive edits, but a few were actually incorporated into the brief that was filed with the Supreme Court! I also wrote the state level and international policy briefs in the monthly legislative updates that APHA sends to its members.
I’ve served as APHA’s representative in a variety of settings. I’ve met with administration officials from agencies such as the Office of Management and Budget. I’ve observed meetings for the advisory board of the National Institutes for Health’s National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities, which advises the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, an academic advisory committee that supports the Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA in developing nutrition policy for the dietary guidelines for Americans. On Capitol Hill, I’ve been to briefings on opioid abuse as well as crime prevention and youth development. Finally, I’ve participated in strategy meetings for coalitions of public health focused nonprofits, which will serve as an interesting counterpoint to my experiences on the Hill this spring.
In addition to the work that I am doing for APHA, I’ve also attended CHCI's weekly programming. The greatest experiences in programming have been our meetings with people in a variety of positions in government and nonprofit organizations. The meetings with Mildred Otero, the education counsel for the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Maria Teresa Kumar, the CEO and president of Voto Latino, were especially impactful. Mildred was very frank in discussing her experiences on and off Capitol Hill, offering us a great deal of advice and insight. With Maria, we discussed major policy issues, such as increasing Latino voter turnout. These interactions with people who previously were in similar positions as the current fellows (either in fellowships or recently out of graduate programs) show what type of trajectory that we may be going on, but also allowed us to engage in the types of discussions reminiscent of those that took place in the salons of the French Enlightenment. Sorry for being aggressively nerdy with that last line, but if you have made it this far, thanks for reading.
Until next time!