In December 2017, Public Health’s School-Based Partnerships team bid farewell to long time staff member, Jessica Knaster Wasse. We wish her well in this new professional adventure and welcome new staff member, Erin MacDougall! Erin will be supporting both Families and Education Levy and Best Starts for Kids work, focusing in a variety of areas including mental health model of care in our school-based health centers. Read on to learn more about Erin!
What path led you to school based health work?
I have been fortunate to spend my career thus far working to improve health outcomes. I previously served Public Health – Seattle & King County as the Healthy Eating and Active Living Program Manager from 2006-2012. Prior to that, I worked in science education and heart disease research. I am deeply passionate about promoting wellness, prevention, and equity, especially for children and youth.
In my previous role at King County, I supported program efforts including grant development, program and policy implementation, communications, evaluation, and community partnerships. These efforts were focused on advancing systems and environment change to increase access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity.
Over time, I have become increasingly committed to working upstream in the lifespan. By supporting children and youth to lead their healthiest lives from the beginning, I believe we can significantly improve academic and health outcomes. I have focused much of my work at the policy and systems level and appreciate working on hard-to-solve problems. I am delighted to have this opportunity to be part of the School-Based Partnerships team working to support school-based health centers. This work feels like a natural next step in my public health career.
What do you like best about your job?
In my time thus far with this program, I have observed the quality of the program’s partnerships with schools, health care organizations, researchers, and students to be extraordinary. I feel very fortunate to work across schools and health and to advance a vision where all students can thrive personally and academically. I feel grateful to live in a community where the public has supported the Families and Education Levy for many years which has bolstered this important work. I also love working at Public Health – Seattle & King County and with many smart, dedicated, and experienced colleagues. Our School-Based Partnerships team is superb! [Editor’s note: We think she is pretty superb, too!}
What is a big challenge?
The important work happening in our school-based health clinics reflects many of the broader challenges in our society for our young people. There are increasing pressures on our time, our connections to family and community, and our health. With the current influences of increased screen time and lessened community connectivity, we must find ways to further our support for mental health and physical wellness. I look forward to being a part of new efforts to advance the leading edge of this work in the future.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work time?
I enjoy cooking, gardening, and travel. Currently, I spend my time away from work with my two young children, husband, and 17 year old dog. I enjoy being outdoors, listening to podcasts, and volunteering in the community.
Learn more about the School-Based Partnerships teams’ roles and find their contact information here.