Meet your HPRS team!
Meet the new Health Policy Research Scholars (HPRS) program director, Keshia M. Pollack Porter, PhD, MPH, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. We sat down to talk to her about leadership, inspiration, and what’s currently on her bookshelf.
What is most inspiring you these days?
Seeing young people marching and advocating for change, for significant public health issues—from gun control to climate change to racial equity. It is exciting to see youth people leading movements for change that will create a healthier and more just society. I am optimistic that we can make change and continue to tackle these issues and others that seem daunting and solutionless—issues like income inequality and racism. A friend suggested that I read How Change Happens: Why Some Social Movements Succeed While Others Don’t by Leslie Crutchfield. In this book Crutchfield shows that positive, sustainable change is possible and emphasizes the importance of leadership in advancing social movements. One point she makes is that people can “lead from the front, the middle or the back. …” I am inspired by the people who are leading from where they are, advocating for change in their communities in ways that are authentic to who they are and their leadership styles.
Is there a specific idea or quote that has captured your imagination recently?
I have been traveling a lot, and the idea of “securing my oxygen mask first” before I can help others has been sitting with me. This metaphor is a reminder that we need to take care of ourselves before we can help others. I am grateful that people come to me for assistance; I embrace that responsibility and gift. In doing so, I must stay well and take care of myself in order to be there when others need me.
What have you been reading? Is there a particular author whose work has been pushing you to think differently?
I read a lot about leadership. I already mentioned Crutchfield’s book. I am also reading Influence Without Authority by Allan Cohen and David Bradford, which is a book that is critical for leaders. It’s a reminder that we, as leaders, can influence others even when we don’t have explicit authority to order cooperation. I was intrigued by what the authors describe as the Exchange Model, which is a proven way to influence others. Essentially, this model refers to the importance of knowing what the person you are trying to influence values, i.e., “their currency,” so you get what you need (i.e., influencing that person) by offering something of value in return. It sounds simple, but there are techniques described in the book to make this exchange effective.
I am also reading How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. In the book Kendi says that “the only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it—and then dismantle it.” The book has pushed me to think differently and appreciate the important differences between being “not racist” and “antiracist.” For example, being “not racist” in the face of racism is, in fact, a form of racism. I consider myself antiracist, but have not been using that term to describe myself–and now I will.
What is your favorite piece of leadership advice?
Don’t be afraid to fail! I certainly allowed societal influences to put me in a space where I was afraid to fail and, at times, didn’t take enough risks. As I matured as a leader, I came to embrace the notion that failure is an opportunity for learning and becoming more resilient. It’s not fun to fail, but it is a way to learn lessons, determine what went wrong, and get back on track. This requires self-awareness, which is an essential leadership quality.
What are some things you recommend leaders do for self-care?
I think it’s important to first figure out what it is that you can deliberately do to take care of your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health, and make time for it. For me, self-care is getting enough sleep and exercise, and spending time with my husband. In addition, it’s also about my mindset: I strive to embrace an attitude of gratitude, especially during stress and darkness when it seems there is nothing to be grateful for. It is during those moments where I remind myself to be thankful for being alive, for the sun, and for the opportunities to make a difference each day.
We are also pleased to introduce our new National Advisory Committee (NAC) and program team at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Meet the new National Advisory Committee
A diverse group of distinguished representatives from academia, government agencies, and public policy, the NAC helps guide program policy and review scholar applications as well as participate in annual meetings and assist in monitoring program performance.
• John Chin, PhD – HPRS National Advisory Committee chair, professor and director, Master of Urban Planning Program, Department of Urban Policy and Planning, Hunter College, City University of New York
• Gail Dana-Sacco, PhD, MPH – Principal, Wayfinders for Health
• Alfreda P. Iglehart, PhD, MSW – Associate professor, Department of Social Welfare, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
• Andrew J. Imparato, JD – Executive director, Association of University Centers on Disabilities
• Samuel L. Myers Jr., PhD – Roy Wilkins Professor of Human Relations and Social Justice, Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
• Jamila M. Porter, DrPH, MPH – Director, Programs and Evaluation, Safe States Alliance
• Rashawn Ray, PhD – Associate professor, University of Maryland; Rubenstein Fellow, The Brookings Institution
• Janelle Scott, PhD – Professor and Robert C. and Mary Catherine Birgeneau Distinguished Chair in Educational Disparities, University of California at Berkeley
Meet the Bloomberg Team
The team at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is an experienced group of faculty and staff who oversee all aspects of the program, including supporting the success and growth of scholars.
• Keshia M. Pollack Porter, PhD, MPH – Director, professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
• Shannon Frattaroli, PhD – Associate director, associate professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
• Laurie Unruh, MSc – Deputy director, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
• Attia Goheer, PhD, MHS – Director of evaluation, assistant scientist, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
• Caitlin Hoffman, MPH – Director of communications, communications associate, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
• Jessica Harrington – Director of leadership and scholar coaching, Office of Student Affairs, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
• Nicole Moseley, MS – Administrative lead, senior administrative assistant, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
We look forward to working with you all! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to [email protected].