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Jami Crespo, Public Health Madison & Dane County

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Jami Crespo, JD, MPA, policy analyst, Public Health Madison & Dane County.

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1. What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

In my current role as a policy analyst I focus on ways we can change systems and policies to improve the health of Dane County. I love being able to work on issues that impact the community in which I live, like housing, mental and emotional wellbeing, and economic security. Public health is a wonderful field because it looks at everything that impacts a person’s health, like access to food, education, healthcare, jobs, transportation, clean environments, and poverty. Working in policy is also challenging because systems and policies take time to change and it’s hard to be patient.

2. Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

I look up to Karen Timberlake, the current director of the Population Health Institute in Wisconsin. I have worked with Karen for several years as we both serve as volunteers for United Way of Dane County’s Healthy for Life Community Solutions Team. Karen has a unique ability to bring individuals together, pinpoint problems, and get individuals focused on practical solutions. These skills make her a great facilitator and collaborator. Karen isn’t afraid to ask difficult and challenging questions to try to create change in our community. I’ve learned a lot from her and try to emulate her style.

I also had several great mentors when I worked at Boardman & Clark law firm as an attorney. Many individuals took the time to show me how to work with clients, communicate complex ideas, and develop a business practice. These skills have been invaluable to me in my career.

3. What has been the high point of your career so far?

Right after college, I spent three years in Congress working on issues related to healthcare, women, and children. I learned a lot about how the political process works on the ground, had wonderful mentors, and lived in a city where what we did at work made the news daily. It was a very rewarding and fun job to have right after graduating.

4. Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

I would tell myself not to be in a rush to go to graduate school. I spent three years working before going to graduate school and gained great practical experience during that time. I think I could have stayed working a bit longer and advanced my career further before heading back to school for law and public affairs.

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