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.

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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5. What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

I love that Madison has both the state capitol and a great university, which translates into a community of many resources, amenities, and wonderful food. I also love nature and appreciate that I can ride my bike 10 minutes and be in the beautiful countryside in Dane County. I love having both environments so readily available.

6. Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

Most people who don’t know me are surprised that I ride a moped around town. I love being able to get places quickly, park for free on the sidewalk, and travel while still being outside. My husband and I are expecting our first child March 4 so I haven’t been able to ride my moped lately. We joke that we’ll get a moped with a sidecar to share this passion with the new baby.

7. What are your guilty pleasures?

I have many favorite foods but one I particularly love is gelato. During a trip to Italy my husband and I stopped for gelato. We couldn’t believe how good it was and as we were finishing we saw another gelato stand. We looked at each other and both knew we were each getting a second one. As we were finishing that one, yet another gelato stand appeared (I realize it was Italy so this wasn’t a huge surprise) and we each got our third gelato. This all happened in the span of about 45 minutes. It was one of the best dinners we’ve ever had.

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