Meet your leadership
Featuring: Dr. Elvira Beracochea
By Janine Foggia
Dr. Elvira Beracochea is currently the president and CEO of Realizing Global Health; a global health consulting firm focused on improving healthcare delivery and strengthening health systems through strategic consulting. She founded Realizing Global Health thirteen years ago, and has been practicing in the field of global health for more than twenty-five years. Founding her own company has certainly been a defining moment in her global health career, as it involved taking risks to do work that she believes strongly in. In addition to her work with Realizing Global Health, Elvira serves as chair of the IH Section’s Awards Committee.
Involvement with the International Health Section
Elvira has a strong belief in being involved and engaged with professional associations related to your career field. She states that the International Health Section is “a place to network with other colleagues and to advance causes you’re passionate about.” Elvira’s involvement with the International Health Section has spanned numerous roles including; secretary, governing councilor, and most recently Chair of the Awards Committee. The Awards Committee is committed to recognizing the achievements of global health peers through selection of recipients of the Section’s annual awards.
Looking to the Future
As for the future, Elvira is hopeful about the advancement of digital application to the global health field, specifically phone apps. Digital technology allows us to become increasingly interconnected and provides an avenue for us to become more accountable for progress on our initiatives. Of key interest for Elvira are apps focused on supporting standard operating procedures and the management of health centers as well as apps related to labor and delivery.
Elvira highly encourages involvement in the Section. A key point she makes is that it is not enough to solely go to the sessions at the annual meeting but efforts to become engaged and network with others need to be made. It is through these highly meaningful connections that we will be able to accomplish so much more.
If you’re looking to get involved, opportunity is knocking. There are currently three openings with the Awards Committee. To find out more about the committee and how to get involved, visit IH Connect.
featuring: sophia Anyatonwu
By Yara Asi
The type of state- and county-level public health initiatives that Sophia Anyatonwu, Communications Committee Co-chair for the APHA International Health (IH) Section and the chair of the Social Media Subcommittee, has participated in are those that form the foundation of our national public health policies and activities. Following an interest in preventing infectious disease that she developed during her pursuit of an undergraduate degree in biology, Ms. Anyatonwu went on to receive her MPH in Epidemiology. She has since worked as an infectious disease epidemiologist at different levels within the state of Texas, participating in disease surveillance efforts, information sharing between local and state representatives, and data management. During her service in public health, she became involved in IH Section leadership after seeing an opening for Social Media Manager in the Section newsletter, seeking to expand her experience in social media management and writing. Today, her responsibilities include contributing to and distributing content for the blog, providing training for subcommittee members, coordinating social media activities for the IH Section, promoting member engagement, and highlighting the expertise of IH Section members.
Although much of Sophia’s current work relates to the public health needs in central Texas, her interests relate to health issues on a more global level. Her passion to build public health capacity extends beyond her local environment to the international scope, where she would eventually like to participate in health system evaluation and policy. Outside of infectious disease initiatives, Sophia seeks to implement equitable and sustainable evidence-based health programming related to maternal and child health, education, anti-human trafficking efforts, capacity building, and global missions and policies regarding humanitarian aid and economic development. As a member of IH leadership, her favorite projects include developing the IH Section Member Roadmap, training members on activities related to the social media efforts of the Section, and serving on the Global Health Mentoring Steering Committee. During the 2017 APHA Annual Meeting and Expo in Atlanta, she also volunteered at the Welcome Desk for International Attendees and served as a proxy on the Governing Council.
Ms. Anyatonwu’s leadership service does not end with the IH Section. She serves on the Governing Council of the Texas Public Health Association (TPHA) and is the Chair-elect of the Epidemiology Section for TPHA. In this latter organization, she developed a timely initiative (the Scrutinizer Challenge) that challenges members to apply their epidemiology skills in a practical way to news stories and research studies to ensure accurate representation of the field. She is also an active member of the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), where she serves as the President-elect for her local APIC Chapter. She is actively engaged with several multidisciplinary committees and working groups, trains colleagues and interns, and interprets public health data for presentations. Sophia also finds time for professional development, stating she is “dedicated to continually seeking out opportunities to cultivate skills in strategic planning, leadership, and epidemiological methods.” To this end, she will soon be participating in an administration and management certificate program for public health professionals to develop these skills as she seeks to take her work from the local arena to the global arena.