Elise A. Lockamy-Kassim, MSPH

Elise A. Lockamy-Kassim, MSPH

Profession

Health Scientist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Describe your current position.

I manage a portfolio of state and local childhood lead poisoning prevention programs, offering strategic leadership to national funding recipients to ensure success in childhood lead poisoning surveillance and prevention. I also design studies, policies, processes, and tools to better understand childhood lead poisoning prevention challenges and accelerate the implementation of solutions.

List your career highlights.

  • Implementation of the Revised Childhood Blood Lead Reference Value, CDC Policy Academy. 2017.
  • Selected to a highly-selective training program designed to strengthen participant policy analysis skills, and tasked with developing a strategy for national adoption of the lowered CDC reference value for lead in children.
  • In 2017, awarded the “YoungGov40” Award by the Atlanta Chapter of Young Government Leaders. The designation acknowledges recipients for their contributions and efforts towards improving and sustaining Children’s Environmental Health. The award highlights the metro Atlanta region’s top government employees under the age of 40, and signifies that recipients demonstrate high qualities of a public servant.
  • CDC Flint, MI Emergency Response Team Member, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2016.
  • CDC Public Health Prevention Service Peer Award, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2014. The award recognizes Public Health Prevention Service fellows whose peers believe contributed – through outstanding performance, service, exceptional attitude, and specific achievements – to the growth, advancement, and further development of the fellowship and the field of public health.
  • CDC Avian Influenza A(H7N9) Emergency Response Team Member, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2013.

How did your education and degree from the Gillings School influence your career?

As I contemplated post-Gillings life, I sought opportunities to further demonstrate and tailor my learned skills in leadership and management. Naturally, I gravitated to a fellowship opportunity at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC Public Health Prevention Service, which aimed to further equip early career public health professionals with transferable, flexible skills in public health management. The fellowship shaped my current career brand and platform and the fellowship alumni association continues to serve as a career development source for me.

What would you say to prospective students thinking about studying at the Gillings School?

At the Gillings School, your success is not only defined by your academic and research tenure. You also work to cultivate meaningful relationships with peers, professors, and even your area of study. Mining for public health gold requires digging, and those meaningful relationships help you to target your effort so that you locate the treasure faster. Be prepared to work (very hard) in your studies and relationships. You won’t regret it!

What are you passionate about in public health?

Public health professionals are equipped with a wide range of beneficial values, gifts, and talents. Likewise, the field of public health is rich with perspectives, tools, and innovation required to effect population health change. Unfortunately, we encounter barriers (whether related to funding or other resources) in the application of these domains when implementing solutions to public health challenges. I am most passionate about streamlining approaches to public health service so that we maximize the benefit of the resources we do have, while serving the most number of health and keeping them in optimal health.

What would you consider your proudest public health accomplishment?

In 2011, I joined the CDC Public Health Prevention Service and served as a Prevention Specialist for three years. The fellowship program ensured continuous leadership development as I started my career. The program officially sunsetted in 2015. I, along with 21 other program alumni, led a manuscript development process in order to cement the legacy of the program in published literature. I used expert project management skills, including facilitation and delegation, to ensure the manuscript’s development in under 12 months. The manuscript is currently being prepared for journal submission; the manuscript will ensure continuous acknowledgement of the positive influence of the CDC Public Health Prevention Service in public health workforce development.

Ten years from now, where do you hope to be and what do you hope to be doing?

In ten years, I hope to independently consult with local governments and businesses to redesign systems and processes so that they can effectively and efficiently meet their public health goals.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy visiting museums and attending cultural events. I engage in activities such as blogging/writing and motivational speaking. I also spend time on creative projects such as innovative problem-solving for growing businesses and home design.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Most recently, “Spend less time trying to be interesting and more time being interested.”