Q&A with Sheila Baxter, vice president /president-elect of the Public Health Alumni Association

sheila baxter

Sheila Baxter MPH ’10 has served on the PHAA Board of Director since 2013 and currently serves as president-elect on the executive committee. Sheila received an MPH with a concentration in Health Policy and Management from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health in 2010. She is the Director of Business Development at Community Health Solutions, Midas+, A Xerox Company (formally known as Healthy Communities Institute).

Q. Tell us about your position at Community Health Solutions.
A. For the past 5½ years I have worked as the director of business development at an organization called Healthy Communities Institute (HCI), which as of May 2015 was acquired by Midas+, A Xerox Company. Healthy Communities Institute (HCI) is the leading provider of web-based technology for strategic community health improvement planning that provides hundreds of hospitals, health systems, health departments, and coalitions across the country with a cloud-based platform that: a) pinpoints at-risk populations via a live dashboard of data indicators; b) provides a database of thousands of best-practice health improvement programs; and c) tracks, measures, and reports on progress-to-goals. As the director of business development, I oversee the growth and marketing of the company.

Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. What I love most about my job is the team I work with day to day. My team is filled with individuals who are passionate about public health and live with a mission of impacting positive change via the work they do. I am also very inspired by all the partnerships we have developed and how they are leveraging the HCI Platform to improve health in their communities. For example, in San Francisco a group of 50 stakeholders came together used an HCI platform called www.sfhip.org to find that certain neighborhoods in San Francisco had a high rate of ER visits due to alcohol abuse. Based on these geographies, they set up a sober and respite center and reduced the overall cost/year on ER rate due to alcohol abuse, saving close to $9 million a year (a 10:1 ROI). They continue to use the HCI platform to track the progress of reducing the level of ER due to alcohol abuse in their county. Now hundreds of communities around the country can use HCI's technology to identify these and other issues and solutions for their communities.

Q. What is most challenging about your job? 

A. I travel a lot for my job. Balancing time with my family, friends, and work can be challenging at times.

Q. How do you balance work, travel, and your PHAA Board commitment?
A. Time management (and working around the clock!) is key. Because I am so passionate about my work and serving on the board I make time to do both.

Q. What is the farthest/most remote/most interesting place you have traveled for work?
A. I had the opportunity to work in Western Samoa with the Minister of Health and World Health Organization. Through this opportunity, provided by the Council of Women World Leaders and the School of Public Health’s Center for Health Leadership, I revised national policies, wrote speeches for the Minister of Health, served as the liaison for the U.S. Navy, and helped advocate for the first national HIV support group of the country.

Q. How did the education you received at the SPH help you in your current work?
A. My public health degree is absolutely critical in the work we are doing at HCI because the premise of our work is centralized around population health. I am most grateful to Deryk Van Brunt, associate clinical professor of health information systems at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and CEO of Healthy Communities Institute. He saw my potential when I was his student and offered me a job position truly meant for someone with at least 9 years of work experience in the field. With his mentorship and faith, I have truly grown and learned so much professionally in the world of public health, business, and marketing.

Q. What motivated you to become involved with the PHAA Board?
A. I was influenced to join by a fellow board member–John Troidl PhD '01, MBA, former president of PHAA. As I learned more about the PHAA Board’s work, I became excited about how I could give back and stay connected to my alma mater. The idea of connecting students with alumni through networking events and being involved in the School’s strategic planning truly peaked my interest.

Q. How do you contribute to the PHAA Board?
A. Currently, I serve as the president-elect. As president-elect, I work closely with the executive committee that includes Baljeet Sangha, our current president, Juliana Oronos, our secretary/ treasurer and Vicki George, our communication liaison. Our role as the executive committee is to support all the subcommittees to ensure they are making progress to their goals and metrics.

Q. What have you learned or experienced that you would like to share with the alumni community?
A. Serving on the board is extremely gratifying because I am giving back to the School and staying involved. There are many ways to get involved, including serving on the board (we started accepting applications in November, so click here to apply!) or becoming a volunteer to support the existing subcommittees reach their year-end goals.

Q. What’s your favorite quotation?

A. “Network or No Work.”—Harvey Bichkoff