Kate Konkle

I completed the fellowship at the Division of Public Health Western Regional Office in Eau Claire.

I am now working for the UW Population Health Institute. I am a Program Manager for the Healthy Wisconsin Leadership Institute (HWLI), and I also work with the Community Engagement Team for the Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH), also referred to as the County Health Rankings project. 
I feel really lucky to be able to work and collaborate with so many wonderful people at PHI, and work on projects that are both fun and meaningful. 

As a program manager with HWLI, I spend a lot of time on the Community Teams Program, developing curriculum around coalition building, collaborative leadership and community health improvement processes. I also provide technical assistance to the teams participating in the program. I love still getting to go out into communities and see the amazing work being done, and the passion and commitment for making communities healthier.

I am excited to work with the MATCH project since it offers an opportunity to work with communities around the country. I hope that I can both share some successes that we’ve had in Wisconsin with folks in other states, and learn from them and bring their success stories and lessons learned back to Wisconsin.

The fellowship was an invaluable experience, and absolutely is a huge part of why I am now working with HWLI and MATCH. When I graduated from my MPH program, I really wasn’t sure in what area of public health I wanted to focus. The fellowship gave me an opportunity to explore a few areas that were of interest, and introduced me to others. I had never considered public health systems work as an area of the field that might interest me, but through the fellowship I discovered that this is really where my passion is. Working to improve how the public health system functions is an important and sometimes overlooked part of making sure we can be successful. I find this work to be challenging but really rewarding.
The fellowship also offered a unique opportunity to have a leadership role on projects. Had I been an entry level employee in a public health agency, these opportunities would have been less likely. This also allowed me to build a network with public health leaders across the state, which was probably one of the greatest benefits of the fellowship.

If I have any advice for the current fellows, it would be to be a good self-advocate - make sure you are getting, and taking advantage of opportunities that are meaningful and valuable to you. And network, network network. Often who you know can be just as important as what you know, and when it comes time to find a job post fellowship, having lots of advocates in your corner will be a huge asset!

Other topics:
Hmmmm….do I have any public health heroes. When I was exploring public health as a career option, I read Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, and Paul Farmer became one of my public health heroes. But since starting to work in the field, I feel like I’ve met so many people working every day in Wisconsin who have become mentors and also heroes. People are care very much about their community and seem to have a tireless energy for making it a healthier place; people who do so much with very few resources. I think heroes are people that inspire us to work harder and be better, and some the people I’ve had the opportunity to work with are definitely heroes as well as colleagues and mentors.