The Environmental Public Health Officer | 30 Under 30 Class of 2019
"I love learning and the field of public health is constantly growing. It gives me the opportunity to continue to be better, learn more and push the envelope."
Where did you grow up?
Mission Viejo, California.
What are four things you can't live without?
Coffee, running shoes, the ocean breeze and chocolate chip cookies.
Where do you live now?
Mission Viejo, California.
What is your theme song?
Live it Well by Switchfoot.
Why do you love what you do?
I’m serving people. It’s challenging and rewarding. Every day is different. I’ve been able to safeguard our warriors in combat, plan programs that bring resources to our most at risk and teach future leaders. Public health has such a broad impact. From businesses, education, disaster response and policy, I get to serve the community in so many unique capacities.
How did you discover your passion for your job?
I graduated from Chapman University with pre-med and pre-law. I always knew I loved challenges and wanted to serve in the military. I was fascinated by disease outbreaks and how to curb them. I was familiar with the role of the public health officer and found a career that included both my passion for science and my heart to serve. So, I went for it and applied for my Master of Public Health in Epidemiology with the end goal of becoming a public health officer in the Air Force. I was accepted at 13 programs across the country and found my way to The University of Texas. I got to take my oath in the Apollo 13 Mission Control Room in Houston and began my career as a Second Lieutenant.
What motivates you?
I love work. I love challenges. I’m motivated to continue advancing in my career and capacity but first and foremost, being the best wife and mom that God has created me to be. I love what Dale Partridge says in his book Saved From Success, “Work success without home success isn’t success at all.” I’ve had the opportunity to make impact across the globe and I’ll never take those opportunities for granted.
What did your role as a public health officer for the Air Force entail?
The textbook version is protecting the health of our armed forces. The real-life version is short notice deployments for thousands of warriors, bioterrorism protection, outbreak investigations, answering a lot of crazy questions, inspecting restaurants and kitchens, making sure children are vaccinated, being in charge of dozens of young airmen, answering more strange questions, leadership training and running. It was incredible.
Megan served as a public health officer in the Air Force after graduate school and took her oath in the Apollo 13 Mission Control Room in Houston. The textbook definition of the position is someone who protects the health of armed forces, but Megan said the real-life version is short notice deployments for bioterrorism protection, outbreak investigations and more. In 2014, she helped develop the Ebola outbreak response plan. Megan was responsible for getting medical personnel deployed. She was trained in risk communication by the Pentagon so writing the plan was exactly what she was prepared to do.
Ultimately, Megan decided to create her own consulting company, Called Up Strategies, to continue her career in public health no matter where she lives. She drives program planning and evaluation development efforts through data analysis, strategic planning and partner engagement. Currently, she’s working on a program to reform criminal justice in Oklahoma City through a proposal that shares data to link at-risk individuals to services to improve the overall well-being of the community.
Early Bird or Night Owl
Facebook or Instagram
Podcasts or Audiobooks
Left Brain or Right Brain
Heels or Flats
What is it like to start your own company and what pushed you to create it?
I have been blessed to be surrounded by some incredible mentors. I created my company so that I could continue my career in public health from no matter where I lived. I had the experience and communication capabilities to virtually fill the gaps between data collection and data reporting, program planning and program evaluation and tracking strategic vision. I took a leap of faith and began my own consulting business. I’ve been fortunate to support a community that I care deeply about in Oklahoma City.
Can you tell me more about the program you’re working on to reform criminal justice in Oklahoma City? What sorts of things are you looking at to this?
I help steer data-driven programming at the local level. Through the support of philanthropic groups and community organizations, I am able to be part of a team that proposed a holistic, data-driven approach to criminal justice reform. We have tested our proposal that shares data across sectors, linking at-risk individuals to needed services in order to improve the overall well-being of our community. This proposal addresses the upstream causes to health, such as career, housing, food security, transportation and access to services.
How did you go about developing the Ebola response plan? What does the process for handling a crisis like that look like?
First, a lot of coffee and focus. When the Ebola outbreak started, I was responsible for getting the medical personnel deployed to assist from my duty station into the “hot zone.” I was trained by the Pentagon in risk communication and as an epidemiologist, writing plans for the “hot zone” is game day. It’s what we are trained to do. It was a lot of unknowns at the beginning. We had to continually prioritize activities, identify risk levels and adjust as needed. You never really know how you’re going to react until you are in those situations and I am so thankful for the incredible training and leadership development I was exposed to through college, graduate school and in the military.
What accomplishment and/or project in your career are you most proud of?
I get to do so many incredible things throughout my career that honestly, I can’t pinpoint one specific project. I think the accomplishment that I’m most proud of is when coworkers/peers call me up for support or to help problem solve. I am so thankful that I have the skills that I do but if people can’t trust you and if you’re not honest, what good is your expertise? I’m honored that I have gone through many difficult situations in my career and I can 100 percent say that I’ve stayed the course with integrity, kept my eye on the prize and remained humble yet hungry.
Can you tell me more about earning the Humanitarian Service Medal from the Department of Defense?
I lived in Oklahoma City when the May 20 tornado devastated Moore, Oklahoma. As active duty assets assigned to that location, we responded to rebuild the community. Oklahoma is a special place. The community there is so unique. The community comes together in times of emergency.
What is your favorite part about working in public health and why is it important to you?
The people. Hands down. We get to serve the community in so many different ways. I have been able to provide housing and food during emergency situations, plan programs that took people from homeless to thriving and get to bring change to families in so many ways.
I love learning and the field of public health is constantly growing. It gives me the opportunity to continue to be better, learn more and push the envelope. I love bringing innovative change.
Is there anything else you’d like to with our readers?
Don’t get so stuck on a vision that you forget to enjoy the journey. If I would have stuck to my original plan of medical school, I doubt I would have been able to respond to Ebola, meet the incredible mentors I have, grow in my leadership capacity and realize my dream of becoming a mother.
"I've had the opportunity to make impact across the globe and I'll never take those opportunities for granted."