New alumni association co-presidents want to create opportunities to meet, network, and have fun

The UC Berkeley School of Public Health welcomes Janet Leader, MPH ‘83, and Leslie Safier, MPH ‘10, as new co-presidents of the UC Berkeley Public Health Alumni Association (PHAA) Board of Directors. Recently, we asked them about their backgrounds and what’s in store for the alumni association.

Their responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Janet Leader, MPH ‘83

Janet Leader received her MPH in Public Health Nutrition from UC Berkeley School of Public Health in 1983 and is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She is the retired nutrition strategy and education director for the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and lecturer and associate director of field studies in the department of Community Health Sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. In that capacity she developed and taught classes to undergraduate and nursing, medical, dental and public health students. In addition, she conducted research in public health nutrition programs and mentored future public health and dietetics practitioners.

Berkeley Public Health: As the new co-president of the Public Health Alumni Association (PHAA) Board of Directors, what does your role entail?

Janet Leader: We will work monthly with the Dean of Berkeley Public Health to stay informed of progress toward shared goals and share that with our board. As co-presidents, we will lead all board and executive committee meetings. We lead the planning for the PHAA strategic planning retreat.  We will speak at all required speaking engagements, support all subcommittees, and attend the Dean’s Advisory Board meeting three times/year.  We will work with the Vice-President to monitor the budget.

BPH: What inspired you to join PHAA and become part of the leadership team?

JL: After I retired, I wanted to reconnect with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and give back to the public health community.

BPH: What are your goals for PHAA this year, and going forward? 

JL: In general, we work to promote diversity and inclusion in Public Health, provide continuing education for our members, support for students through grants and scholarships, and provide opportunities for members to meet, network and have fun.  We will have a strategic planning retreat this summer to plan specific ways to achieve these goals.

BPH: How does your work with PHAA reflect your professional career?

JL: I have worked both in community and academic settings. Working with PHAA allows me to use my experience in both areas to plan events for alumni and students and support student grants.

BPH: What inspires your work in public health?

JL: I’m retired now, but I loved working with public health students getting ready to enter their careers. It’s exciting to see them discover new ideas about where they will seek employment after they graduate.

BPH: What are you most excited about this year for PHAA?

JL: Working with our great new PHAA board!

Leslie Safier, MPH ‘10

Leslie received her MPH degree in Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology at UC Berkeley School of Public Health. She is currently the director of operational improvements at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. In her role, she is responsible for value-based programs across the enterprise.  She previously worked as the director of performance improvement at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. In her prior role, she partnered with hospital departments and the medical staff to develop, manage, and monitor performance improvement projects; managed external quality data reporting requirements; and provided strategic planning, coaching, and practical assistance for hospital leadership in performance improvement. She is LEAN certified and a graduate of the America’s Essential Hospitals 2018 Essential Women’s Leadership Academy. Outside of work, her interests include hiking, camping, reading, and succulent gardening.

Berkeley Public Health As the new co-president of the PHAA Board of Directors, what does your role entail?

Leslie Safier: We recently have been very busy planning a board retreat for August focused on defining our priorities for the 2023-2024 academic year. Our roles entail collaborating with the PHAA executive committee to set the agenda for meaningful, engaging monthly board meetings, and facilitating those meetings to guide us in meeting our goals. We also meet with the dean of the school on a regular basis to promote alignment with the school’s priorities and represent PHAA at different events throughout the school year.

BPH: What inspired you to join PHAA and become part of the leadership team?

LS: I was initially inspired to join PHAA to deepen my engagement with the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. I had been attending different school functions, including career cafe and networking events, following my MPH graduation. I really enjoy interacting with current, past, and prospective students, and am committed to growing and diversifying the public health workforce.

I’m midway through my second, and final, term on the PHAA board and felt like it was the right time to step into a leadership role.  I have been partnering with Janet over the last two years within the events and networking subcommittee, and when the opportunity to serve as co-presidents was presented, I could not turn it down.

BPH: What are your goals for PHAA this year, and going forward? 

LS: My goals for PHAA include engaging a broader range of alumni, a very impactful diversity scholarship crowdfunding campaign, and increasing student engagement.  I want board members, alumni, and students to continue to find value in the work done by PHAA.

BPH: How does your work with PHAA reflect your professional career?

LS: My work with PHAA helps keep me grounded and reminds me of why I was drawn to public health 15 years ago.  It continually exposes me to the breadth of public health and the incredible changemakers in the field.

BPH: What inspires your work in public health?

LS: I’ve always been inspired by the ability to have such a broad, meaningful impact through public health interventions. I’m inspired by the passion in students and early careerists and the accomplishments of my colleagues and mentors.

BPH: What are you most excited about this year for PHAA?

LS: I am excited to get to know our new board members and partner with our existing members. To me, the people really make PHAA!

More in category “Alumni”: