New alumni association co-presidents aim to boost anti-racism efforts, engage alumni, and support students

The UC Berkeley School of Public Health welcomes Hue Le ‘12, MPH in Health Policy and Management, and Elizabeth Ly ‘19, MPH in Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health, as 2021-22 co-presidents of the UC Berkeley Public Health Alumni Association Board of Directors. Recently, we sat down to talk to them about their new roles and what’s in store for the alumni association.

Hue Le

Hue Le earned her MPH degree in Health Policy and Management from UC Berkeley in 2012. She is currently a director on the business development team at Kaiser Permanente, supporting new growth efforts for the company. Prior to Kaiser, she worked at Omnicell, Arch Health Partners, and Palomar Health.

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

Le: I work closely with Elizabeth Ly (my co-president) and the PHAA Board of Directors to provide opportunities for alumni to stay engaged with the School, students, and each other. We support the board in coordinating activities such as student-alumni dinners, webinars, raising funds for the PHAA Diversity Fellowship, and supporting the School’s anti-racism efforts. We also act as liaisons between the School leadership and others on the board.

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

PHAA was a large part of my Berkeley experience as a student. I was fortunate to receive the PHAA Diversity Fellowship, which allowed me to focus on my studies and participate as a student representative on the PHAA Board. I really enjoyed engaging with the alumni, and knew I wanted to be part of that after graduation.

What are your goals for PHAA this year, and going forward? How have things changed in light of the pandemic?

My goal is to build on our past successes to meaningfully engage even more alumni with the School. The pandemic really shed a broader light on the importance of public health, and there are many opportunities for the School, our alumni, and students to connect and learn from each other. The pandemic also broadened PHAA’s reach last year when events shifted to virtual, resulting in higher alumni participation from around the country and the world. As the pandemic continues to evolve, PHAA hopes to keep up this trend and be flexible with how we engage through a blend of in-person, virtual, and hybrid activities.

Alongside your work at the PHAA, you also work at Kaiser Permanente as a director on the business development team. What is that like?

Kaiser Permanente provides access to high-quality, affordable care for our members with a unique business model that combines health coverage and care delivery into one coordinated experience. My role at Kaiser Permanente is to bring this model to more communities by evaluating and executing on new market entry, merger and acquisition, and partnership opportunities.

What inspires your work in public health?

Growing up as a first-generation immigrant, I witnessed first-hand the inequities and challenges in our healthcare system as a Medi-Cal recipient and medical translator for my mom. That experience continues to guide my career, inspiring me to improve healthcare so that more people have access to high-quality care, no matter who they are or where they come from.

What are you most excited about this year for PHAA?

I am very excited about the programs we’re planning for this coming year. It reflects the PHAA Board’s interest in strengthening alumni and student engagement as well as our commitment to public health and social justice.

Elizabeth Ly

Elizabeth Ly earned her MPH in Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health from UC Berkeley in 2019 and a BA in Public Health in 2014. Currently, she is the senior clinical affairs coordinator at the Society of Family Planning, where she supports the Abortion Clinical Research Network, a network of abortion clinics across the United States that participate in multi-center research studies. Before graduate school at UC Berkeley, Elizabeth worked at UCSF’s Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health.

What inspired you to become part of the leadership team of PHAA?

I am a recent alumna from the MPH program, having graduated in 2019. I wanted to join the PHAA leadership team to continue to make meaningful change at Berkeley Public Health to improve the experience for current students and engage alumni in events and programming. I was very involved in the BPH community as a student and wanted to stay connected and engaged in the work, particularly that of encouraging the school to continue to better support students of color and to develop into an anti-racist institution.

What are your goals for PHAA this year, and going forward? How have things changed in light of the pandemic?

My goals for PHAA for the year and moving forward is to ensure that alumni can connect with each other as well as with students. During the pandemic, we’ve had to halt our in-person networking events. However, we have been able to capitalize on virtual events. These have allowed alumni and students to connect from all over the world rather than just those who were local to the Bay Area, increasing engagement and connection beyond what we’ve seen in previous years.

Alongside your work at the PHAA, you are also the senior clinical affairs coordinator at the Society of Family Planning. What is that like?

My job involves growing and sustaining our Abortion Clinical Research Network, a network of 70-plus clinical sites that provide abortion and conduct research. I help coordinate research studies that use the network as well as support network sites in researching ways that work best for their clinics. I also project manage many new programmatic initiatives and develop communication strategies for the clinical affairs team at the Society of Family Planning.

A lot of your work has been in the family, maternal, and child health space. What brought you to that part of the public health field?

My personal public health goal is to help empower people to live their lives in the ways that they want to. My work is primarily inspired and influenced by the framework of reproductive justice which SisterSong defines as, “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” The ability to have children if and when a person wants to greatly impacts their ability to live their lives in the ways they desire. In this vein, reproductive health, and particularly family planning, felt like a direct way to achieve my public health mission and goal and is why I have chosen to work in the reproductive healthcare space.

What inspires your work in public health?

As mentioned above, the framework of reproductive justice (RJ) inspires my work in public health. To achieve reproductive justice we must analyze power systems, address intersecting oppressions, center the most marginalized, and join together across issues and identities. These core tenants of RJ are beliefs that I bring into every space that I am in and work that I do and continue to inspire me to make a change in hopes of contributing to a world where people are empowered to live the lives they choose to live.

What are you most excited about this year for PHAA?

I am most excited about continuing to grow some of our great alumni-student programming such as the Student-Alumni dinners. The pandemic allowed us the space to think creatively and meet virtually for dinner and we had record engagement from alumni and students, including many who were not local to the Bay Area. As we begin to adjust our lives to the presence of COVID-19, I am excited at the prospect of in-person networking events in conjunction with continuing to innovate event planning in the virtual space to continue to engage alumni who no longer are local to the Bay Area.

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