I’m excited to be joining the Institute at the Golden Gate as the new Health Program Manager. I come to the Institute with a public health perspective, having worked with California’s SNAP-Ed nutrition education and obesity prevention program since 2005. Through SNAP-Ed, I learned how local health departments work with state agencies on federal funding while staying attuned and responsive to community needs – a complicated dance of staying nimble and staying focused.
I also come to the Institute as an avid park enthusiast! On the weekends, you’ll find me hiking, biking, and snowshoeing in search of wildflowers, waterfalls, expansive views, fresh air, and those perfectly placed park benches. For several years, I was an outdoor trip leader with Sacramento State’s Peak Adventures. I relished seeing strangers become friends by the time we arrived at camp, the cooperative attitudes along the journey, the feeling of accomplishment doing something that seemed beyond reach, and the appreciation of nature, ourselves, and each other at the end of the day. This is why I love parks and being outdoors—this feeling of connectedness is something I want every person, particularly those with the highest health need, to experience. Parks are a place to be healthy, from the inside out.
How can we connect more people to parks? I am impressed by the Institute’s commitment to bringing parks, health care, public health, and community partners together in the Healthy Parks Healthy People: Bay Area collaborative. This type of multi-sector collaborative approach is a meaningful way to create change and build healthier communities, literally, one step at a time (preferably in nature!).
I am inspired by the Institute’s vision to imagine parks as key players in solving complex human challenges, like stress reduction and obesity prevention. As I explore opportunities at the intersection of parks and health, I hope to continue the good work of the Health program to position parks as a catalyst for social change so that everybody sees parks as preventative health care and a place for them.
For the many partners out there working on nature & health and getting people outdoors, I look forward to working with you. May we rally together: Parks for All! Health for All!