Faire, left, meeting Oregon State Senator Arnie Roblan (who’s a big Star Wars fan) during a Public Health Advocacy Day in Salem, OR.

Faire Holliday is a Colorado School of Public Health at CSU alumni, and her concentration was in Global Health and Health Disparities. Before pursuing a graduate degree, she worked in direct service with people experiencing homelessness. Although she found the work incredibly meaningful, at some point she realized she was seeing the same people come in day after day—even after six years at the organization. She started realizing the importance of policy level changes and that guided her towards public health.

She now works as a Chronic Disease Prevention Specialist with the Tri-County Health Department. A big part of her current work is trying to pass policies that restrict youth access to tobacco in the retail environment. This includes policies like raising the minimum sales age to 21 and passing something called Tobacco Retail Licensing, which requires businesses to have a license to sell tobacco.

“Tobacco work is tricky. Many people see tobacco use as a personal choice and trying to pass policies like Tobacco Retail Licensing can be seen as anti-business. It can also be hard to convince people to care about tobacco. Even though it’s still the number one cause of death in the United States, it’s often seen as less important than other topics” she said.

Faire is actively using the strategies she learned in her classes to approach this problem. In her Health Systems, Policy, and Management class she learned about the “policy window”.  Right now, in tobacco prevention, the policy window is open because of all the cases of lung disease that have recently been traced to e-cigarettes. It’s making people pay attention to vaping, which gives Faire and her team the opportunity to pass stronger policies regarding cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

One thing she’s also learned, both in her previous role as a Health Education Specialist in Lincoln County, Oregon, and in this role, is that patience and teamwork is key. This is especially important when it comes to policy change.

“It is such a valuable experience getting to work with other public health professionals who bring their own strengths and innovative ideas to the organization. I have also learned that you have to be extremely patient and celebrate the small successes when they come along—since it might be a while before you get another one!” she said.

Faire, left, with two public health colleagues.

Faire’s ultimate goal is to get her DrPH or PhD and become a professor.

“I would like to take some time to work in the policy world first, though. I think I have a lot to learn that will ultimately make me a better professor” she said.

Faire is a great example of a ColoradoSPH alumni doing critical work in the public health field. Faire’s education, along with her mentors, have helped her realize what value and input she can bring to different projects, which has helped her gain confidence as a public health practitioner. She is looking forward to a long career in public health and eventually sharing her lessons learned with future generations of public health professionals.

Written by Megan Jansson