Alumni Profile: Genalle Triggiani, MPH '11

What degree did you receive from GW's SPHHS? What was your concentration?

Master of Public Health – Environmental and Occupational Health 

Please tell us about your current position. Can you describe a typical day?

As the Safety Administrator for [the IT company] CDW, my sole purpose is to ensure that all CDW employees in the Illinois Region have a safe work environment that is free from hazards. My day is not complete until each and every employee leaves work safely — the same as they came into work. I watch over every employee from the president of CDW to the cleaning crew.

My typical day begins with checking emails and addressing any issues that may have arrived overnight in the distribution center or at one of our four Illinois locations. The majority of my day is spent on our Illinois distribution center floor coaching employees on safe work practices, conducting hazard risk assessments, or leading safety training. When I am not in the distribution center I am in meetings with human resources/benefits and department directors discussing safety issues or safety programs that we are required to have in place. From there I establish safety programs. I am currently working on a fall protection and fall arrest program for our distribution center employees. I also conduct the incident investigations, in the event that we have had an incident, and come up with recommendations to prevent it from occurring in the future.

Please tell us about your path from SPHHS to where you are today. How did you get your first job in the field?

My career began while I was obtaining my degree. A former classmate from SPHHS put out an announcement for an environmental and occupational safety internship at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, DC. That internship turned into a two year part-time work opportunity for the Federal Reserve. While I was working on my CE, I took a full-time position with Booz Allen Hamilton as a safety, health, and environmental management senior consultant where I was exposed to many more avenues in the world of environmental and occupational health and safety in the federal government. When the opportunity came to move back to Illinois, I had to take it. That is when I stepped away from the federal world into the private sector and took the position at CDW.

What is the best career advice you have ever received?

Work for the job you want, not the job you have. Also, network and utilize those connections.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in your field?

Never stop learning and get certifications. Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety is always changing. New regulations and findings come out almost daily, so you have to always be willing to learn. Second, talk to your fellow classmates because they might be the key to your next career opportunity.

What was the impetus for getting your SPHHS degree?

My grandfather died from mesothelioma. He was exposed to asbestos while working as an electrician. I never wanted to see another person have to suffer as a result of their career, like he did. So when I was in my first year of nursing school, I took a class on public health as it related to nursing and that's when I realized that public health and in particular occupational health was my calling. After doing extensive research on this field I learned that a master’s degree in public health was the best choice for me and a school in Washington, DC was even better because I would be in the place where policies were developed and reformed. 

Interview conducted January 2014