Alumni Profile: Lori Moore-Merrell, MPH '96, DrPH '02

What degrees did you receive from GW? What was your concentration?

MPH – Epidemiology and DrPH – Health Policy/System Performance Measurement

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

I manage the Technical Assistance and Information Resources (Research) Division of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). There are three departments within that division: Labor Issues and Collective Bargaining, Pension Resources, and Fire/EMS Operations/GIS.

The 18 members of my staff are all professionals who provide hands on assistance, in their respective areas of expertise, to more than 3200 fire departments and local labor unions throughout the U.S. and Canada. My largest department, Fire/EMS Operations, provides emergency response system evaluation, including geographic information systems (GIS) analysis, for municipal fire departments. This process includes assessment of community risk/hazards and evaluation of the emergency response resources deployed in the community. We work with federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Commerce (National Institute of Standards and Technology) to conduct frontline research on fire and emergency medical incidents and the adequacy of fire department response to these events.

Please tell us about your path from the Milken Institute School of Public Health to where you are today. How did you get your first job in the field?

I was in the first group of students admitted into the DrPH program at GW and was the first to graduate from the program in 2002. I was already working for the IAFF as I completed my degrees. However, my time at GW was critical to the growth of our research resources and opportunities to collaborate to conduct field research and issue landmark reports.

What is the best career advice you have ever received?

“You can’t finish until you start.” When you have what seems to be a monumental task or project looming, time passes and there will be a point in time when you realize that if you had started when you first considered the task… you could be finished now. So, duck your head and get started.

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

Make contacts. Washington, DC is a perfect place for this activity. Take every opportunity to meet people, attend seminars, and build bridges. Often opportunity comes in the least likely places. Never stop learning. With every bit of knowledge, comes a greater understanding of how much you don’t know.

What was the impetus for getting your degree at the Milken Institute SPH?

I work in a primarily male field. As a female, I believed I needed credentials to gain the respect necessary to make a difference. I completed my MPH at GW and had a great experience, so I continued when the DrPH program opened. I enjoyed the leaders in the program and the opportunities the university has for connecting with national level agencies and leaders.

Interview conducted February 2015