Alumni Profile: Subha Chandar, MPH ’00

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

MPH, International Health Promotion

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

I currently work for the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). NACCHO represents the nation’s 2,800 local governmental health departments. City, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal health departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities. 

My portfolio includes leadership, law, and ethics projects. I oversee the strategic development, policy development, operations, staffing, and finances for these areas, such as preparing funding proposals, developing briefs, building partnerships, managing budgets and contracts, and supervising staff. Though a typical day working at the national level involves a number of conference calls, meetings, emails, etc., all these activities work towards creating and growing relationships throughout the public health community, addressing policies that impact the public’s health, and providing capacity building assistance (technical assistance, training, funding, mentorship, demonstration projects, sharing of best practices, and more) for local health departments. In turn, local health departments share local innovative practices and policies with NACCHO and their local health department peers, inform NACCHO and national partners on local public health priorities, and guide development of tools, policies, curriculum, templates, and research at the national level so they are applicable to public health practice at the local level.

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

While I was completing my MPH at SPHHS, I held an internship at Adventist HealthCare’s Department of Prevention and Wellness which provided health education, events, and services for the Washington Adventist Hospital and Shady Grove Adventist Hospital communities. This opportunity turned into a part-time program assistant position and ultimately a full-time Program Coordinator position upon graduation. I went on to the CDC Public Health Prevention Service Fellowship program where I worked at the federal level for one year and completed a two-year field assignment at the Minnesota Department of Health prior to joining NACCHO in 2006. I have been at NACCHO for approximately seven years working on a range of topics and projects including environmental health, H1N1 response, health equity, economic impact on local health departments, public health law, and workforce development. 

What is the best career advice you have ever received?

Be flexible. The social, political, and economic influences on public health are greater than you expect. I actually think if the public health community had a motto, this would be it. 

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

Network, network, network. You will find that the public health community, though growing in numbers every day, is still a small community. The relationships you build and maintain help you to track what is on the public health horizon and to quickly identify growth and development opportunities.

What was the impetus for getting your SPHHS degree?

As part of my undergraduate degree in psychology at GWU, I took a class on the sociology of medicine and health care. It was my introduction to population health, and I was hooked.

Interview conducted September 2013