HealthSTAT leaders bound by RSPH connection

danny vincent

Danny Vincent 05MPH (left)
and Michelle Putnam 09MPH

There was no drum roll marking the hand-off at HealthSTAT last year. But it was an important transition for the organization. Jane “Danny” Vincent 05MPH, who had led the group as executive director for more than three years, passed the reins to Michelle Putnam 09MPH in August 2009.

Now a decade old, HealthSTAT—Health Students Taking Action Together—has come a long way since a small group of Emory health professions students decided they needed more than a classroom education to make a difference in the health of their communities. Today, the organization includes public health, medical, nursing, business, and law students from Emory, the Medical College of Georgia, Morehouse School of Medicine, Mercer University, the University of Georgia, and other schools across the state. Each year, students accomplish more, building on the foundation laid by students before them. “Together, we have protected the health of immigrant communities, defended health insurance for children, partnered in the community to reduce childhood obesity, and fought to keep Atlanta’s public hospital open,” says Vincent.

The battle continues. In March, HealthSTAT reached out to students to attend the annual state Legislative Breakfast, along with student members of the Georgia Public Health Association. Emails went out, noting that Georgia faced a $650 million gap in Medicaid funding and that legislators threatened to cut eligibility even further. HealthSTAT members have pushed for increasing revenue by raising the tobacco tax and revising income tax rates and tax credits to avoid cutting essential services.

Since taking over at HealthSTAT, Putnam has learned a great deal about how policy is made in Georgia and how nonprofits play an important role in providing services and advocating for consumers. “Even more,” she says, “I’ve learned that Georgia’s students are an incredibly dedicated bunch.”

Vincent’s experience at HealthSTAT in promoting sound health policy for Georgia prompted her to enroll in law school. Putnam plans to learn and grow at HealthSTAT and work long-term in the health nonprofit community. The organization has been a stepping stone for both of them. It is also a place where Rollins students and alumni, and those in other health professions at Emory and in Georgia, can have an impact for years to come.—Carol Pinto

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