For this month’s Cohere coworking member profile, we’re talking with Caliornia native Abby Wilson about public health, music, Fort Collins’ best coworking space, her pastimes, and dodgeball.
Public Health Consultant
Abby originally hails from Ojai, CA, a town 1 ½ hours north of L.A. known for citrus and avocados. She’s been living in Fort Collins for almost exactly two years and joined Cohere 11 months after the move. Like many of us, she figured out that working alone from home sucks.
“I’ve met really great people and that just feels like a really special thing to me because all my work colleagues are far away,” she recently told me. “I don’t think I would have found another good way to connect with people.”
One of three or so Public Health Consultants in Colorado, Abby introduced me to the Toastmasters club I joined last winter. She’s far more interesting than she gives herself credit for.
“Things I like to do that I wish I could do more of* are reading, cooking, biking and hiking. I used to be a big runner but I’ve had trouble with that lately from injuries but I’d like to get into that again if I can avoid being injured.
“Gina helped me take up knitting again last year which has been fun although I haven’t been doing it much. I feel like it’s a cold weather hobby, so I’m sure I’ll do that again this winter.”
* This is the definition of “hobby” for anyone with kids below at least five or six years old.
Fighting the opioid epidemic
Abby’s work helps shape evidence-based, effective public health policies and interventions. To that end, she works with health-focused organizations doing research and evaluation, supporting their technical assistance activities and creating implementation materials such as toolkits and issue briefs.
“Right now I’m mostly working on opioid epidemic issues. The work that I do around it is pretty diverse. I support a large CDC project that’s working with over 40 states that are aiming to reduce both fatal and non-fatal overdoses from opioids. And we do that in a variety of ways, mostly by supporting peer-to-peer learning across states.”
Twinkies vs. dodgeball
“Then I also have another bucket of work that is around school health and promoting physical education, physical activity and healthy eating in schools. And that’s very similar: promoting peer learning opportunities with state departments of health and departments of education to talk to each other about what’s working, what’s not working, how they can continue to advance their efforts.”
Aside: Please sign my pending Change.org petition to bring dodgeball back. I’ll add a link here when it goes up.
What’s something about what you do that really lights you up?
“In a lot of ways these two lanes of my work feel really disjointed and dissimilar because they’re working with totally different organizations, totally different people and totally different divisions at CDC. But to me they feel very related. … Physical activity is the flipside of all the substance use disorder stuff. So that can be the antidote to it for a lot of people. It can be a piece of recovery or a piece of prevention even.”
“Even though I’m not working directly with kids or directly with the patient population I think there are a lot of systems issues that have to be fixed. Just a quick example: I’m working with Delaware right now on revising some policies and administrative codes … to reduce the number of people getting kicked out of what was formerly known as detoxification programs and medication-assisted treatment.”
“This just feels like something that we all have to work on now. It’s the first time in my career that I’ve been in a position to be working on what I consider to be such an urgent issue. That’s where I find my motivation each day.”
What brought you to Cohere?
“I had never worked remotely before and then suddenly for like nine, ten months I was working alone at home. I had just moved, too, so I was double-isolated. That first year was pretty much dreaming of moving back to Boston and it was clear I needed to do something different.”
What to you is unique about Cohere?
“I just love, you know, nobody else does really anything that similar to what I do. And I don’t expect that because I’m maybe one of three people in Colorado that does this type of thing, but I love just being able to talk to people that do all these diverse sorts of things.
Dessert Solitaire by Edward Abby.
“I think part of the reason I love it is because I read it when I was really homesick living in Mexico for three months. I just have such good memories of the act of reading the book. … I was homesick and it made me feel kind of more connected. Some of those areas he describes I had visited with my family.”
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese:
“That book was like 800 pages and I read it in four days. I loved it that much. That’s very rare for me to cruise through a book that quickly.”
“As far as music goes I fall very clearly into the folk genre. That’s the music I really love. Part of it is just what I was raised on.”
Interested in trying out Cohere and being surrounded by great people? Snag a free day pass and visit us!
John Garvey is a Cohere member, marketing copywriter, storyteller and writing coach. Read his blog The Garvington Post for business communication and writing tips (and the occasional rant). Also stay posted for John’s Change.org petition to revive dodgeball in elementary schools.