Lisa M. Carlson, MPH, MCHES


Lisa CarlsonFollowing the wise advice of mentors, I joined APHA and the Georgia affiliate (GPHA) 25 years ago. I’ve since attended every annual meeting but one and have served in leadership positions for both associations.

I was honored to be elected GPHA’s youngest president, and simultaneously chaired APHA’s Local Host Planning Committee. Across APHA, I chaired the PHEHP section, and the ISC, where I helped obtain voting rights for ISC, CoA, and Student Assembly, and linked ISC to the now joint CoA/ISC Candidates’ Forum. I served five years on the Executive Board and was elected as Chair during my third year. I have served on APHA-wide task forces and committees, including the Task Force on Joint Membership and the Improvement Workgroup. My service to APHA has provided me with a broad understanding of the Governing Council’s values and range of perspectives, having sat on three sides of the hall – for PHEHP, as Georgia ARGC, and with the Executive Board – for a total of 10 years. I have been honored by PHEHP with a practitioner’s award and by GPHA with Lifetime Honorary Membership.

Over the last 25 years, I have worked in public health and medicine at the intersection of health sciences, research administration and practice. Throughout, APHA has been my touchstone; though few of those years have been in traditional public health settings, all have drawn upon my passion for connecting sound science to effective administration.

Working at a voluntary health agency taught me how to navigate volunteer and staff partnership and communication. Then, over 16 years in senior leadership at Emory University, I facilitated annual funding growth in transplant research from $8.1M to $29M and launched the largest sponsored award ever received at Emory ($78M), leading the establishment (20 months ahead of schedule) of six international childhood mortality surveillance sites. Teaching has taught me to be a patient listener and mentor. Today, I build programs and solve problems that impact research across the School of Medicine missions. Every professional role I’ve held has been newly created. Together, they equipped me with flexibility, comfort with change, and a good sense of humor.

I truly learned how to be a leader from the APHA family and would be honored to give back through service as president-elect.

Candidate Statement

I am grateful to the CoA, my primary section PHEHP, and my affiliate (GPHA) for this nomination. I am committed to APHA for many reasons – the most important is that APHA is the voice for science-based public health. As APHA leaders, we are called to better APHA in order to advance our shared vision of the healthiest nation.

Over the 25 years I’ve been active in APHA and GPHA, I’ve appreciated our diversity, richness, and – yes – complexity. We are a big tent, with a lot of voices. Yet we maintain a strong, shared vision of the power of public health. We must strengthen our collective voice. Our sound science base gives APHA its credibility as we advocate to policy makers and to (and for) the public.

Advocacy is also about building relationships; we need to strengthen and grow our public health family to expand our influence. I have learned how to tell the public health story as I have gained skills in collaboration among partners, the application of science, and stewardship of resources. APHA must work externally – defining public health broadly, protecting resources, engaging partners, and shaping the debate locally and nationally. We must also work better internally – accessing member expertise, creating synergy among all components, examining new models, and making carefully considered choices about what we will and will not do. We must also strengthen the role of affiliates, since regardless of where we practice - we all live locally.

Across components, we have more commonalities than differences, facing the same challenges even though in different settings: retaining members, securing finances, engaging students, and fighting for evidence-based policy. The APHA president has a unique opportunity to listen to APHA’s many voices and work to unify them, strengthening APHA’s impact on the public’s health. I humbly ask for your support.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)