At the National WIC Association (NWA), I took equity, diversity, and inclusion courses and learned how to have a health equity framework in everything I do.
I organized health equity statements for the organization:
- Urgent Action is Needed to Dispel Racism and Safeguard Black Lives.
- Prioritizing Health Equity to Protect Native Lives.
- Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Spotlight Need for Action.
I held Zoom meetings with various stakeholders to learn more about the specific needs of Native and Indigenous people, immigrant and refugee families, folks in rural America, and those who dwell in urban areas.
To assist WIC staff with communication and outreach efforts about the COVID-19 virus, I helped create a COVID-19 & WIC Messaging Toolkit. During the height of the pandemic, I held weekly meetings with WIC staff from across the country and discussed barriers to their work. These meetings informed the content of the toolkit.
I also created a WIC & COVID-19 Vaccine Messaging Toolkit to share with the WIC community and partner organizations to help dispel myths and encourage people to get the vaccine. I also created and maintained a COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Page with information and resources about the vaccine.
In 2016, I became semi-internet famous… for having herpes. It started out simply, with a blog post I wrote entitled, “Yes, I Have Herpes. No, I’m Not a Degenerate.” It got more than 12,000 views over the weekend, and one of my coworkers encouraged me to have it published the Chicago Tribune. After that, interviewed for a podcast. SELF Magazine featured me in an article titled, “How To Tell Someone You Have Herpes” and Revelist included me in “What Living With Herpes Looks Like, in 9 Photos.” I was even interviewed for a program on Canadian public radio.
Did I want to be known for having herpes? It’s definitely not something I would’ve imagined. But the responses I received after being so public about my experience made it all worth while. Dozens of people — of all ages and from across the globe — emailed or messaged me saying that they, too, had herpes. By being open and vulnerable about my own life, I helped others feel a little less alone and a little more confident.