PHutures – 100 Alumni Voices »

Alisa Padon

“Seek out chances to learn from great leaders and bosses. It may be worth taking a less desirable role with a better boss than a super flashy role with unsupportive leadership.”

Bloomberg School of Public Health

Health Behavior & Society, PhD 2014

Research Scientist II at The Public Health Institute

Alisa‘s Podcast Episode

In this episode, we discuss how Alisa’s interest in higher-level influences on our choices and on our health led her to pursue a PhD in Health Behavior and Society at Johns Hopkins, the ways intentionally building a versatile toolkit during her doctoral studies has benefited her career, and the joint roles of research, policy, and advocacy in her current work at The Public Health Institute.

Learn More About Alisa‘s Story

My mom is remarkable. Born in a small town in Montana, she earned a master’s degree in school psychology in 1974 and a focus in crisis counseling. She had the perfect combination of grit, heart, and brains. She always cared deeply about helping kids, but after having a daughter diagnosed with ADHD (me!), she developed a workshop for parents, teachers, and graduate students to help students with ADHD. In 1993, her design was chosen as one of the top 20 programs in the nation to help at-risk students and was invited to share it at the National Association of School Psychologists’ annual conference. In 1996 she was named Montana School Psychologist of the Year. Ten years of service later, she was named to “Who’s Who Among American Teachers 2006”. She is the reason it never occurred to me that my path might be limited because I was a girl.

Being diagnosed with ADHD at age 7, I had a lot of time to consider how the brain and other factors shape our identities. Completing my BA in psychology with a focus in cognitive neuroscience and then a master’s degree in Bioethics, I was driven by the question: “What makes us, us?” Our brain, upbringing, genetics, culture, policies… They all play a role. I found public health, with its acknowledgment of multiple levels of influence to be my perfect intellectual home.