Lab Matters Winter 2022 | Page 4


Reflections on the Journey , and Iterating for Public Health

Q : How did you each find your way to public health ?
Daphne Ware : A good question , and we just talked about it !
Scott Becker : When we were together for the Newborn Screening Symposium , we had this conversation . It was three hours of , “ How did you get where you are ?” And Daphne has a great story .
Ware : I wanted a job that was stable , a job that was in Mississippi and a job that I could grow as a person as well as growing that organization . I had gone and interviewed at a lot of different places and had offers from pharmaceutical companies and hospital laboratories . But I was looking at a lot of different options when I came out of graduate school , and there really wasn ’ t a lot of guidance on what to do with your degree . So I just searched the early Internet , AOL ’ d and Yahoo ’ d looking for job options . I saw the Mississippi State Personnel Board website had an open technologist position . Well , I thought , I could do that for a little bit until I figured out exactly what I wanted to do . I applied for it and got a call for an interview the very next day . I was interviewed by 10 different people on a panel . It was very intimidating ! At that time , I didn ’ t even know what the public health laboratory was , but they hired me as a contract worker to run their Laboratory Response Network lab .
Becker : My undergraduate degree was in General Business , which means there ’ s no specific pathway . But during my undergrad , I was an intern on Capitol Hill and worked for the senator from Minnesota who was chair of one of the health committees , but it was health care financing . I decided I hated health care financing , but the idea of being responsible for a constituency , as well as to that constituency , really resonated with me , as young as I was . I knew I didn ’ t want to be in public office , but I wanted to be in public service somewhere . Even after that , I still didn ’ t know what I was going to do with myself . I spent some time working in the Career Center reviewing job postings and a posting for a project assistant for a CDC cooperative agreement with the Association of Schools of Public Health ( ASPH ) crossed my desk . I applied for the job and got it .
Q : And did you end up with the same duties and responsibilities that you hired on for ?
Ware : Initially , I was hired to put together equipment , but because they didn ’ t really have an active laboratory director , I had the opportunity to go through all the laboratories and learn operations from the bottom up . I got to see all the different kinds of work that we did . I got to meet the agency through that . I was involved in every grant . And I was always willing to do whatever was needed .
Becker : Because ASPH at that time was such a small organization , like you , Daphne , I got to see everything that went on behind the scenes . From the executive office to policy to administration , I had a role in all of it . Then , in 1997 , Eva Perlman called me and said , “ Hey , we have this job at the Association of State and Territorial Public Health Laboratory Directors ( ASTPHLD , now APHL ).” The Board Chair at that time thought I would maybe stay for three years and then move on , but this turned out to be my dream job . I thought the organization had such great potential to grow its influence , and I want to grow with it . Twenty-five plus years later , I ’ m still here !
Ware : I stayed in the laboratory because it is very much a family . I really , honestly cared about my coworkers , and I cared about our mission , and I just cared about making our laboratory better . I was able to
Our core function revolves around data , but data doesn ’ t need to be the focus point of what get us to the table .”
Daphne Ware , PhD President , APHL
see that in other people and it just was a good fit for what I wanted out of life .
Q : How do you both envision APHL ushering in new generations of laboratory directors , laboratory workers , administrators and public health community members ?
Ware : I think APHL ’ s in a great position to help provide that initial guidance that ’ s needed for our new public health laboratorians . The culture within the laboratory is changing ; I think there ’ s more fluidity in jobs now , and people are more willing to cross-train or transition between jobs . Having APHL be that foundation of information and standards is going to be tremendous as we maneuver through our current recruitment processes for new directors and laboratorians . When I first joined the Mississippi laboratory , I didn ’ t know
2 LAB MATTERS Winter 2022
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