In celebration of National Health Education Week, we are interviewing four accomplished CHES® and MCHES® in varying career sectors across the country. Today, we are chatting with Janesia Robbs, MPH, MCHES®, a Health Communication Specialist on the Communication and Public Engagement team at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
NCHEC: How did you become a Health Communication Specialist?
Janesia: I attended Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD and studied health education and public health. I worked for several years as a health educator at a young adult reproductive health clinic for the Baltimore City Health Department. Then I worked with the Baltimore City Health Department’s Maternal and Infants program as a communication specialist and health educator for the, then new, B’more for Healthy Babies Initiative. Once I received my master’s degree in public health from Morgan State University, I obtained a job at FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health where I worked on various medical device related communications. After a few years working on medical device issues, I obtained a position in FDA’s Foods Program where I joined the public engagement team. In this role, I strategically planned and executed outreach efforts, lead internal cross functional groups, and communicated with external stakeholders on food safety and nutrition issues.
NCHEC: What are your main tasks in your current position?
Janesia: As a member of the public engagement team, I am responsible for strategically planning and executing outreach efforts, communicating with external stakeholders, managing stakeholder meetings, and providing forums for stakeholder perspectives to be heard including coordination of public meetings and other events for FDA and stakeholders. I also organize, manage, and implement several routine meetings FDA has with consumer and industry groups.
NCHEC: What do you love most about your job?
Janesia: The thing that I most love about my job is that I get to work directly with a diverse group of stakeholders representing industry, consumers, public health professionals, other government agencies, on food safety and nutrition issues that impact everyone.
NCHEC: What advice can you give to young professionals who wish to become health education specialists?
Janesia: Have an open mind. I never in a million years thought that I would be working at the FDA and enjoying what I was doing. As a health educator, you are equipped with many skills that lend themselves very nicely to other job titles like health communication specialist, program manager/analyst, public health advisor, consultant, media specialist, etc. Also, be open to do more (more learning, more hours, more effort, more impact) for less (less resources, less pay, less available time.) Over time, it will be beneficial, and you will have way more experience than your counterparts. You never know where doing more will lead you.