Michelle C. Mitchell
Public Health Coordinator
St. Louis County Department of Public Health
In short, what do you do?
My current work priority is the St. Louis ReCAST initiative. I am responsible for the recruitment and supervision of community members that live within the Promise Zone. Through the process of participatory budgeting, residents help decide how funding money is spent in the areas of 1) mental health; 2) peer support; 3) trauma-informed care; 4) violence prevention; and 5) youth engagement. As a facilitator, I lead conversations around the various subjects to gather community input.
What is your perspective on progress in creating access to health care for underserved communities? What are the major challenges and roadblocks?
When discussing access to care, it is vital to note that significant progress has been made. Organizations are aware of the disparities that exist relating to ethnicity and socioeconomic status and have begun to tackle the issues at a policy level. Current roadblocks still include transportation, lack of community voice in program design, and funding opportunities that actually reach the communities in need.
You began your career in clinical research science. STEM related industries are notoriously lacking in diversity. Were there individuals or programs that helped guide you to opportunities in the field?
In high school, there were several programs and individuals that helped guide me to opportunities in the field of STEM. While attending Gateway Institute of Technology, I watched a documentary on the Bubonic Plague and instantly knew I wanted it be a scientist; this exposure shaped my career. My family has also been instrumental. I watched my aunt obtain her Nursing Degree and my grandfather holds a Master’s of Social work from Washington University in St. Louis.
What is your long-term professional goal?
In the near future, I would like to serve as a hospital CEO. My passion for healthcare lies in policy implementation. Understanding that policy it what drives the way organizations operate, I would like to be a voice at the table representing the African American community.
Tell us about your service with St. Louis Job Corps.
At St. Louis Job Corps, I serve as a mentor for young women. We have critical peer to peer conversations around difficult subject matter including self-esteem, mental well-being, and conflict resolution. This opportunity allows me to share my personal journey and struggles and has shown them that despite their circumstances they can make better choices for themselves and be leader in the career field of their choosing.