Women STaRs Interview with Kelly Kidd
Kelly Kidd, MPH, CHES
Email Kelly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Connect with Kelly on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelly-kidd-she-her-they-40429b80/
Kelly Kidd has over 20 years of experience in public health and an educational background in health science, community health, and adult learning. She is passionate about health literacy, patient autonomy, shared decision making, and social justice. In her spare time she loves to read, create, explore, and cook. Visit Daisy’s Craft Patch, Kelly’s online store, for her beautiful and one-of-a-kind creations! Daisy’s Craft Patch: https://www.facebook.com/DaisysCraftPatch
This is an abridged transcript of this interview. To experience Kelly’s interview in full, please watch the video.
I want to thank all of you for listening today. My name is Shanti Harkness, and I’m the Media Manager for On Technology Partners, a woman-owned company addressing Cyber Security and Risk.
As a woman-owned business for 30 years, we wanted to share the stories of women and the Struggles, Triumphs, and Reflections they face. That is why we started Woman STaRs.
Join us as we share the reflections of women just like you that have survived struggles and embraced triumphs in their lives.
Today we’ll be talking with Kelly Kidd. I’ve known Kelly for about eight years now. She has been a wonderful mentor, colleague, and friend. Kelly, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today.
Oh, thank you for having me and for thinking of me for the segment, it’s exciting.
So let's go ahead and get into this interview. Tell us a little bit about what you do, your background, different positions that you've held, your education, how long you've been in your field, things like that.
Sure, sure. In general, my positions have all been related to public health. And I've been working in public health for well over 20 years now, I would say. And I have, education wise, a bachelor's degree in health science, with a focus on community health and health education, which basically is pre-med with social sciences included, is kind of how the degree is focused. And I have a Master's in Public Health with a focus on community health. And I have not finished but I've completed eighty-four credits of a doctorate degree in education, so an EdD as opposed to a PhD. And the focus is adult learning and higher education. I personally like the adult learning part. And I've completed my research. I just haven't written up everything and defended it and all of that stuff.
And gosh, I've worked in profit, nonprofit, home infusion, health departments, national nonprofit organization, health system, retail pharmacy—I'm sure I'm missing a couple of things. And I've done anything from actually marketing and media for a health system, and health educator, health education supervisor, community impact director, patient education, and patient experience coach. That was actually one of my most interesting jobs. I think I'm forgetting the rest of the question, but hopefully I've touched on everything.
So before we get into talking about struggles, let's take a look and focus on some of your biggest triumphs. Can you share what happened and why it was such a great triumph for you?
For me, I'm very focused on, and the core of my being, is really centered on patient personal choice. Health equity, or terms we hear today. Social justice is a term that we hear today. And really, I think that I truly believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all living things. And trust is a big foundation of that. And I would say one of my—and I might tear as I share the story—one of my biggest triumphs is, one day an individual walked into where I was working. I worked at a federally qualified health center at the time, and he said, “You told me that you would always be there for me.” And I had just done some basic outreach education. That's how I came to know this person. And I said, “Yes.” And he said, “Well, I'm thinking of killing myself. And the only thing that I could think of was that you're a person in my life who said you'd always be there for me. And so I came to see you.” I think that when you have that kind of trust, and you can be there for someone in their moment of need, that's a triumph.
Absolutely. You're actually making me cry. Because I can relate to that person. I struggled with depression almost my entire life. But I didn't have anybody that I could reach out to when I was at that point. So for that man to be able to trust you, and to be able to reach out to you and in such a time of need, just speaks volumes. And that you were able to be there for him, that's definitely a triumph.
It's an honor. And I would say, it also shines light on—for all intents and purposes, I'm an acquaintance for him. I had met him once. And it also makes me think, “Well, I'm deeply honored that I could be the person that he chose to trust and reach out to in what has to be one of the most vulnerable moments in a person's life. I also think about, what is his circumstance that, as you mentioned, having that kind of support, and having a support system, that for all intents and purposes, he needed to reach out to someone who he had just met once.
And that, I think, is also part of what drives me is that, what else is there? What is that environment? And how can we really make sure that those support systems are there and that environment exists for everyone that they can feel that they can not only be vulnerable, but share that, because that topic specifically is very delicate, and uncomfortable for a lot of people too. But anyway, I would say trust. That's one of many stories, but I would say that, you know, my triumphs are trust.
Wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing. So we know that triumphs don’t come without their share of struggles, right? What have been some of your biggest struggles? This can be professionally. It can be personally. If you could share how you got through it, how it affected you? What kind of impact it had on your life or your career? And what really made it so challenging?
Sure. Gosh, I would say one of the biggest and probably obvious ones, just by looking at me, is the fact that I am a woman. And being a woman, and even in an industry that typically is saturated with women—right public health—and typically does have a very female-heavy environment. And even so, I think being a woman and being a woman who—I was always this way—who is more assertive, and who will speak for those who often don't have a voice, and will cause that friction and push—professionally, of course—but push those lines that people often will consider taboo, but they need to be discussed, because they are a foundation of the environment, whatever environment that is.
I would say that's probably one of the biggest struggles that I have. Not having a clinical degree—I do not have a clinical degree—and working in environments where it is clinician heavy. And public health, not having a clinical degree, but still knowing what I know, has also been a challenge with credibility and influence. It is very easy—and I'm sure so many people can relate to this. It's very common to dismiss a female with thoughts and ideas, especially when she is a little more assertive.
And it is even more common, unfortunately so, to struggle and resist embracing an individual in a clinical environment that does not have a clinical degree. And I think professionally, those have been the two biggest struggles, especially when interacting with C-suite individuals. So organizational leaders and decision makers who, in certain systems, may be clinicians themselves, and who really are—it's just a lack of exposure. I'd like to say that it's ego, and in some it is. I'd like to say, and it's very easy to say, that it would be because of males and males in authority. That's not always the case either. I really think it's the division and the separation of, in my field at least, the clinical and the non-clinical, and really that integration.
We hear that a lot in public health too, integrative health. And we're looking at mental health, we're looking at behavioral health, and that integration. We're looking at substance use and abuse. We're looking at patient-centered medical home, and how do we have this home base for individuals to receive the care that they need, and recognizing that different disciplines have their strengths and have their limitations. And so how can we really have this collective effort of individuals caring, or teams of individuals and communities and themselves.
And so I find that, as a woman, I've struggled. As a non-clinician, I've struggled. And it really comes down to just how traditions have been kind of established over time. And that separation that we have seen in the public health profession of, “This is my job, this is my job” in this hierarchy of beliefs of how useful these aspects are. But now we're seeing, especially in the pandemic, that the non-clinical aspects of life are very, very important to the health and well-being of an individual. And how can we address that? And I feel like I've been talking too much about that, because I really could go on and on with that conversation forever. So I'll put a pause on that.
Personally, I would say the struggle has been, I have complex PTSD. And so with that does come its own set of challenges with panic and with anxiety, with aspects of depression. And I think the filter that you see the world with, and especially when one of the challenges is, “Am I safe?” And that's one of the things that I have a challenge with and panic with my PTSD. That has been something to—that I've had to take a step back and reframe how I see conversations, how I look at the whole picture, not only what's being said, but body language, and what is the intent behind this? And that has, while unfortunate because that is something that I struggle with, it also has helped me in my career to see, what does this person mean – when someone is frustrated, when they're yelling? If they're swearing, for example, in a lot of the environments that I've been in, what does that really mean? What is that person’s struggle? What is going on?
And it has made me, I think, more in tune to that and more empathic as a result. But I do struggle, especially in the arena of confidence. And that I—am I allowed to say a swear word? That I am a bad— and I can do it, that I am empowered, and that it's okay if I do these things. So I think that's the personal struggle, and then having those professional layers of just being a female in society, I think, plays on that as well. So you just find a balance. And it's always a work in progress.
Women in this modern age, we balance so many different things in life. So how do you make sure that you're maintaining a work-life balance? I know it's a little different now that there’s a pandemic here. You don't have a job and are searching. But just in general, how do you make sure that you're keeping that work-life balance?
Yeah, no, that's a really good question. And I would say even being unemployed, there still is this work-life balance. Because searching for a job is a lot of work. It’s a job in and of itself. Different circumstances, of course. I think for me, it really is that creative aspect. It is actually, even whether I'm creating something or I'm reading a book, I'm meditating, I'm watching my favorite, funny movie and having a laugh, I’m talking with a friend, it is just making sure that I take time for something that is for me.
Even when we are balancing family, significant others in the home, children, if we're caring for parents or someone else, we have so many different roles and hats, that it can be—and we tend to care for ourselves last. Everything we hear, it's all around us, we tend to take care of ourselves last. And it's cliché, and yet it's true: who cares for the caregiver? We do. And I think giving yourself permission to be able to do that is essential. I used to be the person who carried the BlackBerry and worked 80 hours a week and answered phone calls and emails at 11 o'clock at night. And I quickly learned that that continues to happen when you set the stage for that to be able to happen.
For me, I think what changed that to have a balance was, I was a manager of a program. I had the flu. I was home with the flu and received a call from my supervisor to say that the state needed a report. And I have 103-degree fever. There's no way that I that I'm going to be able to function to get these things done. And my response was, “The information that they need is in different reports. I think my team can pull it together, and it'll be okay.” I pushed back and said, “You know, I have the flu. I cannot come in and do this. I just can't.”
And I think that conversation really helped me to frame that. Oh my gosh, I'm lacking that balance. Oh my gosh, how did I get here? How did it happen that I'm getting a phone call when I have 103 fever demanding your report that didn't need to be done that day? And all of it worked out. And my supervisor called the state explained that I was home with the flu, and they were fine with it. And that's when I really realized that you need to you need to have that balance and be able to set those boundaries for yourself. I think juggling is just really, what are the most important things that you need to do for the day, or for the moment, or for the minute, and make sure that that includes time for you.
Okay, so before we close our interview, if you want to just take a moment and reflect on something that you may have wished you'd known sooner in life, and then share that with us.
Trust your gut. It never steers you wrong. Never. Yeah, I would say trust your gut. Because there—I think that's—I don't really have a lot of regrets in life at all. I do have a few things that I wish I would have made a different choice at the time. I did the best that I could with what I had. And in each of those situations, my gut was telling me to do something else, and I didn't. And I wish I had listened to my gut. One was going to grad school. I put that off. I was married at the time. And I put that off, because my then-husband was too—he didn't want to move. Even though we had discussed that.
And the second was before I moved, I was offered a job. And I didn't take it. And I wish that not before I moved here to Harrisburg, but younger in life, I was offered a job and I chose to move with my then boyfriend, so that he could go to school because I didn't want to do a distance relationship, even though we would only be two hours away. And again, not a regret. Did what I thought was right at the time. Looking back, my gut was so strong on both of those. It would have been good to listen. So yeah, I would say whatever the situation, trust your gut.
Excellent, excellent advice, thank you. Kelly, it has been an absolute privilege speaking with you. Thank you so much for taking the time.
Thank you. Thank you so much.
So that's all for this episode of Women STaRs. If you'd like to nominate a businesswoman to be interviewed for Women STaRs, please email their contact information and your reason for nominating them to email@example.com. My name is Shanti Harkness. Until next time, have a great day.