Director, Health and Human Services, City of Evanston
I am Evonda Thomas-Smith, and my career in public health has been an exciting, energizing journey filled with new learning opportunities. The opportunities I have experience throughout my career have given me a rich understanding of how to confront multi-faceted health issues, such as how to improve access to healthcare, surveillance of infectious diseases, how to decrease environmental health hazards, and the analysis of how social determinants of health and social inequities impact health. As a public health leader for the City of Evanston, Illinois, I quickly realized I am the local face of a global network of professionals who strive to ensure the public's health through ongoing assessment of need and policy development.
Even though my life began on the south side of Chicago, I remember my first job as an actress. I worked for the Mayor's Summer Youth Employment Program at the Community Arts Theater. We performed plays and musicals throughout the summer for participants in the Chicago Park Districts. Singing and dancing through theater gave me the confidence I needed to be comfortable in my thick frame and brown skin. I was always the tallest girl in my class, so gaining confidence about my height and my body frame through theater allowed me to stand up straight...on purpose! I stand tall and confident because of my first job.