Monica L. Ponder, MS, MSPH, PhD(ABD)
“The Public Health Unicorn”
Health Communicator. Social Epidemiologist. Chemist. Community Activist.
Trained professionally as a chemist, epidemiologist, and health communicator, Monica has worked for nearly 15 years advancing public health and social progress. This lens uniquely positions her to approach public health challenges strategically – offering solutions informed by bench science, health system-level influencers, and everything in between. Using her expertise as a scientist, Monica translates data into accessible health information; and, conversely, as a health communicator, she shares “people-centric” stories that impact community health and wellness. As a highlight, she has cultivated her talents at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness, and the Atlanta-based television station, WAGA/Fox 5.
An accomplished community activist compassionate social justice advocate, Monica led development of a social media campaign to bring lactation rooms to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; raised $2 million in private sector funds to help African American men in south Atlanta control high blood pressure and prevent heart disease – a leading cause of death among Black men; co-founded the Cascade Civic Alliance, which represents Atlanta’s oldest and historic African American neighborhood; and she serves as Board Chairman for Georgians for a Healthy Future, a state-wide health advocacy organization that works to ensure that every Georgian has access to the healthcare they need and deserve. She has been recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as a “40 under 40” honoree for her community activism.
A life-long learner, Monica is dedicated to teaching and scholarship. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemistry from Clark Atlanta University, and a M.S.P.H. in epidemiology from Emory University. She will receive her Ph.D. in communication from Georgia State University in 2019. Her dissertation bridges the sociology, health communication, and public relations disciplines and proposes a new model for crisis communication (for application by public health and health care organizations). Most importantly, she is the proud mother of Lindsey Ponder (12) – a creative soul, athlete, and entrepreneur in her own right.
An oldie but goodie, in this podcast, MLP talks about her journey and shares how the field of health communication can help solve our nation’s toughest public health and social issues.