SPA Professor Plays Leading Role in Public Health Administration

November 22, 2023


UNM’s School of Public Administration (SPA) is playing an integral role in the future of public health in the U.S. 

Thanks to SPA Associate Professor Kate Cartwright, UNM is a growing, prominent part of the American Public Health Association (APHA.) 

This organization is the largest professional body of public health practitioners, scholars, students, and leaders. Public health professionals are represented in public, private, and non-profit sectors, and they all share an aim to improve the health of the public efficiently and effectively.  

kcartwrighimg_5740.jpeg“The smallest portion of the U.S. health care budget is spent on public health efforts, so public health professionals must be strategic and precise in how to impact change for health outcomes and health equity,” Cartwright said.  

Cartwright has a jam-packed resume when it comes to the APHA, with five years of leadership roles. In addition to leading and co-planning programs for the health administration section, she has served as program planning chair– orchestrating showcases for over 150 research teams across panel, roundtable, and poster presentations. That includes her work on rural New Mexican perspectives about and experiences with the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as breast cancer prevention efforts in the Zuni Pueblo. 

“I typically share work in progress at APHA in order to receive feedback from national experts as I develop my projects and manuscripts,” Cartwright said. “I work alongside leaders from the American Heart Association, the City of Hope, Public Health Officers from around the country, and professors and academics from around the country and world.“ 

She has also just  finished her two-year term as a governing councilor for APHA—one of approximately 297 voting members representing a membership body of over 50,000 members. 

Cartwright has helped elect the president of APHA and voted to adopt APHA policy statements.  

“We vote on APHA member-developed policies that inform the advocacy positions of APHA as an organization. Policies range from work-force specific, such as an effort to address and prevent violence targeted at public health officers for doing their job, to priority population efforts, such as supporting efforts to include women more equitably in HIV-related clinical research,” Cartwright said. “They articulate APHA’s position on public health issues to impact federal, state, and local legislation and regulation.” 

Cartwright has just returned from the APHA annual meeting, where she began her three- year term as chair-elect of the Health Administration Section.  

“In my new role, I am committing to leading the section as chair-elect, chair and past-chair. I will work to coordinate monthly meetings, engagement and mentoring events and work to support our members developing and presenting policy, while advocating for policies related to health administration and public health,” she said. “I will serve the members of our section to ensure that the needs of health administrators are represented in the national agenda. “ 

In July 2024, APHA will bring all section chair-elects to Washington D.C. for training on leadership, advocacy, and community building. Cartwright will have the chance to work with APHA leaders and to set up meetings with elected representatives from New Mexico. 

“I am able to share the research and work being done at UNM with national partners. I can continue to build upon our national and international network of other leaders committed to improving community and public health through excellence in health administration,” she said.  

In addition to the policies which feed directly into the state of health in New Mexico and even the UNM community, Cartwright says her work as a leader in the Health Administration section benefits SPA and UNM in several ways.  

“I have a front row seat to emerging research and policies which impact health care leaders. I bring this knowledge to our health administration students and community through my classes,” she said. “APHA is an organization which celebrates practitioners and researchers, which greatly benefits the students of SPA as our students are primarily seeking to make a difference through work in the healthcare industry and the public sector.“

It’s also about giving the next generation a chance to learn, connect and grow thanks to APHA. 

“I have the opportunity to participate in shaping the direction of public health and health administration priorities, which means that I share the perspectives of our students, our alumni, and our community stakeholders at the national level,” Cartwright said.  

Learn more about the policy work underway right now at the School of Public Administration.  

Credit: UNM Newsroom