Public health consulting: Lessons learned building Moxley Public Health, with Stephanie Moxley

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In this episode, Sujani sits down with Stephanie Moxley, the founder of Moxley Public Health Consulting. They discuss Stephanie’s journey into building her own public health consulting company and talk about what goes into becoming a successful entrepreneur in the public health field.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Stephanie’s path to public health and what drew her to the MPH
  • How parenthood has changed Stephanie’s career path and advice for other new parents that are managing their own businesses
  • What Moxley Public Health is and why Stephanie wanted to start her own consulting company 
    • What challenges Stephanie faced and early successes she achieved through her company
    • What kinds of projects Moxley Public Health takes on and how the company has evolved over the years
    • Future plans and new initiatives Moxley Public Health has in store
  • Advice from Stephanie for fellow public health entrepreneurs including what character traits or skills may help someone become a successful entrepreneur 
  • How networking is essential in working as a consultant in public health and tips on how to cultivate this skill

Today’s Guest:

Stephanie Moxley is the owner and founder of Moxley Public Health (MPH) Consulting. Stephanie first began her career in public health 20 years ago as a health educator and program coordinator focused on HIV/STD prevention at the GO GIRL! Program at Bronx AIDS Services in Bronx, New York. After discovering her passion for the field of community public health, she moved to Boston and continued her education and training at Boston University School of Public Health. During graduate school, Stephanie was chosen for the HIV Social and Behavioral Sciences fellowship, worked full-time as a research assistant in a youth alcohol and marijuana study conducting motivational interviewing, was the president of PHAM (Public Health Alliance for Minorities), and completed her internship conducting health education at a rural community in Jamaica. Following graduate school, Stephanie worked on several projects from the local level all the way up to CDC federally funded projects. 

Stephanie has committed her career to focus on health promotion, addressing health disparities and inequities, and working to improve the health of both rural and urban communities. Stephanie seeks to understand a problem and finds a solution that is driven by data and evidence-based practices. She is experienced in collecting both qualitative and quantitative data that is efficient and useful, conducting needs assessments to identify both the assets/resources of a community along with their gaps/areas for improvement, and using data to effectively and thoughtfully implement a program with a strong evaluation plan. Additionally, Stephanie seeks to build organizational capacity by training others to conduct various public health skills. Interwoven into Stephanie’s work, is her innate ability and love of creating collaborations that improve the health and lives of people in a community.

Stephanie holds a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences from Boston University School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Hunter College in New York City.

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Episode Transcript

Stephanie 0:00
Because I think that that is such a great number of new public health, one of the workforce if even if you’re not going to be like a consultant or have your own company, just to think about what you want to do and listen to other people what they do.

Sujani 0:15
Welcome to PH SPOTlight, a community for you to build your public health career with. Join Us Weekly right here. And I’ll be here too, your host Sujani Siva, from PH SPOT.

Sujani 0:30
Hey, Stephanie, welcome to the PH SPOT podcast. And thanks for joining me today.

Stephanie 0:35
Hi, Sujani. How are you?

Sujani 0:37
Good. I’m actually very excited about this. Because I think as much as we’ve already kind of spoken to each other and become friends over this year, I don’t think I’ve ever kind of like heard your journey. So this is quite new for me too.

Stephanie 0:50
And maybe I should start a podcast so I can hear your journey.

Sujani 0:53
Yeah. Now this is so good. And like I said, for our listeners, you know, Stephanie and I, we kind of met over the internet and have become good friends, I’d like to say and Stephanie’s been helping me out with PH SPOT brainstorming a bunch of great ideas. So it’s kind of my honor to really, you know, sit here today and get to hear how you come to where you are today and hear a little bit about your journey and inspire others who may be interested in taking a similar path as you.

Stephanie 1:23
And I just want to say same here, Sujani, I’m so happy we’re friends. And I look forward to our next mastermind that we’re doing and advice you give me and the encouragement. And so-

Sujani 1:33
This is why you need to find yourself some friends in public health who can motivate you and push you. So there’s your first piece of motivation for this episode. Okay, Stephanie. So I know a little bit about your background, but I don’t think I’ve ever asked you kind of how you discovered public health and what drew you to this field. So maybe we can start with that.

Stephanie 1:55
Yeah, so I’m pausing. So I’m trying to like do the count of how many years you know, like when I went into undergrad over 20 years ago, I definitely did not even know of the field of public health. And so I probably had like 10 different majors in undergrad, a lot of them were sort of health related. And then I moved to New York City, and I finished undergrad there. And I finished end up finishing sociology, I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do. But I was applying to jobs, right, as you do after undergrad. And one of the jobs I applied to when in New York City was this agency called Bronx aid services. And they had a new programs starting up for HIV prevention with adolescent females in the South Bronx called Go Girl, and I got that job. So that is what introduced me to public health. It was there that I learned about the field. And then kind of the next step several years later, after working there was to go to graduate school. So I moved from New York City very reluctantly to Boston, where I went to graduate school and got a master’s in public health.

Sujani 3:09
So no, that’s interesting, because like, you went from a sociology degree and then apply to this role. And I kind of pulled up your LinkedIn here. So I could get the name of your position now called coordinator and health educator. And you know, when I read that title, I’m thinking that’s a very public healthy role, where you get nervous at all whether you could actually do that role, given your sociology background, or you didn’t really think too much about it and just jumped into it, because I’m asking for some of our listeners who are early in their career and kind of feeling that sense of like, oh, can I do this role? Do I have enough experience? Do I have the skill set? So I’m curious to hear how you approach that?

Stephanie 3:50
I mean, first of all, that was a long time ago. So I’m sure I was wildly nervous. Yeah. So whether I could do it. But looking back at it, gosh, just what a wonderful experience. It was, it sort of was fate. You know, I don’t know. I mean, I think it was kind of a natural position. For me. I think I really, I think I wanted to do public health. But I just didn’t know the verbiage for that.

Sujani 4:13

Stephanie 4:14
And so of course, I mean, I was young, and I had so much to learn. And my learning curve was huge, but I think it was a very natural position for me. I don’t know, I guess I’ve never really said this out loud. I guess I almost already knew of the field of public health and health prevention in my heart.

Sujani 4:29

Stephanie 4:29
But I didn’t know that what it was called.

Sujani 4:32
Yeah, no, that makes sense. So you- you spent two years at Bronx aid services and go on to do your master’s in public health for another two years. And then yeah, what happens after that?

Stephanie 4:45
So in graduate school, I don’t know I did a lot of HIV prevention at that time. That was a much, I guess, hotter public health area. And I as a skill set, I was doing a lot of monitoring and evaluation. mission. And so then I got a position at John Snow Incorporated. I don’t think I’ve ever asked you if you know that firm, it’s-

Sujani 5:10
Yeah, yeah, I’ve seen- I’ve seen kind of their organization on LinkedIn.

Stephanie 5:14
Yeah. So I was just so fortunate to get that job. And I was a consultant, one of their consultants for a consulting firm. And that was such a great experience, because I worked for a firm, but I had my hand in several different projects. So I learned so much, I wasn’t the leader on any of those projects, of course, because I was fresh out of graduate school, but I helped in a lot of programs. And so I learned so much. And I was doing at that point, a lot of monitoring and evaluation, which was a great skill set to learn.

Sujani 5:53
What drew you to like John Snow or like a position as a consultant? Was it the organization that you were aiming for? Or was it the actual role as a consultant? Because, you know, once people read the title of today’s episode, we’re going to talk about how you started your own consulting firm. So yeah, I’m curious whether the consulting interest came first, or was it the organization that came first?

Stephanie 6:16
You asked all these questions about things, I haven’t thought about it. So again, just luck. It was just such a blessing to get a job there. I don’t know. Like, what, I think I knew somebody who knew somebody type of thing. Like my last year of grad school, I don’t think I was like, I don’t want to work at a consulting firm, you know?

Sujani 6:35

Stephanie 6:36
I think I started hearing about John Snow Incorporated. I remember, there was like, three places I was really interested in working at, please do not ask what the name that I forget. But they were all in Boston. But I end up working at John Snow corporate, I don’t know, I mean, I needed a job, right? It was great, because I just got, you know, I got a position as one at one of the top places, but I don’t remember that I wanted to be a consultant per se. It just kind of was something that I happened into.

Sujani 7:07
Okay. And then you said kind of monitoring and evaluation is this like the I guess we can call it the area of public health that you specialized in. For those listeners who are kind of still trying to figure out what area of public health they want to work in, maybe you could give us a like a quick one on one of what that entails.

Stephanie 7:27
So before grad school because of the Go girl program. And then during grad school, I was very program minded probably because of my previous job experience. And then I was a fellow I was the HIV prevention fellow in grad school. And we’re looking at programs, we were adapting programs, so evidence based interventions for HIV prevention, and then with programming. So you know, if somebody gives you an amount of money, you have to show that you’re doing what you said you were going to do, and whether that program is actually making a difference. And that’s what monitoring and evaluation is. So showing what you said you were going to do, and showing whether it’s made a difference or not. And that was kind of a, you know, a major part of programming,

Sujani 8:14
And a huge part of public health, right? Whenever you’re funded all these programs, you want to be able to show that you did well without money so that you can get funded again. So it’s a cycle.

Stephanie 8:26
Yeah. And I’m just really thankful for that experience. Because I wouldn’t call myself full out monitor like an evaluator to now, but I’m a very evaluate or minded. Does that make sense? And that else and my work across the board.

Sujani 8:44
Yeah. Thanks for that. As we continue through your journey, I guess you work for two years at John Snow.

Stephanie 8:51
I worked for more than two years. But yeah.

Sujani 8:53
Okay. Then comes your own consulting firm. And so yeah, take us back to how that all started.

Stephanie 9:00
So you know, maybe this will be encouraging because, you know, to sort of the personal side of life, I slowly went out of John Snow and then I honestly started having babies. I don’t know to say it and so that was sort of my focus. It was the- I left Jon Snow I think I was pregnant. And I was doing private consulting on the side so I was doing projects you know, I had contracts here and there maybe this is like inappropriate the podcast but I was truly like, I think I was in like active labor and trying to finish up a report and- and with my first baby, and so I have four altogether.

Sujani 9:44

Stephanie 9:45
So I did consulting through at least my first few children. Well, they’re all- I don’t- all of them but all a different always at different levels, but I have to say a little bit at that point. You know, my perfection was definitely like in the backseat. I mean, my focus was having children and all of my, they’re all girls, they’re all really close together, 14 months apart. So I was just like in the trenches, and so I was doing consulting on the side, but it was not my focus. And so I think my business was an LLC, but I was just kind of keeping my toe in. But I will be honest, it got a little hard when the girls were little, there was definitely a few years where I didn’t have a project at all. And I was totally focused on motherhood. And so I kind of I had Moxley public health, it was, you know, already a business, but very part time. And then several years ago, I realized that you know, what, I think I’m ready to take my career as more of a front seat. So that’s kind of when I started full time consulting, but not so- Full time is not the the focus, but the focus is that I, I looked at my company, as I was much more serious about it, I got very serious about my entrepreneurship, you know, in my business. And here we are.

Stephanie 9:45
I guess, like leading up to that point where you decide to, like, take a more front seat with Moxley public health, you said, you know, there are some years where you didn’t have a contract and other years where you’re you had maybe like one here and there, like I’m assuming most of those initial or early day contracts. Were all through your network. Is that fair to assume?

Stephanie 11:43
Yes, yes.

Sujani 11:44
And so yeah, I guess for individuals who are in that similar boat where they haven’t made consulting their full time focus yet and are still kind of dipping their toes into it. Yeah, maybe a little bit more on how those early days were and challenges that you may have faced or successes that you can remember, that could be motivating to individuals.

Stephanie 12:09
I’m going to kind of talk from the place of when I really started to put a focus on making, you know, my career again, when I decided that you know, what, I’m really going for this, you know, like, I did things like make a website and like I got really, you know, I was like really kind of lining things up. That was a point where I did not have a contract. So I wasn’t doing work already. At that point, I started to have also an idea of what I wanted to do. And I didn’t just want to do anything, that I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. But there was a lot of the feelings there were imposter syndrome, big time. It was a little discouraging, because, you know, I knew I was like, I just want to get one like one- one contract. Like it was discouraging. And also, this is like from somebody who’s been in the field for like, a long, long time, you know, but I remember sending out emails, and I think this is lesson number one, I did not burn bridges with relationships in the field that I had. So I was reaching back out to like, colleagues throughout the years, just like, hey, you know, here’s what I’m doing. Basically, I want to get serious about this. And looking for a contract? Well, I would say it took about a year, honestly didn’t get a contract. This is more of a lesson in entrepreneurship. And it is in like public health, that if you’re going to start a business, like you have to know that it’s not going to like happen overnight. Yeah,

Stephanie 13:44
I think I knew that in my mind, because I had already been given that advice. And then also, I’ve been consulting so long, so I like knew a little bit I guess about it. But it doesn’t happen overnight. And it takes time. It wasn’t just time. It’s what I did with the time. I mean, I was pounding the pavement, I was out there, like putting myself out there and talking to people. And I think that is a lesson too. Like I was talking to everyone and anyone. And again, I had already been doing consulting, Moxley public health already existed, but I wanted to take it to the next level and think about what I really, you know, wanted to do as a consultant, because it was sort of my chance to recreate myself because that makes sense.

Sujani 14:30

Stephanie 14:31
If, for instance, I was very strongly in evaluator, and I thought, oh, and then also I was working on her certain health issues. Do I really want to do that anymore? I don’t know. Do I want to take a new turn? So one of the best things I did was I talked to other consultants.

Sujani 14:44

Stephanie 14:44
Whether you’re it’s a- it’s a new career thing or you’re taking a turn in your career or whatever. That I think is really good advice. And nobody really told me honestly, I kind of I think I kind of came up with that on my own, because anybody will talk about themselves for- for a half an hour, so I would just say, hey, listen, do you have like 30 minutes somewhere? Well, you’ll just talk to me on the phone, you know, and just answer questions. And that was one of the best things I ever did. I was listening to like podcasts at that point. And that’s why I told you, I, when I taught, you know, at the University a couple months ago, I use your podcast as one of the, quote reading requirements, because I think that that is such a great thing for new public health, one of the workforce if even if you’re not going to be like a consultant, or have your own company, just to think about what you want to do and listen to other people what they do.

Sujani 15:36
They think like, the advice that you gave is, is for more than like anyone thinking about entrepreneurship, I think just going out and talking to people and putting yourself out there is applicable, even when you’re looking for a job, right? The lessons are similar, just like the next day, after you graduate from your undergrad or your masters, you’re not going to be handed a job. So you need to put yourself out there similar to how you’re saying, you know, you had to put yourself out there to build your business, I think the lesson is applicable to probably anyone listening to this episode.

Stephanie 16:10
Yeah. I mean, that’s why I believe so strongly in you know, your mission. Because I do think that if more people and graduate school, specifically public health school, knew more about what other people are doing in the field, I think that’s really useful.

Sujani 16:28
Yeah, it takes the- it takes that like guessing game out of the picture. And like the sense that you have to do this alone and on your own, and you don’t, because like many, many, many people have done it before you and so you just have to lean on that sort of support.

Stephanie 16:43
Yeah. And I think sometimes in graduate school, I know in graduate school for me, you know, I loved being surrounded by all these brilliant people in academia. But I look back, like that’s kind of all I was surrounded by was people in academia. So I didn’t really know a whole lot about how you could use a public health degree in the field, because I didn’t really want to go into academia. I don’t know, I never really saw myself. I don’t know. It’s just seems like they need to put more effort. And maybe some universities are until like, you know, actually hearing about what people do on the field.

Sujani 17:17
Yeah. So it’s interesting, because you said, you struggled with imposter syndrome, but yet you put yourself out there. So how did you convince yourself or push yourself to go and talk to people, despite having this like, voice inside of your head telling you that, like, maybe you’re not the one who should be going down this path?

Stephanie 17:38
I think it was good, because I was humble, you know, truly, I didn’t act humble. I was humble. I don’t know. I mean, that’s just kind of a natural skill. And mine. I mean, I like talking to people. So I think for me, that was almost the easiest route was like, okay, we’ll just, you know, to hear what people do. And other things I did is I, you know, have a lot of money at that point to invest into my business. But one of the things I did was I had a couple business coaching sessions, and I look back at that, and that was so valuable, and Dr. Charlotte Huntley, she was the first one. So I do my business, I do a lot of community health needs assessments. And I remember a conversation that we had, which is all about me, niching down. And she was like, listen, I know, for you to have a successful company, like some people are generalists, and that’s fine. But you should really focus on one skill and niche down. And she was the one that kind of told me that. So that was a really good investment.

Sujani 18:43
And had you done like needs assessment prior to that like to show for, like, as your portfolio, I suppose?

Stephanie 18:51
F rom a programming standpoint. So needs assessments are really im portant for programs too. So again, you have to collect data and the need for a program. If an organization or whoever wants to start an intervention or a program, they first have to collect data and information and assess whether it’s actually needed, and whatever community they’re serving. So I had done that for more of a programming place, I guess.

Sujani 19:19
So you said it took you a year to land that first contract. So you had some, you know, coaching sessions with a few individuals, and then you land this first contract, and I’m assuming that was through just talking to people and I guess putting yourself out there with your colleagues.

Stephanie 19:36
So it was with partners on health. And I was so big and exciting.

Sujani 19:42

Stephanie 19:42
I love partners and health and I- That’s one of the places I went to work like 20 years before 15 years or something. So that really just happened by just talking to anyone and then being brave about reaching out is how I got that and that would not have happened if I was waiting for the job to, you know, somebody to come to me. So that was a lot of work. And, you know, I was really nervous. And that actually was not needs assessment, I helped a team in Haiti, do trainings with their mental health professionals on child adolescent mental health. So that was incredible. They have been an incredible team to work with, but you know, I, I felt like, oh, my goodness, you know, can I do this and it, I think there was some, like, negative feelings from myself or from a few people around me and like, just don’t listen to that, like, you, like, have the ability, your professional you know, and like, don’t let any negative feelings or thoughts or even talk from others, like, affecting, you know, go get it, you know, and that has been a wonderful project. And I’ve made amazing relationships, sort of a forever relationship with partners and health, with the team in Haiti. And I’ve learned new skills, and I was very qualified to do the task, but I learned, you learn from everything you do. And it was okay to not go in there knowing exactly what I needed to do. I think that’s another skill that taught me I think, when I was having such impostor syndrome, it’s okay to not know everything. I think I’ve learned that more than I ever had in the last few years. Like, it’s okay to admit that. I guess it’s sort of annoying when somebody like acts like they’re the expert and everything. I’m professional and smart, but I don’t know everything.

Stephanie 20:12
I think I needed to hea- hear that for this morning, I was having a moment of, I don’t know if I can do this with PH SPOT and like, grow to where I want to grow it. So that’s a good reminder that it’s okay not to know.

Stephanie 21:46
I think it really is, I think that is a good lesson to learn as you go and your career. I mean, you can be in your career, decades, and you don’t know everything. And I think the wiser person admits when they’re like, you know, what, I don’t know about that. You know, and I mean, I think clients want the they want the good feeling that you have obviously experience and expertise, then you you know, can take over something for them. But I guess at the same time, it’s okay to not know everything and to be learning.

Sujani 22:16
Yeah. How do you like suggest those especially like early on in their consulting journey, kind of position themselves? Because like you said, you need to present yourself as someone who’s competent and confident to be able to deliver the said project within the timeline. But then also being humble about what you don’t know. I guess, like, how did you- how did you go about it when you know, you got that first contract? And maybe you weren’t sure about everything, but you were still confident? And how did you present yourself?

Stephanie 22:50
As a team member, you know, in listening to others what they want, I don’t think you need to, in professional settings, especially when you have a you know, a client, I mean, they don’t want to hear the long list of what you don’t know about. So don’t really necessarily share that.

Sujani 23:07

Stephanie 23:08
But just come from a place of humbleness. And just that means listening and not talking at something. Whether you’re in a you know, you work for a business and organization or you have your own business or whatever. I think that’s an important part of working with clients and just, you know, just listening to their needs.

Sujani 23:27

Stephanie 23:28
I think sometimes when you’re, no matter what age is easy to like, you feel like you’re going to sound like more of an expert with more knowledge, the more you talk.

Sujani 23:37

Stephanie 23:37
I think I’ve just learned not to so again, like you said, while you’re getting a job or whatever it is that you know, direction you want to go with your public health degree is just to be a go getter. I mean, I think that’s just kind of a life lesson, you know, and be willing to, to work more. I think that as I get older, I think there’s a time for putting up boundaries. I mean, not that you shouldn’t when you’re young. But I think that those boundaries have to look different. And you’re new in your career, because like, when I was really my business full force, I had to work more then and not put up as such good boundaries as I do now,

Sujani 24:15

Stephanie 24:16
There’s a time when you have to be kind of more go getter and like work more than you do. Other times. Does that make sense?

Sujani 24:25
Yeah, no, it does. It does.

Stephanie 24:26
I think people like eager learners. So like, let’s say you’re like, you know, graduating from a public health program and you’re going out to get a job. I think people are very attracted to people that are eager to learn.

Sujani 24:38
Yeah, like that. That energy is contagious. So if you bring that energy to the table, yeah, I’m just kind of thinking about you know, that- that first contract first step that, you know, some of our listeners might have to take, and I’m assuming like some of the other fears that they may have is around like, how do you set up a proper contract with the client? Or how do you price your offers or your services? I don’t know if there’s any advice that you could share around the more administrative side of consulting when you’re first starting off?

Stephanie 25:11
Yeah, what Sujani, to go back to kind of the- the path because my first contract isn’t really what I’m doing now.

Sujani 25:17
Yeah, yeah, let’s go back to that.

Stephanie 25:18
Let’s go there. I just kind of want to give the full circle. So in my mind, I wanted to do I was thinking about needs assessments, but I wasn’t ready to niche down because I just wanted to like a good contract,

Sujani 25:18

Stephanie 25:21
Like end up getting this contract. And it was such a good offer an opportunity that I took it, you know, and I’m so glad I did. Oh, my goodness, I’m so glad I did.

Sujani 25:37

Stephanie 25:38
I’m finishing up right now. And I actually hope it leads into something else. And I believe that it will with partners and health, but I think it’s going to be more around the needs assessment. So I got the Partners in Health. And then I was doing international work they are within domestically, I was learning that hospitals in the United States have to do every three years. They’re mandated by the IRS to do something called Community Health Needs Assessments, it can- I have done needs assessments for a program place, but I had them done for hospitals, per se. So I got a contract. And that was like, also kind of hard, because a lot of times they want consultants that have done, you know, 100 of them. And so that was a first, you know, hard one to land. I ended up getting the contract. And I just kind of learned as I go, I mean, that was a little bit, you know, and I did not announce constantly, you know, to my client of how much I don’t know, you know, you know, I had a humble stance, but in the background, I was learning a lot. But I did a great job. And I talked to other consultants. So a great. Also advice. I have a mentor. I think that’s another, you know, huge one that does hospital needs assessments. You know, she’s been doing these hospitals assessments for decades. And she’s just kind of taken me under my wing. She lives play across the country. I live in Ohio, she lives in California. And that has just been wonderful. Because I can talk to her the background a lot shellfish, I mean, just share so much knowledge with me. And that, by the way, came from one of those will you just tell me what you do for 30 minutes conversations. So I started doing hospital needs assessments. And from an entrepreneur standpoint, honestly, this is a great field, because you might want to do all these different things. They sound wonderful, but unless somebody’s going to pay you. It’s you know, I mean, it’s great all but you might have a hard time getting the project. So this has been from a business side. Great because hospitals have to do them.

Sujani 27:43

Stephanie 27:44
And it turns out, I really liked doing hospital needs assessments. And so it was a great business gap to get into and, and so like things like the partners of health, while I was doing training development with them, we’ve been having conversations, because in order to start a program on an intervention somewhere, wherever that be in the world, you have to do a needs assessment first. So a needs assessment is basically like the first step like in programming.

Sujani 28:13

Stephanie 28:14
Interventions, you know, it’s just assessing the other there’s a need or not, basically, before you spill all these resources into something. So as I was doing my Haiti work, and then also I do work in Jamaica, it’s hard, especially well, anywhere, to do anything if you don’t have data to support it. So I have been talking to partners and health of, you know, like, hey, like, you know, I’m your person, if let’s- Let’s look at like needs assessments. And so, I would like that to do that in Jamaica. So it just kind of opened up a world of like other opportunities to do needs assessments to now my business is focused on needs assessments, because I really enjoyed doing them. So I wanted to make that full circle.

Sujani 29:02
Yeah, no, that- that gives good context. And so like you stepping into that field of hospital needs assessment, was that also kind of going back to how you landed that through, like a network or old colleague of yours?

Stephanie 29:17
Nope, that was putting myself out there and talking to a lot of people, because I did not have really a strong network of people at hospitals. This was kind of a new way to do needs assessments. Because I was taking such return to my career. I had to kind of create that, I had to get out there and talk to people and so I was really kind of putting myself out there. But again, I feel like the confidence and the knowledge, a lot came from those initial conversations that I had, as I was seeing where I wanted to go next with public health. And then that woman the- the mentor that I- I’d like that as my mentor today. In fact, I have a meeting with her and a few hours to the knowledge that she passed along to me.

Sujani 30:06
I guess. Yeah, going back to that question of like, the administrative side of things and contracts or pricing, is there any advice that you could offer? In terms of like, how do you first set those up? If you’re starting off?

Stephanie 30:20
Yeah, I laugh at all that. Because it’s right. Like, we know, we talk about this all the time. It’s just because, again, across the board public health or not just entrepreneurship. I mean, that’s like a whole new skill.

Sujani 30:33

Stephanie 30:33
Kind of as you go, honestly. And pricing I laugh at because that has been a journey. You know, we want to talk about money, right? Need to know, from other consultants like, okay, what do you charge for a needs assessment? And what do you charge for this? I mean, there really, by the way, is no clear answer. I’ve had projects that are hourly. But mostly now I’ve charged project based. So because I do really large projects, so that it’ll be like a year. So I’ll just get charged for like, deliverables. That’s kind of a learn as you go contracts. I remember the first time. I mean, you just kind of stumbled along that, you know, if you can, the advice that I would give is don’t take as long as some do, you know, learn from others, listen to others. I guess I had been doing contracts for a while. So when I was at John Snow, the difference with that is I had very much like I never handled a contract.

Sujani 31:30

Stephanie 31:31
No. So I guess there’s that if you work on a firm, I was a little bit in the consulting world. And I knew about business development and writing grants and things like that, but I wasn’t doing contracts. I guess, early on, though years ago, I did have contracts. So you know, you just learned about little things like forming your LLC and get an EIN number and yada yada, but I’m still learning like, next week, I have an appointment with a an accountant. You know, because I want to get my bookkeeping and my taxes, my small business stuff like more in order. I mean, a little bit of is learning as you go, but I guess, maybe just talk to others and learn. And one of the best things I’ve done is, you know, in fact, you were the one that told me about the business network we’re in is ask others and learn. And I joined the network that you’re in also. And I’ve learned so much, just about like being an entrepreneur, because ever, you know, this is not just a public health, this isn’t work. But I’ve learned a lot. But I’m also still learning.

Sujani 32:32
And theme keeps going back to talk to others learn from others, you don’t have to do it alone. And that kind of takes me to on your LinkedIn bio, you consider yourself as a master networker or people connector. And I suppose like, now that we’ve chatted a little bit, that’s kind of the foundation of your business and your career to date.

Stephanie 32:55
Yeah, I think the thing that I enjoy about consulting and my work the most is, I love talking to people in the community, you know, as far as like my technical work, because I have to talk to people in the communities that I work in to figure out what’s going on. And so I love talking to people. I love working with clients, I love working with subcontractors for my company, employees, and I don’t know, I like the people. I’m a- I’m definitely a people person. So but I feel like that’s very necessary. And entrepreneurship, I have great skills, but so to other people. And it’s, even though I’m really blessed to work, my office is at home, but I don’t want to work in a silo. So talking to other people and getting other people’s are a really good skill base. I think something I guess from a business standpoint, logistic standpoint that I’ve learned is that you know, get others. An example is graphic arts.

Sujani 33:54

Stephanie 33:54
I remember I was trying to, like, spend forever doing like reports and making them look pretty. And then one day I got smart. And I have a graphic artist.

Sujani 34:06

Stephanie 34:06
Like they’re good at that skill.

Sujani 34:08

Stephanie 34:09
I’m not-

Sujani 34:10
Working your strengths.

Stephanie 34:11
Yeah, exactly.

Sujani 34:12
Yeah, you’re happier that way. Right? You- you do the things that you like to do and find people that can do the other things.

Stephanie 34:20
And it’s like, I want more infographics.

Sujani 34:22

Stephanie 34:23
In my reports, that’s like, up top. You know, like, I think infographics are amazing, and in my reports to show data, so I’m not very good at them, you know?

Sujani 34:34
Yeah, no, it’s cool, because you get to shape the work that you want to do. And that flexibility, I suppose, is what’s keeping you in consulting and kind of wanting to grow this business.

Stephanie 34:47
Yeah. And because I’m a people person I like- I like the managing aspect. I mean, some people don’t enjoy that, I guess.

Sujani 34:53

Stephanie 34:54
But I like sort of managing the, you know, there’s lots of moving parts there. Then managing that and putting it all together. And then learning to like, get other people’s strengths to make my deliverable better, like all the better by, you know, having several people’s hands and skill sets in it.

Sujani 35:15
I guess like kind of the flip side of this kind of looking back at your journey. So far, we can go back as far as when you first thought about starting consulting, curious to hear like, is there anything that you would have done differently? Looking back at things now?

Stephanie 35:32
Yes, I’m sure. I mean, but I’m, you know, forever optimist. So-

Sujani 35:37

Stephanie 35:37
We even on the negative things I look back at. I feel like that was part of the learning journey. So I have a hard question on that. I’m sure. I’ll think afterwards of other things. I should have said, but I don’t know. I wish I collected my tax information better. I don’t know. I don’t know taxes in Canada. Do you guys do taxes?

Sujani 35:57
Yeah, yes, we do.

Stephanie 36:00
So I don’t know. I think I’m having a hard time answering that question on the spot. I think I’ve talked about things. I just wish I would have had more confidence along the way. But again, that was part of the journey, too. You know, I don’t think it’s bad to be humbled once in a while.

Sujani 36:15

Stephanie 36:16
I don’t know. I think just- it just competence, I think is that have confidence, like believe in yourself. Talk to others.

Sujani 36:23
Yeah, I am thinking titling this podcast is like life lessons from Stephanie.

Stephanie 36:30
Oh, my gosh, thank you. But what I learned from others.

Sujani 36:34
Yeah. Okay, so now, like Moxley public health, I think it’s on an exciting trajectory if you’re- if you’re looking ahead, are you able to share sort of what kind of projects that you’re looking to take on and the vision for your company moving forward?

Stephanie 36:52
Okay, so I want to do a lot more hospital needs assessments, and I’m gonna do a lot more. And I really enjoy those. And I just enjoy kind of improving them as everyone, as I like another improvement. I also really want to take my needs assessments into my international work, which I talked about, I do them for hospitals, which was really great for communities that the hospitals are in, and the United States. And I really enjoyed that work. And it’s really important. But it’s also I want to sort of go back to my roots a little bit, I guess you will, from a programming side, not because they have to, I guess is the way to say it. But because it’s a necessary part of determining whether a program or intervention is needed. And then a part of a needs assessment is not only gathering existing data, but creating new data. And I have seen in my international work, that it’s often a major barrier and challenge when data just literally does not exist, yeah, to show the need for something. So I would like to do needs assessments in that capacity, not because it’s mandated by the IRS or something. But because it’s a necessary, they need it for our community, specifically in my Jamaica, work and other places, maybe through partners and health and things like that. I’m not in academia, but I really enjoy teaching students, because we talked a lot about this already. And we’ve talked about it before, as I really believe it’s really fun to share with students about work that is in the field, and how you, you know, you learn all these skills in graduate school, but how do you are you going to use them? Well needs assessment, at least for me, I took like an entire course on assessments. And it’s a very pure public health skill. And I literally do it. And I don’t know, you can’t say this very often. Like I basically do exactly how they teach it in graduate school, how to do it needs. It’s how I learned it, and other people do. But I mean, there’s just a right way to do it needs assessment, it makes a lot of sense. So I’m teaching that as you know, I got an opportunity to teach a class in France. And I am teaching again in October and then February. Yeah. And so that is really fun. So again, I do not want to make that my main career, my business. You know, I’m not looking to become a tenured professor.

Sujani 39:33

Stephanie 39:33
But I enjoy having that as a supplement to my work and sort of giving back to students and I taught a class at the beginning of February, and I had really hadn’t done it much. I mean, I don’t know I lead groups, but I hadn’t like taught.

Sujani 39:33

Stephanie 39:33
It was so fun. And so I want to do more. Well, I am doing more of that in the fall and then the beginning next year. I would like to continue that and maybe- Maybe another university somewhere else.

Sujani 40:02
Very cool. Here’s my final question for you. And it’s more to put pressure on you. Where can people learn more about the work that you’re doing Stephanie because I know that you’re looking to I guess, build up your social media a bit more. So for our listeners who want to hear about all the work that you’re doing, and all the great life lesson that you have to share, where can they find you?

Stephanie 40:27
Okay, so you’ve hit a stress point. Thank you very much. I don’t like social media. But it’s been like a black cloud over me that I need to start social media. So I have a really a great website, www.Moxleypublichealth, but I haven’t updated it. I need to work on updating that just to add more current information, maybe advertise with a more specific, you know, be more specific about what I do, but I don’t do much social media. Oh, so you know, you told me about Asana.

Sujani 41:00

Stephanie 41:01
I am obsessed with Asana. There is under I have like a whole project called business development. And it just sitting on there. I even have like somebody who will make the post for me, but I have to create the content.

Sujani 41:15

Stephanie 41:16
But it’s just sitting there. It has been there for a while. Maybe I’m working on it Sunday.

Sujani 41:21
Do you have a newsletter, or at least a place for people to sign up to your newsletter?

Stephanie 41:27
So if you go on my website-

Sujani 41:29

Stephanie 41:29
There will be a pop up.

Sujani 41:30
Right. Okay.

Stephanie 41:31
Sign up. Yeah. And so we are starting to send out a newsletter, one of my goals for 2022 is definitely to beef all that up.

Sujani 41:41

Stephanie 41:41
For my advertisement, and to be you know, more out there about what you know, the projects that we’ve done and things like that. So that really is coming, but you can go to my website,, sign up for the newsletter, and we’ll send just fun stuff.

Sujani 41:57
Great. Thanks so much, Stephanie. I think that was such a fun conversation. We dabbled a bit on entrepreneurship and just, you know, great lessons to build your career and talked a bit about, you know, you being a mother as well and building this business. And I think just looking at the clock or coming up to the hour, so we might have to have you back on to kind of continue this conversation here more about how Moxley public health is going.

Stephanie 42:23
Well, it’s an honor to be invited. You know, I think you always had that feeling of you’re like, oh, I don’t really, I hope I help somebody. But I know, you know, maybe it did, though. I know. I love listening to these. And I love hearing people’s stories and people helped me even when they didn’t realize it. So.

Sujani 42:38
Yeah, I know. It’ll help many people. And I think I’ll encourage our listeners that if you were inspired by this episode, send us an email so we can hit forward on that to Stephanie.

Stephanie 42:48
Okay, thank you.

Sujani 42:51
Hey, so I hope you enjoyed that episode. And as always, if you want to get the links and information mentioned in today’s episode, head over to And we’ll have everything there for you. And before you go, I want to tell you about our hands on intensive training program that empowers early public health professionals, recent graduates and students with the mindset skills and tools required to land a public health job, advancing your career and become future public health leaders. So if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about building your dream public health career, then we can help you through this program. And right now you can join the waitlist at And we’ll notify you when the next cohort opens up. And so until next time, thank you so much for tuning into PH SPOTlight, and for the invaluable work that you do for this world.


About the Show

PH SPOTlight: Public health career stories, inspiration, and guidance from current-day public health heroes

On the show, Sujani sits down with public health heroes of our time to share career stories, inspiration, and guidance for building public health careers. From time to time, she also has conversations with friends of public health – individuals who are not public health professionals, but their advice and guidance are equally important.

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