Public health leadership in action, with Anjum Sultana

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Show Notes

Today on the show, Sujani speaks about leadership once again.

We introduced the topic of leadership in public health on the PHSPOTlight podcast in episode 12 with Nadia Akseer. In that kick-off episode, we committed to bringing conversations with more of our peers around the topic of leadership. We want leadership in public health to be a skill that you are constantly thinking about building on, as much as (if not more) than building technical or software skills. The conversations we are choosing to share with you are with leaders who are not only our peers but those who we feel we can learn a lot from and be inspired by to take real action.

In this episode, Sujani sits down with Anjum Sultana. Anjum is someone Sujani has known for a number of years and has interacted with via phone calls and messaging/email, but this was the first time they both “saw” each other (virtually), so it was a special conversation. Anjum’s advocacy and leadership work is also something that Sujani has been inspired by over the years.

The conversation with Anjum is not only jam-packed with inspiration and motivation to be a leader in public health but also weaves tangible first steps for all of us to take.

Public health needs many strong leaders to push agendas forward, and we hope that by sharing stories like that of Anjum’s, you walk away feeling like you too can be a leader in public health.

You’ll Learn

  • How Anjum defines leadership
  • Whether she intentionally chose to become a leader in her space, or it naturally occurred
  • A bit about the young Anjum, her first memory of thinking that she could be a leader, and how her dad was an inspiration to her, which has resulted in the work she does in her community
  • Attributes of a good leader (skills to build on for anyone wanting to be a leader in their space), and skills Anjum wished she had gained early on
  • Things students can focus on specifically while in school to set themselves up to become a strong leader
  • Step-by-step how we can go from feeling passionate about a topic/issue/cause to taking incremental action that leads to change
    • A couple of examples where Anjum identified a gap/problem and took action
  • Whether leadership only comes from a management/senior-level role (hint: no it doesn’t)
  • Whether leaders are born OR if leadership can be learned
  • Challenges Anjum faces as a leader in her space
  • A final example where Anjum showed that she is a leader in her space: she talks about her journey first authoring Canada’s First Feminist Recovery Plan.
    • It is the first nationally-focused one in the country and possibly the world
    • She encourages the PH SPOT community to read it, make it your own, and reach out to her should you be interested in taking action

Today’s Guest

Anjum Sultana

Recently named the 2020 Global Woman of Distinction by the United Nations NGO Committee on the Status of Women, Anjum Sultana is an internationally-recognized advocate for progressive public policies to create a more just and equitable society.

Currently, Anjum serves as the National Director of Public Policy & Strategic Communications at YWCA Canada, the nation’s oldest and largest women’s serving organization. She also serves on the boards of a number of organizations including, Regent Park Community Health Centre, Toronto Environmental Alliance and the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians; and sits on several research, organizational and policy advisory committees. Anjum is also a Global Shaper for the Toronto Hub, affiliated with the World Economic Forum, a Founding Advisor of Progress Toronto and served as Canadian Delegate at the 2019 G7 Youth Summit in Paris, France through Young Diplomats of Canada. Recently, Anjum was appointed to CivicAction’s Re:Action Task Force which feeds into and advises various COVID19 recovery tables throughout the greater Toronto region. She is also part of the Ontario Council for International Cooperation’s Gender Equality and Youth Policy-Makers Hubs. She is also an Advisor for the 2020/2021 Action Canada Public Policy Fellowship Programme.

Anjum is an accomplished public speaker who has delivered keynote speeches, lectures, workshops and participated in panel discussions. Her media and policy commentary has been featured on networks and publications such as Apolitical, CBC, CityTv, CTV, First Policy Response, Healthy Debate, National Observer, New Canadian Media, Now Toronto, Public Policy Forum, The Walrus, Toronto Sun, and TVO.

Anjum holds a Masters of Public Health from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. Anjum is also the founder of Millennial Womxn in Policy, a grassroots organization and community of practice that connects more than 3,000 young women and non-binary people working in policy across North America and Europe in civil society, politics, private sector and public service.


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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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