TogetHER Staff Spotlight: Kathy Vizas
In the five-plus years since our founding, TogetHER has prioritized putting a spotlight on the work of our members, the perspectives of leaders and experts in cervical cancer prevention, and on the fantastic work of organizations making strides in reducing the burden of cervical cancer in the most challenging environments.
We thought we’d mix it up a bit and shine that spotlight back on ourselves this year, to give our supporters an opportunity to get to know the people behind TogetHER for Health. Enjoy learning more about our Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Kathy Vizas!
Tell us something about what brought you to cervical cancer prevention.
I learned about cervical cancer through the Maverick Collective program at PSI. I was able to work with some amazing professionals in Uttar Pradesh, India (including our Executive Director at TogetHER, Heather White), and I saw first hand the toll that cervical cancer takes on communities there. I wanted to start TogetHER after that project ended because I thought that, even though technologies and knowledge had fallen in place to eliminate cervical cancer, the whole movement needed a push forward and some momentum. A surprising number of people do not understand that we can prevent cervical cancer and so women, lots of women, are dying unnecessarily.
What are your interests/hobbies/etc.?
My interests include hiking with my young, energetic dog Bodi; playing golf; and planning and taking cycling and hiking trips. I also love spending time in Southern California along the beach. I have a long list of countries I have not visited yet and where I am determined to go! E Italia e’ sempre bellissimo! Voglio andare li ogni anno.
Besides cervical cancer, what are some other issues you care deeply about?
I care very much about wildlife conservation, and am a supporter of The Wildlife Conservation Network. The WCN model really empowers local, on the ground organizations worldwide, and supports those communities where people are living alongside wildlife. I also am on the boards of The Human Trafficking Legal Center and my alma mater, Bucknell University. I am on the San Francisco Committee of Human Rights Watch, and the Advisory Board to The Under-Told Stories Project.
When and where were you happiest?
I was privileged to win a Rotary International Graduate Fellowship. I studied at St. Andrews University in Scotland. The best part about being there was that I was fully conscious at the time of how happy I was. I find this rare in life. I suppose we generally focus on the difficulties or frustrations we face and must overcome, and thus do not really enjoy the positives; during my time in St. Andrews I knew how lucky I was, so my mindset was consistently upbeat. I was discovering new things every day, traveling, and had time to think and write. Since then I suppose I have allowed my life to become too jammed to be still and and to think. I am often overly greedy about doing everything and experiencing everything. It can lead to overload.
Which living person do you most admire?
Jimmy Carter. And, I was incredibly lucky to meet him and spend over three hours talking with him and his wife Rosalynn. I admire him for the choices he made about his life after his presidency. He lived humbly and in service to others. He also was able to craft beautiful furniture and I am very impressed by that kind of focus and quiet attention to detail.