TogetHER Staff Spotlight: Heather White
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 the first participant in this series, our Executive Director, Heather White!
What’s your name?
Heather White – though it almost became Snow White because my mom was a hippie. Thank goodness my dad got to the paperwork first.
What’s your organizational role?
I am the executive director at TogetHER for Health. I’ve been in this role since July 2020.
Tell us something about what brought you to cervical cancer prevention.
When I was a graduate student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (go Blazers!), I was fortunate to work with several UAB faculty on a grant from the National Cancer Institute which was aimed at understanding patient experiences related to cervical cancer screening and pre-cancer treatment. The project was based in Lusaka, Zambia and involved several public sector clinics which had been established in the early days of PEPFAR and which were largely staffed by local nurses. Their energy, creativity and resilience inspired me and touched me. Frontline providers are my heroes. Always. Without them, the health system simply cannot function.
What are your interests/hobbies/etc.?
When I am not working, I like to spend time outdoors. I enjoy hiking and breaking a sweat outside! I also recently started a boxing class which is a total killer, but lots of fun. I enjoy trying new recipes, reading a good biography, and traveling to places I’ve not yet been.
Besides cervical cancer, what are some other issues you care deeply about?
As the mother of a teenage daughter, I’ve come to care deeply about mental health and wellness among teens and how to support young people in our society. It’s a complex issue, and I don’t have all the answers, but I feel great empathy for young people – and especially girls – trying to navigate their place in the world these days.
I also support community food banks where I live. Everyone deserves affordable, nutritious food. Being from Alabama, I always loved stopping at a farm stand by the side of the road and talking to our local farmers. I still do! I learn a lot from them about what, when and how to plant my own garden.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Perfect happiness = waking up at the beach, with the smell of the ocean, a light breeze coming through the curtains, and having the whole day to do as much – or as little – as I’d like, with the people I love.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I would love to be a good storyteller. You know, the kind of storyteller who has everyone wide-eyed around the campfire, enchanted, and imparts a feeling of wonder and mystery about this big world.