April’s Healthy Hero
Happy Thursday Baton Rouge,
Our team at Healthy BR thought it would be a great idea to start highlighting people in our community who are working so hard to make Baton Rouge a healthier place. We focus much of our time talking about eating healthy foods and exercising, and while we will highlight Baton Rougians working in that area of health, we also want to make sure we are talking about all areas of health. That is why the first Healthy Hero we are highlighting as part of STD Awareness Month is Natalie Cooley.
Ms. Natalie N. Cooley received a BS in Public Health from Dillard University and a MPH in Health Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist and a Certified Pharmacy Technician. Currently, Ms. Cooley is serving as the Region Two Coordinator for the Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Public Health -STD/HIV Program. As the Regional Coordinator, Ms. Cooley is responsible for monitoring 3 state programs: STD/HIV Prevention, the Louisiana Wellness Center Project, and the Personal Responsibility Education Program (LYREP) for Adolescents as well as co-leading the regions’ STD Taskforce. Ms. Cooley volunteers as the Chairperson of the Health and Wellness Committee for the Re-Entry Alliance Coalition which serves Formerly Incarcerated Individuals and the Chairperson for the Strategic Planning Committee for the Ryan White Advisory Council. Ms. Cooley has experience leading evidenced-based behavioral interventions as well as training individuals in the HIV Testing, Counseling and Referral curriculum. Ms. Cooley also serves the community as a Board Member for Care South Community Health Center and Youth Seen (a non-profit for LGBTQ youth). She also has extensive experience in sexual health, substance abuse prevention, health policy and advocacy for the underserved community, including the LGBTQ community. Ms. Cooley is passionate about her work. When Ms. Cooley is not advocating for healthier communities, she works diligently as a Certified Pharmacy Technician for a local pharmacy and mentors a female high student through Baton Rouge Youth Coalition.
Q&A with Natalie:
1. Why did you start working in your field?
Becoming an adult, I noticed the health disparity (gap) among communities and wanted to help. I understand that quality healthcare and access to healthcare is lacking in most under-served communities. And even more so, Sexual and Reproductive health is often over-looked.
2. If you could only share one piece of knowledge or advice with the community of Baton Rouge, what would it be?
Take responsibility for your health and the health of your family, friends and community. Health is physical, mental, emotional and spiritual and we owe it to ourselves not to judge someone or count them out if they are experiencing a health issue.
3. What is one project you are working on that you are really excited about?
I will be presenting at the Louisiana Public Health Association conference in May. I am excited to let the state know all of the work being done around youth programs, rapid STD testing, PrEP and so much more!
4. How can people find out more about your work or get involved?
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or this website explains most of the projects I am involved with. https://www.louisianahealthhub.org/
We hope you enjoyed learning more about Natalie and be on the lookout for more Healthy Heroes!