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Barbara D. Will

Manatee County Health Dept.

Bradenton, FL 34208

 

Biography

Barbara D. Will began her career in public health as an Environmental Health Specialist with the Pinellas County Health Department Environmental Health Services Division (EHS) in 1989.  She has her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences, received from the University of South Florida (USF) in 1985.  Prior to coming to work for the health department, she worked her way up the ranks from a Customer Service Representative to the New Accounts Manager, at a local bank.  After working at the bank for four years, Ms. Will was hired by the Pinellas County Environmental Health Director, who at that time felt that her communication abilities and customer service skills would be a vital asset in the area of public health education and promotion. She is still grateful to that “out-of-the-box” thinker!!

 

While Ms. Will was trained in all EHS programs (mobile home parks, group care, sanitary nuisances, mosquito and rodent control, etc.), the primary environmental health program at that time was food hygiene and the majority of the work performed were food service inspections.  While at the Pinellas County Health Department, she developed and presented many food sanitation and safety educational courses for both the industry and the public; and became the EHS team leader, assisting the supervisors with the training of newly recruited specialists. In 1991, she accepted a promotion to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation Division of Hotels and Restaurants, as the plan reviewer for all new and remodeled restaurants in a seven (7) county district. There she honed her food service plan review skills and participated in developing the agency’s state-wide plan review policies and protocols, which are still in use today.  She transferred back to the Pinellas County Health Department in 1996, where she accepted a position as a supervisor with the EHS division There she was provided with the formal leadership and supervisory training needed to manage several departments. She was also able to perfect database management and software proficiency skills; and she served as the Food Hygiene Coordinator and HACCP Instructor for the division. Her responsibilities included coordinating the Foodborne Illness Surveillance and Investigation program.

 

In 2001, Ms. Will accepted a position in database management for the Hillsborough County Health Department EHS, and then in 2003, she began working for the Manatee County Health Department as the Environmental Supervisor. There she supervised all the EHS programs except drinking water and onsite sewage.  In May of 2007, she was offered (and accepted) a management position as the Quality Improvement Director at the Manatee County Health Department, and began her journey into public health administration.  Ms. Will has been accepted into the USF College of Public Health Graduate Certificate program and hopes to achieve her goal of a Master’s Degree in Public Health by 2011.

Leadership Development Opportunities

I wish to express my gratitude to the institute for accepting my application and allowing me to participate in this “once-in-a-career” opportunity! It was truly a learning experience on every level – personal, professional and …………mystical! Personal learning came from discussing and comparing environmental issues, as well as family concerns, with my classmates (some people call that “networking”, I call it making friends); professional learning came from the mentors and the many educators from the public and private sectors that were selected to present to our class; and mystical, because anything heard after 5 PM in a hotel banquet room doesn’t really sink in right away but mysteriously comes back to you later in your dreams – and right when you need it, too!

 

I found that the majority of the seminars on leadership, teamwork, and communication were thought provoking and directly applicable to the many management situations that arise in the workplace. For the most part, this portion of the curriculum served to reinforce professional development sessions provided at the Florida Department of Health, which is vital for “studying and practicing” and served to assure consistency in our learning.  Particularly useful to me were the seminars on “Leadership and Organizational Thinking” from Sherry Immediato and “Leadership, Collaboration and Teamwork” from Cynthia Lamberth. The weeklong Disaster Preparedness and Response training in June was relevant to everyone in the class as no state is without its environmental emergencies! The hands-on accounts of issues experienced first hand by CDC and EPA response teams after Katrina were eye-opening and informative.  I would also recommend that every class be exposed to the “Verbal Judo” agenda. While also being wildly entertaining, it provided relevant communication and persuasion skills that I was able to utilize immediately. 

 

I appreciated the personal development portion of the program the most.  The 360° Skillscope Assessment, MTBI and Change Style Indicator exercises were all new experiences for me and each series provided meaningful, direct interpretive reports on my management and leadership style. I believe I will be able to use those tools to guide my individual development plans for the rest of my career!

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the people. The institute leaders and staff, the mentors, and the coaches, all worked so well together to make this year flow smoothly and seem to fly by – the logistics of this task must seem insurmountable each year, but they make it look effortless. I have great respect for their mission to develop leaders in the field of environmental health. By assuring the public of competent leaders in this field throughout our nation, we will surely be effective in our efforts to prevent disease and keep our environments healthy.

 

And, finally, it was awesome to have forty (40) diverse individuals from environmental health and epidemiology programs around the country gather together to develop their leadership skills and share information about their respective states. I was once again amazed that no matter how different we think we are (and we are), we are all so very much alike in our programs and goals, and doing our best for our respective local public health systems! Great job Class III!! And, keep plugging away - I’ll never forget you guys!