“I was so excited about Health In Harmony, I would do whatever I could to help,” Kelsey Hartman said of her reaction to hearing Dr. Kinari Webb talk at Smith College in 2012. After she graduated from Smith with a B.A. in Biological Sciences and worked on the Obama re-election campaign that year, Kelsey turned to the organization that had inspired her because it offered effective solutions to the environmental problems she had studied. After volunteering for a few short weeks, Kelsey came on board as Health In Harmony’s Communications and Marketing Associate in February 2013. “I’d never hired anyone sight unseen, but I knew in my bones that Kelsey had the passion for this work and would shine,” said Michelle Bussard, Executive Director. And she did.
Kelsey dove into her new role, using every option in the HIH communications tool kit to share her excitement about ASRI programs with our growing community on Facebook, Twitter and email. Now, Kelsey is taking an incredible opportunity to expand her skills and experience even more through a Princeton in Asia Fellowship with the World Wildlife Fund in Bangkok, Thailand.
On her last day with Health In Harmony, I sat down with Kelsey to talk about what working at HIH meant to her in the past 17 months.
Trina Jones: What struck you as different about Health In Harmony?
Kelsey Hartman: In my studies I was frustrated by always hearing about either/or approaches to community development and environmental issues, because they didn’t seem effective – kicking people out of their homes didn’t achieve conservation and rampant development didn’t end up working for people in the end either. In the win-win model of Health In Harmony, I felt like I had found an answer.
TJ: What are you taking with you from Health In Harmony?
KH: HIH work goes in many directions you don’t expect! When I started, Michelle told me she wanted to show me a little bit of everything about how a nonprofit works – and she did! Part of the magic of Health In Harmony is that we are really open to try new things and very adaptable, which leads to a lot more responsibility than new people would get elsewhere. I was able to staff a board team helping to shape replication – that is amazing!
I learned confidence in my own abilities and in the ability of a small team to tackle big problems. It is easy to forget in the day-to-day what we’re doing but the team always reminds us that we are solving major issues – together, across the planet!
I think I am taking with me the faith that if you work really hard, you can do big things. It’s all actually possible. Coming from academia, I have seen that on the ground this work is messier, but that it’s rewarding and actually possible. I have met amazing people at HIH, Kinari and our board members. But I realized that they are normal people, and if they can do these things to change the world, so can I.
TJ: Do you see yourself involved with Health In Harmony in the future?
KH: Yes, I will be telling everybody to be an ambassador for HIH! Health In Harmony has the answer. It’s not hype! That was never more clear than after seeing programs on the ground at ASRI. Long term I don’t know what this will look like, but I will always be advancing this cause.
TJ: What has working at Health In Harmony meant to you?
KH: We always talk about the sense of community at ASRI and the culture of always listening and learning. Health In Harmony supports and lives those values too with great people working hard and always trying their best. It’s super inspiring.
TJ: You have been the main person behind HIH on social media, any last words for the Facebook and Twitter followers and our HIH community?
KH: I love you all! I noticed the second you liked something, and it means a lot! Keep it up!
They may not know that there is a person behind HIH posts and that person is me, but I felt that sense of community, and it really meant a lot, because it doesn’t matter what I do, but it was so great to see others engaged and involved in this important work. Thank you Health In Harmony community!!
From the HIH Crew -- Thank you Kelsey! We will certainly miss your passion and expertise around the office and the HIH communications, but we have high hopes and good wishes for your next adventure!