In my senior year of high school and visiting and applying to colleges, busy with science fair, musical theatre and sports, and working.
When you graduated from high school, what did you think you wanted to be as an adult?
I grew up thinking I would be a physician—I was always interested in health and working with people.
Was there an event in the last 20 years that had a great impact on your aspirations and/or career path?
Getting my master of public health, shaped me tremendously and solidified my career path.
Where/what do you want to be 20 years from now?
I truly enjoy the type of work I do now (working on issue campaigns, shaping public policy, making an impact on community health), and I can see that still being the case. The issues themselves will surely be different, though, and I can see working on a different scale.
Executive Director, Alliance for Health Promotion
As executive director of the Alliance for Health Promotion, Kim Irwin is a master of bringing organizations together for the common good.
She has to be; she’s the only person on the alliance staff.
“We work on both big-picture policy and funding issues” that affect public health, said Irwin, who has been in her position for three years. As its name suggests, the alliance brings together organizations in the public and private sectors to benefit public health. It’s funded by the Marion County Health Department.
Irwin, who earned her master’s in public health at the Indiana University School of Medicine, relishes working with the community at large. She said her graduate studies helped focus her interest on “making the healthy choice the easy choice.”
She coordinates the alliance’s two major initiatives: Health by Design and Indiana Citizens Alliance for Transit.
Health by Design focuses on how neighborhoods and infrastructure promote physical activity through features like sidewalks, bike lanes and transit. It has a coalition of 500 members from a variety of organizations. The activities range from increasing public awareness to advocating for change.
The Indiana Citizens Alliance for Transit, which Irwin cofounded in 2008, advocates for public transportation, specifically IndyGo. It has more than 200 members representing 30-plus organizations.
One of her admirers referred to her as the “Director of Fun,” because she often finds ways to combine work and pleasure.
“When people are volunteering their time and effort, it’s fun—and smart—to provide some small rewards,” said Irwin, who is single, noting there’s a lot of competing interests for people’s time.
A native of Kendallville, she is on the boards of Improving Kids’ Environment, and Indiana Healthy Weight Initiative. She has also been active in alumni groups for Northwestern University, her undergrad alma mater.•