Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Susan “Libby” Bixby Skolnik ’02

Program manager, MLE/Urban Reproductive Health Initiative

At Wheaton, I majored in anthropology, studied women’s economic cooperatives in Tanzania with Professor Donna Kerner, and was sure that development was dependent upon increasing people’s ability to make a living.

I studied abroad in Ecuador and wrote my thesis on that experience—exploring the importance of education and improved finances as the key to healthy developing societies.

After receiving my master’s in public policy from the University of Maryland, I continued to focus on economics, but somewhere along the way a light bulb turned on. The world’s poor can’t go to school, make a living, or start a business if they are sick and hungry. Health has to be the first priority.

Now I’m a program manager for the Urban Reproductive Health Initiative, which provides high-quality, cost-effective and voluntary family planning services to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Our program links local implementation teams in India, Nigeria, Kenya and Senegal with our evaluation experts. Together they are building an evidence and knowledge base that will help shape future urban family planning and reproductive health policies and programs. I manage their website and create fact sheets and briefs for program managers and policy makers.

My advice to people who want to make a difference in the field of health care is to network and ask lots of questions. Think about what kind of job you want and look at people who have that job now. What degree do they have? How much experience? Where did they start? And don’t be afraid to reach out to fellow alums, professors and others in the Wheaton community. It’s an incredible resource.

Keith Nordstrom photo

About Mary Howard

Mary Howard ’85 is a freelance writer and editor who lives in southeastern Connecticut.