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Say it Simply: The Power of Plain Language in Advancing Health with Dr. Katelyn Jetelina

Dr. Katelyn Jetelina has taken her modest public health email for friends and family and fashioned it into a public health powerhouse of a newsletter and a significant force of influence for millions. Yes, that little newsletter, “Your Local Epidemiologist,” grew from a personal email list to over 330 million followers seeking clear guidance amid uncertainty during the pandemic.

Dr. Jetelina sits down with Carrie to reflect on how we had to learn to navigate the firehose of pandemic information. She turned that effort toward teaching, translating complex science for diverse audiences through an empathetic and apolitical lens. No, she’s not trained in communications. Dr. Jetelina is a professor, and embracing that role free of judgment set the stage for her personal rise to prominence.

As culture continues to evolve, Jetelina argues public health must improve its communications capacity and community engagement. She’s doing her part to move the discussion forward; she now tackles more ideologically charged topics like gun violence, though still approaches these issues through her solutions-focused, nonpartisan lens.

Throughout the tumult, Jetelina has stayed anchored by her commitment to equip trusted messengers and meet people where they are. Her trailblazing work shows scientific facts alone don’t shape opinions; we must appeal to shared values. She calls us all to reimagine public health as a collective mission vital to our shared future. Our great thanks to Dr. Jetelina for joining Mission Forward this week.

This season, we are taking you on a journey to meet ten people influencing and shaping how we communicate at scale for social change. From advertising executives to coalition directors, news editors, campaign managers, and authors, they’re all people who are shaping and challenging the deep power of communication. If you’re working to become a more inclusive and thoughtful communicator, there’s nothing holding you back—except you.
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