OAKLAND COUNTY HEALTH DIVISION
OAKLAND COUNTY, MI
Oakland County Health Division (OCHD) is the local health department for Oakland County MI and provides health services for the public, businesses, and educational communities. OCHD focuses on preventing the spread of disease; ensuring a safe and clean environment; promoting and encouraging healthy behaviors; preparing for emergencies; surveillance of disease threats; and ensuring accessibility of health services. The Health Division identifies real public health issues affecting the community and addresses needs with cost effective services. As OCHD’s graphic designer, staff and administrators rely on me to create visual messages to educate and reach the public. It is my responsibility to translate their public health research, data, and health/safety recommendations in a way that attracts attention and allows our diverse community to understand the public health message. The Health Division recognizes that good, responsible design is essential to fulfilling their mission.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU COME TO USE DESIGN TO ADVANCE SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND/OR SUSTAINABLE PROJECTS, CLIENTS AND CAUSES?
After spending nearly 10 years as a graphic designer in professional sports and entertainment, my passion for designing for good spurred a change in my career path. I joined OCHD in February 2015 and quickly became immersed in the world of public health, which was in stark contrast to my prior experience. I now work on projects educating our residents on everything from HIV to infant safe sleep to the opioid epidemic.
Most health departments in Michigan do not have a graphic designer in their health education team. I am fortunate that my administration understands and values the importance of quality design to reach our target populations. They know that residents need to be visually interested by the communication piece to understand the message. For example, Michigan is currently in the midst of a hepatitis A outbreak. Often times, the visuals I design for our health educators to distribute are the first line of defense and assist in preventing the spread of disease. It is rewarding to know that my work can help inform someone and maybe even save their life.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL CHALLENGES, OPPORTUNITIES, URGENCIES IN 2018?
There are obstacles in every job but working in local public health presents its own set of challenges. There are funding and staffing limitations compared to an advertising agency or private sector organization. As a government agency, every piece we publish has the potential for scrutiny. This means that there is a comprehensive review process to ensure quality, which can impact deadlines and timeliness of public health messaging. However, working in public health has given me opportunities to introduce new design techniques and branding standards to the agency. We are working on rebranding public health in Oakland County and ensuring that our materials are culturally competent to meet community needs.