Leanne Zubowski is the newest member of the Pacific AIDS Network team, joining us as REACH Evaluation Coordinator and will be splitting her time between the National Evaluation Department of the REACH Centre and supporting regional REACH work here in BC. Leanne has research and evaluation experience through her Master of Public Health from the University of Alberta and non-profit organization. Read about other members of our team in the Meet the People at PAN series.
What sparked your interest in working in the HIV or hepatitis C community?
I gained a basic understanding HIV through my science background. It wasn’t until work and volunteer experiences in the healthcare field across Canada and the world, I found there were many social injustices and structural barriers to care, which I found frustrating. This led me to pursue my Master of Public Health degree to focus on the barriers to address HIV which improved my understanding of social justice and equity. Now, being able to work and learn from my great colleagues at PAN and other member organizations across BC is a great privilege.
What kind of impact do you hope your work has on the “real world”?
I hope that my work helps inform organizations on what works best and what could be improved in their HIV and Hep C related programs to ensure they achieve the greatest impact to help those with lived experience. I also hope that member organizations build capacity to be inspired by evaluation and continue this work throughout future programs!
How do you engage the community in your work?
I think there are many factors that go into engaging the community. Some of the things I consider when doing community engagement work are: ensuring all voices are heard and be aware of power imbalances; involve the community continuously and actively in the evaluation process; and let community members know how their information will be used, and ensuring there is reciprocity in sharing the results.
These things might be easier said than done! However, in engagement work, striving for these goals while accepting it is a learning process that must be adapted to different contexts is what I think is key to have success in community engagement.
If you had unlimited funds, what parts of community work would you invest in? (research, outreach, training, etc.)
That’s a tough question! I think I would start with investing in research to ensure HIV/hep C community work is grounded in evidence. Next, I would invest in work that addresses broader issues such as housing and poverty to ensure consistent access to all types of care. Then I’d invest in outreach and education for the public to help eliminate stigma and discrimination, ensure the community is connected, and train enthusiastic people to keep this great work going!
If you were able to choose, what is the natural talent or superpower you’d like to be gifted with and why?
Definitely the ability to fly – I have always wanted that superpower since I was little. I love to travel but I hate airplanes! Being able to travel more while saving on airfare and limiting my carbon footprint would be amazing.