Our June Employee Spotlight recipient is a skilled health communicator, qualitative researcher, and leader on Karna’s vaccine confidence projects. She receives client kudos often but this month we shine a light on Pooja Gandhi, the newly wed (isn’t her bridal portrait stunning?!) and explore what she enjoys outside of the great work she does!
Q: What is your position and what do you do?
I started with Karna in January 2021 as a Health Communication Specialist II. Now, I lead coordination for both the Prevention Research Center Vaccine Confidence Network and Confidence Consults portions of the Vaccine Confidence Technical Assistance Project and help write deliverables on behavioral insight interventions for our global project with the Task for Global Health.
Q: What has been your favorite project at Karna and why?
As a qualitative researcher, I really enjoyed the safety and effectiveness focus groups, where we got to hear from vaccine-hesitant people from all over the country. While challenging to hear some of their perspectives, these brought great insights to our work in tailoring COVID-19 vaccine messaging in the peak of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and pandemic.
Q: What have you gained from working at Karna?
Throughout the course of my role at Karna, I’ve gained a lot of great experience in client communication, technical assistance to state and local health departments, and strengthened my experiences in qualitative research, and drafting scientific manuscripts. I’ve also made a number of great connections with my colleagues at Karna, CDC, and the various PRCs across the country I communicate with as part of my role.
Q: What do you do to stay fit/healthy?
I attend weekly yoga and Zumba classes – yoga helps me relax and increase my flexibility, while Zumba has been a fun way to break a sweat while learning new dance moves!
Q: Do you have a tip for coping with stress?
Yin yoga and meditation has been a great way for me to reduce my anxiety. I also meet with a therapist, which has been a great way to have a safe space and set time to talk through daily challenges and ways to manage stress and anxiety.
Q: Where is your hometown?
I was raised in Tampa, Florida and born in Columbus, Ohio.
Q: What did you want to be growing up?
I never was quite sure as a kid, but in college, I wanted to be a dentist. After struggling with organic chemistry, I found public health, which combined my interests in science and writing, and I never looked back.
Q: You are happiest when?
Cuddling with my corgi, Rocket, or surrounded by friends and good food.
Q: What is something most people do not know about you?
While I don’t watch many sports, I’ve competed in several sports over my youth including volleyball, softball, tennis, and swimming.
Q: Anything you would like to add or say to help your colleagues and clients know you a little better?
I’m a big fan of plain language, clear communication, and writing in general, and am always available to lend a pair of fresh eyes for a writing piece in need! I’m very receptive to feedback on how I can better serve my clients and produce better deliverables in my work at Karna.