Autumn Bailey, Symone Woodham and Julia Banas Bring Fresh Perspectives to MHQP

(September 2023)

Over the past two years, MHQP has been pleased to have added a new cadre of young talent, as we have welcomed Julia Banas, Symone Woodham and Autumn Bailey to our staff. Each brings a unique background and offers a unique set of skills. Yet they all share two things in common: an interest in public health and a passion for health equity.

Autumn Bailey

Autumn is the newest addition to our staff. She grew up in Houston, Texas, and came to Boston to attend Boston University.

“I went to college wanting to be a doctor, then thought I’d be a physical therapist and do research part time,” Autumn says. “But I found that I was more interested in researching disparities and access to care than practicing medicine. And then one day, it just clicked that I should be in public health.”

While at BU, Autumn interned at The Massachusetts Health Connector where she created initiatives to advance health equity in the state-based marketplace. She has also worked with other non-profit organizations such as Fertility Within Reach where she helped write educational pamphlets on fertility issues in marginalized communities, and interned for Alliance for Citizen Engagement where she published policy briefs on healthcare and incarceration.

She joined MHQP after she graduated this past June.

“I looked at the job description and saw the focus on health equity,” she says. “That plus learning about some of the specific projects, like improving care for individuals with sickle cell disease, that sold me.”

As Program Coordinator, Autumn provides support for various MHQP projects including the Patient Experience Survey, the Primary Care Dashboard, and others.

In her free time, Autumn enjoys going to concerts and spending time outside.

Symone Woodham

Symone Woodham grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts, and attended the University of Rhode Island. Like Autumn, she was on a pre-med track when a public health class changed her career focus.

“I was planning to be a doctor,” Symone says. “But when I learned about social determinants of health and disparities, that really sparked my interest. I started thinking I’d like to make a bigger impact at the community and population levels, rather than treat individuals.”

She switched her major to Health Studies and then pursued her Masters in Public Health (MPH) at Boston University. While in Rhode Island, she interned for Butler Hospital’s Memory and Aging Program. She has also worked as a research assistant while at BU, conducting qualitative interviews to identify barriers and facilitators to lung cancer screening among underserved populations.

Symone joined MHQP in October of 2022. As Program Manager, she provides support in project planning and implementation for the Patient Experience Survey, as well as other projects.

“I really enjoy working at MHQP,” she says. “I like our focus on health equity, as well as being involved in qualitative research with patients. And also that there’s room for growth.”

In her free time, she enjoys dancing, traveling, and spending time with her loved ones.

Julia Banas

Julia is the longest serving of the three employees, having been at MHQP for two years. She grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania and – like Autumn – came to Boston to attend Boston University. Although she was a political science major, she quickly gravitated toward public health.

“I’ve always been interested in how policy impacts people,” she says. “I was drawn to public health when I started to understand how policies impact people’s health and especially how they affect inequities in people’s lives.”

These interests led her to an internship at the Right Care Alliance (RCA), a grassroots coalition working to put patients’ voices at the center of healthcare. After graduating from BU, Julia pursued her MPH at Yale University and worked in research involving health disparities at Yale’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies. She then joined MHQP in July 2021.

As Program Manager, she is responsible for managing timelines and materials for various projects, including the MassHealth member experience survey program and the Primary Care Dashboard.

“MHQP has been such a warm and welcoming environment,” Julia says. ”I’ve learned so much over the two years I’ve been here.”

In her free time, Julia enjoys reading and baking.

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