iSMA Volunteer Spotlight- Laura Wagstaff, Social Media Volunteer
Laura takes a vista break during her hike to the top of Machu Picchu in 2016. She spent a few months traveling around South America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Peru) where she hiked, became more familiar with the various South American countries’ singular cultures, and honed her Spanish skills. All of this before embarking on the adventure that followed, her MPH degree.
The International Social Marketing Association (iSMA) values the time, energy, and vision of our many dedicated volunteers. Their work encourages the growth of our iSMA membership community and shapes an organization that provides valuable services and resources to members.
This month, the spotlight is on Laura Wagstaff, who coordinates social media for iSMA, ensuring that our organization posts regularly, that the content is relevant about social marketing practice, and that it promotes the activities of all of our regional/local associations. Putting fresh and regular content in the social sphere is key to attracting and sustaining member interaction. It can be a demanding role and for that we are grateful for Laura’s knowledge base in and love for social marketing approaches to behavior change and social media.
Laura was inspired by National Geographic’s Years of Living Dangerously series, motivating her participation as a Research Assistant in evaluating individuals’ climate change risk perception and self-efficacy. This was part of her MPH work at the George Washington University.
Laura also worked as a Fellow at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Center for Global Health, where she supported a landscape analysis of NCI’s grant portfolio of cancer stigma projects and with the Tobacco Control Research Branch on a project focused on identifying risk perceptions among light and intermittent smokers.
Laura is a native of the San Francisco Bay area in California but currently resides in Washington, DC where she works as a Communication Specialist at Sapient Government Solutions and contributes communication expertise to NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
Laura was first inspired by the social marketing approach to change during her MPH studies. She observes that, “global communities are facing such pressing challenges – and not just health related – which heightens the importance of social change efforts. I’ve always appreciated that social marketing is inherently evidence- and theory-based, ensuring that resources are used as efficiently as possible in order to generate maximum benefit to target communities.”
She especially enjoys her iSMA volunteer work, identifying and sharing social marketing related posts and tweets. This position provides, “an opportunity to read the most relevant social marketing publications and hear perspectives from leaders in the field.”
And where is Laura headed? Based upon her career to date, she has especially enjoyed research projects, and particularly behavior change projects related to maternal health or non-communicable disease reduction. Certainly, her experience with preliminary research, data analysis (in SPSS), and manuscript writing and editing supports very exciting career prospects ahead and a personal impact on improved health.
But for now, we are grateful that Laura is part of our iSMA Communication Team.