Elizabeth Walsh

Public Health Statistician

City of Kansas City, Mo. Health Department

While Elizabeth Walsh’s job title — statistician — does not indicate a traditional leadership role, she also doesn’t categorize herself as a traditional public health leader. She has led innovative changes, from transforming the department’s statistics communications to integrating data storytelling into their daily work and making data more accessible to the community. Collectively, these efforts have elevated the role of public health through increased recognition, credibility, and buy-in from all stakeholders, including individual community members. She has extensive experience in various areas of public health, including social epidemiology, HIV prevention, public policy, and data analysis. Elizabeth has also worked in the health care sector as an analyst with the National Database for Nursing Quality Indicators and monitoring trends of TRICARE claims in support of fraud prevention efforts with the Defense Health Agency.

Elizabeth holds a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities School of Public Health. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in biology from William Jewell College.


BOLD SOLUTION: Until Elizabeth’s arrival, the advent of data storytelling was largely left out of public health practice in Kansas City. A writer a heart, she took these statistical reports and started to tell stories with them. Her biggest accomplishment was the creation of a newsletter that sparked conversation in parts of the community that had never happened before. Residents began reaching out, asking to be added to the mailing list. Residents the mayor of KCMO also tweeted about it. Since then, she has been working with the communications team to put together tweetable packages of data. Today, they collaborate more than ever to ensure the best use of data to engage the community.
So much of public health’s storytelling is defining public health or showing a lot of data in charts, graphs and tables that immediately make someone’s eyes glaze over. While charts and graphs and tables are my bread and butter, they are not what gets everyone energized on a topic.