Victoria Phifer: 2015 PMF
Victoria Phifer began her federal career at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a Class of 2015 Presidential Management Fellow (PMF). When she graduated from Howard University, she could only imagine the journey that would lead to her current leadership role as the Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services (CSELS) Health Equity Officer. This role is significant for many reasons and aligns with her personal public health mission to create healthy and thriving communities for all.
Before her introduction to public health, early experiences taught Victoria about the importance of public service and issues of justice and fairness, especially related to healthcare access. She served on boards and volunteered actively in her hometown, Toledo, Ohio and in Washington, DC, in recognition that effectively addressing longstanding issues of education and health disparities required student and community voices.
Victoria’s PMF journey began in summer 2015 in Washington, DC and included leadership development trainings, exciting learning experiences, and mentorship. As a public health analyst in the CDC Washington Office, she learned about the breadth and depth of CDC’s programs and provided technical assistance on public health policy and legislative initiatives. She routinely prepared materials for Congressional hearings and briefings, while she also responded to inquiries and requests from Congressional members and partner organizations regarding the impact of CDC programs.
A highlight of Victoria’s PMF experience was completing a rotation in CDC’s Office of the Associate Director for Policy and Strategy. She worked with experienced leaders and subject matter experts on the 6ǀ18 Initiative, which connects healthcare purchasers, payers, and providers with CDC researchers, economists, and policy analysts to improve health and control costs through proven interventions. Victoria completed a second rotation where she conducted health policy research with a national non-profit organization to advance health and housing as a social determinant of health (SDOH). This experience further renewed her commitment to policy and SDOH. She also served as the liaison for CDC’s Class of 2015 to the CDC PMF program leadership for program improvement and helped implement community service and mentoring activities for incoming PMFs.
In addition to the amazing cohort of fellows in the CDC PMF program, Victoria benefited from supportive mentors, program coordinators, and a network of PMF/PMI alumni who encouraged learning opportunities. The PMF program encouraged Victoria to seek special projects and opportunities to develop in the program’s core competencies, including problem solving, interpersonal skills, and communication. Since graduating from the program in 2017, Victoria has continued her development through various leadership programs and CDC’s COVID-19 response, including a deployment as policy lead to the Chief Health Equity Officer Unit. In her current leadership role as the CSELS Health Equity Officer, Victoria works to advance health equity by developing and promoting approaches to recruit, train, and sustain a diverse and inclusive public health workforce.
“Mentorship was critical to my selection as a fellow, success in the program, and advancement as a leader. Now, I’m passionate about opening doors of opportunity for future PMFs, especially those who have traditionally been underrepresented in the program.”