Learn more about the intersection of population health, public health and social work with PSP's Kimberly Palermo. Kimberly, who holds a master's degree in social work, practices on the macro level by advocating for overarching health policy reform.
Health Policy Specialist
I am from Des Plaines, Illinois, and attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where I danced and received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. I continued my education at SIUC and earned my master's in social work (MSW). While attending graduate school, I was selected as the 2016/2017 Celia M. Howard Fellow at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute and as a SIU School of Medicine Trauma-Based Behavioral Health Fellow. These opportunities allowed me to simultaneously advocate for underserved populations and promote mental health support to youth exposed to trauma.
I am passionate about bringing awareness and working to combat human trafficking and I serve as an active member of the Central Illinois Human Trafficking Taskforce. Recently, I organized a human trafficking care package event where several members of the community came together to build 200 care packages for survivors. I also was the planning committee co-chair for a human trafficking conference titled “They Never Asked.” The conference featured presentations from survivors, healthcare experts, law enforcement and service providers.
I also serve as the education co-chair for the
SIU Medicine Alliance for Women in Medicine and Science
(AWIMS). In this leadership position, I organized an educational panel as part of the “He for She” global movement for gender equality. This month, AWIMS will be featuring art made by survivors of violence as part of the 2019 Women’s History Month theme, “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Nonviolence.”
In my role at PSP, I focus on improving rural health policy and I'm fortunate to be able to share that work with colleagues across the country. I recently presented a poster titled “The Illinois Rural Health Summit: Creating a Policy Blueprint to Improve Rural Health Outcomes” at the National Health Policy Conference in Washington D.C.
When I'm not working, my hobbies include dancing, making ceramics and hiking with my pup
What brought you to PSP?
I was excited to join PSP because of its work to serve vulnerable communities across the state and to promote policy change to improve the lives of Illinois residents. This role allows me to use my skills as a social worker to make real change in Illinois communities.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve done or learned with PSP?
The Illinois Rural Health Summit was an amazing experience. It was eye-opening to see the variety of dedicated stakeholders and learn about their work and impact on rural communities.
Being a part of the medical school provides many opportunities to make a real impact on the future of public health. PSP's work educates students, residents, faculty and staff to consider the social determinants of health through a public health and social work lens. I feel like my work has value and I'm making an impact that will positively affect the lives of many residents in Illinois.