Alumni Public Health

MPH alumna is making a difference in the lives of Oregonians

April Gillette discusses why she pursued an MPH from Oregon State and how it led to a job at the Oregon Health Authority

Photo of April Gillette in front of trees

April Gillette, MPH ’16, is the governance and process improvement director for the Oregon Health Authority. In this role, she leads the oversight, monitoring and compliance functions and responsibilities for the Health Systems Division, which includes the Medicaid and Behavioral Health systems for the State of Oregon. 

We caught up with April to find out why she chose to pursue her MPH from Oregon State University.  

Why did you pursue an MPH in health systems and policy from Oregon State? What interested you about the field? 

I was already working on campus as a small animal orthopedic surgery technician for the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, but I hadn’t considered the MPH program until I spoke with an advisor who suggested it.  

Once I learned more about it, I couldn’t wait to get started. For me, the health systems and policy option had the broadest range of possibilities. I hadn’t planned on leaving veterinary medicine, so it was the most applicable.  

How did the MPH program prepare you for what you do now?   

One of the main things I remember learning in grad school was how my view of the world was just that — my view. It opened up my eyes to holding space for different experiences without trying to relate to them.  

What do you love about working for the Oregon Health Authority? 

I love the opportunities we have to make a difference in the lives of those living in Oregon and working with such a passionate group of people all doing their absolute best. 

I manage a strong team of project managers, compliance analysts and process improvement professionals whose roles range from implementing internal improvements all the way to project management for the Medicaid 1115 waiver implementation.  

What difference do you hope to make in people’s health and well-being? 

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become even more apparent how everything connects to public health and how important health-related social needs are.  

Some of the work we’re leading at the OHA involves the Medicaid 1115 waiver and creating more coverage and less administrative burden for our most vulnerable populations. It also amplifies the importance of health-related social needs in whole-person health care. 

What advice do you have for students considering or currently enrolled in OSU’s MPH program? 

Be open minded to learning from your peers and ask a lot of thoughtful questions about their perspectives and experiences. It’s impossible to effectively work in public health while existing only in your comfortable world. 

Learn more about Oregon State’s MPH in health systems and policy.