As a Doctor of Public Health student at the UGA College of Public Health, Maria Hinson Tobin has been able to broaden and enrich the knowledge and expertise she leans on every day in her role building strategic partnerships for international humanitarian organization CARE.
“The DrPH program was designed for working professionals, enabling me to continue advancing my career while also pursuing higher education,” she said. “I am so grateful to be part of a program that considers the unique needs of its students.”
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), Health Policy and Management
Master of Science in Global Health, University of Notre Dame
Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences, University of Tennessee
Where are you currently employed?
I serve as Senior Director of Development, Corporate Partnerships with CARE, a global humanitarian organization operating in more than 100 countries. I work closely with multinational corporations to develop mutually beneficial partnerships. I collaborate across several stakeholders to identify, develop, and oversee social impact programs, while also solving supply-chain challenges.
What is your educational and professional background? How did you become involved in your field?
Although originally I pursued being a physician, I realized through my studies, personal experience, and volunteer work that radical change is needed to ensure equitable access to quality health services. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the University of Tennessee, I chose to focus my education on population health and inequity. I earned a master’s degree in global health from the University of Notre Dame. As part of this degree, I interned in Uganda with The Carter Center’s River Blindness Elimination Program, assisting with the development and testing of a model used to evaluate the program’s effectiveness and improve ongoing programming.
In 2015, I joined CARE, an international humanitarian organization committed to saving lives, defeating poverty, and advancing social justice. Over the last 7 years, I’ve supported food security, nutrition, and health programs in numerous countries. More recently, I’ve led fundraising efforts in support of COVID-19 response, humanitarian aid, and development needs broadly. I am building partnerships with a range of internal and external stakeholders including multinational corporations, NGOs, and government to achieve long-term impact in agriculture-dependent communities.
What exciting projects are you working on?
This semester, I successfully defended my dissertation, “AN EX-POST PROGRAM SUSTAINABILITY EVALUATION IN ZIMBABWE: ASSESSING IMPACT CONTINUITY OF CARE’S CHIVI WASH PROJECT FOUR YEARS AFTER IMPLEMENTATION.” I evaluated the extent to which water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions were sustained years later, identified the enablers and facilitators of sustained impact, and made recommendations for future decision-making in the sector.
Since I have worked at CARE, I have been able to support programs and partnerships that fall under our Food and Water Systems portfolio. Despite significant advancement in this sector, issues surrounding sustainability of rural water service continue to have impacts on water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as food systems and poverty. In choosing a topic for my dissertation, I wanted to take on research that could be applied broadly to influence programming and policy.
Given the inextricable links between water, food systems, poverty, gender equity and more, I felt this research could drive greater understanding of WASH sustainability and decision-making within my organization around WASH program design that has the potential to scale our impact. It has been such an eye-opening experience leading this evaluation. My dissertation has highlighted the importance of programming for sustainability to ensure long-lasting outcomes and identified critical insights into technical, institutional, social, environmental, and financial levers for sustained impact.
What attracted you to your graduate program at the College of Public Health?
The DrPH program was designed for working professionals, enabling me to continue advancing my career while also pursuing higher education. I am so grateful to be part of a program that considers the unique needs of its students. The program also emphasizes health policy and management strategies as part of its thoughtful curriculum. These areas of emphasis have deepened my understanding of public health and prepared me for that next step in my career.
What achievements/honors during your time at CPH are you most proud of?
I have been so humbled by all the recognition I have received for my work over the last few years. It is truly an honor to lead this work and I have been very blessed to be at college surrounded by mission-driven colleagues and an incredible support system.
I’m deeply proud of the awards I’ve received while pursuing my doctorate. It’s been challenging to balance my career and academic obligations during the pandemic. So, to be recognized for my work during this time has been so rewarding. These honors include the Young Nonprofit Professional Network’s 30 Under 30 award, the University of Notre Dame’s Domer Dozen award, and the University of Tennessee’s Volunteer 40 Under 40 award for my contributions to international development, gender equity, and demonstrated leadership in the nonprofit sector.
More recently, I was also inducted into UGA’s Blue Key Honor Society after being nominated by my department. To be recognized among such inspiring and accomplished individuals has been an amazing experience.
Do you have any external activities that you are passionate about?
I enjoy going on walks, listening to audiobooks, reading, swimming, gardening, cooking, and interior design in my free time. I am also scuba certified and love diving (and pretty much any activity on the beach or in the water). Beyond my passion for global health and development, I’m also a self-proclaimed environmentalist. I am incredibly devoted to environmental issues, especially climate change, pollution, wildlife, and marine conservation.
What are your career plans beyond graduation?
I hope to advance my career in global health and international development and maybe one day shift my focus to supporting community health and development needs in the United States, especially given the rising inequality and health disparities resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m also incredibly passionate about domestic issues surrounding homelessness, drug addiction, and mental health and could see a future working in any one of those areas. Soon, my academic and personal plans include finalizing my dissertation, graduating, and taking time off to spend time with my husband, family, and friends.
What are the biggest takeaways from your DrPH experience at UGA?
I’ve learned so much from my experience at UGA. Most importantly, I have learned that in order to succeed, you need to take risks, get out of your comfort zone, believe in yourself, and ask for help when you need it.
Posted on April 15, 2022.