Meet the team: Anna Saltzman

Our Meet the Team blog series highlights our team, one member at a time. We give you a glimpse into their motivations and approach to working with our partners to achieve better results for communities. Through this feature, we hope that you’ll find a deeper connection to the people and relationships that are central to our work.

Today we’re getting to know Anna Saltzman, our skilled and perceptive senior consultant at Engage R+D.

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1.    What is your role at Engage R+D?

I am a senior consultant and founding employee at Engage R+D. I focus on many of our health-related strategy and evaluation projects. That means that I work with clients to evaluate and track progress of efforts that address improving health from many different angles. For example, I have helped clients understand the impact of efforts to expand health insurance coverage, strengthen the health care workforce, and train health care providers. I also have provided ongoing feedback and strategic support to large-scale systems change initiatives designed to improve public health through affecting change at the community and policy levels. In addition, I partner with my colleagues at Engage R+D on efforts to strengthen and build our culture as a growing organization. I’ve enjoyed spearheading our approaches to organizational learning and virtual staff meetings, and supporting our external communications.

2.    What experience do you bring to this work?

My undergraduate training was in psychology, and I am fascinated by the ways in which culture and other social influences can change our thoughts and behaviors. This fascination began in my childhood, when I developed a strong interest in learning new languages and understanding different cultures. Early in my career, I also developed a passion for research and an appreciation for the ways in which systematic data collection and analysis can help to unpack and address complex social issues. My background in public health has shaped my understanding of the ways in which social factors and structural barriers can impact health. In my client engagements, I strive to build upon the latest thinking in the field and creatively apply evaluation methods to meet the evolving needs of the social sector.

3.    How did you discover your passion for evaluation and learning?

In high school, I spent a summer volunteering in Latin America as part of a community health volunteer project. That experience opened my eyes to how much the social conditions in which people are born, grow, play and work can impact their health. I knew that whatever career path I’d ultimately follow would do something to better understand and address those inequities. After college, I attended a public health conference where I had my first exposure to the field of evaluation. I recall one presenter who shared findings from an evaluation of an obesity prevention program designed to reduce racial and ethnic disparities by addressing the social determinants of health. I was inspired by how she was using research as a tool to expose the structural barriers that impact health and support social change. I eventually set out on my own career path in public health and evaluation, bridging my passions for research and addressing health inequities.

4.    What do you love about your job?

I am grateful to be doing work that I find both personally meaningful and that challenges me as a professional. I love the team-based nature of this work, and the fact that I am surrounded by colleagues, clients, and other partners who each bring their own sharp thinking and creative ideas about how to tackle complex social problems. I also love having opportunities to collect data, facilitate meetings or provide strategic support to clients, supporting them in developing new ways of thinking about their work. It is both gratifying and humbling to help make those connections. Lastly, I feel fortunate to have had some incredible mentors throughout the course of my career, who have invested in me and pushed me to grow in new ways. In my approach to team leadership and management, I value building those types of mentorship relationships myself.

5.    You’re in San Francisco - tell me 3 places I should go if I visit.

I live in San Francisco proper.  When I’m not sitting at my desk, you can often find me climbing one of the city’s many steep hills to clear my head. Here are a few of my favorite spots that celebrate the unique geography and traditions of this city: 

  • 16th Avenue Tiled Steps. This set of 163 steps is tucked away in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood. The steps are covered in a picturesque sea and stars tile mosaic that was completed by a collaboration of local community artists. If you make the trek up these steps on a non-foggy day, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the city. You can continue the experience by walking around nearby Grandview Park.

  • Vermont Street. Many people think of Lombard Street, also in San Francisco, as holding the title for the crookedest street in the world. However, a stretch of Vermont Street, located in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill district, also competes for this title. Paved in concrete rather than brick, Vermont Street has a steeper grade hill than Lombard Street. Titles aside, if you decide to take a drive down this street, you’ll be in for a thrilling experience.

  • Bi-Rite Creamery. This San Francisco institution serves up small batches of homemade ice cream sourced from a local creamery. At its flagship location in the Mission District, you’ll often find lines down the block, particularly on those rare true summer days in the city. Bi-Rite is known for serving up unique flavors such as salted caramel, honey lavender, and balsamic strawberry.