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Sorenson Impact Center Alumnus Leads in Public Health Communication

As part of the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business, Sorenson Impact Center’s greatest impact is through empowering tomorrow’s leaders with transformative, experiential learning, real-world training, and mentorship. This series revisits Sorenson Impact Center alumni who are leading successful careers in impact. 

Gabe Moreno oversees communications to promote and protect community and environmental health in Salt Lake County, Utah. After graduating in 2019 from the University of Utah with a Bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communication, Gabe began working for Salt Lake County’s Mayor, Jenny Wilson, as a Communication Specialist. When COVID-19 cases began to spread in February 2020, Mayor Wilson redeployed Gabe to the Incident Command System (ICS), the county-wide emergency response team dedicated to the pandemic. 

As a member of the public information group within the ICS, Gabe and other public information officers worked tirelessly to provide accurate and timely information to the public about the rapidly evolving pandemic. Gabe coordinated with public health officials to gather and disseminate information about the spread of the virus, developed and implemented communication strategies to educate the public about how to protect themselves and others from infection, responded to media inquiries, and held press conferences.

Following his experience during the emergency response, Gabe began his current position with the Salt Lake County Health Department. As the Marketing and Outreach Manager, Gabe manages the flow of information between the agency and the public. He also serves as the agency’s primary Spanish spokesperson and oversees their community outreach efforts.

Before his career took off, Gabe was a student intern on the Marketing Communication team at the Sorenson Impact Center where he focused on internal and external communications as well as policy-related projects. In this conversation, Gabe shares how his internship at the Sorenson Impact Center prepared him for a future in impact. 

How did your work at the Sorenson Impact Center prepare you for your roles with ICS and the Salt Lake County Health Department? 

As I transitioned from a non-public health background to a dynamic public health communications role, I discovered the immense value of the technical skills learned from my time at Sorenson Impact Center, such as research and writing. The ability to gather and synthesize information from diverse sources, coupled with the ability to express thoughts with clarity and conciseness, takes on a paramount role, particularly in the face of a public health crisis. In addition to developing my hard skills, the Sorenson Impact Center staff were skilled at bringing together diverse stakeholders to collaborate on projects. This is something that I have been able to integrate into my modus operandi.

What has been one of the biggest challenges of your career so far?

During my time at ICS, we had to ensure that all the educational materials we produced were translated into Spanish and other priority languages. Creating deliverables that were timely was one of the biggest challenges since policy and guidance from the state kept changing so rapidly. We had to constantly be on the lookout for new information and update our materials accordingly. This was a challenge, but it was also an opportunity to demonstrate our flexibility and responsiveness. Translating our resources to Spanish was especially important to me as a first-generation Latino immigrant — the largest non-English language spoken in Salt Lake County is Spanish, which is spoken by 13.39% of the population.

Can you tell us about a recent project you worked on that you’re excited about? 

Our team recently received a grant from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) to enhance equity in overdose prevention. We are developing a bilingual campaign aimed at informing Salt Lake County youth under 24 years old about the dangers of fentanyl and opioid drugs. Our goal is to prevent overdoses among young people. I believe it will have a significant impact and ultimately save lives.

Did you know you wanted to pursue a career in impact before interning with Sorenson Impact Center? What advice would you give to a student interested in a career in impact?

Before Sorenson, I didn’t know about the possibility of a career in the impact space, but I did know that I wanted to go into a career in service and be involved in finding solutions to pressing social issues. For anyone interested in a career in impact, start by developing relationships within the impact space – this is a growing community, and relationships are essential. An internship is a great place to start.

What is the greatest takeaway from your experience at the Sorenson Impact Center? 

The “do well while doing good” philosophy that the Sorenson Impact Center promotes really resonated with me and has continued to guide my work to this day.

Interested in learning more about the Sorenson Impact Center’s student program? Explore internships and opportunities here.

Connect with Gabe on LinkedIn!