YOUR CHOICE ’21: Board of health candidates on how their backgrounds have prepared them

Each week, the Abington News is asking the three residents running for the board of selectmen a question to help voters better understand them as candidates. Election Day is Saturday, April 24.

This week’s question was: What experiences from your life (personal, professional, volunteer) helps make you a good candidate for the Board of Health? 

Melissa (Horr) Pond

AGE: 33

FAMILY: Spouse, Benjamin Pond; Daughter 

OCCUPATION: Government Administration / Nonprofit Management 

CIVIC EXPERIENCE (government and volunteer): Community Development Planner, City of Quincy, MA Jun 2009 – Present; BID Milton Hospital Community Benefits Advisory Council Sep 2020 – Present; BID Milton Hospital Board of Overseers Aug 2017 – Present; American Planning Association Oct 2020 – Present; Chair, South Shore Hunger Network Mar 2020 – Present; Blue Hills Regional Coordinating Council (BHRCC) Feb 2019 – Present; National Community Development Association, Jan 2014 – Present; Steering Committee (Past Vice Chair), Blue Hills Community Health Network Alliance (CHNA20) Oct 2016 – Nov 2020; STEM Advisory Council Member, Massachusetts Board of Early and Secondary Education May 2014 – April 2017; Youth Council Member, South Shore Workforce Investment Board, Sep 2013 – Sep 2016; Board Member, AmeriCorps Alums Boston Sep 2011 – Jun 2013; AmeriCorps Sep 2009 – 2010

From the very beginning of this campaign journey, I have been confident that my experience has uniquely qualified me as a candidate for the Board of Health. With more than 10 years of experience in government administration and various roles with civic duties, I am well prepared to respond to regulatory issues related to the Board of Health for Abington. My top three notable experiences relative to this role are with the Blue Hills Community Health Network Alliance, the City of Quincy Planning Department, and Opportunity Nation. 

I have served as an active contributor to the Blue Hills Community Health Network Alliance (CHNA) since 2016. The Blue Hills CHNA works to improve the overall health of local residents through increased coordination and delivery of existing services, expanded community actions, and the mobilization of community resources. Through this network, I connected with South Shore Hospital and BID Milton Hospital and served on committees to oversee use of Community Benefits funding from each hospital. Through this work, I’ve learned a lot about public health through the lens of hospital administration as well in collaboration with community partners. I have gained valuable skills in understanding the landscape of public health, collaborating with community health centers and local hospitals, and advocating for public policy that benefits public health.

As a Community Development Planner for the City of Quincy, I spend a significant amount of my time on community engagement, communication and collaboration. This experience prepares me to effectively work on behalf of the Abington community with nonprofits, government agencies, and the public. I know how to effectively keep people informed through local news media and social media. Through increased communication and creative engagement opportunities, I increased the number of professionals and residents participating in needs

assessments for some of the City’s federal funding. In response to COVID, I pivoted community outreach efforts to assist hunger relief efforts as Chair of the South Shore Hunger Network, produce a webinar series to assist small businesses, and move in-person engagement to virtual opportunities. I believe communication is one my top strengths that I bring to the table.    

In 2012, I had the unique opportunity to work with Opportunity Nation, a bipartisan campaign promoting economic opportunity. I used Opportunity Nation’s data tool, the Opportunity Index, to host a community conversation in Quincy that increased our overall public engagement efforts by over 500%. The most helpful dynamic of the Opportunity Nation campaign was that the policy agenda was aligned with a bi-partisan (or two-party) approach, an agenda that allowed for discussion instead of argument. This experience, in addition to my experience working on federal programs like AmeriCorps and Community Development Block Grant that have bi-partisan support in Congress, helped shaped my political point of view on all things. I think it’s more important to engage more people in dialogue about community issues than to get distracted by political party agendas. I see this experience and viewpoint as a strength that prepares me to serve as an elected official. I’m here to listen to the wants and needs of the community, research how to best serve, and implement strategies that benefit the community as a whole. 

Originally from out of state, I came to Massachusetts to attend Eastern Nazarene College for Business Management. I was fortunate to land an internship with the City of Quincy Planning Department which led to my first job out of college, and I have continued to serve the City since. From 2011 – 2014, I attended evening courses at Wheelock College and Northeastern University and earned my Graduate Certificate in Organizational Leadership and my Master’s in Nonprofit Management. My husband and I bought a house and moved to Abington in 2018. I’m passionate about bringing my skills and talents to the community where we are raising our daughter. I have a track record of exemplary public service and have been honored with a number of awards and accolades for my work. I humbly ask for the support of my Abington neighbors in my pursuit of a seat on the Board of Health. It is my hope that this narrative not only illustrates my experience but also my strong work ethic and willingness to serve.

Christopher Schultz

AGE: As old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth. Which translates to 48.

FAMILY: Married (19 years) with two kids, 17 & 14

OCCUPATION: Wholesaler, mineral specimens

CIVIC EXPERIENCE (government and volunteer): Current chair of the Board of Health, Scoutmaster of Troop 41 for 9 years, member of the Ames Nowell Committee

Prior to my current job, I spent 20 years working for a home health care agency. I worked in the Quality Review department, and established a strong working relationship with our clinical staff. I believe this experience has helped greatly with my ability to partner with our exceptional Health Department staff. Strong teamwork between the Board of Health and the Health Department is essential to delivering the highest quality public health services to our residents.

One thing I have learned from my years of volunteering in Scouting is the importance of servant leadership. All elected officials serve in a leadership capacity. We are elected to be a representative for our constituents, and in the case of the Board of Health, we’re elected to make sensible, informed decisions to best protect the health and safety of Abington’s residents. I have a strong desire to serve my community, and I feel the leadership skills I have developed over the years help me do that. Part of being a leader is being able to teach and instruct. I believe that’s an important skill I bring to the table, and will be looking at different ways to engage the community and work to educate people on health and safety. 

I have had the honor of serving on the Board of Health for the past three years. During that time, I have worked hard to build a strong working relationship both with my fellow board members and the Health Department, namely our Health Director Marty Golightly. We make a good team, and I think we’ve shown that during this challenging year. I look forward to having an opportunity to continue that partnership and hopefully expand what we can offer the town in the way of health services. We have some exciting ideas for classes and trainings once it’s safe to resume gatherings, and I feel the skills I developed through the years are well suited to help make those ideas a reality. 

Kevin Whalen 

AGE: 59

FAMILY: Married, 3 grown children 

OCCUPATION: Executive Director, South Shore Country Club 

CIVIC EXPERIENCE: Served on numerous boards over the past 40 years including Finance Committee Sewer Commission and School Committee

I have vast experience working in both municipal and state government agencies. I look forward to bringing this experience to support the mission of the Abington Board of Health. Over the past year I have been working to implement covid protocols to ensure the safety of our staff and guests. I will bring this experience to the BOH. I appreciate the work the BOH has done over the past year to keep the citizens of Abington safe during the pandemic.I will bring my experience with government procurement and contracts to the waste and recycling contract to ensure the best service and value for Abington taxpayer.I look forward serving the town of Abington in this capacity.

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