YORK – “I’m an advocate. I’m a volunteer,” said Margaret Brink, summing up in too few words her work in the field of public health.
Brink isn’t your everyday advocate; she is president of the National Association of Local Board of Health.
She isn’t just a garden variety volunteer, either; she will soon mark a decade of full-blown local, state and national leadership in public health. She was involved less visibly for years before that, however in 2007 she put the pedal all the way down.
Brink’s ramp-up coincided with retirement after 37 years teaching. When that career ended she lost no time diving headlong into an active role that saw her become an integral part of re-organizing public health in York which, in turn, led to the development of the Four Corners Health Department. The agency now serves York, Butler, Polk and Seward counties from offices across the street west of York General Hospital.
In addition to the national presidency, Brink is president of the local board of health.
In the Nebraska statutes each board of health must have an elected county official and also a “spirited community person.” There is no doubt Brink satisfies that criteria for the Four Corners Health Department.
A long list of leadership roles includes Brink serving the board of the Public Health Association of Nebraska in which she has been involved with legislative review and as co-chair of two PHAN conferences.
She and Four Corners executive director Vicki Duey make a formidable partnership when time comes for the Unicameral to take up pubic health issues.
“Vicki can’t ask” for a legislator’s vote, “but I can” and, clearly, she is not shy to do exactly that. Duey’s role is to dig out the facts of the matter – whatever it may be – present them as an easy read and make sure they are distributed to the right people.
Brink has ties to the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the College of Public Health, both in Omaha. She serves on the Committee of Counselors to UNMC Chancellor Jeffery Gold and also is an advisor to Ali Kahn, dean of the College of Public Health.
Brink has been a member of the York City Council for 23 years and is a York Chamber of Commerce Ambassador.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Hastings College and her master’s from Fort Hays (Kansas) University.
Duey said Four Corners, “Is extremely proud of the fact she has become such an advocate … starting way back when. She has done so much to energize that national association. For public health in general it’s been wonderful.
“The support myself and the department have received” from Brink “helped keep us going. She is a strong advocate for education, too, so she brings that along to public health.”
Returning the compliment, Brink commented, “Public health is sort of invisible as long as things are going well, but when there’s an outbreak or crisis everybody wonders, ‘Why weren’t we doing something?’”
Expect no such questions in York, Polk, Butler or Seward counties, however.
“They’re on top of it here,” she said.