Carolyn Bogott: Making the world a better place

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Sara Lee’s personal goal in life is “to make the world a better place through health care and selfcare.”

Her current job as a community engagement manager for Mayo Clinic Health System-Austin provides many avenues toward that goal. She describes her job as being a bridge between the community and Mayo.

Sara Lee

“Community Engagement” is a big umbrella.

Helping to lead Mower Refreshed is one part of Sara’s job. Mower Refreshed is a group of representatives from a wide range of entities that serves as a community sounding board and collaborates on healthy living initiatives. They want to understand what needs to be done, and can be done, to improve all areas of healthy living.

Examples of events that Mower Refreshed has collaborated on include mental well-being programs, early childhood initiatives and Harvest Fest, a community event to raise awareness for food insecurity. Recently, they formed an inclusion and diversity subcommittee to enhance communication with culturally diverse populations.

New members are always welcome to join these community groups. Mower Refreshed is ready to team with other groups who want to provide wellness-related activities, and informational opportunities on health issues.

Communication about COVID-19 and the immunization program have been the main focus of Sara’s work for the last year. A huge effort was made to get accurate information to all segments of the community about pandemic safety and COVID-19 vaccinations. It was also necessary to dispel myths and rumors.

One lesson learned from the pandemic time is that virtual presentations may work out better for some communities.  Nearly 200 people took part in a virtual seminar sponsored by Mayo Clinic Health System titled, ‘Women and Well Being: Calm in the Chaos’ this past year.

Another way Sara listens to the community is by membership on the United Way Board and by being an officer in the Austin Rotary. And she helps complete the Community Health Needs Assessment which is done every three years. It is an enormous undertaking, involving written surveys, focus groups, and interviews, to provide a public report and plan for implementation to address the county’s greatest needs.

Sara wants everyone to have ‘a place at the table’ to have their needs heard and followed up on, so they can live their best life. As a liaison with the medical practice at Mayo Clinic, Sara can help arrange for speakers on a variety of health care topics.

It all goes along with Sara seeing herself as a bridge between health care resources and the people who need them.

With a college degree in English and communications, Sara has always been interested in health care. Following an inspiring internship at a Portland, Oregon hospital, she was sure she wanted a job that combined her interests of communication and health care. Before her 20 years with Mayo, she had a number of jobs with hospital communications work elsewhere.

In 2015, Sara completed a master’s degree in Public Affairs with an emphasis in Public Health, at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. This further equipped her to find ways to implement aspects of the bridge which she wants to be.

Austin and Mayo are so fortunate to have Sara as a bridge to improved health care for our community.

For more information about the Austin Branch of AAUW, contact Sue Grove  sue.grove@riverland.edu  or Carolyn Bogott  csbogott@charter.net. The American Association of University Women, now AAUW, is open to anyone who has completed a two-year degree or beyond.  AAUW welcomes men who support our objectives and there are student memberships available. AAUW has been empowering women since 1881.  We support equity and education for women.  Scholarships are offered, as well as help in litigation in cases dealing with sex discrimination.  We are the most important and highly respected research and lobbying organization dealing with women’s issues such as equal opportunity and job equality.