“Everybody deserves to live a healthy life”: An interview with IHME Project Officer Kayla Taylor

Published February 12, 2024

IHME project officer Kayla Taylor

Kayla Taylor works on IHME’s Resource Tracking team.

IHME: What led you to pursue your current work in global health?

Kayla Taylor: For me, I’ve always been a health advocate, starting with the aspect of physical health. I was a pre-med [student] as an undergrad. [Then], I discovered that there are other ways to make an impact and provoke change.

[First], I worked in health care administration. But then I delved more into the realm of public health. I saw how [public health] is more on an international scale and how things are essentially intertwined with one another, and how we can do specific types of research studies and play on the different skills that a lot of folks have to make an impact on what it means to be healthy, but through a global lens.

IHME: Can you tell me about how your work connects to IHME’s goal of helping all people live long lives?

Kayla Taylor: I can say two things about my work. In my role as a project officer at IHME, I’m helping keep folks organized and making sure that we’re hitting deliverables in a timely manner, and keeping new resources, new studies, new information coming out on a steady basis. Making sure that we’re on track with all our deadlines enables our audiences to have access to tangible information in a reasonable amount of time so that they can implement a change that can affect someone’s life based off our results. [This work] allows people to access information in a digestible way, which is incredibly important when there’s a lot of jargon used in the field of health. As a project officer, I am able to give that [information] to folks through visualizations, through different methods for them to be able to live their life in full health.  

In my free time, I am a Pilates instructor. Enabling people to move their bodies in different ways, encouraging them, motivating them, and giving them the tools to be able to be physically active is incredibly important and plays to that aspect of helping people live long lives in full health.

Stay strong, keep passionate, and stay focused on why it is that you want to be in the field of global and public health.

IHME: What accomplishments in your career are you most proud of?

Kayla Taylor: For me, definitely obtaining my master’s in public health (MPH). I recently graduated with my MPH, and while doing that I was working full-time in the world of public health research. Being able to do both of those things at the same time was a huge accomplishment for me. Being a full-time student and working full-time was not a task for the weak. Being able to put [my studies] into real-life practice while going through the curriculum was really advantageous.

IHME: What advice do you have for other people who are hoping to work in your field?

Kayla Taylor: I think my biggest piece of advice would be to remain passionate. Working in the field of global health is very difficult because you learn a lot about the injustices that are taking place not only on an international level, but in your own community. Everybody deserves to live a healthy life, so remaining passionate about that will help you through. [You need to] make sure you’re making those connections, working with others, and not being afraid to reach out to folks that are interested in the same work as you. If you’re confused about something, feel free to ask. Folks are in this field to educate, so absorbing as much knowledge as you can is incredibly important. But also having that niche that you’re passionate about is important as well. I would say the number one thing is to stay strong, keep passionate, and stay focused on why it is that you want to be in the field of global and public health.

IHME: In your job, what is coming up that you are most looking forward to?

Kayla Taylor: We have a new round of estimates coming out through the Disease Expenditure team –county-based estimates. Those are to be completed very soon. I’m looking forward to the different ways that our partners can implement [the findings] in real-life policy, and to see what that looks like in the long term. I think that’s what I'm so excited about – seeing how the work that we do translates into more tangible and visible action items.

The interview was edited for clarity and brevity.