Meet Sadie Jensen, tobacco prevention health educator at Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (lincoln.ne.gov/City/Departments/Health-Department).
Tell us a little about your business. – We collaborate with community partners to champion a tobacco-free environment for the residents of Lancaster County. Through our partnership with the Tobacco Free Lancaster County Coalition (tobaccofreelancastercounty.org), our mission is to educate every member of the community about the dangers associated with tobacco use and exposure. By focusing on reducing youth initiation and offering effective resources for quitting, we strive to transform Lancaster County into a community free from tobacco. We are dedicated to creating a healthier, safer and more informed community in Lancaster County.
How did you get started in the business? – Before my career in public health, I dedicated over a decade to working in human services and criminal justice with Lancaster County and other agencies. I was able to join Leadership Link, an organization focused on personal and professional development, offered to City of Lincoln and Lancaster County employees. This involvement granted me the opportunity to establish connections with individuals from various departments and divisions, expanding my understanding of the diverse opportunities present within our local government.
As I embarked on a search for a new and fulfilling challenge, these connections led me to my current role. Having been a former tobacco user myself, I recognized this opportunity as an ideal platform for my personal and professional experience to make a positive impact on the lives of others. It was clear to me that my background and expertise could effectively support others in their journey towards living tobacco free and overall well-being.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally? – One unexpected challenge I encountered upon beginning the position of health educator in tobacco prevention and education was the need to confront and overcome my own preconceived notions and internalized feelings about tobacco use. Drawing from my personal history as a former smoker, I intimately understood the anger and judgment often directed towards individuals who use tobacco, resulting in internalized shame and guilt. Overcoming these internalized sentiments required a significant amount of self-reflection and introspection. However, this process enabled me to authentically share my own experiences with others, creating a platform for empathy and understanding. This reaffirms the importance of open dialogue to reduce stigma so we can build healthier, more resilient communities.
Tell us a little about your family. – I live with my partner, our two dogs and our inherited leopard gecko. We recently moved to a new house, so we are excitedly making it into our home.
Who inspires you? – I draw inspiration from various sources. When engaging in projects or crafts, I enjoy seeking inspiration from the work of others, learning from their creations and incorporating their ideas into my own. Characters in books and authors who share their lived experiences or expertise inspire me, as their words resonate and provide valuable insights. Moreover, I find inspiration in authentic individuals who can openly share their stories, fostering connections and building meaningful relationships through their relatability.
What is your favorite local restaurant? – I have many favorite local eateries, but my top three are Copal, Engine House and Honest Abe’s.