Megan Jacobs is the Board Chair at Counter Tools and the managing director of product in the Innovations center at Truth Initiative. Megan has a long history of architecting products to inspire healthy behavior change. Learn more about Megan’s background and what draws her to Counter Tools’ mission in her profile below.
Tell us a little bit about your professional/personal background.
My work at University Health Service at University of Michigan in the Alcohol and Other Drug Risk Reduction Program set me on a career path in public health that has been incredibly fulfilling. I love applying creative writing, problem solving, technology, and formative/ethnographic research to tackle big challenges in our society. I’ve had the opportunity to intervene across life stages – from adolescence through older adulthood – and across behaviors, ranging from substance use, safe and protected sex, vaccine uptake, and most recently at Truth Initiative, tobacco cessation. Hailing from the state of Michigan and the University of Michigan, my background in journalism + public health led me to Israel and Washington, DC to pursue a Master’s in Public Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. I have lived in Washington, DC, since 2008. This city has seen me through an engagement, a wedding, two children, loads of coffee, miles of hiking and biking and urban exploring, great friendships, terrific colleagues, and deeply-valued mentors.
How long have you been involved with Counter Tools and what made you decide to serve on the board?
I have served on the Counter Tools board since 2020. Former chair Josh Prasad reached out to me about serving, and I was drawn to the opportunity to apply my product development, business development, and public health skill sets together in a new arena. I was familiar with Counter Tools through some of the great work they did under contract with colleagues of mine in another department at Truth Initiative as well.
What connects you to the Counter Tools mission (empowering communities to become healthier places)?
My whole career has been focused on health behavior change. I am committed to helping others live their best lives. Sometimes that commitment takes the form of products that enable personal behavior change. I am excited that in my work with Counter Tools, I have the ability to intervene at both a person and a place level.
What is something you like about serving on the Counter Tools board?
I love getting to work with others across different organizations and geography, expanding my network, my perspective, and my skills.
Who is an influential person for you and how have they changed your outlook?
I am so grateful to so many professionals in my life who have shaped, nurtured, and modeled qualities for me. To name a few… Marsha Benz at University of Michigan cultivated a great passion for public health in me, and showed me how to have tons of fun doing it. She once told me, “If you’re having fun, they’re having fun.” Michael Kharfen at the DC Department of Health led with great compassion and empathy; I try to model him daily. Jerry Franz at GWU is so incredibly generous with his time and his network. He inspired me to be very giving of my own mentorship and open doors for others. Dr. Pierre Vigilance at GWU and Mary Kate Salley, a consultant I worked with at Truth Initiative, reinforced for me that entrepreneurialism and public health can be symbiotic. As Mary Kate often told me, “No money, no mission.” Dr. Amanda Graham at Truth Initiative has always modeled great research integrity, kind collaboration, and respect, and I’ve learned so much from her.