Pettit-Majewski looking for a challenge
Danielle Pettit-Majewski took over the position of Washington County Public Health administrator Monday, the day after she and husband John Majewski and their two terriers — Buck and Cricket — moved to town.
Pettit-Majewski grew up in Charles City, attending college at the University of Iowa, where she earned a degree in biology and a master’s degree in public health. She moved to Waverly in 2010 and worked for the Waverly Health Center in clinic administration. She said that she found the opening for the Washington Public Health director and, having heard good things about Washington, applied.
What brings you to Washington?
The great opportunity I found here. I saw the opening and I did some research before I applied here. I read through some of the programs. This is a very progressive county health department and they are doing a lot of great things. I am excited to be a part of it.
They were very thorough in their recruitment process, they gave me lots of information on the department and also the packets the chamber gives out, so there was a lot of good information on the businesses in town and the bike trails and those types of things. Someone I went to graduate school with had done her practicum here and she just had great things to say about Washington County.
Since you have been here, what do you think?
It is very nice. Everyone has been extremely welcoming. There are a lot of really nice people in town. I’m meeting people and everyone is asking if there is anything they can do to make you feel more welcome. The people have been great and very welcoming.
What is your favorite thing about Washington?
So far I have to say the people I have met here are excellent. They are completely genuine.
How did you get involved in biology?
I was interested in doing genetic counseling. People who are born with genetic syndromes go to counselors to see how to have the most normal life possible, or parents who want to have children and know they carry the genetic leels that could go into a different syndrome and they want to know what the risks are. I worked at the pediatric genetics department for five years. Right before I was about to apply for graduate school, I fell in love with public health and went a different route.
What made you interested in genetic counseling?
I took a class in my senior year of high school and we learned about PKU, a genetic disease where there is a protein the body can’t produce and it leads to mental retardation. It can be controlled by diet. I thought it was extremely interesting. I thought ‘what a cool job, I would love that.’ I decided after working in that department for several years, I didn’t want to give parents bad news all day. We did a lot of that in our department and I wanted to be more proactive in helping people before they got to that point.
What interested you about public health?
It’s so diverse, there are so many things you can do with it. I went into public health wanting to do child abuse prevention. That is why I applied for the program, but once you learn about all the things that public health does … I think a lot of people don’t know what public health does. They think it is just immunizations or it is just WIC (Women and Infant Children). It is having clean water and clean air. The best way to describe public health is that if you don’t know what it does, it is doing its job.
What are some of your hobbies?
I like to bake. I do a lot of specialty cakes. I love to make jewelry, so I do a lot of that. My husband and I like to ride bikes a lot. He does RAGBRAI. I want to do a day this year, if not the whole week.
What does the future look like?
I want to be in a place where I feel challenged, I feel like I am making a difference and I am happy to come to work every day. If that is Washington County, I hope it is here. I just want to keep myself challenged and I hope that the future keeps giving me opportunities for that.