Heather Kennedy

Heather Kennedy

Program Manager, UpRISE- Colorado's social justice youth tobacco control movement

Position: Program Manager

Organization: Colorado School of Public Health

Program Name: UpRISE: Colorado’s social justice youth tobacco control movement

How long have you been involved in tobacco control?
Since 2000

What brought you to tobacco control work?
At 15, my mom passed away from complications of heavy tobacco use and co-occurring mental health concerns. My counselor recruited me to start a youth coalition at my high school for a demonstration project for youth advocacy around tobacco, a program called Get R!EAL. At 17, I learned that I could make a difference today, and did not have to wait until I was 21 or 25. Since then, I’ve been endlessly passionate in ensuring youth have opportunities to learn the power of their voice

What is your favorite part of empowering youth?
I love engaging in conversations with youth about how tobacco use is connected to so many other issues and concerns that are central to their experiences. I love supporting youth to do legislative advocacy. I love talking about tobacco in the context of social justice.

What do you do in your free time?
I am a PhD student, I “enjoy” reading critically oriented literature that push me beyond my current understanding or require that I critically reflect upon my various identities and youth work practices. I have two children, ages 6 and 9. I enjoy hiking and visiting our state legislature with young people.