January 17, 2019

At Work with Julia Goetten

This post is part of our #HGatWork series, giving you an inside look at the people behind our work and the leaders who further our mission to empower kids to develop lifelong healthy habits.

Julia Goetten is a Healthy Schools Program Manager at Healthier Generation. As a Healthy Schools Program Manager, Julia supports schools to create healthier school environments, where students are encouraged to move more, eat better, and create healthy habits for a healthy future. For the last two years, since joining Healthier Generation, Julia has worked with Chicago area schools to help create and sustain healthy change. More recently, she has begun working with schools in New York City, Minneapolis, and Miami. Read on to find out more about Julia.


What inspired you to work for Healthier Generation?

My first job out of college was working as a personal trainer. After several months, my clientele started to shift from adults to children, many of whom were overweight or obese and suffering from other health-related conditions. As I learned more about these kids and their daily activities, I was shocked to learn that they had little to no opportunity for physical activity at school. Most of them didn't have recess during a 7-hour school day and only had PE once a week. From this experience, my passion for school health was born. I am so grateful to have joined Healthier Generation and to be afforded the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many young people by ensuring the environments that surround youth provide and promote health.


What does a typical workday look like for you?

I am not a morning person, so I always start my day with coffee. I typically accompany my first cup of coffee with a green smoothie, or occasionally, I’ll opt for peanut butter or avocado toast. On days that I am working from my home office in the Ravenswood neighborhood, I alternate between standing at my desk and sitting on an exercise ball while emailing, meeting with Healthier Generation colleagues or school/district stakeholders.  In the summer, I enjoy working from my back porch, taking advantage of Chicago’s short summer months. On days that I’m travelling to meetings, I never leave the house without water, snacks, and a few podcasts queued up. I am usually on the road visiting schools and districts at least once or twice a week.


What are you working on right now that really excites you? 

My work has recently expanded to include schools in New York City, Minneapolis and Miami, in addition to Chicago. I’m excited to continue building on the success that my colleagues were having in these markets and to find new strategies to help expand our reach and deepen our impact during the second part of the school year. I’ve been supporting school health initiatives in Chicago for the last 8 years, so branching out to these new cities is an exciting challenge for me. 


How do you find yourself collaborating with partner organizations? 

Lately, I’ve been working closely with the Illinois Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (IAHPERD), Illinois Public Health Institute (IPHI), Proviso Partners for Health (PP4h) and the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago’s Children (CLOCC). In the past, I’ve also collaborated with Playworks, Action for Healthy Kids, Cook County Department of Public Health, just to name a few. Working together, we're able to create greater, more sustainable impact for the communities we serve.


What does working at Healthier Generation mean to you?

There is no other way to say it – I LOVE working at Healthier Generation!! I feel so fortunate to work for an organization that values my knowledge and experience, while simultaneously pushing me to grow both personally and professionally. 


What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment (personal or professional)?

Finishing my first Chicago Marathon back in 2009 is hands down my greatest personal accomplishment. It transformed my life. The months leading up to the marathon were some of the most challenging and confusing months of my life. I kept finding a million excuses to walk away from my marathon goal, but I remained committed to training hard and showing up. I’ll never forget the overwhelming emotion I experienced when I crossed the finish line.  The experience taught me the importance of goal setting and the value of holding yourself accountable. I’ve ran a handful of marathons since, but none of them compare to the first. 

At Healthier Generation, we place a lot of emphasis on work-life balance and living a healthy lifestyle. How do you maintain a healthy balance and “walk the talk?” 

My favorite way to stay active is playing soccer! I’ve been playing on the same co-ed team, Maniacs Football Club, for almost 10 years. We play together at least once a week, year-round. An added bonus is my husband also plays, so it’s a fun way for us to spend quality time together while being active! Aside from playing soccer, I love taking high-intensity interval classes at my local Shred415 studio.  

What do you enjoy the most about working at Healthier Generation?

THE PEOPLE! I have never been [virtually] surrounded by so many incredible people! My Healthier Generation colleagues are the warmest, smartest, and most passionate people I know! 


What is your favorite healthy workday snack?

I always keep a stash of popcorn in my desk.