Staff Spotlight: Sarah Pritchard

Sarah Pritchard’s training is in system dynamics, but her passion is equity and systems change.

So her position on the PRC’s leadership team on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is a perfect fit.  “My focus is on using Community Based System Dynamics to help people on the committee understand how the system of structural racism operates and to think about how to create a more equitable system.”

Pritchard, MPH/MSW ‘18, is also the Research Manager for the PRC’s Implementation Science Center for Cancer Control (ISC3) and an adjunct instructor at the Brown School teaching system dynamics.

Like many PRC-ers, she began her professional journey with an interest in working with individuals but switched to a broader, public health focus. “I thought I wanted to be a therapist, but after being exposed to system dynamics, I realized I wanted to do more structural work,” she said. “I realized I had an opportunity to dream bigger, and switched from a clinical route to thinking about prevention and making structural change. It’s the structure of the system that creates the unjust patterns we see in the world, and Community Based System Dynamics supports people in better understanding systems so that they can create change. I also added the public health degree, with its focus on prevention, so that I had stronger quantitative skills to think about how we actually prevent these problems.”

With the ISC3 pilot projects, she worked to help communities select and tailor implementation strategies for cancer control and prevention, teaming up with a community resource center in Southeast Missouri. “I really liked the opportunity to think about new ways of doing group model building,” she said, adding that the team was able to overcome the challenge of conducting the project during the first year of the Covid pandemic.

In her pre-Brown School days, Pritchard found work that fit well with her love of reading, working as a bookseller at Left Bank Books, St. Louis’s premier independent bookstore, and as a fundraiser for the St. Louis Public Library. “I got to read everything, and recommend books to everyone,” she said.

Her ability to help others find both literary and academic understanding is reflected in her work as an adjunct professor, helping explain system dynamics to students.  “I really enjoy my teaching,” she said. 

Pritchard has developed a deep affection for St. Louis, where she moved in 2006. “I like the neighborhood feel of the city,” she said. She’s renewed her interest in rock climbing and started a weekly movie and TV night with friends from afar during the pandemic. One TV show in particular had especially great appeal, perhaps because it reflected her deep desire to vanquish inequity. The show?  “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” of course!