Penny Lightfoot was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, to a pioneer family who modelled social justice. Her passion for public health was ingrained from a young age, so perhaps it was inevitable that she would continue this tradition and pursue a career in public health. She received her master of health services administration degree in 1983 from the University of Alberta.
Penny chose this program because it provided her with the opportunity to explore and examine the ‘whys’ of Canada’s health system. Through the program, she acquired three key skills that fundamentally shaped her career: thinking critically, building networks and communicating complex ideas to diverse audiences. These skills served her well over the next 30+ years working in public health administration, research, policy development and surveillance.
Most recently, Penny held the position of executive director of the Public Health Surveillance and Infrastructure team with Alberta Health Services. In this role, she led a collaborative team which focused on providing public health-related information and knowledge that generated action to improve population health outcomes.
In January 2015, Lightfoot retired, but remains an active volunteer with the School of Public Health Alumni Chapter and the public health community.
“Public health is called to change the culture within our health system and beyond, so that the healthy choice is the easy choice,” explains Lightfoot. “Working together, we can shape the environments in which we live in order to promote health and challenge the circumstances that perpetuate health inequity.”
(Last updated September, 2015)