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Day in the Life

masking tape labeled with Day in the Life

Chris Kosmos
Date Featured: Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Trauma Nurse Specialist. An Emergency Room Director. Chicago’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Health Emergency Preparedness. These are among the variety of roles that Chris Kosmos tackled before joining CDC in 2009 as the Director of the Division of State and Local Readiness (DSLR) in CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. She generously answers our questions.

Chris Kosmos

What time did you wake up? What woke you up?

3 a.m. My 14-year-old daughter needed help with her homework – again!

Where did you spend your day?

I started my day by dropping my 9-year-old off at school, and then I went to work. I had a call with HHS to figure out how we move forward with a recommendation to the Secretary about advancing state and local planning for pandemic influenza response. Then, I met with DSLR senior staff for our routine weekly meeting where we discuss strategy, make decisions, share information, and close out issues. It is generally a fairly intense but productive meeting which charts the path for the week. The afternoon was spent preparing for a Government Accountability Office audit, developing a presentation for a congressional meeting, and working through a strategy for improving state and local preparedness for a large-scale medical countermeasure response. Our staff is engaging with state and local partners to design and develop a tool that assesses operational readiness – a key priority that is driving much of our planning this year.

What partners did you connect with today?

I connect with our partners in the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) almost on a daily basis – sometimes several times per day. Since our ASPR and CDC grant alignment initiative, it has become a routine part of our day-to-day business.

What personality trait did you find most useful in your work today?

Creative problem solving and negotiation – these are the traits that I seem to rely on the most in my position.

What are you reading?

“Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg.

What podcast, if any, did you listen to today?

“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” along with my teenage daughter, Rachel – she is hooked on that show and that’s why she doesn’t get her homework done! I recommend the series where Jimmy and Justin Timberlake are doing “The History of Rap.”

What did you snack on today?

Chocolate – always chocolate.

Where/what did you eat for lunch?

Peanut butter sandwich at my desk while taking a conference call with ASPR.

How did you work exercise into your day today?

I try to work it in wherever I can. Most of the time, it is not a class at the end of the day but a few 5-minute stints while drying my hair, a walk up the stairs, a few push-ups before bed, a quick (very quick) run with my dog, Barney, etc. Of course, working in DSLR provides plenty of mental exercise as well.

What most captured your attention today?

The conflict in Syria.

What took precedent in your day that was completely unscheduled?

Solving a very time-sensitive problem for ASPR. When our partner has a problem, we take it on as our own.

How will you close out your day today?

Our day usually ends late, and I close out the day at work with a chat with Steve Boedigheimer, our Division Deputy. We rehash the day, solve any last minute issues, plan for the future, etc. Usually, the end of the day involves a few drop-ins as well…Jeff Bryant will join in the end of day review, Todd Talbert, Eric Carbone, Gideon Slifkin, Mark Davis… can get pretty crowded in my office.

What was the best part of the day?

This morning was a particularly good morning in that my 9-year-old told me I am “the best Mommy ever,” and my 14-year-old actually said “thank you” for helping her with her homework. Any time you can solve a problem or help a colleague with an issue that is another “best part of the day.” And, if what you do makes a difference, that’s an added bonus. Today, I had the opportunity to do both. The other great part of the day is coming home and sitting on the deck with my husband and kids before the evening rush.

On what device did you answer these questions?

My home Mac.