In the 30 years Salvatore Lucido (J.D. ’03) has been with the Centers for Disease Control, “there has never been a dull moment”. Lucido first moved to Atlanta in 1991 as part of the Presidential Management Internship program for the CDC but had always contemplated law school.
Several years into his time with the CDC, Lucido decided to pursue that goal, but he didn’t want to give up his full-time job. He chose the part-time program at Georgia State Law, so he was able to attend night classes while remaining at the CDC. While his original intent was to eventually practice law, Lucido has worked up the ranks at the federal agency where he currently sits as an Associate Director for Policy, External Relations and Communications.
Though his role does not require Lucido to practice, he relies on many aspects of his law degree in daily situations. He’s also still involved with the College of Law, sitting on the advisory committee for the Center for Law, Health & Society, providing a public health perspective. Here, he discusses how his law background and public health career intersect.
What was it like balancing law school and working full-time at the CDC?
I was lucky that my supervisors and team at the CDC were very supportive of me going to law school, so it was easy from that perspective. It was tough to manage a full-time job and part-time schooling, but all of us part-time students were in the same boat so we kind of leaned on each other. The study group that I came together with in law school stays in contact to this day. It’s been a great thing having those friends from the College of Law and some connection to the legal field even if I don’t get to practice in it.
What do you currently do at the CDC?
I am the Associate Director for Policy, External Relations and Communications in the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. We handle policy development, partnership activities and any sort of health communications from social media to health marketing campaigns and media relations. I run a team of about 20 people, half are full-time employees, half are contractors and fellows.
How does a law degree help?
It may be cliched, but law school teaches you how to think in a different way and also improves your writing skills, so having a law degree has improved my ability to do several aspects of my job. Particularly when it comes to the policy side, that’s all driven by law. Having a good understanding of how to read laws and put them into context certainly has helped me.
Also, when I was at Georgia State Law, I did moot court. That’s boosted my ability for thinking on my feet and not getting too flustered. I’ve dealt with some sticky situations over the years, but once I graduated from law school, I had the skills to manage those situations better than I might have prior to my training.
Were you involved in the COVID-19 response at the CDC?
What most people don’t realize about emergency responses at the CDC is that they are a small crew, so when something like this happens, it’s all hands on deck. In my 30 years at the CDC, this has been the largest response I’ve ever seen. I was the policy lead for the State, Territorial, Local, and Tribal Task Force from September through the end of December. We were essentially responsible for engaging with our health departments at those levels and sharing guidance and information making sure that they were completely up to speed on what was going on with the response from one day to the next.
Interview by Mara Thompson