As a management student at MIT, Betsy Salkind ’86, SM ’86, sometimes got in trouble for having a little too much fun. “There was a communications workshop, and we were supposed to do a presentation,” says Salkind. “I met all the requirements, but the piece was completely satirical and a comedy routine. The students loved it, but the teacher failed me. The deans thought it was funny, though, so luckily they passed me.”
After her Sloan graduate studies took her to London, with its lively theater scene, she began considering a career in comedy. She started doing stand-up in Boston and moved to LA, where she was a staff writer for the 1990s sitcom Roseanne and a joke writer for self-help guru Anthony Robbins. She has written and performed three one-woman shows, including Master of Science, which she presented at MIT in 1991.
As a first-year MIT student, she restarted the dormant Association of Women Students. Later, Salkind was active in unionizing efforts for comedians and lobbied for the National Association to Protect Children. She also became an advocate and resource in the health and wellness community.
For Salkind, this last role hit home. Although she was diagnosed with the autoimmune thyroid disorder Hashimoto’s disease in her first year at MIT, her condition went untreated for 20 years because little was known about it. As it began to affect her life more, she dug up all the research she could find, even going to conferences where she was the only non-doctor in attendance. As she found resources and treatment, she quickly became a go-to for medical advice. She went on to become a Mayo Clinic–certified wellness coach at Heretic Health Advocates. “I was great at the research, but the real key is learning how to actually make the lifestyle and behavioral changes,” she says.
Salkind’s wellness career takes up about half her time and includes a new job with the Kresser Institute—a functional-medicine organization focused on preventive and holistic care—to help train others to be health coaches. She has also developed a health empowerment class for teens that she teaches at a Los Angeles high school.
“I was teaching comedy to troubled teen girls, which I loved. But I realized they were all on psych meds, whether they needed them or not, and the drugs were having serious side effects,” she says. “I teach them basic things that they need to know, most importantly about how to observe themselves and take the driver’s seat with their health and their lives.”