February 9th, 2023

NCHH30 Throwback Thursday

Week 37: February 9, 2023

by Christopher Bloom

NCHH turned THIRTY this year, so we’re celebrating with a new “Throwback Thursday” photo each week.

This week’s throwback recalls our February 10, 2016 “Hill Day”—a semiannual event in which advocates from NCHH and several other nonprofit organizations, state and local health departments, scientists, and many concerned citizens meet in Washington, DC, to educate members of Congress about the importance of healthy home environments and encourage them to continue their support for healthy homes program funding.

Does it sound like fun? In many ways, it is. It’s also a lot of work for the organizers, but it’s so worth the effort.

Pictured here are members of several advocacy teams enjoying a much-deserved break at the revered watering hole, Bullfeathers of Capitol Hill, which was founded in 1979 and has been described as the place where “lobbyists take Hill staffers to down martinis.” History buffs may recall that “bullfeathers” was a family-friendly euphemism often used by President Teddy Roosevelt. This place is about as DC as it gets.

At the head of the table is our longtime friend and ally, Laura Brion, who runs the Childhood Lead Action Project in Providence, Rhode Island. We recently worked with Laura and company, the Environmental Defense Fund, and others on a civil rights complaint to EPA against the state’s largest drinking water utility. To Laura’s left is a citizen advocate whose name has unfortunately escaped us and Damita Hicks, an artist and advocate from the great state of North Carolina. Beside Ms. Hicks are Dr. Chris Rustin from the Georgia Department of Public Health and Paul Kowalski, who oversaw New Haven’s lead program until his retirement in 2019. To Paul’s left is Ron Peik, president of Massachusetts-based Alpine Environmental.

Leaning in opposite Ron is Dr. Gillian Mittelstaedt, director of the Partnership for Air Matters and the Tribal Healthy Homes Network—and the co-chair of the National Safe and Healthy Homes Coalition. Beside Dr. Mittelstaedt is Julie Kruse, NCHH’s policy director from 2014 to 2017, now with Family Equality, a national nonprofit dedicated to advancing equality for LGBTQ+ families. Next is Lenora Smith, executive director of the Partnership Effort for the Advancement of Children’s Health (PEACH) in Durham, North Carolina; and, last but not least, Jonathan Wilson, NCHH’s deputy director.

Our Hill Day experiences have always been great, but they somehow get better every year. Sarah Goodwin, Anna Plankey, and Darcy Scott on NCHH’s policy team help to ensure that the process runs smoothly each time. The citizen advocates play an important part in the process, of course, because they’re able to share their real-life accounts of how the healthy homes programs—or lack of a program—in their state either served them our failed them. You can read about some of the regular folks who helped to make the 2016 Hill Day a success here.

This year, the team is doing something different: not one Hill Day but three. Our crew will join other advocates for a climate-centered event on February 15, a second virtual event on February 22, and then a virtual lead and healthy homes event later this spring. If you’re interested in being a part of a future Hill Day group, get in touch with Sarah Goodwin.

Jonathan Wilson and Julie Kruse with healthy homes advocates

Clockwise from top: Laura Brion, an unidentified citizen advocate, Damita Hicks, Chris Rustin, Paul Kowalski, Ken Piek, Gillian Mittelstaedt, Julie Kruse, Lenora Smith, and Jonathan Wilson.

See You Next Week

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this throwback in honor of our 30th anniversary. Remember that we’ll post a new throwback every Thursday morning at 9:04 a.m. on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter through May 25, 2023. If you’ve missed a previous post, you can always reminisce with us via our NCHH30 gallery.


Christopher Bloom, Communications and Marketing Officer, NCHHChristopher Bloom is NCHH’s communications and marketing manager. He joined NCHH in 2008 after nearly a decade in the real estate industry. In a previous role at NCHH, he coordinated a national Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) training program, one of the most successful in the nation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Textual Studies from Syracuse University.

February 9th, 2023 | Posted By | Posted in Blog | Tagged