NCHH30: Throwback Thursday
Have you heard that NCHH has reached a major milestone? That’s right, we celebrated 30 years of “Better housing, better health” on September 4, 2022! As we look back fondly at three decades of service, we wanted to share photos of current and former staff who’ve made us what we are today, plus friends, family, allies, and other odds and ends. Look for a new throwback photo every Thursday at 9:04 a.m.
Our Latest (and Last) Post
Week 67: September 7, 2023
Endings are often messy. Ending a series with the number 67 definitely feels messy, but trust us that it’s not premature. The plan was to continue from a spring 2022 right up to NCHH’s 31st anniversary, which is September 4, 2023. Unfortunately, September 4 was Labor Day, so yes, that part was a little messy.
But look at this team! This final photo in the Throwback series shows most of the NCHH staff and board the last time we were all in one room, which was just over years ago, on September 3, 2019—six months before the pandemic upended and changed everything, including how and where everyone works. If we’d known what was to come, maybe we would’ve planned something for February 2020.
We do still see each other regularly, in staff or board meetings and for the occasional leisure event; but we miss being together in one place, thriving that energy that comes working alongside one another.
At this point, we’ve introduced you to many from the NCHH family, but here they are again one last time. In the front row is NCHH Executive Director Amanda Reddy and the everybody’s favorite former Surgeon General, Dr. Joycelyn Elders. In the middle row is longtime board member Saul Ramirez, Policy Analyst Sarah Goodwin, Chief Operating Officer Michelle Harvey, board member Amy Zimmerman, Communications Advisor Jo Miller, Project Manager Laura Fudala, and board members Joan Cleary and Elyse Pivnick. In the back row, we see board Chair Dr. Christopher Jones, Communications Manager Chris Bloom, board member Read Holman, Deputy Director Jonathan Wilson, guest facilitator Tracy Washington Enger, Project Manager Jill Breysse, Healthy Housing Solutions Vice President Carol Kawecki, and board member Michael Meyerstein.
Since this photo was taken, Saul Ramirez, Amy Zimmerman, Joan Cleary, and Elyse Pivnick have transitioned to the emeritus board. Michael Meyerstein and Dr. Joycelyn Elders have completed their service to NCHH. Jo Miller is now with HUD and is always great fun to talk to. Period NCHH staff who were not able to attend include Sherry Dixon, Dr. David Jacobs, Amy Murphy, Anna Plankey, and Darcy Scott. We’ll try to get them into a photo again soon.
This gallery collects our Throwback Thursday photos for Week 1 through Week 13 (June 2 to August 25, 2022). Visit Gallery 2 for posts occurring from September 1 through November 24, 2022; Gallery 3 for posts occurring from December 1, 2022, through February 23, 2023; and Gallery 4 for posts occurring from March 2, 2023, onward.
Week 1: June 2, 2022
There’s no better throwback photo to start with than that of Nick Farr, the man who helped to found the National Center for Healthy Housing back in September of 1992 (as the National Center for Lead-Safe Housing) and who led our fledgling organization to greatness in his decade as its first executive director. NCHH’s Chief Scientist, Dr. David Jacobs, first joined NCHH in 1992, when Nick Farr recruited him to be our first Deputy Director. He eulogized Nick on our website after Farr passed away on May 27, 2014:
“Nick embodied all the values and aspirations that make the Center so important in the life of the nation. He had an insistence on rigor, a demand to base what should be done to solve a problem on fact. He never stopped moving forward. He was a student of life, devouring every book and paper put in front of him. He had leading positions in government, finance, advocacy, academia, nonprofit housing, health, foreign policy, and so much more. He meddled in science and invited others like me to meddle in his own field of law, and out of all that meddling came products that truly mattered. He devoted much of his life to the poor, to making government serve them, and to an unwavering sense of justice. He meant so much to me, someone who took me in at a low point (the famous basement times), who demonstrated love, who valued nature (we did more than a few hikes and bike trips together), who treasured knowledge—he was a voracious reader (he read one of Sherry Dixon’s statistics textbooks in a single night, although he admitted that he did not quite understand it all). He always said what he thought and spoke truth to power. He was the master of the nonoperational hearing aid, a weakness he turned to strength. He took chances and learned from failure. He was a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and most of all a friend who will be missed but never forgotten. A life well lived and to be celebrated.”
We snapped this photo of Nick at his retirement party in 2002.
Week 2: June 9, 2022
Our longtime friend Ruth Lindberg’s birthday was yesterday (HBD, Ruth!), so we thought WHY NOT share this photo of Ruth fielding a question during a health impact assessment (HIA) presentation in Hanover, Maryland, on August 6, 2013?
We first met Ruth when she worked for the Rhode Island Department of Health; she soon interned for us, and we were so impressed that we hired her to be a program manager! Ruth now works for the Pew Charitable Trusts, where she directs the Health Impact Project. Ruth’s impact on NCHH cannot be overstated: In addition to her superior work, she was also instrumental in bringing Amanda Reddy from the New York State Department of Health to the NCHH family. (Amanda is now NCHH’s executive director, so it’s kind of a big deal.)
As for the HIA project, you’ll note from the photo that it was to be a intermodal facility for the railroad line. Our team warned of the possible future negative health impacts—which were significant—and the project was relocated to a more appropriate site. You can find additional detail on that project here: https://nchh.org/tools-and-data/technical-assistance/baltimore-washington-rail-intermodal-facility-health-impact-assessment/
Week 3: June 16, 2022
Amy Murphy has worked as part of our team since 2008, where she provides training and technical assistance, drawing from over 30 years of experience in the fields of lead poisoning prevention and healthy homes. Amy’s also highly skilled meeting facilitator—meaning that particpants often report how much they enjoy the sessions she runs. We’re extremely fortunate to have Amy in the NCHH family!
In this photo from June 12, 2019, Amy is shown talking with Megan Hughes, sanitarian for the New York State Department of Health, and lead poisoning prevention stakeholders from Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse during one of NCHH’s biannual site visits for the New York State Childhood Lead Poisoning Primary Prevention Program (CLPPP+).
New York State’s program supports enhanced primary prevention efforts at the 20 local health departments whose counties account for approximately 90% of children under the age of six with newly identified blood lead levels of 5 µg/dL and above. NCHH provides ongoing technical assistance and evaluation support to the NYSDOH and the CLPPP+ grantees.
Learn more about NCHH’s work with the NYS CLPPP+ here: https://nchh.org/tools-and-data/technical-assistance/nys-clpppp/
Week 4: June 23, 2022
Today’s throwback image was snapped at David Jacobs’ commitment ceremony on June 18, 2016. All Our executive director, Amanda Reddy, is in the middle, and she’s all smiles because not only did she work with Dr. Jacobs, she’d also known Dave’s (now-) partner for many years!
Flanking Amanda are Linda Kite from the Healthy Homes Collaborative, a respected organizational partner and friend of ours from the Los Angeles area. If you’re ever in L.A., ask Linda to be your tour guide.
And we’re sure you’ll recognize Don Ryan on the right (Amanda’s left). For those not already familiar with Don Ryan, we can tell you that he’s been an ally to NCHH since day one: As the director of the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning (later Alliance for Healthy Homes), Don literally helped to found our organization in 1992, then served as an NCHH board member from its first meeting until 2015. These days, you can find Don working for Rebuilding Together Arlington-Fairfax-Falls Church as its director of partnerships (stay tuned for throwback photos from an NCHH/RT-AFF event later in this campaign).
We look forward to working with Linda and Don again, hopefully in the near future.
Week 5: June 30, 2022
Our team works hard, but it also plays hard. NCHH boasts some ardent concertgoers among its ranks, so when we learned that the legendary Paul Simon would be playing our beautiful Merriweather Post Pavilion (just five minutes from NCHH headquarters in Columbia, Maryland), we dropped everything and bought tickets for this June 9, 2017, show! Mr. Simon played a fantastic set, of course; and special guest Sarah McLachlan was no slouch, either.
From left to right are Pat Breysse (Director of the National Center for Environmental Health/ATSDR at CDC), Jill Breysse (NCHH Project Manager), Amanda Reddy (NCHH Executive Director), and Christopher Bloom (NCHH Communications Manager).
Week 6: July 7, 2022
For this week’s throwback, we’re sharing a June 30, 2016, photo of Dr. David Jacobs, NCHH’s chief scientist, as he speaks to Congress about lead poisoning, a topic he is eminently qualified to discuss.
For those not already in the know, Dr. Jacobs is one of our country’s foremost authorities on lead poisoning prevention and has authored or coauthored more than 100 articles and reports on this topic and others related to healthy housing. He also served as the principal author of both the healthy homes report to Congress in 1999 (summary here) and the President’s Task Force Report in 2000.
Fun fact: David Jacobs was one of the very first people to be hired by founding executive director Nick Farr for our fledgling organization back in 1992, serving as our original deputy director. Dr. Jacobs left NCHH in 1995 to run the Office of Healthy Housing and Lead Hazard Control at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development but returned to NCHH in 2006 and has been with us ever since.
We’ll certainly be seeing and saying more about David Jacobs in future throwbacks.
Week 7: July 14, 2022
This week’s throwback goes back to July 16, 2008, when then-NCHH Executive Director Rebecca Morley appeared on the Today show to talk about lead poisoning with Janice Lieberman. The feature was inspired by outreach NCHH conducted on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule, but also the general issue of childhood lead poisoning. Though the Today segment is nearly 15 years old, lead exposure remains an ever-present and serious health concern.
Week 8: July 21, 2022
This week’s throwback is a group shot from the Congressional Briefing on Housing Hazards and Health in Washington, DC, on July 22, 2015. From left to right are Julie Kruse, NCHH’s policy director from 2014-2016; Erma Taylor, a community healthy housing advocate whose home NCHH worked on with our friends at Rebuilding Together; advocate Kelleigh Eastman, who was poisoned by lead as a child; Dr. Joycelyn Elders, U.S. Surgeon General from 1993 to 1994 and also an NCHH board member from 2007 to 2019; and Amanda Reddy, then NCHH’s director of strategy and impact (and now executive director). Here’s a video of Julie and Dr. Elders from that briefing session.
Week 9: July 28, 2022
This week’s throwback is from the Enterprise Community Partners picnic way back in 1997. No one recalls the exact date, but you’ll note that crabs were on the menu that day, so it’s obviously summertime in Maryland. That’s Sherry Dixon, NCHH’s biostatistician, on the left, and Laura Titus, right, who worked for both NCHH and our subsidiary, Healthy Housing Solutions, for over 20 years. The little girl in Sherry’s lap is her niece, Lauren, who later interned with us!
If you’re wondering what Sherry and Laura (and the rest of us) were doing at the Enterprise picnic, the answer is…a history lesson! Back in 1992, the Enterprise Foundation (as they were called back then) and the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, a DC-based nonprofit, served as parent organizations to the fledgeling National Center for Lead-Safe Housing, which was established as the first national joint venture between affordable housing and environmental public health advocates. Enterprise’s offices at the time were located in the American Cities building in downtown Columbia, within shouting distance of Lake Kittamaqundi, and our offices were there as well. Enterprise took great care of us for many years as we grew larger and stronger, expanding our mission and even changing our name from the National Center for Lead-Safe Housing to the National Center for Healthy Housing. The Enterprise Foundation was changing as well and become Enterprise Community Partners in 2005. (On a related note, our other parent organization, the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, rebranded themselves as the Alliance for Healthy Homes in 2003. The Alliance merged with NCHH in 2010.)
Eventually, the time came for NCHH to stand on its own, formally, and we began the process by opening a new office across the street from the American Cities building (literally—the two buildings were joined by a foot bridge over Little Patuxent Parkway), where we stayed until the pandemic sent everyone home.
Anyway, that’s how these NCHHers were invited to Enterprise’s delicious crab feast!
Week 10: August 4, 2022
This week’s throwback is a group photo taken August 4, 2016—six years ago today—for our “Find It, Fix It, Fund It” (#FindFixFund) meeting at The Pew Charitable Trusts. So many heavy hitters attended that this might as well be the “’27 Yankees” of healthy housing. Many of the all-stars pictured here worked for NCHH or served on NCHH’s board; several others served as partners in our work at times over the past 30 years; and a few were new allies. We look forward to working with all of them more in the future.
Learn more about “Find It, Fix It, Fund It” at its dedicated project page: http://bit.ly/FindFixFund
Front row, left to right: Mary Jean Brown, then-CDC and former NCHH board; Sarah Goodwin, NCHH intern, now NCHH policy analyst; Deborah Nagin, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Jack Rayburn, Trust for America’s Health; Ruth Ann Norton, Green & Healthy Homes Initiative; Steve Shabazz and Queen Zakia Rafiqa Shabazz, United Parents Against Lead National (UPAL); Amy Richter Murphy, consultant and now NCHH; and Rebecca Morley, The Pew Charitable Trusts. Back row, left to right: Don Ryan, Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church and former NCHH board; Rick Nevin, ICF and former Healthy Housing Solutions (NCHH’s subsidiary); Linda Kite, Healthy Homes Collaborative; Patrick MacRoy, consultant, formerly of NCHH and Alliance for Healthy Homes, now with the Environmental Health Strategy Center; Julie Kruse, then-NCHH; Charlotte Brody, Healthy Babies Bright Futures; Katrina Korfmacher, University of Rochester Medical Center; Tom Neltner, Environmental Defense Fund and former NCHH; Ellen R Tohn, Tohn Environmental Strategies; Ellen Lazar, Grupolazar and former NCHH board; Bob McConnell, Motley Rice; Jonathan Wilson, NCHH; Anne Evens, Elevate Energy and then-NCHH board; David Jacobs, NCHH; Paul Haan, then of Healthy Homes Coalition of Western Michigan; and Amanda Reddy, NCHH.
Week 11: August 11, 2022
This week’s throwback is from a CDC lead training event at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza on August 12, 2009. Dominique Clark (now Hannah) on the left and Michelle Nusum-Smith (middle) are old friends who ran Healthy Housing Solutions, NCHH’s for-profit subsidiary, after Jack Anderson moved on to teach lead-safe work practices full-time in late 2008. On the right is Laura Titus, who managed the daily operations of the National Healthy Homes Training Center and Network for NCHH and, later, Healthy Housing Solutions, until 2019. It was hard work, but no matter how long or late the hours, these ladies never stopped smiling. Michelle now consults, coaches, and trains as The Word Woman LLC.
Week 12: August 18, 2022
Believe it or not, we actually hinted at this week’s throwback when we posted last week’s photo. We mentioned that Dominique and Michelle joined us following Jack Anderson’s departure in 2008. Well, this candid was snapped at Jack’s farewell party on October 24, 2008. But the reason why we posted it has to do with who’s in the picture, not who’s out of it.
But first, introductions….
The gentleman on the far left is Gordon McKay, who worked many years for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; but once “retired,” he managed to carve out time to work on projects for Healthy Housing Solutions, our for-profit subsidiary, and even occasionally pinch-hit for NCHH! We were sad to hear of Gordon’s passing at age 81 on January 14, 2021, after a long battle with cancer. Gordon was a wonderful colleague and a tireless advocate for healthy housing, and we miss him very much.
Seated beside Gordon is Phillip Dodge. We’re sure many of you will remember Phillip, who served as NCHH’s marketing and development officer from 2007 to 2015, though you may not recall him without the beard that suits him so well. After his career with NCHH, Phillip worked for Healthy Howard and the Community Action Council of Howard County before settling in at the Downtown Columbia Partnership, where he’s just celebrated his fifth anniversary as executive director. As much as we miss seeing Phillip in our meetings, we have to admit that he was a perfect fit for the DTC gig, and we wish him continued success.
Last but certainly not least, there’s Judith Akoto, who worked for NCHH as a project coordinator from 2008 to 2013. Many of you will remember Judith for her work on the Healthy Homes Training Center project. Judith hails from Ghana, and she returned there to raise her family when she left us. Being over 5,000 miles away, we don’t see Judith nearly as often as we’d like, but we were thrilled to hear from her out of the blue via email earlier this week, which is why you get to see her again today. What’s Judith doing now? Since 2016, she’s worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the “premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID’s work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience.” Important work!
Week 13: August 25, 2022
This week, we throw back to a great day in NCHH’s history: May 16, 2014, the day we released the National Healthy Housing Standard with our good friends from the American Public Health Association (APHA). Why talk about it this week? One, because the Standard is referenced in some newly published NCHH resources; two, because of an announcement we’ll make on or around September 4 (sorry to leave you hanging!); three, because APHA marks their 150th anniversary this year, so congratulations to them; and four, because this is our party.
What is the National Healthy Housing Standard?
Based on evidence from various public health and housing sectors (environmental health, safety, building science, engineering, and indoor environmental quality), the National Healthy Housing Standard is a property maintenance policy (as opposed to a building code, though it’s written in code language to facilitate easier adoption). It describes minimum performance standards for a healthy and safe home and is intended to complement the International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC), the well-established model set of requirements around which most municipalities create their specific set of adopted codes. The Standard explains the public health rationale for each of its recommendations, providing references and additional resources for those seeking more information. Its provisions balance both affordability and practicality with public health; recommend provisions that would further enhance the health and safety of the home but that might be harder to achieve due to their cost or feasibility are included as “stretch provisions.”
Eight years beyond its release, we’re still using the Standard to help make communities healthier. Its recommendations were the foundation for our Code Comparison Tool, which allows people to compare their local codes against the Standard, as well as the IPMC, with ease and learn exactly where their local codes meet, exceed, and (often) fall short of supporting safety and health. We used this tool to assess codes and recommend code improvements in several Michigan cities for our TACTIC project, and we recently used it for our work with the City of Alexandria, Virginia. Elements from the Standard relating to pests, moisture, and excessive temperatures were adopted by the Dallas (Texas) City Council, and the Tukwila (Washington) City Council voted to incorporate the Standard within their local property maintenance code.
But the Standard’s influence doesn’t end there. We’ve just released Green Building Codes/Standards and Systems: Comparison, a tabled comparison of thermal comfort and core measures from 25 current energy efficiency, green, and weatherization codes and sub-codes, standards and sub-standards, and rating systems to those described in the National Healthy Housing Standard and cites the specific thermal comfort measure language of each. The results are surprising. (Shout out to our intern, Ashely Williams, who assembled this document over the summer. Great job, Ashely!) Another new resource, Using Weatherization and Energy Assistance Programs to Provide Cooling Assistance, also references the Standard. It’s out this week—we invite you to take a look.
Now, the photo: It was taken at the National Healthy Housing Standard launch event, which took place at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The event was attended by many housing leaders and experts, such as representatives from the International Code Council and high-level HUD staff including then-Secretary Shaun Donovan. From left to right are Dr. Tom Vernon, who chaired NCHH’s board of directors for many years; Henry Cisneros, who served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Clinton; Rebecca Morley, NCHH’s executive director from 2002 to 2014; and Dr. Georges Benjamin, the longtime executive director at APHA.
Remember when we tempted you about an announcement we’ll be making early next month? Well, you’ll still have to wait for it, but we can tell you that it involves Dr. Vernon from this week’s photo. [Update: The announcement is expected in January 2023.] Working with Dr. Vernon for so many years was truly a pleasure, and we’d be lying if we said we hadn’t missed him.
Maybe, just maybe, our paths will cross again soon….