NCHH30: Throwback Thursday
Have you heard that NCHH recently 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.
Week 40: March 2, 2023
Our photo this week recalls Phillip Dodge, one of our favorite people. Phillip, who served as NCHH’s marketing and development officer from 2007 to 2015, completed another trip around the sun on March 1, so we wanted to wish him many happy returns on the day…even if no one will read this post before March 2.
The photo also recalls one of our favorite conference experiences, the 2014 National Healthy Homes Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. After each day of insightful presentations, meetings, and networking, courtesy of the fine folks at HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, droves of public health workers enjoyed great shopping, sightseeing, live music, food, dancing, food, and yes, a lot of alcohol (hence the dancing). Nashville is definitely a town for people who like to recreate.
In our downtime, the NCHH team explored the city, visiting Hatch Show Print, which has been making art the old fashioned way since 1879. With so much history, the modern shop is, not surprisingly, part museum, part design firm, and part gift shop. Visitors can make their own prints or choose an established design and watch it being blocked, inked, and rolled in front of them. Hatch Show Print occupies a section of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum building, so we had to check that out as well.
We also visited Third Man Records‘ Nashville store, a cozy little boutique where visitors can purchase music (all vinyl) by Jack White (best known as the strumming half of the White Stripes) or anyone he’s signed to his label. This store is also “the world’s only live venue with direct-to-acetate recording capabilities.” You can even cut your own record (two minutes or less) at the store with their refurbished 1947 Voice-o-Graph machine. Be sure to call ahead to make sure it’s working.
Finally, there’s Sho-Bud Music, where we snapped this week’s photo back on May 29, 2014. You may not know this, but Phillip Dodge moonlighted as a musician and music journalist during his time at NCHH, and we would often stay out past our bedtimes to catch him and his bandmates play originals and covers well into the wee wee hours. Needless to say, Phillip couldn’t resist an opportunity to visit Sho-Bud Music,* famous for their steel guitars and dobros. Phillip was pleased with what he saw downstairs even though he emerged from Sho-Bud empty-handed. (Steel guitars are not cheap.)
After his time at 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 in his sixth year as its executive director. While we must admit that he was a perfect fit for the DTC gig, we really miss having Phillip in our meetings. DTC’s headquarters are actually across a large parking lot from our building, so we still get together with Phillip occasionally for lunch or concerts.
Happy birthday, Phillip!
*The “Sho-Bud” name is derived from the names Shot Jackson and Buddy Emmons, who founded the company in nearby Madison back in 1955.
Week 41: March 9, 2023
This week, we’re looking back at a unique event with our friends at Fundred, an activist organization led by conceptual artist Mel Chin.
Pictured are policy interns Sarah Goodwin and Amanda Bennett Rivera, two of several NCHHers who came to experience the Fundred Reserve exhibit at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design in Washington, DC, on March 9, 2017, six years ago today.
Inside the Fundred Reserve vault (actually the Corcoran’s rotunda) were 455,820 “Fundred Dollar Bills”—pieces of paper made to resemble $100 dollar bills, which were then decorated colorfully by elementary school kids around the country to show, symbolically, the price of protecting children from lead. The Fundreds were delivered by armored truck to the Corcoran, where three very official-looking guards escorted the bills through a large vault door to the gallery inside.
The opening was well attended, especially for a Thursday evening. Senator Nancy Pelosi spoke to the crowd. There was even a rock band—comprised of high school students—who played the gala. We’re can’t quite remember if they opened for Senator Pelosi or if it was the other other way around.
You can read more about the event here or visit the dedicated photo gallery on the Fundred site (and look for Julie Kruse, our policy director at the time, in a red and white coat, along with another photo of Sarah and Amanda!)
Later that evening, Sarah and Amanda posed for pictures with the armored truck that was still parked in front of the Corcoran.
Today, Amanda Bennett Rivera is a youth coordinator at Earth Charter International, a San José, Costa Rica-based organization “dedicated to inspire in all people a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the whole human family, the greater community of life, and future generations,” which is accomplished via the 16 principles described in the Earth Charter document. If it sounds intriguing, you’re probably not alone: Earth Charter boasts membership in 90 countries!
After Sarah Goodwin’s internship wrapped, we asked her to join NCHH as a full-time member of the family. Today, she and Darcy Scott (who we also met around this time) are the faces of NCHH’s policy team, and Sarah serves as NCHH’s liaison to the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition, a broad, voluntary coalition consisting of more than 650 members, over 400 of which are organizations, working to improve housing conditions nationwide via “education and outreach to key national stakeholders and federal public decision makers.”
This is one of the things we love about Throwback Thursday—recalling a time when we were just getting to know people like Sarah and Darcy and just knowing immediately that they were meant to be a part of our team.
Week 42: March 16, 2023
This week’s throwback is from West Oakland, California, on March 15, 2013—10 years ago yesterday. That’s legendary community activist Margaret Gordon (left) with Rebecca Morley, NCHH’s executive director from 2002 to 2014 (and new member of our emeritus board!). For more about what Rebecca’s been up to, check out our post from Week 7.
Ms. Gordon learned the hard way that where a person lives can impact their health: Living near the Port of Oakland, a highly industrialized area, was not only making her sick, but it was also making three of her grandkids and one of her sons very sick as well. She had always had suffered from asthma, but her attacks became more frequent and severe when she moved to this neighborhood. Ms. Gordon decided to take action, and she’s now a very influential figure around the San Francisco Bay area, going from “housekeeper to activist to mayor-appointed commissioner,” as described in this excellent profile.
Ms. Gordon is still committed to the health and well-being of her community. Since 2000,she has served as the co-director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, a community-based environmental justice organization dedicated to achieving healthy homes, jobs, and neighborhoods for everyone in West Oakland, California. The West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project is led by a staff comprised of local residents.
All of this just goes to show how essential citizen advocates are to the healthy homes cause. But you may ask yourself, how does someone become a citizen advocate? If you’re looking for some easy tips to get started, check out our page, Five Things You Can Do. It’s actually easy to take those initial steps toward making your voice heard and drawing attention to issues in your community. NCHH is here to help.
Week 43: March 23, 2023
Happy spring, everyone!
Our throwback for this week was snapped March 20, 2014—nine years ago this week—at an award luncheon held at the Providence Public Library in Rhode Island, honoring Senator Jack Reed. NCHH, the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition, and the Childhood Lead Action Project bestowed the “Child Health Champion Award” to Senator Reed for his herculean efforts securing federal funding for lead poisoning prevention after severe cuts from Congress. Said NCHH’s Rebecca Morley, “Senator Reed delivered a miracle for us. Millions of kids will benefit. We simply couldn’t ask for a better and more effective leader in Congress on this issue.”
“I am honored to accept the National Child Health Champion Award today and thank all the men and women who work hard to reduce lead poisoning and protect children,” said Senator Reed at the ceremony. “The effects of lead poisoning cannot be reversed, but thanks to the great work of the National Center for Healthy Housing, the Childhood Lead Action Project, and other leading advocates, more families are getting screened and more communities are proactively adopting strategies to eliminate lead hazards in the home before children are exposed.”
Flanking Senator Reed on the left are Roberta Hazen Aaronson, then executive director of the Childhood Lead Action Project, and our Rebecca Morley (more about Rebecca here). On the right are Ana Novais, then executive director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, and Tori Currier, who we believe volunteered with the Childhood Lead Action Project, holding her new baby (and future Rhode Island voter).
“I am pleased we were able to restore funding for these important lead poisoning prevention programs,” said Senator Reed, “but our work is not finished. Millions of Americans, including a staggering number of children and families right here in Rhode Island, remain at risk. We must be proactive and continue to invest in the health and development of our children.”
Senator Reed has been active in federal politics since 1990, when he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. When longtime Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell announced his retirement in 1996, Reed announced his candidacy for the open seat, which he won by a landslide. The senator from Rhode Island has been there ever since, doing great work on Capitol Hill on behalf of children everywhere.
Read the full story about the event here.
Week 44: March 30 2023
This week, we look back at a photo from March 26, 2015—just over eight years ago—featuring our longtime biostatistician, Dr. Sherry Dixon, and Marta Gomez, who was a research scientist at the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). They’re taking a quick break from crunching data just long enough to have their pictures taken for posterity.
These two great ladies were part of an all-star research team* that studied the impact of New York’s Healthy Neighborhoods Program across three articles subsequently published in the March/April 2017 issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice:
- “The New York State Healthy Neighborhoods Program: Findings from an Evaluation of a Large-Scale, Multisite, State-Funded Healthy Homes Program.”
- “An Evaluation of a State-Funded Healthy Homes Intervention on Asthma Outcomes in Adults and Children.”
- “A Cost-Benefit Analysis of a State-Funded Healthy Homes Program for Residents with Asthma: Findings from the New York State Healthy Neighborhoods Program.”
In his official statement, Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker said, “Taken together, this body of research provides clear and compelling evidence that our Healthy Neighborhoods Program is making a significant impact on health and healthcare costs. By working directly with residents in high-risk neighborhoods, the Department is directly improving the health of these New Yorkers.”
For a summary of the team’s findings, check out this recap.
Sherry Dixon has been with the team for nearly 30 years, which means she’s had a hand in nearly every NCHH research project that we’ve done, and there have been a lot of them. For a more on Sherry, check out our week 17 throwback.
As for Marta, the Healthy Neighborhoods Program articles were among the final projects of her professional career with New York State. Now happily retired, she enjoys birding and playing piano but is still very active in her advocacy for healthy environments and climate justice.
We’re pleased to know that Marta is still as active, happy, and healthy, and we look forward to catching up with her again soon.
*The full research team consisted of Sherry Dixon, Marta Gomez, David Jacobs, Amanda Reddy, and Jonathan Wilson.
Week 45: April 6, 2023
This week, we’re throwing back to our staff retreat on April 1, 2019, which was an opportunity for the team to enjoy a low-stress, low-stakes evening of bowling, pizza, and libations at the Main Event in Columbia. Our main subject is our very pregnant executive director, Amanda Reddy, holding a regulation bowling ball to compare size.
We expected Amanda to take it easy since her due date was a mere 10 days away, but there’s no stopping Ms. Reddy. Naturally athletic, Amanda bowled a great game despite having a little fellow nestled in her belly.
As an extra bonus, here’s a group photo from the night. It was loads of fun, and we’re all looking forward to our next recreational get-together. Good times, indeed!
Week 46: April 13, 2023
This may surprise some of our readers—although we hope not—but NCHH is a scientific organization. Yes, NCHH is a public health organization and an advocacy organization; but we were established as and are, first and foremost, a research organization. We hypothesize, study, and report before we disseminate all this helpful information to you.
So, it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that we showed up at the March for Science in Washington, DC, on April 22, 2017. NCHH is not a political organization, but we called foul when the administration in charge appeared to be in favor of discrediting, curtailing the power of, or outright dismantling the critically important government agencies who are working to keep Americans safe and healthy.
The March for Science website stated our concerns and yours succinctly: an “American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas endangers the world.”
The weather was cold and rainy, but the turnout was robust: approximately 100,000 scientists and advocates turned out to show support for CDC, DOE, EPA, HUD, and issues both general and specific. We saw many excellent posters—angry, funny, informative—and snapped photos of some of our favorites, which we may share in the future.
For now, why not check out our throwbacks for this week? We have NCHH and Healthy Housing Solutions staff standing still just long enough to snap a few pictures. First up are Chief Scientist Dr. David Jacobs and Deputy Director Jonathan Wilson; in the second photo are Communications Manager Christopher Bloom with Executive Director Amanda Reddy, Healthy Housing Solutions’ Senior Project Manager Noreen Beatley, and a marching pal who kindly snapped the picture.
We’ve talked about the NCHH crew many times over the past year, but some of you may not know Noreen. Noreen Beatley has worked for NCHH’s subsidiary, Healthy Housing Solutions, since 2009. She’s currently managing Solutions’ Evaluation of HUD’s Older Adults Home Modification Grant Program, which provides safety upgrades to seniors’ homes to help them live independently longer. Noreen has also managed several major Solutions projects for HUD, including the Healthy Communities Transformation Initiative (HCTI), which led to the creation of the Community Health Index. She also played an integral role developing HUD’s senior falls prevention and integrated care report and toolkit. She also recently managed a project on the NCHH side, culminating in our recent report, Healthy Housing in Alexandria: Where We Are and We Can Go.
We wish we could say this was the last time we felt a need to march on Washington, but it was just one of several trips we’d make in support of healthy homes for all.
Week 47: April 20, 2023
Week 48: April 27, 2023
This week’s throwback serves as a continuation of the one we posted two weeks back, in which members of our team participated in the March for Science in Washington, DC, on April 22, 2017. In this week’s photo, we’re marching again—this time at the People’s Climate March the following week.
American astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who we would agree is a very smart guy, said, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” Unfortunately, certain high-ranking members of our government were attempting to downplay the impact of global climate change, a phenomenon that pretty much everyone had already agreed was a Real Thing. (So much has been discussed and done on the topic of climate change since April 29, 2017, that it actually felt ridiculous to write the preceding sentence, and that’s because it was a ridiculous stance.)
We’ll remind you that NCHH is not a political organization it is very much pro-science, health, and equity; and so we had to show up once again in support of scientifically sound environmental policies. At least the weather cooperated.
In this picture, Chief Scientist Dr. David Jacobs is wearing his brand new March for Science tee shirt; Executive Director Amanda Reddy, is showing off a very climate-conscious sign, and Joan Davis is sticking up for the bees. Joan is both a longtime friend of Amanda’s—she was one of Amanda’s favorite teachers back in high school—as well as Dave’s partner. And no, Amanda did not introduce them. Things just have a funny way of working out sometimes.
Will this be the last time we’ll have to march in support of policies that promote the health and well-being of our nation’s 332 million people, of the eight billion around the world? Maybe not, but there’s always hope.
Week 49: May 4, 2023
This week’s throwback goes back to May 8, 2017. In this photo, Laura Fudala, project manager, is teeing off on a hole of footgolf, which is a hybrid of golf and soccer. It’s much harder than it looks! Jill Breysse, project manager, and Jonathan Wilson, deputy director, are enjoying the sun and cheering Laura on. We all had a great time. With Maryland’s weather finally warm enough to do things outdoors but not yet having reached the sticky, sweltering oppression that passes for summer, it might be time to return to the footgolfing field.
Week 50: May 11, 2023
For this week’s throwback, we revisited this great photo of our former executive director, Rebecca Morley, who succeeded Nick Farr and ran the organization until 2014. Rebecca appears to be having a great time at the National Healthy Housing Policy Summit on May 7, 2009.
The National Healthy Housing Policy Summit was hosted by NCHH and the Alliance for Healthy Homes hosted at the National Association of Home Builders‘ headquarters in Washington, DC. The summit was a collaboration between several key national partner organizations and was supported generously by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Home Depot Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America.
It brought together a roundtable of leading organizations and experts in housing, public health, and environmental policy; housing finance, construction, codes, rehabilitation, management; green building, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and environmental health; and tenant rights, homeownership, and community organizing.
Finally, and perhaps most significantly, this meeting spurred the creation of the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition, which has grown to over 650 members, including 400 organizations. This broad, voluntary coalition works to improve housing conditions nationwide through education and outreach to key national stakeholders and federal public decision makers.
We discussed the events leading up to the National Healthy Housing Policy Summit and the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition a few years back as we celebrated the coalition’s 10th anniversary. Read about the history and accomplishments made by the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition first decade.
Week 51: May 18, 2023
Today’s throwback dates back to May 13, 2015, just over eight years ago. This all-star team worked tirelessly for days to lay the groundwork for Building Systems to Sustain Home-Based Asthma Services, a suite of online training modules to equip communities with the knowledge and tools necessary to seek sustainable financing for home-based asthma services.
Allow us to introduce you. The “EPA Design Team,” as they were called, consisted of Amanda Reddy and Laura Fudala from NCHH; Kanchan Pandey and Santosh Misra of G-Cube; Katrin Kral from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Indoor Environments Division, Office of Radiation and Indoor Air; Cary Sennett, then of Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), now principal of the Sennett Consulting Group; Tom Neltner, then of NCHH, currently with Environmental Defense Fund; Ashley Gray, then of Medicaid Health Plans of America (MHPA), now with MITRE; Peter Ashley from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes; Kevin Kennedy of Children’s Mercy; Anne De Biasi, then with Trust for America’s Health, now an independent health policy consultant; and Kathy Dolan from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO).
Who’s not in the photo are the folks from Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP). Our friends over at RAMP weren’t involved in the original training modules, but their reputation speaks for itself, and they had some great tools that complemented this project nicely. RAMP and NCHH officially joined forces in 2021 to add additional modules and resources, including Unlocking the Power of Home-Based Asthma Services: Model Health Benefit Packages. On behalf of the folks in the photo below, as well as our great partners at RAMP, we invite you to check out the newly expanded Building Systems to Sustain Home-Based Asthma Services here.
Week 52: May 25, 2023
Every now and then, an old friend sends you the perfect gift. That’s what happened last November when we followed up on a tip that Maurice Pantoja had a secret cache of photos from various conferences and trainings our staff had attended.
To our email Maurice replied, “Yes, I do have photos that I can share,” and he sent us over 40 photos from events in 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, some of which we may show later this year. We were excited to receive them, and we want to take this moment to thank Maurice publicly for his contribution. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
If you saw our Throwback Thursday post from week 40 back in March, you’ll recall that the NCHH team had a fantastic time in NashVegas, spending our time off from the HUD National Healthy Homes Conference looking at guitars, visiting museums and print shops, shopping for rare records, listening to bands play into the wee hours, and eating delicious food. Well, we had a great time connecting with our healthy homes friends at the conference as well, and Maurice, bless him, snapped this gem of Amanda Reddy, Courtney Wisinski, and Erica Forrest posing in homage to Charlie’s Angels, that delightfully cheesy TV series that starred Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson, and Jaclyn Smith (and, later, Cheryl Ladd and Shelley Hack) as a team of comely crime fighters; or, on the big screen, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu.*
Since this photo was taken, Amanda Reddy was promoted from senior analyst and program manager to director of impact, to executive director, the position she’s held since 2016.
After 18 years with Children’s Mercy Kansas City, Erica Forrest, education and training supervisor, moved to Thermo Fisher Scientific, where she stayed for the next six years. Erica just began the next chapter of her career earlier this month as the health systems director at the Alzheimer’s Association, which is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research.
Courtney Wisinski continues her important work as an industrial hygienist and community development manager for the Michigan Department of Health of Human Services, where she’s served since 2005.
And you can’t talk about Charlie’s Angels without Bosley, right? Because he played such an important role in today’s story, we’ll mention that Maurice Pantoja was promoted in 2019 from his role as environmental health services manager at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to the director of its Environmental Protection Branch.
Laugh if you will at our photo, but when it comes to healthy housing, wed take these angels over Charlie’s any day.
*Or, because Hollywood loves to remake things, Ella Balinska, Naomi Scott, and Kristen Stewart.