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.

Gallery 5

This gallery collects our Throwback Thursday photos for weeks 53 through 65. You can revisit the previous galleries here: Gallery 1  |  Gallery 2  |  Gallery 3  |  Gallery 4

Week 53: June 1, 2023

Happy Healthy Homes Month, everybody!

And because it’s National Healthy Homes Month, there are many competing demands for your time and ours, so we’re going to keep this throwback on the short side.

We want to use this post to give a shout-out to our good friend, Jo Miller, who joined the team at HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (OLHCHH) last December. Jo is no stranger to National Healthy Homes Month, but we think this will be her first year working it from the HUD side. We doubt she’s allowed to share secrets (assuming that there are any), but we’re very excited to see how OLHCHH’s outreach changes with a certified social media strategist helping out.

So, be sure to follow @HUDHealthyHomes on Twitter (and us, of course), so you don’t miss anything new from the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes this month or in the future.

Also, while we have your attention, allow us this shameless plug for NCHH’s fifth annual National Healthy Homes Month Twitter chat, which is happening on Wednesday, June 28, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. ET. You can read all about it and register here. And if you enjoy this month’s Twitter chat, you can thank Jo Miller (seen at the NCHH25 reunion/reception in 2017), because Jo was instrumental in making NCHH’s first several chats the successes they were.

A woman smiling

Jo Miller at the NCHH25 reunion/reception, Columbia, Maryland, September 2017.

Week 54: June 8, 2023

We’re a week into National Healthy Homes Month, and everyone around here is extremely busy, so this will be a short post. Today’s throwback revisits the National Healthy Housing Standard launch event at DC’s National Press Club on May 16, 2014. You can read all about the event—and the Standard—in our week 13 and week 35 posts, but we thought we’d share this photo of Jane Malone speaking expertly about the Standard to Linda Couch of LeadingAge. You can read much more about Jane in our week 34 post.

While you’re here, don’t forget to sign up for our fifth annual National Healthy Homes Month Twitter chat.

Jane Malone, center, talks to Linda Couch at the National Healthy Housing Standard launch event in Washington, DC, on May 16, 2014, while Jill Breysse and Mark James look on.

Week 55: June 15, 2023

This week, we revisit “Taking a Closer Look at Lead Exposure,” a June 21, 2016 episode of WTTW’s evening news program, Chicago Tonight, which was filmed in response to the news that dangerous levels of lead were detected in the drinking water of several Chicago-area public schools. As you may recall, all of the attention on lead-contaminated and polluted water came as a result of the series of failures that culminated in thousands of Flint, Michigan residents being left without drinkable water.

Our Dr. David Jacobs, NCHH’s Chief Scientist, appeared on a panel to discuss lead poisoning with Dr. Julie Morita, Chicago’s Health Commissioner, and Dr. Susan Buchanan, director of the Occupational Medicine Residency program, also at UIC’s School of Public Health. Dr. Jacobs is an authority on the effects of lead in the body. We should also mention that in between his two stints at NCHH, Dr. Jacobs was the director of HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control. He also serves as an adjunct associate professor for the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. It would be fair to say that these panelists know a thing or two about lead!

It’s a great panel, and after a bit of searching, we’re happy to say that we were able to find the full episode online. You’ll find it embedded at the end of this post.

Dr. Jacobs started off with a 30-second crash course for the viewers at home on the dangers of lead exposure: “Lead is […] one of the best studied toxic substances that we know of. It’s one of the metals that you don’t need in your body; it has no useful biological value whatsoever. It creates a range of effects. The most important […] we think are the neurodevelopmental effects for children at an early age, but it also causes cancer, kidney disease, and many other adverse health effects.”

And how can parents know whether their water is safe if their children exhibit no obvious signs of having been exposed to lead?

“You should test it,” urged Dr. Jacobs. “You first have to find out which pipes [and surfaces] actually have lead […]. Once you know that, then you can use proven steps to remediate it using both short-term and long-term measures. I mean, we know how to fix this problem; it’s simply a matter of applying the scientific knowledge we have to make a difference.”

This is an interesting point, because Dr. Jacobs expressed how important it is to determine where lead exists, but in the case of pipes, that’s easier said than done. We bring this up because just a few years later, NCHH was fortunate enough to work with some more great minds from the windy city: Rayid Ghani from the University of Chicago (now with Carnegie Mellon University) and Janna Kerins (Medical Director, Environmental Health) and Raed Mansour (Director, Office of Innovation) from the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). In the webinar Getting Ahead of Lead: Can Predictive Modeling Help Prevent Childhood Lead Exposure? (2019), they describe an innovative collaboration between the University of Chicago and the CDPH. Using two decades of blood lead level tests, home lead inspections, property value assessments, and census data, the team designed a model that predicts the risk of a child being poisoned so that an intervention can occur before the exposure. The model allows inspectors to prioritize houses on a long list of potential hazards, identifying the children at the greatest risk for lead exposure. Their pioneering work in the use of machine learning and predictive analytics in public health has the potential to have a significant impact on both health and economic outcomes for communities across the U.S., which is why we wanted to share it again, especially in light of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment last January “to supporting and accelerating the replacement of lead service lines across the country”  (see “NCHH Joins the Biden-Harris Get the Lead Out Partnership“).

David Jacobs on "Chicago Tonight"

NCHH Chief Scientist Dr. David Jacobs on “Chicago Tonight,” June 21, 2016.

We hope you’ll take some time this month to watch the fascinating and inspiring Getting Ahead of Lead webinar as well the Chicago Tonight segment with doctors Buchanan, Jacobs, and Morita, which begins around the 9:15 mark in the video below.

Week 56: June 22, 2023

Today’s image depicts a unique event that took place on June 4, 2015, between board and staff. On the far side of the table sat NCHH staff, while NCHH board members have their backs to the camera. We called it our “speed dating” event, and it was a great way for staff and board to get to know each other better by asking or answering one of a series of icebreaker questions. Up until around this time, board and staff meetings were almost always separate from each other; only occasionally would more than a few NCHH staff members attend a board meeting, but some board members expressed interest in putting faces with the names they heard mentioned in meetings. We also felt that staff and board could accomplish even more by working together on select strategic issues.

This event was also designed to be a way for everyone—staff and board—to get to know Nancy Rockett Eldridge, who’d recently been selected to be NCHH’s third executive director, seated near the far end of the table. Nancy was hired after a lengthy national search, and we were all excited to work together; however, her time with NCHH proved to be surprisingly brief. Nancy had a very specific goal, and once she’d achieved it, it was time for her to move on.

Nancy’s successor, Amanda Reddy, was hired from within the organization and has steered it capably ever since.

NCHH Staff & Board Speed Dating Event

NCHH staff and board got together June 4, 2015, for dinner, preceded by this “speed dating” session. Facing the camera, left to right: Jill Breysse, Phillip Dodge, Julie Kruse, Amanda Reddy, Christopher Bloom, Noreen Beatley, Laura Titus, and Jonathan Wilson. Backs to the camera: Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Ann Evens, Rachael Gibson, Dr. Patrick Chalk, Don Ryan, Elyse Pivnick, Mark James, Nancy Rockett Eldridge, and Sawyer Mittelstaedt.

Week 57: June 29, 2023

The NCHH crew is recovering from a successful Twitter chat, and there’s much going on this week as National Healthy Homes Month wraps up, so here’s a brief post with some public health love. This week’s post features two of our favorite people, Tom Neltner and Jill Breysse. It’s Jill’s work anniversary today—she’s been with us for 30 years—so it’s fitting that we should share a picture of this great lady!

As for Tom, you may recall from past posts that Tom worked for NCHH twice before joining Environmental Defense Fund. We don’t think he’s celebrating an anniversary today (though we admit to not having asked, so you never know), but he is awfully good at hugging (see week 14 for another example)! So, we’ve repurposed this image of him giving Jill a big hug at our NCHH25 reunion reception event to honor her.

The event, a way for us to recognize and celebrate the many past and present staff and board for their contributions to our cause, was held September 7, 2017, at Historic Oakland in Columbia, just a short drive from our headquarters. We invited every current or former staff or board member we could track down to the celebration and many familiar faces. We also ate a lot of delicious food, and a good time was had by everyone. Unfortunately, the pandemic and pressing deadlines have made a 30th anniversary event impossible to schedule. We’ll try again in 2027.

We’ve shared several pictures from the NCHH25 reunion reception in the past but there are so many good ones that this probably won’t be the last. (Shameless plug for this evening’s photographer, the wonderful Lloyd Wolf! Check out Lloyd’s portfolio at

Happy work anniversary, Jill Breysse!

Tom Neltner and Jill Breysse

Tom Neltner and Jill Breysse embrace at the NCHH25 reunion reception, Columbia, MD, September 7, 2017.

Week 58: July 6, 2023

Today’s throwback is a snapshot from May 13, 2015, of (left to right) NCHH’s Amanda Reddy with Katrin Kral and Tracy Washington Enger from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They took a quick photo break while working on a suite of online training modules to equip communities with the knowledge and tools necessary to seek sustainable financing for home-based asthma services, which was released to the world as “Building Systems to Sustain Home-Based Asthma Services.” It’s a great learning tool, and we’re very proud of it.

Taking pride in your accomplishments doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep striving, however. In 2021, our friends from Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP) joined this project, and it’s been a wonderful partnership. (And no, we’re not just saying that.) Together, RAMP and NCHH have added additional modules and resources, including Unlocking the Power of Home-Based Asthma Services: Model Health Benefit Packages and Roadmap to Sustainable Asthma Home Visiting, which just came last week. Our interactive Roadmap tool allows users to blaze their own trail to success—taking advantage of our curated tools, recommendations, and best practices.

If you haven’t already checked out the newly expanded Building Systems to Sustain Home-Based Asthma Services, you really should.

Amanda Reddy, Katrin Kral, and Tracy Enger

NCHH’s Amanda Reddy (left) with Katrin Kral and Tracy Enger, both from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at the EPA “Building Systems” design team meeting, Washington, DC, May 13, 2015.

Week 59: July 13, 2023

This will be a short one, not because we don’t want to talk to you but because we’re light on information. Last June, Roderick McNeill, the environmental health director at the Ingham County Health Department, sent us this curious photo of what is obviously some sort of social gathering. Rod is featured on the left, followed by a pre-bearded Kevin Kennedy from Children’s Mercy Kansas City, and our Amanda Reddy and Laura Titus, representing NCHH and its subsidiary, Healthy Housing Solutions.

Rod wrote, “I have been seeing the throwback pictures for NCHH, good memories! Here is one from March of 2014 in San Diego, I think you might recognize a few faces!” (We do!) Rod then added, “This was at the dueling piano bar.”

So, that’s something to work with. Piano bars aren’t all that common, and we assume that dueling piano bars are quite rare. But sure enough, San Diego has at least one, the Shout! House, so we’re going to assume that X (or the exclamation point) marks the spot.

We checked Amanda’s calendar from March 2014 and were able to find several days blocked with “Hold for San Diego,” which was not quite the level of detail we were looking for (but how was Amanda supposed to know that we’d be conducting such an elaborate investigation—for you—nine years later?), so we scoured our digital files until we confirmed what we’d suspected all along: San Diego was the site of the National Healthy Homes Training Center’s 2014 annual meeting, which took place March 4-6, 2014. So, there you have it.

Following up on our excitement to have received this picture, Rod told us he believes the photo was taken by Courtney Wisinski (see week 52 for a proper flashback with Courtney), so thanks to both of them for capturing and sharing this happy moment in time.

People enjoying a concert.

From left to right: Roderick McNeill (then with the Genesee County Health Department), Kevin Kennedy (Children’s Mercy), Amanda Reddy (NCHH), and Laura Titus (Healthy Housing Solutions) at (we think) the Shout! House, San Diego, California, March 2014.

Week 60: July 20, 2023

This week’s throwback recalls fun in the sun in beautiful southern California—Anaheim, to be precise. This photo of most of the NCHH crew, family and friends was taken June 26, 2018, which was a lovely evening with perfect weather…which we understand describes most days in Anaheim.

As some of you will have already guessed, our group was in town for the co-located National Environmental Health Association’s Annual Education Conference and HUD Healthy Homes Conference, and when our team wasn’t in sessions, we were meeting other practitioners face to face (which is a bit strange to say now that most of our meetings are face to face, just on screen) or drinking gallons of horchata from a shop just a few blocks from the conference site.

We’re not 100% sure of the name of the restaurant—we had a reservation for 10 that night at Reunion Kitchen + Drink; however, there was some last-minute reshuffling of plans, so it’s possible that we landed somewhere else that night. Or maybe somebody else’s plans fell through and they joined us. We’re pretty sure this is Reunion, like, 85%.

While we’re uncertain of the name of the establishment, the food was pretty good, and as far as dinner guests go, it was hard to beat this bunch. As usual, a great time was had by all.

Seated around the table were Sarah Goodwin, Amanda Reddy, and Jill Breysse (all NCHH); Jill’s husband, Dr. Patrick Breysse (CDC NCEH/ATSDR); Dr. David Jacobs (NCHH); Jack Anderson (Healthy Housing Solutions, NCHH’s for-profit subsidiary); an as yet unidentified dinner guest (so sorry); Akilah Hill (NCHH); two more unidentified guests (very, very sorry); Laura Fudala and Chris Bloom (both NCHH); Tom Neltner (Environmental Defense Fund and formerly of NCHH); and last but not least, Janet Fox (MiniMatters, a Maryland-based video production and marketing company), who is also Tom’s better half.

And before anyone asks, yes, a few of us did spend a day at Disneyland while we were in town. It was just down the street from our hotel.

From front to back on the left side of the table: Sarah Goodwin, Amanda Reddy, Jill Breysse, Patrick Breysse, David Jacobs, and [unidentified]. From back to front on the right side of the table: Akilah Hill, [unidentified], [unidentified], Laura Fudala, Christopher Bloom, Tom Neltner, and Janet Fox.

Week 61: July 27, 2023

It’s National Intern Day, so for this week’s throwback, we share a photo of two of our funnier employees, intern Michelle Parks (now DeCaro) and Phillip Dodge (pre-beard), NCHH’s Marketing and Development Officer from 2007 to 2015. Michelle’s boyfriend during her internship was actually working to break into the world of standup comedy, but we guessed that he must be hilarious because Michelle had a great sense of humor and terrific comic timing…and she wasn’t even trying. We can’t recall what Phillip was teaching Michelle how to do, but we do remember that they couldn’t stop laughing. This photo is from the summer of 2010.

Michelle Parks and Phillip Dodge

Michelle Parks and Phillip Dodge at NCHH headquarters, Columbia, MD, summer of 2010.

Week 62: August 3, 2023

Coming soon!

Week 63: August 10, 2023

We look back this week to October 17, 2017, for the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation National Grantee Convening in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with this picture of three very important housing leaders.

At the time this photo was taken, Amanda (center) was in her second year helming NCHH. To her right was Nancy Rockett Eldridge, NCHH’s previous executive director, now running the National Well Home Network, which works to integrate systems of support that help empower seniors age well in the manner and location of their choosing. Ms. Eldridge had dreamed of starting the Well Home Network back in the 1980s when she served as the State of Vermont’s director of housing and was able to bring it to fruition with NCHH’s resources. And to Amanda’s right stood Terri Ludwig, then CEO of Enterprise Community Partners.

Here’s what Amanda Reddy had to say about this once-in-a-lifetime moment: “The leaders in this photo share more than a passion for the importance of housing and health. Enterprise was founded in 1982 [as the Enterprise Foundation] and 10 years later helped to found NCHH; 15 years later after that, NCHH helped spin off the National Well Home Network.”

We’re pleased to report that all three organizations are doing wonderfully. Nancy and Amanda still run the National Well Home Network and NCHH, respectively, while Terri serves as the president of philanthropy for the Ballmer Group, a national organization committed to improving “economic mobility for children and families in the United States who are disproportionately likely to remain in poverty. [The Ballmer Group] supports the use of data and strong partnerships among public, private and nonprofit organizations at the community level to more effectively serve families.”

From left to right: Nancy Rockett Eldridge (National Well Home Network), Amanda Reddy (NCHH), and Terri Ludwig (Enterprise Community Partners) at the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation National Grantee Convening in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 17, 2017.

Week 64: August 17, 2023

One of the many goals we’re committed to at NCHH is building skills in public speaking and storytelling. After all, how can you expect anyone to be interested in what you’re saying if you can’t hold their attention?

In this photo from our June 4, 2018, staff meeting in Columbia, Project Coordinator Akilah Hill delivers a presentation in front of—admittedly—a friendly audience. Empathetic, too: Despite our many years of doing this work, only a handful of us would actually admit to being completely comfortable before a crowd. That’s why these exercises are so important.

These skills go beyond enunciation. How a story is presented is sometimes as important as the story itself, and we’re interested not only in how we tell our stories but, in the spirit of partnership and the understanding that we go farther together, how we can help others tell their stories, too. That’s why we created a Communications Tools resource library full of great tips for getting stories noticed and heard by stakeholders. The resources are sorted into 10 categories: asthma awareness, carbon monoxide poisoning prevention, emergency preparedness, fall and injury prevention, healthy homes, healthy housing policy, lead poisoning prevention, radon awareness, tobacco control, and general public and environmental health, plus a crash course on getting started, which we know is often the hardest part.

One of our shared summer fellows with CEHN, Jade Chan, has been hard at work on our Share Your Story page, with tips on how to tell your personal healthy homes story compellingly as well as helpful interviewing tips for those attempting to coax a testimonial from someone else. We hope you’ll check it out and, better still, share your story with us and CEHN. The stories we receive will be used to illustrate the importance of new and continued funding for healthy homes programs across the nation.

Speaking of storytelling, we don’t recall exactly what the topic was that Akilah spoke about, but we did remember thinking that she did pretty well up there; the smiles from Dave, Laura, Michelle, and Sarah say as much. Akilah’s friendly smile and approachable, easygoing nature made her an asset in our conference booth that summer, and her willingness to power through daunting projects like our State of Healthy Housing descriptions was appreciated as well.

Akilah moved on from NCHH in 2019. As of this writing, she’s a senior marketing specialist for the International Association for the Study of Pain and is also pursuing her master’s degree in digital media and storytelling from American University. We know that these topics have been of great interest to Akilah since before she worked for us, so we’re thrilled that she’s honing her skills and working on her craft.

Woman giving a presentation to a small audience.

Project Coordinator Akilah Hill, far right, practices her presentation skills before an audience of NCHHers, including (from left) Dr. David Jacobs, Laura Fudala, Sarah Goodwin, and Michelle Harvey, at our Columbia, Maryland, headquarters, June 4, 2018.

Week 65: August 24, 2023

We’ve enjoyed looking back at NCHH’s first 30 years of service with all of you, sharing photos of the friends, partners, allies, and staff who’ve contributed to our legacy. We hope you’ve enjoyed looking back too.

It’s appropriate that our final pictures in the NCHH30 series are group photos, because it’s working together toward a common goal that results in the greatest progress. So, here’s the first one: On October 16, 2013, the combined NCHH and Healthy Housing Solutions crews made a special trip to Falls Church, Virginia, for a Rebuilding Together Arlington/Fairfax/Falls Church event at the home of Ms. Erma Taylor (you may remember Erma from Week 8). We put in a hard day’s work and helped to make Ms. Taylor’s home healthier and safer than it had been previously. You can read Ms. Taylor’s story here.

This is one of the team’s favorite memories from the last 30 years, and we hope to get to do something like this again soon.

Erma Taylor and her grandson (front and center) with the NCHH and Healthy Housing Solutions staff. Middle row: Amanda Reddy, Sherry Dixon, Judith Akoto, Jack Anderson, Jane Malone, Susan Aceti, and Rebecca Morley. Back row: Don Ryan (NCHH board), Jonathan Wilson, Carol Kawecki, Laura Titus, Jill Breysse, Christopher Bloom, Phillip Dodge, and Rose Greene Colby.

Week 66: August 31, 2023

We mentioned last week that our final pictures in the NCHH30 series would be group photos, because it’s working together toward a common goal that results in the greatest progress. We’ve found that to be true not just for NCHH but for everyone looking to meet a challenge. So, here’s the second group photo: On March 7, 2018, NCHH’s three directors, Amanda Reddy (Executive Director), Michelle Harvey (Chief Operating Officer), and Jonathan Wilson (Deputy Director), met with the board for our first ever remote meeting. Typically, the board of directors meet in person a twice per year in the Greater DC area; this time, everyone rendezvoused at Cache Restaurant in Little Rock, Arkansas, which just so happens to be the stomping grounds of board members Dr. Christopher Jones and Dr. Joycelyn Elders. They were thrilled to show off their town, and it got us wondering why we’ve never done this before.

The food was great, of course, and both the NCHH team and the board really enjoyed and were energized by the change. Unfortunately, the pandemic kept the in-person meetings on lockdown from 2020 until just this summer. Now that everyone’s settled into the newest version of normal, we may revisit the roadshow version of the board gatherings soon.

The NCHH directors at Cache Restaurant in Little Rock, Arkansas, March 7, 2018. Front row: Dr. Joycelyn Elders and her husband, honored guest Oliver Elders. Middle row: Sandra Brock Jibrell, Joan Cleary, Amanda Reddy, Dr. Chris Jones, and Marcheta Gillam. Back row: Saúl Ramirez, honored guest Vivian FlowersElyse Pivnick, Michelle Harvey, Jonathan Wilson, and honored guest Leon Jones, Jr.

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.

Group photo

NCHH staff and board together at the Columbia, Maryland, office on September 3, 2019. Front row, left to right: Amanda Reddy and Dr. Joycelyn Elders. Middle row: Saul Ramirez, Sarah Goodwin, Michelle Harvey, Amy Zimmerman, Jo MillerLaura Fudala, Joan Cleary, and Elyse Pivnick. Back row: Dr. Christopher Jones, Christopher Bloom, Read Holman, Jonathan Wilson, Tracy Washington Enger, Jill Breysse, Carol Kawecki, and Michael Meyerstein.