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Summit Speakers

Welcome to the biography section of the Climate Health Summit: Creating Health Leaders on Climate Change. These are alphabetical. Please see the agenda for titles and objectives of each session.

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Catherine Thomasson, MD
Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Samantha Ahdoot, MD is a practicing pediatrician in Alexandria, Virginia and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. She is the Climate and Health Physician Liaison for the Inova Health System in Virginia, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Environmental Health. Dr. Ahdoot has testified on behalf of the AAP in support of the Federal Clean Power Plan and a stronger ozone standard. She presented at the Expert Consultation on the Effects of Climate Change on Children’s Health for the President’s Task Force on Children’s Environmental Health in July 2014 as well as at the Pediatric Academic Society Meeting 2015.

Rosalyn Baker, MD, MHS - Section Chief of Allergy/Immunology at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital since 2011, and works at Prime Allergy & Asthma Care. Dr. Baker has treated thousands of patients with allergic and respiratory diseases impacted by global climate change. She is an author of publications from Johns Hopkins Allergy and National Institutes of Health (NIH). She has been featured in US News and World Report's list of the nation's top doctors, CME lectures, and local media. Her broad clinical experience includes internal medicine attending physician at University of Maryland/Midtown Campus and clinical instructor at the University of Maryland/VAMC. She is a graduate of Emory University, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, University Hospital of Cleveland, and NIH/NIAID residency/fellowship programs.

Laura Kate Bender is the director of advocacy for the American Lung Association’s Healthy Air Campaign. She serves as the campaign’s lead representative to Congress, lobbying for limits on outdoor air pollution to protect public health. She also assists with the campaign's media outreach, administrative branch advocacy, and coordination of a broad group of national public health and medical organizations working for more protective limits on air pollution. In her previous role with the Healthy Air Campaign, she worked in Virginia to implement the campaign on the state level, building a local coalition of public health groups and medical professionals and holding several advocacy trainings for the health community. She served on the board of the Virginia Asthma Coalition. Laura Kate studied political science and communications at American University in Washington, DC.

Rona Birnbaum manages the Climate Science and Impacts Branch in EPA’s Climate Change Division. She has been with EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation for 24 years working on various issues at the interface of science and policy. The Climate Science and Impacts Branch works to leverage, apply, and communicate climate science and works closely with researchers and economists to assess implications of climate change impacts in the U.S. Areas of focus include climate change indicators, climate and human health, and evaluation of risks and benefits. Most recently, her Branch is supporting the development of the US Global Change Research Program’s forthcoming scientific assessment on climate change and human health impacts in the United States.

Donald Boesch, PhD is a Professor of Marine Science and President of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, a part of the twelve-institution University System of Maryland. It conducts comprehensive research, trains graduate students, contributes to public education, and advises public agencies and others on environmental and natural resource management from its five research units distributed across the state: Appalachian Laboratory, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Horn Point Laboratory, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology and the Maryland Sea Grant College.

Susan Clayton, PhD is Whitmore-Williams Professor of Psychology and Chair of Environmental Studies at the College of Wooster. She has a Ph.D. in social psychology from Yale University, and is the 2015-16 president of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Clayton is co-author of Conservation Psychology: Understanding and Promoting Human Care for Nature (with Gene Myers; 2nd edition 2015), among other books. Her research focuses on the psychological significance and social construction of a relationship with the natural world.

Rachel Cleetus, PhD is the lead economist & climate policy manager at Union of Concerned Scientists. She designs and advocates effective global warming policies at the federal, regional, state, and international levels.  These policies include market-based approaches and complementary, sector-based approaches (such as efficiency, renewable energy, and clean technology research and development). She also analyzes the economic costs of inaction on climate change. Dr. Cleetus holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in economics from Duke University and a B.S. in economics from West Virginia University.

Gary Cohen, MD. President of Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth. Cohen is the founder of HCWH, an international NGO working to address the environmental footprint of the health sector and work with the sector to transform them into advocates for environmental health and justice around the world. Cohen is a recipient of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship as well as the President’s Champion Award for Climate Change and Public Health.

Jamie Consuegra is the Legislative Director for the Climate and Clean Air Program. She advocates for smart climate policies on Capitol Hill. Most recently, Jamie has been defending the Clean Power Plan from legislative attacks. Prior to joining NRDC in the fall of 2007, Jamie was a researcher in Monteverde, Costa Rica looking at the link between amphibian extinctions and climate change; she co-authored a paper in Nature Magazine. She graduated from Barnard College.

Ivan Frishberg has more than 25 years of public interest advocacy, organizing and policy experience and is a founding partner of FSC Partners, a climate consultancy. Ivan is a Senior Advisor on climate for Organizing for Action, the director the State Climate Hub - coordinating state level efforts to implement the Clean Power Plan, and works with the Climate Briefing Service on the intersection of US Climate Advocacy and international climate negotiations. Previously he was a senior advisor to the Climate Action Campaign, a multi-year national coalition effort to defend the Clean Air Act and support new federal policies on climate and public health. He has managed major public engagement grant programs for Pew Charitable Trusts and served as the Political Director for both Environment America and Clean Energy Works

Robin Guenther, FAIA, LEED® AP, is a partner of Perkins & Will, Architects in New York City and was formerly a principal of Guenther 5 Architects, a 20-person New York City firm with extensive experience in the design and planning of health care facilities. Her projects have received national design awards and have been published in Architectural Record, Metropolis, Interior Design, Interiors, Contract, and Interiors & Sources. In July 2004, she was named one of 25 national "environmental heroes" by Interiors & Sources magazine. In early 2010, Robin was named the single most influential person in healthcare design by Healthcare Design magazine. Robin is HCWH’s chief adviser on green architecture, design and planning in the health sector.

Barbara Gottlieb is Director of Environment and Health at Physicians for Social Responsibility, where she oversees PSR's work on climate change, coal and coal ash, renewable energy, and toxics.  Besides directing program execution, she has authored, co-authored and/or edited PSR’s recent reports and educational materials on these topics.  Her prior work encompasses several decades in the nonprofit sector, holding positions as executive director, advocate, field organizer, fundraiser and writer.

Katie Huffling, RN, MS, CNM is a Certified Nurse-Midwife and is the Director of Programs at the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. In her current position Ms. Huffling works with nurses and national nursing organizations on environmental health research, education, practice, and advocacy campaigns on a variety of issues including climate change, chemical policy, inclusion of environmental health into nursing education, and sustainable healthcare. Ms. Huffling is also the author of a number of peer-reviewed articles on environmental health issues and is currently the reproductive environmental health consultant for the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) for EPA Region 3.

Richard J. Jackson, MD is Professor and former Chair of Environmental Health Sciences at the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA. A pediatrician, he has served in many leadership positions with the California Health Department, including the highest, State Health Officer. For nine years he was Director of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health in Atlanta and received the Presidential Distinguished Service award. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He is widely recognized leader in Environmental Health and in areas related to the "built environment" and health.

Katherine Johnson - Kate Johnson is a Climate Program Analyst for the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment. She manages the District's efforts to reduce carbon pollution and is currently leading the development of a citywide climate resilience plan to help the District prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Prior to joining DOEE, Kate worked for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a leading center of expertise on energy efficiency policy.

Adam Law, MD is a specialist in endocrinology and internal medicine, practicing in Ithaca, NY. Dr. Law, a Fellow of the U.K.'s Royal College of Physicians, is also Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. He has held post-doctoral fellowships at the University of California, San Francisco and Cornell University. He has co-authored peer-reviewed papers in clinical medicine, molecular medicine and the public health impacts of unconventional fossil fuel extraction.. He is the Cayuga Medical Center medical staff director of Ithaca Medical Education, an academic collaboration with Weill Cornell Medical College, and the chair of the Graduate Medical Education Committee. He is a founding board member of PSE Healthy Energy and is currently board president.

Robert Lawrence, MD is founder and Director of the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (1996-present) where he is a full-time Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, Health Policy, and International Health and Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The Center is an inter-disciplinary group of faculty and staff that focuses attention on the food system and the need for greater equity, focus on health, and better use of the Earth's resources. It’s research, education, and advocacy examine the relationships among diet, food production systems, the environment, and human health. He has worked in many other capacities from director of health sciences at Rockefeller Foundation, chairing the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, and serving as chief of medicine at the Cambridge Hospital. Dr. Lawrence is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, trained in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and served as an epidemic intelligence service officer at the CDC.

Alan Lockwood, MD, FAAN, FANA, Emeritus Professor of Neurology at the University at Buffalo. In addition to being the author of PSR’s report "Coal's Assault on Human Health", Dr. Lockwood is also the author of a new book on coal, The Silent Epidemic: Coal and the Hidden Threat to Health, published by MIT Press and is writing a new book on Climate and Health. He is a graduate of Cornell University Medical College and was trained in Neurology at the UCSF. He is the author of approximately 220 publications on diverse scientific topics ranging from hepatic encephalopathy, medical problems of musicians to functional imaging of the auditory system, tinnitus and environmental toxicants. He has been an active member of PSR for three decades, was President of PSR National in 1994, and is currently a member of the Board and Co-Chair of the Environment and Health Committee.

Edward Maibach, PhD is a University Professor at George Mason University, and the Director of Mason's Center for Climate Change Communication. Ed's research – funded by NSF, NASA and private foundations – focuses on public engagement in climate change. Ed recently co-chaired the Engagement & Communication Working Group for the 3rd National Climate Assessment, and previously served as Associate Director of the National Cancer Institute, Worldwide Director of Social Marketing at Porter Novelli, and Chairman of the Board for Kidsave International. Ed earned his PhD in communication science at Stanford University and his MPH at San Diego State University.

Maureen McCue, MD, PhD has traveled and worked extensively as a peace maker, teacher, consultant and physician addressing issues of importance to global health most especially climate change and violent conflict as well as women's health and social justice. As a professor in global health studies and long time coordinator for the Iowa Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, she has organized many forums and public lectures on these and related topics. She regularly interacts with international and domestic representatives of many programs, including several unique peace, health and human rights events in Russia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Ecuador, Haiti, India and Bangladesh. Her most recent work has focused on Climate Change, Coal and their related threats to health especially that of vulnerable populations. She is one of the collaborating researchers for the environmental law publication Recalibrating the Law of Humans with the Laws of Nature: Climate Change, Human Rights, and Intergenerational Justice published in 2009 by the Vermont Law School, lead author on the Iowa Coal Health Mapping Study, and is currently working on a memoir responding to the rapidly changing environment on which she's lived and thrived for almost 3 decades.

Mark Mitchell MD, MPH, FACPM chairs the National Medical Association’s Council on Medical Legislation and co-chairs the NMA's Commission on Environmental Health, where he provides environmental health education and advocates on behalf of NMA. A preventive medicine physician trained in environmental health and health policy, Dr. Mitchell has spent over twenty years working in the public health sector, including as Director of the Hartford, Connecticut Health Department. He has spent the past fifteen years working with environmental justice communities to prevent and reduce environmentally related disease as well as to change policies that are detrimental to environmental health. Dr. Mitchell was a Principal Investigator on the first ever physician survey on climate and health. He has served on several U.S. EPA and FDA advisory committees and has received a number of awards for his community and environmental health leadership.

Cindy Parker, MD, MPH is the Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Environment, Energy, Sustainability & Health Institute and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health where she co-directs the Program on Global Sustainability and Health. She has a joint appointment in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences where she directs the undergraduate major in Global Environmental Change and Sustainability. Dr. Parker is engaged in education, policy work, practice, and translational research on the health impacts of climate change, peak petroleum, and global sustainability. She co-authored the book Climate Chaos: Your Health at Risk published by Praeger. Dr. Parker received her MD from the University of Arizona and her Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is board certified in Public Health and General Preventive Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine. She also serves on the National Board of Directors for PSR and is co-chair of Environmental and Health Committee.

Jonathan Patz, MD, MPH is Professor & John P. Holton Chair in Health and the Environment. He is also Director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He co-chaired the health expert panel of the US National Assessment on Climate Change and was a convening lead author for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.  For the past 15 years, Dr. Patz has been a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (or IPCC) – the organization that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. Dr. Patz has written over 90 peer-reviewed scientific papers, textbooks addressing the health effects of global environmental change. He organized the first climate change/health briefing to an EPA administrator in 1997 and has been invited to brief both houses of Congress and has served on several scientific committees of the National Academy of Sciences. From 2006 to 2010, Dr. Patz served as Founding President of the International Association for Ecology and Health. In addition contributing in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Patz received an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellows Award in 2005, shared the Zayed International Prize for the Environment in 2006, and earned the distinction of becoming a UW-Madison Romnes Faculty Fellow in 2009, and a Fulbright Scholar award in 2014. Aside from directing the university-wide UW Global Health Institute, Professor Patz has faculty appointments in the Nelson Institute, Center for Sustainability & the Global Environment (SAGE) and the Department of Population Health Sciences. Dr. Patz earned medical board certification in both Occupational/Environmental Medicine and Family Medicine and received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University (1987) and his Master of Public Health degree (1992) from Johns Hopkins University.

Robert M. Perkowitz is founder and president of ecoAmerica, a non-profit that "starts with people" and uses consumer research and strategic partnerships to create large-scale engagement programs that build individual and institutional leadership for climate and sustainability solutions in America. ecoAmerica’s current research includes the American Climate Values 2014, and Communicating on Climate: A Guide. Bob sits on the boards of World Bicycle Relief, ClearPath Foundation, and Environmental Defense Fund, and is a past Trustee of the Sierra Club Foundation. In the for profit sector, Bob has served as President of Cornerstone Brands, Inc., Smith+Noble, LLC, VivaTerra, LLC, Joanna Western Mills, Inc. and Home Fashions, Inc. His extensive for-profit board service includes SRAM, Inc, SNAP A/V and Home Fashions, Inc.

Lynn Ringenberg, MD - Dr. Ringenberg is an Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Her academic career spanned 20 years at USF with 13 years in private practice. She received her Medical degree at the University of Nebraska and residency training in pediatrics at the University of Florida, Gainesville and Bowman Gray in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She received a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 2001 and retired from the Army in 2003 in the rank of colonel. Dr. Ringenberg’s interests and passions lie in medical education and underserved healthcare. She co-founded Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) Tampa Bay in 2008, expanding to PSR/Florida in 2012. She is the faculty advisor for the Student Chapter of PSR @ the University of South Florida Morsani School of Medicine. PSR’s work in Florida focuses primarily on the public health threats from environmental toxics, air/water pollution from coal-fired power plants and coal ash, climate impacts on health, fracking in FL and nuclear weapons/war/radiation and waste storage. Dr. Ringenberg is an invited participant of the BRACE (Building Resiliency Against Climate Effects) Project through the Florida Department of Health. Dr. Ringenberg has spoken widely on issues that damage health: coal ash, climate change, environmental toxics and nuclear weapons. She is a prolific spokesperson. Dr. Ringenberg is the current President of national PSR in Washington, D.C., assuming those duties in 2015.

Linda Rudolph, MD, MPH is the Director of the Center for Climate Change and Health at the Public Health Institute. She previously served as the Deputy Director for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the California Department of Public Health, where she chaired the California Climate Action Team Public Health Work Group. Her prior positions include Health Officer and Public Health Director for the City of Berkeley and Chief Medical Officer for Medi-Cal Managed Care. Dr. Rudolph received an MD from the University of California, San Francisco, and an MPH from UC Berkeley. She is board-certified in Occupational Medicine.

Mona Sarfaty, MD, MPH, FAAFP - The Director of George Mason Center for Climate and Health in the Center for Climate Change Communication. A family medicine professor and physician for over 30 years, Dr. Sarfaty has engaged in research and teaching focused on primary care, cancer screening, and public policy, including the health effects of climate change. Dr. Sarfaty is the author of widely circulated guides and articles on how to increase cancer screening rates in practice and on improving practice outcomes by using the features of the patient centered medical home. Since 2003, Dr. Sarfaty has been on the faculty of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia as Associate Professor of Family Medicine. She has held a joint appointment in the Jefferson School of Population Health. She authored major pieces of legislation, planned hearings, and advised Senators on both sides of the aisle.

Meighen Speiser is ecoAmerica's Chief Engagement Officer, overseeing the strategy and management of marketing, programs, and research for ecoAmerica and ecoAmerica initiatives. Before joining ecoAmerica, Meighen was the Brand Director for (RED). She was integral to the conception, launch and continued growth of the (RED) brand, and led collaboration with partners (Gap, Hallmark, Windows and more) on all consumer-facing expressions of their (PRODUCT) RED partnership. Meighen also worked at Mattel, Inc. where she held roles in brand and marketing for their consumer products division with over 1,000 worldwide licensees of the Barbie other Mattel brands. Previously, Meighen achieved success in financial services as VP Marketing for Robertson Stephens Investment Bank. As Chief Engagement Officer at ecoAmerica, Meighen fulfills her long-time goal of a career in sustainability and to lead marketing for an eco-progressive organization. Meighen lives in San Francisco with her husband and two young children.

Catherine Thomasson, MD is the executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR).  She is an internal medicine physician by training, but has interwoven her clinical work with political work, primarily with Oregon PSR from 2000-2006 as president of the board and then co-president of the national PSR board from 2006-8.  She served on numerous boards and advisory committees on climate, health and safe water issues in Oregon and brought the health voice to the Climate Change City Plan of Portland and to state coalitions addressing transportation and health.  She taught Climate Change and Public Health at Portland State University. Undergraduate in Chemistry and Medical degree from Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. 1983

Diana Van Vleet is the Manager of Policy Communications at Climate Nexus, strategic communications organization dedicated to changing the conversation on climate and clean energy solutions in the United States. Diana identifies opportunities to advance science-based policy by helping to strengthen the climate literacy of policymakers and the public. In order to drive these efforts, she works with many different communities, ranging from faith-based organizations to investors, to highlight the wide-ranging impacts of climate disruption and bring attention to solutions. Before joining Climate Nexus, Diana worked for ICF International, specifically focusing on energy efficiency for the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy. Diana holds degrees in environmental science and political science from the University of Virginia.

Yolanda Whyte, MD is an Atlanta-based pediatrician who incorporates environmental health into practice and engages healthcare and other professionals, community groups, legislators, and government agencies on health protections from environmental toxins. Dr. Whyte currently serves as vice-chair of the Commission on Environmental Health of the National Medical Association and also on the board of both PSR-Florida and Eco-Action, a local environmental justice organization. Dr. Whyte earned her Bachelors of Science degree from Howard University and her doctorate in medicine from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. Following her pediatric internship at Medical College of Virginia, she completed her pediatric residency at Morehouse School of Medicine. Dr. Whyte’s background also includes medical missions to Ghana, Haiti, Jamaica, Vietnam, and Guyana. She is also a lifetime member of the NAACP.

Page Updated September 18, 2015