A Beacon of Light Is Only as Strong as Its Source

written by Elise Miller, MEd
CHE Director

We can no longer relegate social and environmental determinants of health to the sidelines, while deeply investing in pharmaceuticals and gene therapies. Instead, we must work to minimize exposures—from toxic chemicals to psychosocial stress—starting in the womb. By providing this expanded frame for addressing chronic disease and disability, CHE is helping us reimagine and ignite new ways to improve population health for generations to come.

– Philip R. Lee, MD
Former United States Assistant Secretary of Health
Chancellor Emeritus, University of California, San Francisco
Professor Emeritus, Stanford University

As 2013 comes to a close, Dr. Phil Lee, CHE’s founding chair, continues to inspire us. Given his renowned leadership and expertise in public health over the decades, he remains a beacon of light as stormy economic and political forces often obscure scientific evidence and common sense, further undermining our capacity to protect our most vulnerable populations from environmental health insults.

The good news is that many other beacons of light, embodied in each of you, are also illuminating the emerging science through your dedicated efforts to reduce exposures and make systems-level changes towards improved health across the lifespan. And we each source each other.

As partners of CHE, quite a number of you over this past year presented on or participated in the 40-plus CHE partnership and working group calls on cutting edge science from “Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: Exposure, Research and Regulation” to “Superfund Contaminants and Reproduction“. Many of you also shared scientific updates and your expertise on our 20 different working group listservs. Others found the scientific information you needed on our highly lauded Toxicants and Disease Database. Some responded to our 23 blog posts or contributed your own article. A number of you let us know how helpful you find the specialized news feeds we provide for several of our listservs and our new “Top 10” quarterly environmental health lists. Some tweeted about our pitch for the Robert Wood Johnson’s Foundation’s first “Pioneer Pitch Day” in New York City. Dozens participated in a CHE Environmental Health Primary Prevention Training. Many more attended one or more of the sessions we organized at conferences around the country from New Partners for Smart Growth to the American Public Health Association to Generations United as well as our CHE-Northwest Children’s Environmental Health Forum. Others of you were one of the 55,000 unique visitors to www.diabetesandenvironment.org, a website Sarah Howard, coordinator of CHE’s Diabetes-Obesity Spectrum Working Group, has developed to highlight the scientific literature linking diabetes to toxic exposures. And yes, the list could go on and on.

In short, you have all collectively helped make CHE as robust and effective as it is by engaging in and contributing to these myriad manifestations of our work. But as you well know from your own experience, a beacon of light is only as strong as its source. You have sourced us with your energy, expertise and time, but CHE itself cannot continue to provide the services we do, stay on the cutting edge of science, and foster new strategic initiatives without your financial support as well.

Please make a tax-deductible gift today–whatever amount is within your means—so that CHE can remain a beacon in the environmental health field and, most important, help augment the light you each bring to our collective work. We know you are called on by many outstanding and worthy nonprofits for your support. We truly hope you will include CHE in your giving this year.

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