About The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
The impact of environmental factors on human health is apparent now more than ever. The World Health Organization estimates that healthier environments could prevent almost one quarter of the global burden of disease.
Environmental health focuses on the relationships between people and their environment; promotes human health and well-being; and fosters healthy and safe communities (American Public Health Association, 2020). Clean air, a stable climate, access to safe and clean drinking water, adequate sanitation and hygiene, safer chemicals, healthy workplaces, resilient and sustainable cities and built environments, sustainable agriculture practices and food systems, and access to green spaces and nature are all necessary for good health and a healthy planet.
The public awareness and interest in all things “green” is creating a demand for nurses to understand the relationship between human health and the environments in which we live, learn, work, and play. We have moved beyond questioning the science of whether we are in environmental health peril to almost unanimous consensus that we must act and act now on many of the risks we are all experiencing.
Nurses, who are one of the most trusted sources of information by the public, must be in a position to both respond to questions about the environment and its relationship to health with credible, evidence-based information, as well as provide leadership in making the necessary changes in our policies and practices. To that end we must prepare nurses with regard to their knowledge of environmental health issues and ability to address these issues in nursing practice, communities, and at a policy and systems level.
Promoting healthy people and healthy environments by educating and leading the nursing profession, advancing research, incorporating evidence-based practice, and influencing policy.
In December 2008, fifty nursing leaders were selected to represent the nursing profession at a 4-day, invitational meeting to develop a strategic plan for environmental health nursing. They represented the following: nursing subspecialty organizations ranging from nurse midwives, school nurses, and nurse practitioners, to critical care, neonatal, and public health nurses; state nursing associations; and national organizations of the Black and Hispanic Nurses Associations. While there were many accomplishments at this meeting, the two that stand out are the following:
- A national organization was born – the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
- An organizational structure was constructed and 4 main Forums were created to begin the important work of this new Alliance: Education, Practice, Research, and Policy/Advocacy. These Forums are based on the 1995 Institute of Medicine’s report Nursing, Health, and the Environment which outlines how environmental health can be incorporated into nursing.
In June of 2009, ANHE developed a guiding document that drives the work of the Forums. Read: the ANHE Wingspread Statement. In 2018, many of the same nursing leaders who founded ANHE and representatives from national nursing organizations met in Oracle, Arizona to develop a strategic plan and update the ANHE guiding document. Read: the ANHE Oracle Statement.
Our Board of Directors
The ANHE Board is comprised of eight members and all are nurses. Learn more about our Board here: ANHE Board of Directors.
Much of the guidance for ANHE activities comes from our Steering Committee. The Steering Committee is comprised of representatives from a number of nursing organizations, the Forum Chairs, and the Board of Directors. If you have any questions or comments about the ANHE Steering Committee, please contact Katie Huffling – ANHE Executive Director: katie@enviRN.org.
The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments is a joint plant of work with Virginia Organizing, a 501(c)3 non-profit. Learn more about Virginia Organizing.
In our fulfillment of that mission, ANHE is committed to advancing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in our organization, work, and partnerships. To learn more about ANHE’s commitment read our organizational Statement on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
ANHE Structure and Forums
The Alliance is growing as nurses from around the country, and the world, are galvanized and joining the Forums to participate in meaningful and collaborative global efforts. Each of the Forums holds monthly or bi-monthly calls and are nurses and nursing students are invited to join these calls. To find out more about the Forum activities, please see the individual Forum pages at the links below
The Education Forum is developing curriculum materials for nursing schools and for continuing education. They have also developed a free, on-line nursing text on environmental health: Environmental Health in Nursing.
The Practice Forum is sharing resources for nurses who are “greening” their hospitals and other health care facilities, as well as developing best practices and model policies to decrease unnecessary environmental exposures in our workplaces. They are also exploring standard practices that recognize environmental exposures as a determinant of health.
The Research Forum is promoting more nurses researchers in this area, mentoring new researchers, and sharing information about funding sources.
The Policy/Advocacy Forum is addressing environmental health policies at the state and national level and helping to mobilize the nursing community to support policies that encourage citizen knowledge about potential hazards through “right to know mechanisms”, reduce/eliminate known and suspected hazardous chemicals that are in our air, water, food, soil, and products.
Together these Forums and Committees are coordinating their efforts and reaching out to nurses around the country. The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments welcomes any and all nurses who are interested in the environment to join the Forum and/or Committee that best reflects their interests.
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Program Manager, Climate & Energy Advocacy
Jessica Mengistab, BSN, RN is the Program Manager, Climate & Clean Energy Advocacy for the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. n climate and public health advocacy with the added lens of a bedside nurse. Jessica was first introduced to ANHE through a public health course during her studies at Villanova University’s second degree BSN program. Her background undergraduate studies in Sociology and personal interest in public and community health made her gravitate to a weekend conference for student nurses offered by ANHE and she remained involved on a volunteer basis after graduation. Jessica’s first passion is maternal-child health, a specialty of nursing where she has worked for the past six years. In addition to caring for birthing individuals in both the labor and postpartum setting Jessica is passionate about raising awareness concerning the many disparities in our nation’s health sector -with an emphasis on maternal child health.
Program Manager, ANHE Environmental Health Nurse Fellowship
Jeremiah Headen is the ANHE Fellowship Program Coordinator. Originally from a small town in Northern Virginia, Jeremiah attended American University where he received a degree in political science. Since graduating, he consistently seeks out positions that advance equity for communities with high levels of disinvestment. He taught in DC Public Schools as a high school teacher, worked as the lead organizer of a political campaign, provided TA for organizers all across the country, and served as a facilitator for various leadership training programs for social change leaders. Prior to taking on this role, Jeremiah created a program with a team of consultants at the Rockwood Leadership Institute called the “Heart of Black Leadership” that provides a unique leadership training specifically designed for Black leaders working within the social justice movement in response to the summer of 2020. Outside of work, Jeremiah enjoys spending time with loved ones as well as writing and performing songs.
Katie Huffling, DNP, RN, CNM, FAAN is a Certified Nurse-Midwife and is the Executive Director the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. Ms. Huffling works with nurses and national nursing organizations on a variety of environmental health issues including climate change, chemical policy, inclusion of environmental health into nursing education, and sustainable healthcare. Ms. Huffling has written numerous peer-reviewed articles on environmental health issues and was an editor of the recently released environmental health e-textbook “Environmental Health in Nursing” which won the 2017 AJN Book of the Year in Environmental Health.
Nurse Operations Coordinator
Hannah Noel-Bouchard, BSN, RN is a public health nurse and the Nurse Operations Coordinator for the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. She supports the organization’s staff and nurse members, who are working in communities across the nation to promote healthy environments. She is currently a school nurse in Charleston, SC and volunteers weekly at a free clinic serving the Charleston area barrier islands. Prior to joining ANHE, Hannah has worked in cardiac/telemetry and research nursing. After participating in ANHE’s inaugural Environmental Health Nurse Fellowship program, Hannah continues to build relationships and work with local communities to better understand, prepare for, and mitigate the negative health effects of climate change and polluted air, soil, and water.
Director of Programs
Cara Cook, MS, RN, AHN-BC is the Director of Programs the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. Her work focuses on elevating climate and health as a national priority by engaging nursing organizations and individual nurses in climate and health advocacy, education, and practice change. Prior to joining ANHE, Cara was a Local Care Coordinator with Healthways-Sharecare, Inc., coordinating care for high-risk patients in partnership with their primary care physicians as part of an insurance-based Patient-Centered Medical Home program. She has experience in critical care nursing working in both medical and trauma intensive care. Cara holds a Master’s in Community/Public Health Nursing through the University of Maryland.
Anastasia Farnum is a user researcher and designer with a history of community centered work. Anastasia creates communications materials for ANHE including graphic design work, adding to the website, social media posts and engaging with the community through online platforms. It all started with doing full-time community work through Americorps, serving in NYC. From there, Anastasia has worked in the nonprofit sector across causes touching on education, housing justice, and advancing the community. With academic and professional experience in user-centered design, Anastasia aspires to center people’s voices and experiences in all of the work they are involved in. Anastasia believes in empowerment through education and community connections and also seeks to prioritize inclusivity and representation in the communications for ANHE.