by Kristin Schafer, Director, CHE
A Year of Impact, Transition, and Celebration
The past year was a momentous one for the Collaborative for Health and Environment (CHE). Marking our 20th anniversary offered opportunities to celebrate CHE’s contributions to environmental health over the last two decades, and to consider how we can best contribute to solving the urgent global challenges we now face.
Throughout the year, CHE’s signature webinars continued to reach a global audience with emerging science on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), the voices of young scientists, and deep-dive series on key environmental health science and policy topics of the day.
Amplifying Environmental Health Science
CHE hosted 34 webinars in 2022, reaching thousands of participants across the United States and in countries around the world. Examples include our series exploring the health effects of plastic production and use, the complex science and policy issues surrounding PFAS “forever chemicals,” and how chemical exposures contribute to obesity.
We collaboratively produced monthly webinars highlighting the health impacts of EDCs. We hosted presentations from young scientists from Agents of Change in Environmental Justice and the Young EDC Scientists Showcase, the latter coordinated with our partners at HEEDS (Healthy Environment and Endocrine Disruptor Strategies). Monthly CHE Alaska webinars featured the work and voices of indigenous leaders, scientists, and other environmental health experts in the arctic region.
This past year also marked the transition of CHE’s Because Health website to our partners at the Center for Environmental Health.
Checking in with the CHE Community
As part of our reflections during our 20th year, we asked supporters for input on what’s working best at CHE. We also interviewed previous staff, advisors, funders, leading environmental health scientists, advocates, and policymakers.
Respondents consistently urged us to continue hosting webinars as a respected platform for environmental health scientists and changemakers. Others cited the value of the convening and catalytic role CHE has played over the years. Many encouraged us to build on this track record to link emerging scientific evidence more directly with changes in policy and practice so urgently needed to address today’s environmental health challenges.
Fresh Leadership, and Celebrations
It was a year of transition for CHE as well. Previous director Karen Wang moved on at the end of 2021, and program manager Hannah Donart stepped in as interim director for several months in spring. In June, Hannah handed the reins to me.
I’m excited to bring my three decades of science-based advocacy experience in the environmental health field to CHE.
To mark the 20th anniversary we also hosted a series of “CHE Cafe” online conversations, and published a compilation of thought pieces from leading scientists. In early November, we gathered at Commonweal for an in-person (and live streamed) celebration.
We’ll be launching a revamped website soon and have updated our logo. And we’ve changed our name slightly to set a new tone as the work moves into its next 20 years. We are the Collaborative for Health and Environment in 2023 and beyond.
Find out more about CHE’s work at healthandenvironment.org.