Letter: Leading CEH has been the highlight of my career

Dear Friends,

I am writing to announce that after 26 years, I am stepping down from the role as CEO of the Center for Environmental Health. Although my last day on staff will be December 31, 2022, my commitment to CEH is life-long. I will always be available to support the crucial work of the CEH staff, board, community, and mission.

With the support of many people, I started CEH on my credit card in 1996. Since that time, it has been the highlight and privilege of my career to lead CEH. I am deeply grateful to you, as well as the incredible, strategic, and world-changing staff and board with whom I have had the honor of partnering to make this world better.

Looking forward, I believe in a great future for CEH. It starts with the incredibly strong board and staff that are in place today. Some have been with CEH for a decade or longer, and others are bringing new vision and wisdom.

We are also blessed to have Regina Jackson who has taken on the role of Interim CEO. I am grateful to Regina for generously taking on this responsibility, as I step back from the day-to-day leadership of CEH and focus on projects to set CEH up for the long-term success that I know we will have. The CEH Board has already begun the search for the next permanent CEO.

Throughout the past 26 years, because of the support of people like you, CEH has had a profound impact in the world that has benefitted the health of millions of people by eliminating exposures to toxic chemicals in their lives.

This has included:

Leveraging public-interest litigation to force over 1,000 companies to eliminate toxic chemicals from their products, processes and emissions.

We regularly took on entire sectors at a time, and nearly every time we set a new and better industry standard. For example, we systematically tested every children’s product that could conceivably have lead. When we found lead, we used litigation to remove it nationally, first from baby powder and creams, then children’s jewelry, candy imported from Mexico, baby bibs, and more. Another example is not only eliminating formaldehyde and other carcinogens from the vapor of e-cigarettes like JUUL, but also forcing manufacturers to sign legally-binding agreements that restrict their right to market to teens. Today, we are using litigation to eliminate BPA from baby socks and clothing, as well as toxic air emissions in low-income communities of color.

Drafting local, state, and federal policies that have transformed commerce.

We have created precedent-setting health-protective legislation at every level of government. At the local level, the City of San Francisco hired us to write their first-of-its-kind precautionary principle legislation that set a new national precedent and continues to inform city purchasing practices. At the state level, we led efforts to eliminate lead and other toxic metals from children’s products, led the efforts to protect Prop 65 on too many occasions to mention, and just recently played a leadership role in the passage of legislation to ban PFAS in multiple states. Federally, we co-authored the law banning lead in children’s products nationally, and played a key role in crafting the language in the current U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Partnering with grassroots, community-based organizations and individuals to create the change that they defined as most important to them and their communities.

One of our first ever campaigns was to support People United for a Better Oakland (PUEBLO) in their campaign to close the last medical waste incinerator in the state. We have worked closely with so many grassroots groups since. The most current example is our partnership with grassroots groups in North Carolina to take on the U.S. EPA and Chemours Corporation for PFAS contamination of drinking water. And the CEH Justice Fund has directed hundreds of thousands of dollars to grassroots groups.

Partnering with some of the largest institutions in the world to leverage their purchasing power and transform markets away from toxic materials and towards health protective practices.

Companies like Kaiser Permanente, Bank of America, and Google have changed what they buy as a result of partnering with CEH. And so have large academic institutions like the University of California system, Harvard, and many more. Local governments also have used their purchasing power in service of public health in partnership with CEH. One example of the impact of this work is the shift in furniture, which went from the vast majority containing brominated flame retardants, to the vast majority being BFR-free. This work continues to flourish today, for example, in the sectors of flooring and foodware.

I am certain that CEH will continue to have profound and measurable success for years to come. As always, we will do this by eliminating corporate practices that threaten the health of people and all living things, and replacing them with solutions that benefit us all and future generations.

It has been a deep honor to lead CEH. As of today, my title will be Founder. I look forward to witnessing and supporting the next generation of CEH leadership. I believe in a great future for CEH.

With gratitude to you for believing in, and supporting this work,