Kathy Sessions

HEFN Position: 
Director
Email Address: 

Kathy Sessions is one of HEFN’s two Directors. In 1999 Kathy helped funders create HEFN.  She has worked to build HEFN and environmental health and justice philanthropy ever since.  She oversees HEFN’s external relations, outreach, and communications, blogging regularly for Giving InSight and cultivating collaborative relationships with HEFN's philanthropic partners.  She works with HEFN members and supports their leadership development, and she shares responsibility for staff management, HEFN representation and strategy.

Kathy’s HEFN work began as a consultant  to the Consultative Group on Biological Diversity, HEFN's first home base.  In 2002 she joined CGBD’s staff where for two years she coordinated both HEFN and the Climate & Energy Funders.  In 2010 Kathy became a co-Director and HEFN became a joint plan of work of Virginia Organizing.  Kathy has worked with nonprofits and international organizations including the United Nations Association of the USA, ACCESS, the United Nations Development Programme, the Aspen Institute, and Leaders in Environment and Development.   

Kathy represents HEFN on the National Environmental Health Partnership Council and on the MomentUs Climate for Health Leadership Circle.  She's a contributor to The Huffington Post. Her past board service includes stints with the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the National Research Council and the Barbara Smith Fund.   Kathy holds an M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, and an A.B., magna cum laude, in Social Studies from Harvard.

What Inspires Me Most About Environmental Health and Justice: 

HEFN members and their grantees have built knowledge, tools, and power to make everyday environments healthier in many places.  They are deepening understanding about how the environment affects people's health.   They are supporting grassroots-up organizing, boosting the voices of the health sector and people most affected by environmental hazards, and elevating attention to racial and gender equity.  They are helping integrate environmental health into decisions that shape people's opportunity for a healthy life, including in public policy, business, chemicals and energy choices, land use and built environment, food and agriculture, and more. 

Why I Love My Job: 

In over 6,000 days working with HEFN (!) I've seen how philanthropy can build capacity and create opportunity for families to be healthier, communities stronger and more equitable, the environment cleaner and more resilient.  It's a privilege to help funders and donors make the most of their investments.

When I'm Not at Work You Might Find Me: 

With my family, studying Mandarin, reading, walking, doing yoga, or pondering why my latest loaf of bread didn't rise.

Contact Me When: 

You are a HEFN member interested in talking about your grantmaking or leadership interests.  I'm also a first-contact for funders, donors, and funder group staff interested in this field or in HEFN.

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