HEFN Leadership Transitions

A Message from HEFN Steering Committee Co-Chairs, Amy Panek and Jalonne White-Newsome:

Dear HEFN Members, Partners, and Friends,

As HEFN begins its 20th anniversary year, we are writing to share news of an upcoming leadership transition at the Health and Environmental Funders Network (HEFN) and to invite your active participation as we chart a smooth transition and HEFN’s dynamic next chapters.

It is with gratitude for her remarkably steady hand and presence through the years that we share the news that Kathy Sessions will be stepping down as Executive Director in the summer of 2019. In Kathy’s words: “I am so proud of all that HEFN and its fabulous members and staff have accomplished. Together we have drawn hundreds of millions of dollars into environmental health and justice work, helping build the power of impacted people to improve conditions where they live, learn, work, and play. After twenty (!) years working with HEFN, it’s time for me to move to other challenges, in full confidence that HEFN is strong and poised for even more impact in mobilizing philanthropy for environmental health and justice.”

As co-chairs of HEFN’s Steering Committee, we are formulating plans for a smooth transition. Please watch for a job announcement and prepare to help share it with your networks. In the meantime, we would welcome your input and advice as we begin the transition process and a search for a new ED. If you have any advice or recommendations for us and the search committee, please share it via this quick survey or send an email to EDSearch@hefn.org.

And we can’t share this news without celebrating Kathy’s tenure and contributions.

In 1999…on the cusp of a new millennium…a group of funders began to coalesce around shared concerns about pollutants harming people, wildlife and ecosystems. Kathy Sessions was hired to assist and coordinate the launch of this new working group and has remained with the Health & Environmental Funders Network (HEFN) ever since, dedicating her professional life to the fields of environmental health and environmental justice and wearing many organizational hats with grace and great skill. Through her guidance and leadership, HEFN has grown into an active learning community of over 60 foundations and donors and has interacted over the years with hundreds of funder colleagues through webinars, conference calls, conferences, and shared research projects. HEFN members have catalyzed learning into action, with the support of Kathy and her staff, from mobilizing resources for communities hit by hurricanes or industrial pollution to collaboration through a HEFN working group helping catalyze the 2016 passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act in 2016 updating the Nation’s primary chemicals management law.

Continually challenging herself to understand the complexities of this work, Kathy invited many funders to join her on the journey of seeking best practices and new information on environmental health, environmental justice, and equity issues. Through Kathy’s kind, welcoming, and intellectual spirit, HEFN has become a home for those seeking to know more about the intersections of environment and health, and an opportunity for those steeped in this work to find partners to not only share their knowledge but build long-lasting relationships.

Please join us in sending warm wishes and great appreciation to Kathy for her many years of leadership and many blessings to her for her next adventure. We celebrate Kathy’s achievements with HEFN and know that wherever her path takes her next, those on the path will be very fortunate indeed.

Your partners in health and justice,

Amy Panek, Park Foundation

Jalonne L. White-Newsome, The Kresge Foundation

HEFN Steering Committee Co-Chairs

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