Kathy Sessions

HEFN Position: 
HEFN Executive Director
Email Address: 

Kathy Sessions is HEFN's Executive Director. In 1999 Kathy helped funders create HEFN, and she has worked to build HEFN and environmental health and justice philanthropy ever since.  She oversees HEFN’s programs and services, working closely with staff, funder leaders, and members.  Kathy contributes to HEFN's Giving InSight blog and cultivates collaborative relationships with HEFN's philanthropic and other partners.  

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.  She became HEFN's Executive Director in 2017.

Kathy represents HEFN on the National Environmental Health Partnership Council, National Academies' Environmental Health Matters Initiative Liaison Group, and the MomentUs Climate for Health Leadership Circle.  Her past board service includes stints with the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the National Research Council and the Barbara Smith Fund.  Her past work experience was 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 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 that are making everyday environments healthier in many places.  They are deepening understanding about how the environment affects people's health.  They are accelerating transitions to safer chemicals and materials, cleaner energy, and more resilient communities.  They are supporting grassroots-up organizing, voices of health professionals and people most affected by environmental hazards, and racial and gender equity.  They are helping integrate environmental health and justice into decisions that shape people's opportunity for a healthy life.

Why I Love My Job: 

In over 7,000 days working with HEFN (!) I've seen how philanthropy can expand opportunities 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 environmental health and justice giving, especially to populations and communities most impacted by environmental hazards.  

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

With my family, reading, exercising, or pondering why that 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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