Kathy Sessions's blog

A HEFN Farewell

In 1999, Michael Lerner at the Jenifer Altman Foundation and his colleagues were concerned that the health of people, wildlife, and ecosystems all were being harmed by toxic pollution, but they saw philanthropy divided by human health and environmental interests. They hired me as a part-time consultant to help them launch a new funder network, to build bridges across environmental and health philanthropy and to expand philanthropy's investment in environmental health. There's only one way for me to wrap up the experiences of the past two decades: with gratitude.

Gifts of Leadership

As the HEFN staff revs up for 2018, we are grateful for the opportunity to work with this phenomenal grantmaking community, at a time when mobilizing resources for health, the environment, and equity matters more than ever. Recognizing the talents, wisdom, and energy of HEFN’s members is a reminder of our collective strength and potential. So here’s a hearty THANK YOU to everyone who has stepped up and pitched in to provide critical leadership through HEFN's Steering Committee for this network.

Using Low-Cost Technology to Democratize Data and Protect Public Health: Case Studies in Pittsburgh

Over the past several years, the Environment & Health Program at The Heinz Endowments has prioritized work to help the Pittsburgh region become truly livable. But it is hard to imagine how a city with dirty air, a notably toxic built environment, safe drinking water challenges, and other environmental health issues is most livable. In response, the Endowments has supported numerous efforts to develop low-cost technologies and data visualization platforms that reveal environmental conditions and can be used by the general public, educators, advocacy groups, and policymakers.

Our Climate Change And Health "Moment": How Philanthropy Can Help

Some would say that the climate change and health connection is having its “moment.” It could not have arrived too soon. Environmental funders have, to a large extent, provided the primary philanthropic support for fighting climate change. That may be changing, though—climate change is the existential threat of our time, and health philanthropists are starting to realize that climate change has the ability to overwhelm the substantial progress we have made in improving human health and extending longevity.

Fortunato Farewell

Thank you and we’ll miss you, Karla! This month, the HEFN staff and members bid farewell to Karla Fortunato, who just left HEFN’s staff to become the next President of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy. For the past thirteen years, Karla was an invaluable part of the HEFN staff team, providing leadership as the network grew in members and staff, expanded its issues of focus, and evolved towards a new strategic direction.

Beyond Rogue One: What Science Fiction Can Tell Us About Resisting Trump and Supporting Social Movements

I’m obsessed with analogies. I feel like I can’t claim to understand a given issue unless I can describe it effectively using an analogy that’s both intuitive and provocative (and hopefully positively delightful to boot). I’m also obsessed with science fiction. And so, inspired by Terry Marshall’s excellent piece on what progressives can learn from mixed martial arts and game theory, I thought I’d share a science fiction analogy that I’ve found to be quite useful when discussing the dynamics of “movement moments,” i.e. moments of exponentially increased political activity or re-alignment.

Silence

Lately I have found myself stupefied into virtual silence. And I know, from speaking with many colleagues and many of you reading this, that I am not alone.

Lead Poisoning: Forgotten But Not Gone

Question: When is achieving 97 percent of a goal not good enough? Answer: When the unfinished 3 percent represents over half a million lead poisoned children. Just as America has set other big goals, we must return to the “forgotten but not gone” tragedy of lead poisoning and declare as a nation that we will end childhood lead poisoning in 5 years. 535,000 children are waiting for us to stand up together and say, Yes we can!

Vision, Tenacity, Service Honored in 2016 Pearl Award

The Cornell Douglas Foundation is very pleased to announce the recipients of the fourth annual Jean and Leslie Douglas Pearl Award of 2016. The award is given to organizations and to individuals who are dedicated to improving the lives of others and to providing a sustainable earth for future generations. Despite challenges, they are committed to act as catalysts for positive change, and determined to promote the rights of individuals to live in a world with clean water, air, and sustainable land. The Cornell Douglas Foundation applauds its recipients’ unique vision, tenacity, and extraordinary accomplishments.

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