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Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN)

Posted By Rebecca Ruggles, Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013

By Rebecca Ruggles
Consultant, The Green Funders Affinity Group, Director, Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN)

ABAG is hosting a new project these days. If you check the project tab on our website, you’ll see the Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN) has been added. It was already impressive list: the Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative, the Baltimore Integration Partnership, the Maryland Community Foundation Association, and the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative.

I’m the Director of MdEHN, a project that grew out of my work with the Green Funders, an ABAG affinity group focused on the environment, sustainability and community greening. Betsy Ringel and Lara Hall at the Blaustein Philanthropic Group, and Margie Roswell with the affiliated Roswell Family Fund, were instrumental in educating me about how environment and human health are linked.

With Blaustein Philanthropic Group support, and former ABAG President Betsy Nelson’s blessing, we launched an exploratory project in the winter of 2012. We wanted to find out if there was a need for a forum to discuss and take action on environmental health issues in Maryland.

The answer came back "Yes” in the form of robust attendance at our monthly meetings, and the almost instant formation of a strong Steering group representing health professions, consumer groups, health advocates, and Maryland based organizations addressing aspects of environmental health.

By spring of 2012, we morphed into the Maryland Environmental Health Network. We began working on our first publication over the summer. We hired a second staff member in the fall, and became a formally sponsored ABAG project by the end of 2012.

As our work has expanded and taken on a life of its own, I’ve been fascinated by how our four funders have each contributed to filling out our agenda in a way that mirrors the concerns of the organizations and professionals who have joined the Network.

The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation gave us a firm focus on toxics (including both chemicals in consumer products and pesticides). The Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund added an emphasis on how child welfare is linked to environmental factors.

The Abell Foundation funded our Children’s Environmental Health Specialist who focuses on enhancing environmental health education in City Schools. And the Town Creek Foundation pushed us to think about advocacy and to bring our health perspective to bear on a range of statewide environmental issues. Town Creek also helped us publish our Children’s’ Environmental Health Progress Report, which has proven to be a valuable tool for both policy discussions and outreach.

Without any one of these funders, MdEHN would be a different project – or perhaps not be happening at all.

We’re excited to be officially a member of the ABAG family this year and look forward to what’s ahead in 2013.

Tags:  Environment  Eye on Philanthropy  March 2013 Members' Memo  MdEHN 

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