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Children's Health Protection

Health Disparities Workshop Speaker Bios

Devon Payne-Sturges, DrPH
Dr. Devon Payne-Sturges is an environmental health scientist with the U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development's National Center for Environmental Research. She works on critical regulatory and science policy issues at EPA that have an impact on children’s health. She is currently serving on cross-agency workgroups developing agency strategy to reduce mercury emissions and human exposure to mercury, and identifying chemicals with emerging concerns for children’s health. Her areas of research include use of exposure biomonitoring for policy analysis, risk assessment, environmental health indicator development, and environmental health of minority populations. Ms. Payne-Sturges was recently appointed to U.S. EPA’s Risk Assessment Forum and is serving on the Cumulative Risk Assessment Tech Panel. She possesses a Master of Public Health and Doctor of Public Health degrees in environmental health sciences from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Prior to joining U.S. EPA, Ms. Payne-Sturges served as Assistant Commissioner for Environmental Health with the Baltimore City Health Department.


Gee GC, Payne-Sturges D. 2004. Environmental Health Disparities: A Framework Integrating Psychosocial and Environmental Concepts. Environmental Health Perspectives112(17): 1645-1653.

Payne-Sturges, D. C., T. A. Burke, et al. (2004). "Personal exposure meets risk assessment: a comparison of measured and modeled exposures and risks in an urban community." Environ Health Perspect 112(5): 589-98.

Payne-Sturges, D. C., M. Schwab, et al. (2004). "Closing the research loop: a risk-based approach for communicating results of air pollution exposure studies." Environ Health Perspect112(1): 28-34.

Payne-Sturges, D. C. and J. G. Breugelmans (2001). "Local lead data are needed for local decision making." Am J Public Health 91(9): 1396-7.

Gilbert Gee, PhD
Dr. Gilbert C. Gee is an Assistant Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education at the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on racial and ethnic health disparities, with particular emphasis on the roles of social stressors, neighborhood conditions, and racial discrimination. His work also examines the health of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and uses a multi-level approach. He has served as the Program Chair for the Asian and Pacific Islander Caucus of the American Public Health Association and is a board member of the Environmental Justice Initiative at the University of Michigan. He holds a bachelor’s of arts in neuroscience from Oberlin College, a doctorate in Social and Behavioral Sciences from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health and post-doctoral training in sociology from Indiana University.


Gee GC, Payne-Sturges D. 2004. Environmental Health Disparities: A Framework Integrating Psychosocial and Environmental Concepts. Environmental Health Perspectives 112(17): 1645-1653.

Gee GC and Takeuchi DT. 2004. Traffic Stress, Vehicular Burden and Well-Being: A Multilevel Analysis. Social Science and Medicine. 59(2):405-414

Gee GC. 2002. A Multilevel Analysis of the Relationship between Institutional and Individual Racial Discrimination and Health Status. American Journal of Public Health. 92: 615-623

Sean Casey
Mr. Casey is a senior facilitator at ICF Consulting with over 15 years experience in convening and managing a wide range of group processes including program implementation and development, team-related processes (retreats, strategic planning), public processes (citizen forums, public hearings, pubic meetings), and inter-agency and multi-stakeholder forums. For federal clients Mr. Casey has been a facilitator at several multi-year facilitations conducted under the rules of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Although Mr. Casey's experience is across a broad range of technical topics, the majority of his work has involved environmental issues. These include facilitating stakeholder processes for the following EPA offices: Common Sense Initiative (auto sector); Office of Drinking Water; Office of Children's Health Protection; Office of Solid Waste; and the Technology Innovation Office. Mr. Casey has facilitated research agenda-setting workshops on underground storage tanks, environmental health effects on the elderly, environmental accounting, carbon reduction technologies, alternative fuels, and particulate matter. He holds a BA from Merrimack College, an MPP from the University of Michigan, and is a Harry S. Truman Scholar.

Tracey J. Woodruff, PhD, MPH
Dr. Tracey J. Woodruff is a senior scientist and policy advisor in the National Center for Environmental Economics in the Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation at the Unites States Environmental Protection Agency. She has done extensive research on environmental health issues, including health effects from air pollution, children’s health risks, and environmental health indicators. She also works on critical science policy issues at EPA. She has served as an epidemiological expert for EPA in preparation of the regulatory standards for particulate matter and ozone, and co-led the project producing the first national characterization of air toxics across the US. Her most recent work focuses on environmental health indicators for children, including initiating and leading EPA’s work developing measures to track children’s environmental health. This has lead to two reports, the second, "America’s Children and the Environment: Measures of Contaminants, Body Burdens, and Illnesses" was released in spring of 2003. She received her Ph.D. and M.P.H. in the environmental health sciences from the University of California, Berkeley. She completed a Pew Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco, Institute for Health Policy Studies.

Rachel Morello-Frosch, PhD
Ms. Morello-Frosch is an assistant professor at the Department of Community Health, School of Medicine and the Center for Environmental Studies at Brown University. Rachel completed her bachelor’s degree in development economics, a master of public health degree in epidemiology and biostatistics, and her PhD in environmental health sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. She teaches methods courses on environmental health, risk assessment, and policy, epidemiology, and a seminar on the science and political economy of environmental health and justice.

Ms. Morello-Frosch's research examines race and class determinants of the distribution of health risks associated with air pollution among diverse communities in the United States. Her current work focuses on: comparative risk assessment and environmental justice, developing models for community-based environmental health research, science and environmental health policy-making, children’s environmental health, and the intersection between economic restructuring and community environmental health. Rachel is currently working on a research collaborative with colleagues in Southern California on "Air Pollution, Toxics and Environmental Justice." She is also collaborating with Silent Spring Institute in Massachusetts on a community-based household exposure study on endocrine-disrupting chemicals funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.


Morello-Frosch R, Pastor M, Sadd J, Porras C, Prichard M. "Citizens, Science, and Data Judo: Leveraging Community-based Participatory Research to Build a Regional Collaborative for Environmental Justice in Southern California." In Methods for Conducting Community-Based Participatory Research in Public Health. Barbara Israel, Eugenia Eng, Amy Shultz, Edith Parker, eds. University of Michigan, Jossey-Bass Press (forthcoming 2004).

Morello-Frosch RA, Pastor M, Sadd J: "Integrating Environmental Justice and the Precautionary Principle in Research and Policy-Making: The Case of Ambient Air Toxics Exposures and Health Risks among School Children in Los Angeles." Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 2002, 584: 47-68.

Morello-Frosch RA: "The Political Economy of Environmental Discrimination." Environment and Planning C, Government and Policy, 2002, 20:477-496.

Morello-Frosch RA, Pastor M, Porras C, Sadd J: "Environmental Justice and Regional Inequality in Southern California: Implications for Future Research." Environmental Health Perspectives, 2002, 110 (Supplement 2): 149-154.

Morello-Frosch R, Zavestoski S, Brown P, McCormick S, Mayer B, Gasior R. "Social Movements in Health: Responses to and Shapers of a Changed Medical World." In The New Political Sociology of Science: Institutions, Networks, and Power. Kelly Moore and Scott Frickel, eds. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press. (forthcoming 2004).

Pastor M, Morello-Frosch RA, Sadd J: "The Air is Always Cleaner on the Other Side: Race, Space, and Air Toxics Exposures in California." In Press, Journal of Urban Affairs, 2005.

Pastor M, Sadd J, Morello-Frosch RA: "Reading, Writing and Toxics: Children’ s Health, Academic Performance, and Environmental Justice in Los Angeles." Environment and Planning C, 2004, 2: 271-290.

Pastor M, Sadd J, Morello-Frosch RA: "Waiting to Inhale: The Demographics of Toxic Air Releases in 21st Century California." Social Science Quarterly, 2004, 85(2): 420-440.

Mah-J Soobader, PhD
Dr. Soobader holds a PhD in Social Epidemiology from Boston University and is a well-recognized researcher in the field of Income Inequality. Dr. Soobader started her 12-year research career as a lecturer at the University of Durban-Westville in South Africa, where she supervised inter-disciplinary community-based research teams and played a key role in the development of an inter-disciplinary community-based research curriculum. During and following her doctoral dissertation, Dr. Soobader has made important contributions to research in Income Inequality, particularly, on health disparities, geographic differences in health disparities, and consequences of poverty on health. Related methodological research conducted by Dr. Soobader has examined economic inequality as a function of geographic aggregation and the use of geographic aggregates as proxies for individual measures. Her work extends to multilevel social inequalities, race differentials, and adult and child health. Dr. Soobader also maintains close ties to academia as an author and a reviewer of public health articles. Currently, as principal of STATWORKS, Dr. Soobader provides research expertise, guidance, and consulting services in the area of health disparities.


Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Mah-J Soobader, and Lisa F. Berkman. The Differential Effect of Foreign-Born Status on Low Birth Weight by Race/Ethnicity and Education Pediatrics 2005 115: e20-30.

Elizabeth M. Barbeau, Nancy Krieger, Mah-J Soobader. Working Class Matters: Socioeconomic Disadvantage, Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Smoking in NHIS 2000. American Journal of Public Health. 94(2):269-278. February 2004.

Soobader M., LeClere FB, Hadden WC, and Maury B., 2001. Examining the Validity of Using Aggregate Data to Proxy Individual Socio-economic Status: Does the Size of the Aggregate Matter? American Journal of Public Health, 91: 632-636.

Soobader M and LeClere FB, 2000. Going Upstream: Social Inequality and Children's Health commissioned by Critical Public Health, 10(2): 217-232.

Soobader M. and LeClere FB, 1999. Aggregation and the Measurement of Income Inequality, Effects on Morbidity, Social Science and Medicine, 48: 733-744.

Soobader M. and Sheik R., 1993. Transformation of Optometric Education. South African Optometric Journal52(2): 75-76.

STATWORKS is a statistical consulting firm with expertise in health research. Our team of PhD-level professionals has expertise in: social epidemiology, biostatistics, survey methodology, demography, economics and computer science. STATWORKS has provided research expertise, guidance, and consulting services in the area of health disparities for clients such as the National Center for Health Statistics, Harvard University, Stanford University, University of California at San Francisco, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Kirstin Crowder
Ms. Crowder is an Association of Schools of Public Health Fellow at the US Environmental Protection Agency, in the Office of Research and Development. Ms. Crowder graduated with her Master's of Public Health in Environmental and International Health from Emory University in 2004. Her thesis was entitled, "An Economic Analysis of Community-based Water Systems in Lempira, Honduras." Currently, she helps to coordinate the activities of the Environmental Health Workgroup (EHWG) of the Border 2012 program. In this capacity, she co-wrote the "Strategy for Indicator Development" produced by the Border Indicators Taskforce, and with partners at the Health Resources and Services Administration, is writing a cooperative agreement to develop evaluation methodology for community health worker training projects. She is also compiling a community-level data profile of communities selected as pilot study sites for the upcoming National Children's Study. Her professional interests include: community-based research and service provision, environmental epidemiology, economic evaluation of health services, and human rights and health.

Hal Zenick, PhD
Dr. Hal Zenick, Associate Director for Health, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL) in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, has more than 20 years of experience in research in environmental health and risk assessment. Dr. Zenick received his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology/Biology at the North Texas University in Denton, Texas in 1968 and his Post Doctoral degree in Physiological Psychology from the University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri in 1972. Prior to joining NHEERL, he was a Branch Chief in EPA’s Office of Health and Environmental Assessment, Office of Research and Development. Dr. Zenick serves as a U.S. Co-Chair of the Environmental Health Workgroup under the binational U.S.-Mexico Border 2012 Program and serves as EPA’s representative to the U.S.-Mexico Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Health Working Group. Within the Agency, he is Chair of the Agency’s Heath Effects Institute Advisory Board and is ORD’s senior executive lead for environmental justice matters. He has received numerous Agency awards including the prestigious Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award, the ORD Statesmanship award. Recently, he has had a leading role in several emerging programs at EPA including efforts to develop better indicators of public health impact of environmental decisions. In this capacity, he has participated on a number of prominent National and Federal Projects. Dr. Zenick also has the lead for the Office of Research and Development for several cross-EPA/cross-Federal Agency initiatives including the impact of the environmental on the rapidly growing, aging population and the Futures of Toxicity Testing. Dr. Zenick is a member of the Advisory Board for the UNC Business Institute for Science, and the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Board of Scientific Counselors. He is a past President of the Reproductive and Development Toxicology Specialty Section, Society of Toxicology, and a member of the March of Dimes Reproductive Hazards in the Workplace. He has also served on the editorial board of several prestigious journals.


Applying an Environmental Public Health Paradigm to Assessing the Potential Impacts of Air Pollution on Older Citizens, Andrew M. Geller, Hal Zenick, Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association, Nov. 2004.

EPA-ILSI International Biomonitoring Workshop Environmental Public Heath Continuum: Systems Biology Approach. September 2004.

NAS Committee on Toxicity Testing and Assessment of Environmental Agents, Sept. 2004.

2004 National Environmental Public Health Tracking Conference Assessing Public Health Impact of Environmental Decisions Through Information Technology and Research, March 2004.

CENR Update on NAS Project: Future of Toxicity Testing and Assessment, March 2004.

Presentation to the Board of Scientific Counselors, Accountability Initiative: Assessing Public Health Impact of Environmental Decisions, January 2004.

Zenick, H. Integrating U.S.-Mexico Border Environmental Health Data. Invited U.S.A. Keynote Address at Toxicology Has No Borders. The West Texas Regional Poison Center, El Paso, TX, June 23, 1995.

Zenick, H. Role of Research in Addressing Community Environmental Health Concerns: Experiences in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Invited presentation for (1) The Environmental Equity Seminar Series, Duke University, Durham, NC, March 20, 1995; and (2) University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, April 17, 1995.

Zenick, H. An interagency research program to address environmental health issues along the U.S.-Mexico border. Second Annual Directors Symposium of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. Sacramento, CA, December 16, 1993.

Donele Wilkins
Donele Wilkins has over two decades of experience in occupational and environmental health as an educator, consultant, trainer, administrator and advocate. In 1994, she co-founded and currently serves as the Executive Director of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, a non-profit organization addressing urban environmental issues in the City of Detroit. Ms. Wilkins is sought after as a public speaker addressing local and national audiences on topics of community driven sustainable development, environmental justice, and occupational and environmental health advocacy. She has coordinated and organized several conferences and gatherings to highlight the plight of her community. As a consultant, Ms. Wilkins has assisted several community organizations and put them on the correct path towards increasing their capacity to transform their communities. She is a mom of two - which motivates her to change conditions in her community so that they can have a brighter future. With her leadership, DWEJ was able to shut down the Henry Ford Hospital Medical Waste Incinerator.

Donele sits on The Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments-transportation advisory committee; Founder and Co-Chair of the National Black Environmental Justice Network, Colin Powel Academy board of education and many other committees and forums. She is the recipient of several awards, fellowships and special recognition for her contribution on behalf of the community.

Azibuike Akaba
Azibuike Akaba is the Community Technical Assistance Coordinator for the Coalition for West Oakland Revitalization (CWOR). It is a Bay Area community based organization working Environmental Justice, economic development and civil rights. He is currently an environmental consultant and owns his own business: www.icbe.net. International Consultants for a Better Environment. He was the Coordinator of the National Technical Assistance Program (NTAP) for Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) from 1998 to 2003. He provides scientific and technical expertise to community groups addressing industrial pollution problems residential exposure and campaign planning. He had been a staff scientist at Communities for a Better Environment for 7 years. He has provided research for critical environmental campaigns such as: Ban MTBE, Dioxin, etc. He published several articles on Environmental Justice. He published a seminal MTBE report March 2000. He provided critical information for a victory on an international Methanex case in the NAFTA Counsel August 2002. He currently provides technical training on pollution monitoring and toxic site investigation to community groups and grassroots organizations. His particular area of expertise is Toxic Site Investigations. In addition to his work at CBE, Mr. Akaba has worked as Industrial Hygienist technologist, and served as an expert witness on ground water contamination and petrochemical accident related issues. He is a certified medical technologist and hazardous materials specialist.

Bhavna Shamasunder
Ms. Shamasunder is the coordinator of the Environmental Health and Justice Program (EHJ) at Urban Habitat. The EHJ Program addresses the systemic nature of environmental problems and poor health faced by poor communities and communities of color. Urban Habitat, a 16 year old environmental justice organization, works in partnership with low-income communities and communities of color to advance social, economic, and environmental justice in the Bay Area region and beyond. Through advocacy and the promotion of equitable policies, leadership development, research, and participation in strategic coalitions, Urban Habitat helps to build a truly democratic society in which all communities have the power to influence and benefit from the decisions impacting their neighborhoods. Ms. Shamasunder has a Masters degree in Environmental Studies from Yale University and undergraduate degrees in Ethnic Studies and Biology from the University of California, San Diego.


Shamasunder, Bhavna; Precaution as Policy: How advocates are asserting a new standard to protect the environment; in "Race, Poverty, and the Environment" Fall 2003

Garzon, Catalina; Shamasunder, Bhavna; and Mason, Charles; Brownfields Revitalization and Redevelopment: Policy Initiatives and Recommendations; in proceeds of the Second People of Color Environmental Justice Summit; Urban Habitat; October 2002

Shamasunder, Bhavna and Bero, Lisa; "Financial Ties and Conflict of Interest Between Pharmaceutical and Tobacco Companies" Journal of the American Medical Association; August 14, 2002; pp. 738-744

Bunyan Bryant, PhD
Bunyan Bryant, PhD is the Director of the Environmental Justice Initiative at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment. He teaches two environmental justice courses and speaks at college campuses and professional conferences throughout the nation. He is a member of the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund and the United States Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Act Advisory Committee.

Dr. Bryant’s latest interest involves global climate change and environmental justice as he believes that no other issue threatens developing countries and low-income/people of color communities in developed nations more than global climate change. Other research interests include developing case studies on corporate, agency, and community responses to hazardous waste sites. He was co-principal investigator of the University of Michigan 1990 Detroit Area Study on Race and Toxic Waste. A more recent study undertaken with Dr. Elaine Hockman is determining the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color and low-income groups. They are in the midst of completing a book entitled Michigan: A State of Environmental Justice?

Dr. Bryant is currently updating his textbook Environmental Advocacy: Working for Economic and Environmental Justice. He has written the book Environmental Advocacy: Concepts, Issues and Dilemmas and a manual entitled "Social and Environmental Change: A Manual for Community Organizing and Action." He and Professor Paul Mohai edited the book Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards: A Time for Discourse, which has been used widely by lawyers, students, and advocates (Boulder: Westview Press, 1992). Professor Bryant also edited the book Environmental Justice: Issues, Policies, and Solutions (Island Press, 1995). He has written numerous articles for peer review journals.

Dr. Bryant and several of his students held a groundbreaking international Environmental Justice Global Climate Change conference in March of 2004. He organized an Environmental Justice/Philosophy conference for scholars in April 2002, and he co-organized a successful Latino Environmental Justice Symposium held November 2002. Dr. Bryant was the co-organizer of the University of Michigan 1990 Conference on Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards, which had considerable national impact and led to a series of high-level policy meetings with former EPA Administrator William K. Reilly under former President Bush's administration and later with former EPA Administrator Carol Browner. These meetings paved the road for the EPA’s commitment to environmental justice issues and to the creation of an EPA Office on Environmental Justice. Professor Bryant was a part of the movement responsible for former President Clinton's signing of the Environmental Justice Executive Order, which has had a major impact on federal agencies and communities throughout the country.

Dr. Bryant has been a member of the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council for several years. In 1994 he co-facilitated the Symposium for Health Research and Needs to Ensure Environmental Justice, an event sponsored by major federal agencies. Over 1000 grassroots activists, government personnel, scientists, and community academic people participated.

In 2001 Dr. Bryant was awarded the prestigious honors of the Arthur Thurnau Professorship Award and the Harold Johnson Diversity Award. In 2000 he was selected as the School of Natural Resources and Environment Teacher of the Year Award. Dr. Bryant has been a consultant to a number of nonprofit environmental organizations and is continually in demand as an expert lecturer on environmental justice and organizational advocacy.

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