NEHA Announces Winners of the Environmental Health Innovation Award

NEHA Innovation Award

The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, is pleased to announce the winners of the Environmental Health Innovation Award. This award recognizes environmental health professionals who have used innovative environmental health services or strategies to improve the health and well-being of their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

State, tribal, local, and territorial agencies with an environmental health program were eligible to apply and submissions were evaluated based on how well they achieved the following objectives:

  • Addressed health equity gaps during the response to COVID-19.
  • Enhanced workforce capacity.
  • Reached new populations through virtual or distanced encounters.
  • Developed new strategies that accelerate public health goals.
  • Changed the procedures for inspections, data collection, or other job functions or processes.
  • Created or utilized new systems.
  • Worked with different cross-sector partners within the agency, department, city, or state to accomplish environmental health functions and services.

We thank all who submitted innovations and congratulate the following winners:


Gold Innovation Award Winner

Organization: Louisiana Department of Health

Project: Virtual Asthma Home Visit Program

Submitter: Dr. Runa Bakshi, Section of Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology Program Monitor


Silver Innovation Award Winners

Organization: South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

Project: Food Service Facility Inspections and Lead Risk Assessment

Submitter: Mary Ramirez, Training Coordinator


Organization: Seattle & King County Public Health Department

Project: Homeless Shelter Indoor Air Quality

Submitter: Dr. Shirlee Tan, Toxicologist


Bronze Innovation Award Winners

Organization: Alexandria Health Department

Project: ALX Promise Program

Submitter: Rachel Stradling, Environmental Health Manager


Organization: Boulder County Public Health

Project: Oral Culture Train-the-Trainer Program

Submitter: Shawna Johnson, Food Safety Team Lead


Organization: Oneida Nation of Wisconsin

Project: Safe Business Certification

Submitter: Vanessa Miller, Sanitarian


Honorable Mentions

Organization: Colorado Department of Public Health

Project: Virtual Childcare Inspection Program

Submitter: Amy Gammel, Childcare and Schools Program Coordinator


Organization: Bucks County Department of Corrections

Project: Environmental Health Controls During COVID-19

Submitter: Dr. Robert Powitz, Forensic Sanitarian


Organization: Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Project: Remote Lead Risk Assessment Staff Training

Submitter: Christine Lilek, Training Coordinator


Organization: University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Project: Wastewater Sampling Program

Submitter: Dr. Crispin Pierce, Professor


Organization: Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health

Project: Virtual Plan Review Program

Submitter: Jonathan Rubingh, Environmental Health Program Manager




Release Date: 
Monday, June 28, 2021