Executive Summary



In exploring the possibility of a partnership council, RESOLVE interviewed eighteen EH experts to identify

  1. priorities and gaps within the EH field;
  2. the various players and their roles;
  3. the potential support for a partnership council.

This summary highlights key points from the interviews and is intended to inform a partnership council planning discussion. The development of a partnership council is a joint effort between APHA and RESOLVE, funded by and on behalf of NCEH/ATSDR.

Challenges in the EH Field

  • The EH field is fragmented, lacking organization and a core constituency. Strong leadership would help the field to coalesce.
  • There is broad agreement that outreach to the public is inadequate. There is a need to shape a coordinated, cohesive, and compelling message about the importance of EH and the services provided by organizations in the
  • Funding is critically important. The economic climate and budget cutbacks are threatening to stymie or even reverse EH programmatic progress at federal, state, and local levels. There is a need to advocate for both EH policies and funding.
  • The EH workforce is under stress. Layoffs, furloughs, funding cutbacks, retiring Baby Boomers, and a lack of EH education in high school and college threaten the future viability of the EH workforce.

Potential Roles for a Partnership Council

  • Coordinate Policy Advancement
    A number of interviewees said that a partnership council could be a mechanism for creating joint policy recommendations and statements and advocating for EH programs in an effort to protect them from budget cuts.
  • Create a Unified Voice for EH
    Most interviewees felt that a partnership council could serve as a “voice” or “face” for the field. A key activity for it would be developing and telling an effective EH story.
  • Enhance Communication Between NCEH/ATSDR and the EH Field
    An overwhelming majority of interviewees felt that a partnership council could increase bidirectional communication between NCEH/ATSDR and organizations in the EH field. Interviewees envisioned a partnership council that brings the field’s work and current and emerging priorities to the attention of NCEH/ATSDR, and vice versa, in a solutions‐oriented, open, and collaborative dialogue.
  • Facilitate Coordination among All Levels of Government
    In the long term, a partnership council could help improve communication and coordination among federal agencies such as EPA, NIEHS, HUD, USDA, FDA, as well as state, local, and international EH organizations.
  • Develop Research Priorities and Lead Implementation into Practice
    A partnership council could set a research agenda as part of their policy work. For example, it could take the lead in highlighting cutting‐edge research and thinking creatively about solutions to reduce toxic exposures. It could also sift through emerging research and active programs to identify best practices and a comprehensive approach to designing safe and healthy communities.

Creating an Effective Partnership Council

  • The overwhelming majority of interviewees were supportive of the formation of a partnership council.
  • nterviewees were adamant that a partnership council be high‐impact and transformative; if it is not an agent of measurable change in the field or becomes a burden on partner organizations, support would quickly erode.
  • If the partnership council is to have a broader focus than NCEH/ATSDR EH issues and is to be sustainable in the long term, it will need to gather support from foundations and other federal agencies. Funding is crucial issue and must be resolved quickly for the partnership council to be a viable entity.
  • Interviewees voiced support for a small, diverse steering committee to guide the development of the partnership council.
  • A strong, well‐respected leader(s) should be identified to drive the steering committee and push work forward.

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