Major activities and issues in EPA Region 4 include hurricane preparedness and response, Florida Everglades restoration, coal ash, environmental justice, and a host of regulatory activities from air permits to Superfund cleanups. With a mission of protecting human health and the environment, EPA Region 4 is the go-to Agency for science, research, monitoring, and State Agency support. Region 4 is made up of the eight Southeastern States – GA, FL, AL, MS, TN, KY, NC, and SC. In addition, Region 4 works with six Native American Tribes. Beyond the headlines, Mary S. Walker leads the entire Region 4 workforce and the Gulf of Mexico Office to make our world a better place to live.
Mary S. Walker is the Administrator for EPA’s Southeast Region (Region 4). In this capacity, she leads EPA’s efforts to protect human health and the environment in the eight southeastern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee, as well as six federally-recognized tribes. Mary previously served as the Deputy Regional Administrator and Water Division Director in the Region 4 office. In these roles, she worked cooperatively with states to improve coordination and the timeliness of EPA actions, actions she will continue as Regional Administrator.
Prior to her work at EPA, Mary served as the Assistant Director and Chief Operating Officer for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD), where she oversaw policy development and rulemaking for all media, permitting and compliance programs, and for general agency operations.
Mary is a graduate of the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leaders, served on the EPA/State E-Enterprise for the Environment Leadership Council, and represented Georgia on the Southern States Energy Board. She earned an undergraduate degree from Tulane University and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Mary is an Alabama native and currently lives in the Atlanta area with her husband and two children.
This panel will discuss latest research and traditional practices in public health as it relates to lifetime exposures of all possible contaminants. What is Exposome? How is this research used to resolve environmental health issues in the community? How do traditional public health professionals engage with a community to determine exposure? These questions will be addressed by those who design research programs, train professionals, implement community health analysis, and implement federal policy to address a variety of environmental health concerns.
Carmen Marsit’s research, teaching, and service are focused broadly on understanding the molecular mechanisms responsible for mediating the impact of the environment on human disease, utilizing to inter- and multi-disciplinary research methods. His research program has focused on two distinct, yet highly related biologic processes: environmental carcinogenesis and human development. In those settings, he studies a variety of molecular alterations, with a growing interest on –omics technologies, which may be responsible, in a significant part, for cancer, adverse pregnancy outcomes, and common and rare conditions of childhood including obesity, growth, and behavioral disorders. He has significant expertise in environmental epigenomics, incorporating studies of the impact of the environment, including chemical, physical, and psychosocial factors, on the mechanisms controlling the fundamental cellular process of gene expression control, and how alterations or variation to these features impact health and disease. This research program fits at the interface of basic and population sciences, providing a sound scientific basis to studying a mechanism underlying the environmental contribution to health outcomes. The overarching goal of this work is to both provide important biologic and mechanistic evidence to support policies related to the control of environmental contaminants and to provide insights into novel prevention and intervention strategies.
Dr. Marsit received his Ph.D. in the Biological Sciences in Public Health at Harvard University, which was followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard School of Public Health. Through these experiences, he has obtained extensive training and expertise in molecular biology, genetics, epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental health, and cancer molecular epidemiology. Prior to joining the faculty in Environmental Health at Emory in 2016, he held faculty appointments in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Brown University (2007-2011), and in Pharmacology and Toxicology and Epidemiology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth (2011-2016). His research program has been supported by a number of NIH R01 grants, and he participates in NIEHS/EPA Children’s Environmental Health Center Research Program Projects at Dartmouth and Emory, as well as in a number of large, multi-center cohorts and consortium focused on Children’s Environmental Health. He is now Director of the NIEHS Environmental Health Core Center at Emory, the HERCULES Exposome Research Center (P30). Dr. Marsit also has a strong commitment to the training of the next generation of population researchers and now serves as Director of the NIEHS-funded T32 Training Program in the Environmental Health Sciences and Toxicology.
Anthony “Tony” McGaughey currently serves as the Interim Chief Information Officer for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). In this role he is responsible for all aspects of Information Technology (IT) for a department of over 6,100 employees spread out across the State of Georgia.
He previously served as the Applications Director for DPH IT supporting over 40 different public health programs and over 70 systems/applications. In this role he also served as the DPH Program Director for the Georgia Gateway Project. Georgia Gateway is the Integrated Eligibility System for the State of Georgia and encompasses eligibility determination for all social programs, (SNAP, Medicaid, TANF, Childcare, WIC and PeachCare for Kids).
Prior to that, Mr. McGaughey served as the Director of Finance and Technology for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). In this role Mr. McGaughey managed a budget of over $300 million and worked closely with the DPH CIO on all WIC systems/applications. While in the WIC program, Mr. McGaughey was appointed by then Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, to the National Advisory Council on Maternal, Infant and Fetal Nutrition.
Before joining DPH, Mr. McGaughey was the Director of Business and Technology Operations for ARC BIM Services, previously RCMS Group, LLC. Mr. McGaughey has over 35 years of business technology management experience. He earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Georgia State University.
B. Suzi Ruhl is currently Senior Counsel for the US EPA Office of Environmental Justice. She also serves as Co-Chair of the National Environmental Policy Act Committee of the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJIWG). She is Immediate Past Co-chair of the EJIWG’s Rural Communities Committee and former Co-Chair of Team-EJ of the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities. She works to integrate environmental justice in agency decision-making, supports community-based action, and fosters administration-wide action that promotes healthy, equitable, resilient and sustainable communities for overburdened and underserved populations. She catalyzed production of the EJIWG Promising Practices for EJ Methodologies in NEPA Reviews and continues to advance Brownfields to Healthfields (B2H) as an approach to transform contaminated properties into community spaces that strengthen community health, equity, sustainability and resilience for impacted and underserved populations.
Prior to this position, she was the Director of the Public Health and Law Program for the Environmental Law Institute. She is also the founder and former President of the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation, Inc. (LEAF). Ms. Ruhl has been an Assistant Clinical Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the New York State University School of Optometry and has had a Courtesy Faculty Appointment to the Institute of Public Health at Florida A&M University. She is also an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Yale School of Medicine, Child Study Center.
In addition to her law degree, Ms. Ruhl has a Master’s Degree in Public Health (Epidemiology). She is admitted to the bars of the Northern District of Florida and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Dr. Vena is a native of Olean, NY, a graduate of Archbishop Walsh High School and St. Bonaventure University (1975). Dr. Vena received his Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY-Buffalo) in 1980. He joined the faculty at SUNY-Buffalo in 1981 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, being promoted to Associate Professor in 1987 and Full Professor in 1994. While at SUNY-Buffalo, Dr. Vena served in several leadership roles including Director of the Research Program in Environmental and Occupational Health, Director of the Environment and Society Institute, and Associate Chair of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine. In 2003, Dr. Vena was recruited from SUNY-Buffalo to the University of South Carolina, Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health as Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. He remained in that role until 2008, when he was recruited to the University of Georgia College of Public Health as UGA Foundation Professor in Public Health, Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scholar, and Head of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. He also served as Program Director for Cancer Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control at the Georgia Cancer Center. Dr. Vena was appointed as Professor and Founding Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina on January 1, 2014.
A fellow of the American College of Epidemiology and the American Epidemiological Society, Dr. Vena’s areas of research expertise include cancer epidemiology, community-based research, environmental health, epidemiology, occupational health, and reproductive and developmental health. He serves as a member of the American Public Health Association, the Society for Epidemiologic Research and the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology. Throughout his career, he has been a major force and leader in providing the formal mechanisms for structured interdisciplinary graduate training programs and junior faculty mentoring including serving as PI and Co-PI of T-32 training programs and as lead mentor on several K awards. The vast majority of his publications are co-authored with trainees (~70 publications) and junior faculty colleagues (~80 publications). He has 40 years of experience in environmental epidemiology and graduate training, and from 1999-2003 he was part of a team as co-investigator on NIH grants to pioneer integration of biomarkers in epidemiology analytic studies to look at gene-environment interactions, exposure assessments and the use of Geographic Information Systems in epidemiologic research. He was the PI of the large cohort study of Sportsmen in New York, the New York State Angler Cohort Study (NYSACs) 1991-2003 which is still underway. This study has been investigating the body burdens and effects of persistent environmental toxicants in the Great Lakes Ecosystem and exposure from Sportfish eating on risk of adverse reproductive and developmental effects and biomarkers of intermediate effects, including endocrine disruption and more recently cancer risks. As PI on numerous previous CDC and NIH-funded grants from NIEHS and NCI, he laid the groundwork and served as co-investigator for several environmental epidemiology studies in Western NY and in South Carolina, undertaken by mentees where several NIH funded projects are still underway.
He has published extensively in the field of environmental and occupational epidemiology and his studies have included descriptive and analytic studies of air and water pollution, bladder cancer and drinking water contaminants, occupational exposures, health of municipal workers including firefighters and police officers, diet, electromagnetic fields and persistent environmental toxicants. Current grant activities are on the topics of environmental influences on children’s health (ECHO: https://www.nih.gov/echo) environmental determinants of cancer, chronic kidney disease and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); physical activity, stroke and cognitive function; stress and cardio-metabolic disease in police; long-term lung health after exposure to chlorine gas; and health effects of persistent organic pollutants.
Georgia and the Southeast have seen their fair share of natural disasters in recent years, most recently associated wind and flood damage. Hurricanes Irma and Michael, and severe tornadoes make up our recent memories, but severe drought, and other disasters, including pine beetles and fire, have created havoc in the not too distant past. While chaos is managed during natural disasters with evacuations and power shutdowns, the aftermath also includes widespread and sometimes lengthy power outages, crop loss, property destruction, and business disruption. Is that all there is? What’s new? Experts in power systems, agriculture, climate, and economic development will describe cross-sector planning and recovery aspects of resiliency. Impacts on various industries and agriculture will be discussed, along with how major sectors create resiliency and prepare for these events in the future.
A Georgia native, Chris Clark, is the President and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. He received his bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University and his master’s degree in public administration from Georgia College and State University. Prior to joining the Georgia Chamber, Chris served as Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and as Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Economic Development. Before his state service, he was the President of the Fayette County Development Authority and CEO of the Hawkinsville-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce.
Chris serves on the Board of Directors for the Council of State Chambers and sits on the boards of the Georgia Allies and the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. He is also a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Council of 100 and the Political Affairs Committee. Chris is a Trustee of Georgia Southern University and a member of the Board of Visitors for the University of Georgia. He is a graduate of Leadership Georgia and has been consistently named one of Georgia Trend Magazine’s 100 most influential Georgians and one of the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s most influential Atlantans. He received GEDA’s, Zell Miller Public Policy Leadership Award. Chris also serves on the Board of Directors for the Real Life Center a Christian outreach program that provides food, clothing, financial assistance and educational classes for those in need.
Chris and his wife, Tiffany, and their son, Christian, live in Peachtree City and attend Dogwood Church.
Dr. Adam N. Rabinowitz is an Assistant Professor and Extension Economist in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Georgia. Adam holds a B.A. and M.A. in Economics from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Connecticut. His extension program focuses on education, outreach, and applied research of Georgia agriculture with particular emphasis on row crops and evaluation. General research interests are in food and agricultural marketing, policy, and consumer/producer behavior. He has authored numerous publications and participated in national conferences on these issues. With a strong real world emphasis to his research, Adam has presented invited testimony at legislative hearings and meetings as well as serving as an invited panelist at a national conference discussing issues of food security and an invited speaker at a national farm bill conference. Beyond extension and research responsibilities, Adam has taught undergraduate courses on food and agricultural policy, marketing, consumer behavior, and farm management. When not busy at the university, Adam enjoys spending time with his family and encouraging the growth and development of his two children.
Casey Cox is the sixth generation of her family to farm on the Flint River in south Georgia. Her family farm, Longleaf Ridge, produces sweet corn, peanuts, field corn, soybeans, and timber. Prior to returning to the farm full-time, Casey managed the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District, serving as Executive Director for over 5 years. In this role, she developed and directed multiple projects with Federal, state, and private partners and was responsible for procuring and managing over $12 million of conservation programs. She was appointed by Secretary Sonny Perdue in 2019 to serve as Georgia’s Alternate Board Member on the National Peanut Board. She also serves on the American Farm Bureau Environmental Regulations Committee, Georgia Farm Bureau Forestry Committee, and Mitchell County Farm Bureau Board of Directors. She was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal to serve on the Lower Flint Ocklockonee Regional Water Council. She is a member of the Leadership Georgia Class of 2019, a 2016 graduate of the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership (IGEL), and a 2018 graduate of the Peanut Leadership Academy. Casey holds a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Conservation from the University of Florida. Her most significant professional contribution to date was teaching Cookie Monster and Gonger where peanut butter comes from on Season 49 of Sesame Street.
Pam Knox is the Director of the University of Georgia Weather Network, a group of 86 automated weather stations across the state which provide weather and climate data to farmers, utilities, extension agents and private citizens. The network also helps support the National Weather Service by providing real-time weather information in hazardous weather outbreaks. She is an Extension Climatologist and past Assistant State Climatologist for Georgia and has also served in the past as the Wisconsin State Climatologist. Pam is a Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM) and is the President-Elect of the Board of CCMs for the American Meteorological Society.
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