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Strategic directions for the coming year.

By the time you read this column, we will have concluded a wonderful and unique NEHA Annual Educational Conference (AEC) in Anchorage, Alaska. President Ebelherr will have passed both the gavel and the duties of the NEHA presidency to me, and I now face the daunting responsibilities that go with the honor of being your president for the coming year.


When I was informed of my election to the position of second vice president, Past-President Tony Aiken reminded me that "a lot of people have put their trust in you." Believe me, I take that admonishment seriously. I feel that the last three years have given me insight and experience in the running of your organization, and I will do everything in my power to show you that your trust has not been misplaced.

More than anything, my tenure on the board of directors (BOD) has shown me that the national officers have demonstrated a great resolve to support each other's goals and aspirations for NEHA. Working together with a very diverse and informed group of elected environmental health professionals who serve as your regional vice presidents, we have overcome many an obstacle-strewn course of action in the last couple years, the results of which were well thought-out, rational, and in the best interest of NEHA.

Following the strategic directions provided by the BOD, the NEHA staff has performed admirably well this past year, and I look forward to continuing this spirit of cooperation. I know that this is the year that all our planning will come to fruition and that these actions will begin to show intriguing results. I sincerely believe that you will be pleased with the outcomes.

First and foremost, we are starting to see the results of many long hours of planning and partnering with various nongovernmental organizations and selected governmental agencies and departments. These groups share our interest in providing education and training to a modern public health workforce that will be able to respond to events that may be thrust upon us. Workshops on timely, topical issues have already been held around the country, more are in the planning stage and will be held in the near future. New technology provides new opportunities to get such information to all public and environmental health personnel, no matter where you are located, so that you can be ready to respond to everyday public health and environmental protection challenges, knowing that you can use these same principles and techniques for any natural or manmade disaster. This is but one of our continuing goals to reach out to you, the NEHA member.

Furthering NEHA's communication with its members is a process that was emphasized by Doug Ebelherr, our immediate past-president. I will certainly continue these initiatives, particularly the Presidential Newsletter. I have also pledged to have NEHA keep its membership informed about pertinent and time-sensitive information via e-mails. I believe that we can find a method to provide you with a membership list through a secure, privacy-protected, "members-only" section of the Web site. How many of you have ever seen NEHA's constitution and by-laws? I hope to have them posted on our Web site as well. Considering good ideas to improve the relationship between members and their organization is a top priority of the officers and members of the BOD. Of course financial considerations accompany most of these initiatives. But while finances are important, they are not necessarily the controlling part of the review of any such ideas. We want you to be proud of "your professional organization." I have pledged to do everything in my power to realize that goal. Together we can do it.

Another NEHA initiative, through the BOD, is building a stronger relationship with schools of public and environmental health. We need to help these schools reach young and energetic students and entice them to pursue degrees in the environmental health sciences and aspire to become environmental health and safety professionals. Workforce development is going to be critical as the many "seasoned" veterans of past public and environmental health battles begin to retire. We need to show students the value of our profession and invite them to participate in our organization. I will particularly seek advice from past presidents, emeritus faculty, and our industry affiliate members to identify sources of funding to support greater student involvement in our AECs and other regional and local public and environmental health training efforts. Your ideas on how to accomplish this task will be greatly appreciated.

Above all, we want to keep NEHA financially sound. By doing so, we can increase our influence in developing policies that relate to our profession and provide training for our members to enhance protection of public health and safety.

Finally, in the coming issues of our Journal, I will share with you ideas that may be somewhat different from those presented in the past. Because of my experiences in public, occupational, and environmental health and safety. I may relate stories about massage parlors. Mardi Gras, and plasmapheresis centers in New Orleans, or perhaps the unique health and safety issues I have encountered working in jails, prisons, and psychiatric custodial-treatment facilities. I plan to treat you to an occasional analogy related to my favorite sport, baseball, as a way to illustrate various public health and safety points of view. I hope to keep these columns interesting and focused and I also hope that they will generate dialogue in new areas of environmental health practice. Stay tuned!

Did you know

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James Balsamo, Jr., M.S., M.P.H., M.H.A., R.S.
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Title Annotation:President's Message
Author:Balsamo, James, Jr.
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jul 1, 2004
Previous Article:The new challenge facing us and NEHA's response.
Next Article:Too much of a good thing (fish): methylmercury case study.

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