HEFN Extends Best Wishes and Gratitude to Long Serving Steering Committee Members

December 17, 2020

HEFN has been fortunate to have the steadying presence of its small and mighty Steering Committee amidst this unprecedented year of challenges. As 2020 winds down, HEFN wishes a fond farewell to Steering Committee leaders whose terms end this year, and extends deepest gratitude for the myriad contributions they’ve made to the HEFN community. (Image by athree23 from Pixabay


Andrea Bretting, senior program officer at Claneil Foundation, has been an invaluable asset to HEFN for nearly a decade. The commitment and humanity she brings to the work is really a gift to us all. She has been a steady, insightful and balancing presence on the Steering Committee throughout her three terms. Her knack for building relationships has been vital to the Membership Committee’s recruitment of new members, which she boosts with an unwavering focus on HEFN’s commitment to racial equity. HEFN’s Finance and Governance committees have also reaped the benefit of her wise counsel, as have the numerous annual meeting planning and program groups to which she’s contributed her expertise. (Photo: Andrea Bretting, left, with Christine James, at HEFN’s 2015 Annual Meeting.)

Christine James, executive director at the John Merck Fund, departs the HEFN Steering Committee after three terms plus a one year extension. Christine’s “straightforward New England thoughtfulness” has graced and advanced HEFN’s Diversity and Grassroots, Membership, and Development Committees’ work. She’s contributed her expert perspective of a major national funder of environmental health and chemicals policy to planning many annual meeting programs and other program webinars. And as a veteran of HEFN’s Catalysts group she is a cornerstone in HEFN’s innovative major donor and toxics work to bring significant new investments into the field. 

Jalonne L. White-Newsome, senior program officer at The Kresge Foundation, steps down as HEFN Steering Committee co-chair, a role she filled during her second term. Thankfully, Jalonne will remain on the Steering Committee for a third term, and HEFN is grateful for her continued contributions both as co-chair, and to the Personnel and Governance Policy committees. Jalonne is a stalwart leader in HEFN’s climate, health and equity work through her representation in the field writ large in her role with Kresge’s Climate Change, Health and Equity Initiative, and as powerful supporter of HEFN’s annual meeting planning and related programs. Thoughtful, kind and open-hearted, Jalonne also has the ability to ask the most incisive question that dives to the heart of the matter, whether on programming, organizational management or the important work of building relationships. (Photo: Jalonne L. White-Newsome, left, with Amy Panek, at HEFN’s 2019 Annual Meeting.)

Welcome to Ogonnaya Dotson Newman, senior program officer at The JPB Foundation, HEFN’s new co-chair for 2021. One year into her first term on HEFN’s Steering Committee, Ogonnaya joins current co-chair Shorey Myers, executive director of the Jenifer Altman Foundation. Ogonnaya has already brought fresh energy into HEFN through her participation on the annual meeting planning committee and as a skilled session moderator who shines both in person and virtually. Her penchant for making connections and commitment to expanding racial equity and diversity within the environmental health and justice field is an invaluable asset to HEFN’s membership committee. Ogonnaya was also one of the core funders of the Lead Funders Action Network convened initially by JPB, the Joyce Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and supported by HEFN. (Photo: Ogonnaya Dotson Newman at the 2019 HEFN Annual Meeting.)

We are excited that our Finance committee will continue to benefit from the critical and creative thinking of Andrea and our former Steering Committee co-chair, Amy Panek. Amy is the senior program officer at the Park Foundation who stepped down as co-chair at the end of 2019. Amy served three consecutive two-year terms on the Steering Committee and has taken on about every leadership role possible in HEFN. She supported HEFN through many annual meeting planning committees, contributed her expertise to the personnel, finance, governance review committees, and chaired the Search Committee for HEFN’s new executive director. Happily, Amy --  who is prized for many qualities including being highly productive, well-organized and calm -- also continues her HEFN involvement as co-chair of its Past Petro working group. 

On behalf of the staff, Steering Committee, and all of HEFN’s members, thank you Andrea, Christine, Jalonne, Ogonnaya and Amy for your dedication and commitment to HEFN and environmental health and justice!


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