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  • September 2022


Susan Kaplan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   by Sally Kerschner, VtPHA Board  Secretary

When Susan first moved to Vermont, she emailed us at VtPHA offering to assist with our Policy Committee. A follow-up phone call helped us realize Susan’s deep knowledge of environmental issues and her significant body of research on environmental toxins. Susan, a lawyer by training, specializes in environmental health with expertise in PFAS. She has written regulations for OSHA, worked in energy policy at the Kennedy School of Government, and researched brownfield contaminants. Presently, she is consulting for the Toxics Use Reduction Institute of UMass Lowell and teaching at the University of Illinois’ School of Public Health. Susan also writes for the Environmental Health News and for PEER, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Susan and her family are in a process of moving their household from Chicago to Burlington, Vermont.  Her knowledge of environmental threats informed her 

 thinking about the least risky areas of the U.S. in which to live and raise her family. She and her husband chose Vermont for many factors, such as the air quality, projections of less severe weather extremes, and a non-coastal state. Susan’s two sons enjoyed the summer in Vermont but are now back in Chicago for school. Susan’s husband, is also involved in a socially focused occupation of developing affordable housing.  

Susan is excited to be in Vermont and wants to learn more about the tension between economic growth and environmental actions such as Act 250. She is active in the APHA Environment Section, having been chair of their policy committee for two years. Susan emphasizes she has found great community through APHA, and is thrilled to get involved with VtPHA.

To connect with Susan, search for her contact information in our Member Directory

Check Out Our New Social Media

And Please Like Us!

We have recently updated our Facebook and Twitter pages to include new images, posts about local events and more. Check us out!

ARTICLE 22 / PROP 5     

by Sally Kerschner, VtPHA Board Secretary

This spring’s SCOTUS unprecedented decision to overturn Roe v. Wade dealt a severe setback to reproductive rights, and set the stage for further threats to established practices such as access to birth control and also gay marriage. In response, we in Vermont have a historic opportunity to strengthen reproductive liberties. The Vermont Public Health Association strongly supports the passage of Article 22 (Prop 5) which will be put to Vermont voters on election day, Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

If passed, the Reproductive Liberty Amendment will amend Vermont's constitution to protect every person's right to make their own reproductive decisions, such as whether and when to become pregnant, use temporary or permanent birth control, or seek abortion care. We encourage public health professionals to educate themselves about the importance of this amendment in assuring reproductive choice for all Vermonters. If passed, Vermont could become the first state in the nation to explicitly protect reproductive rights in its constitution and pave the way for other states to do the same. For more information on Article 22, click here. Please also refer to the  VtPHA policy on Women’s Reproductive Health and the APHA statement on the overturning of Roe v. Wade.





September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    by Molly Lawrence, VtPHA Board Member

Important efforts are underway in our state to raise awareness and prevent suicide. Here are some recommended resources and updates from local initiatives:

  • The Chittenden Accountable Community for Health (CACH) has focused on suicide prevention over the past 3 years. CACH has three Action Teams. The teams are: Reducing Stigma, Screening and Intervention, and Social Connectedness. 
  • The Screening and Intervention Team recently provided a training at an Adult Primary Care site. The training focused on the use of evidence-based tools that screen for suicidality and support individuals through safety planning. The team has a follow up training soon. 
  • The Social Connectedness Action Team recently concluded a pilot that supported older adults who met a particular threshold on the UCLA Loneliness Scale. The feedback from participants was excellent and 50% of participants had a lower score (better) on the loneliness scale than before participating in the pilot. Lastly, data shows that the construction industry has one of the highest rates of death by suicide. 
  • The Reducing Stigma Team is currently gearing up to support a local construction company by way of training and awareness. To learn more visit: www.cachvt.org.
  • Strengthening and aligning suicide prevention resources is one of three main priorities of United Way’s Mental Health Initiative. Their Suicide Prevention Action Team is bringing together Vermonters across a variety of sectors including direct care providers, school principals, leaders of community associations, neighbors with lived experience, and others. The team has been meeting within a collective impact framework to learn more about successful prevention, intervention, and postvention strategies. Their stated goal is to prevent deaths by suicide in Vermont by increasing access to equitable and sustainable resources that promote safe and connected communities. The Team also aims to improve coordination among similar efforts that Action Team participants are engaged in with different audiences. Visit their webpage to learn more and sign up to receive updates and/or join an Action Team.


The VT Public Health Institute recently gathered to develop their Strategic Plan with an incredible Public Health stakeholder group. Thank you to all who were able to attend and provide incredible thoughtful input and perspective to help further VtPHI’s strategic priorities and plan.


Thank you to Ashley Foutz our amazing Treasurer!

We wish you the best of luck on your next adventure and thank you for an incredible job!

You went above and beyond. We will miss you.

Save the Date: The annual Team Up Action Conference will be held virtually Friday, December 9, 2022. This annual event is cohosted by the Public Health Associations of Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire. This year's conference theme is Covid Pandemic and the Public Health Action: Rebuilding Through Alliances to Promote Health Equity. The Team Up Take Action conference convenes public health and health care professionals, community activists, and health advocates to advance best practices and build collective capacity to improve community health through partnership.

The conference was developed in response to a growing recognition that an interdisciplinary, coordinated, cross-sector approach is necessary to improve health equity and convenes public health, healthcare, and human and social service professionals to build bridges, understand each other's perspectives and learn best practices in cross-sector partnership and teamwork. The audience is professionals in public health, healthcare system, social services, community-based organizations, and students preparing for careers in all sectors.

As of this writing, the keynote speakers are being confirmed and several breakout sessions are being designed - all to create a day of stimulating and innovative thinking for those of us who practice in health and community health in Northern New England. For more information and to access future registration process, visit the NH Public Association website.

The Vermont Community Health Equity Partnership (VT CHEP), funded by the CDC Health Equity Grant, is an initiative directed by the Vermont Public Health Institute via the VtPHA. VT CHEP works with Local Collaboratives in the Vermont Department of Health's twelve Districts. These groups review their communities’ health inequities (with special emphasis on those disproportionality impacted by the pandemic) using both quantitative and qualitative data, and are assessing their regions’ existing engagement in addressing inequities.

They will soon begin to offer grants to local organizations, totaling $150,000 per district. To the extent possible, these funds will engage local residents working to address systemic inequities. Each district has local people paid by the Health Equity Grant called “Integrators”, following the Collective Impact Model. The Integrators guide the local vision and strategy, support the activities and strategies, and promote community engagement and ownership. To learn more visit the Vermont Public Health Institute or review the VT CHEP Logic Model.

VtPHA Policy Committee Update

by Theo Kennedy, VtPHA Board Member, Policy Committee Chair

With approximately one third of the Senate incumbents and one quarter of the House incumbents vacating their seats this election cycle, the upcoming legislative biennium, starting in January 2023, will be full of new energy and vision; at the same time, it will take a while for new members to acclimate to their roles and as such the first ½ of the biennium is likely to get underway at a slower pace than some past years. There are still large amounts of one-time COVID-response dollars to be allocated, and a lot of work to be done to move our climate action plan meaningfully forward. Public health is more relevant than ever in public discourse and we’re hoping to continue to shape a more equitable future across our communities and healthcare delivery systems.  

In the VtPHA Policy Committee, we recently forwarded, and the Board adopted, two policy statements, using our updated template, one on school health and the other on universal school meals. We are continuing to work on policy statements concerning gun-related violence and manganese in infant formula. The Policy Committee welcomes your participation on the second Tuesday of each month from 4:30pm - 5:30pm on Zoom (Meeting ID: 890 9329 2305; Passcode: 368361). All are welcome!   

Know Someone?

We would love to have you invite a friend, co-worker, or family member who would benefit from being a VtPHA member. Please invite them to join - just share this link.

A Message from VtPHA President Ken Allen

Hello Members,

As many of you are aware September is National Suicide Prevention Month. For a state that leads the nation in so many health outcomes the data related to suicide is alarming. The data is clear, Vermonters are suffering greatly when it comes to suicidal ideation, self-harm, and suicide. The VtPHA recognizes the need to address this issue and the root causes. In May the focus of our Annual Meeting was youth mental health where a panel of public health, healthcare, and education professionals discussed the current status of youth mental health in Vermont and strategies for addressing the crisis. See other posts in this newsletter about the work being done across the state to reduce suicide and resources available. The Vermont Public Health Institute continues its work on increasing health equity through community driven approaches to address disparities in access to the social determinates of health which are essential to people’s ability to thrive and which support and sustain us when times are tough. Learn more about the VT Community Health Equity Partnership here. This month we will continue to develop policy statements and work on advocacy efforts related to mental health and suicide prevention. We need your help. If you have an interest in these issues, we would love to hear from you, and ask for your participation in enhancing our policy and advocacy related to this and other important issues.

We are also actively recruiting new board members. We are particularly interested in board members who bring diverse perspectives from traditionally underrepresented groups. If you have a desire to help us continue our mission of improving the health of Vermonters, or know of someone who does, we want to hear from you. Please reach out directly to me at Kenneth.allen@uvm.edu or our Operations Manager, Cathy Aikman, at caikman@vtpha.org.

Thank you for your continued support of the Vermont Public Health Association.


Kenneth Allen      

Speak for Health Campaign

Each August, during the summer recess, APHA requests that the affiliates contact their respective representatives and senators to update them on current public health policy priorities. With the help of our two summer interns, Chloe Jackson and Madi Sandy, we composed and sent letters to the health policy specialists within the offices of Representatives Welch, Senator Leahy and Senator Sanders. This year’s message included the following requests for congress from APHA:

  • Increase and protect funding for vital public health agencies and programs and strengthen the nation’s public health infrastructure.
  • Uphold the Affordable Care Act and expand access to health coverage and services.
  • Address the health impacts of climate change.
  • Advance racial equity.
  • Uphold and strengthen critical public health laws and regulations and reverse damaging rollbacks.
  • Address the nation’s gun violence epidemic.

Many of these areas align with VtPHA’s current public health policy priorities.

2022 APHA Candidates

Effective Sept 1, the candidates for APHA office including the President Elect and Executive Board are able to campaign. You may find information on the candidates here. Within APHA, officers and other leaders are elected during the Governing Council Meeting which will occur November 8th this year. If any VtPHA members wish to share thoughts about APHA candidates please send them to me at burton.wilcke@uvm.edu.

Region 1 Meetings

The Region 1 ARGCs will be meeting twice before the APHA Annual Meeting in Boston in November. The group is still exploring ways to better coordinate and work with the HHS Regional Office on matters of mutual interest. If there are other suggestions for regional topics to address, please let me know. Again, I can be reached at burton.wilcke@uvm.edu.

Indigenous People's Day

October 10, 2022

                                                                                                                                                                                                       by Sally Kerschner, VtPHA Board Secretary

Monday, October 10 is Indigenous Peoples Day and the VtPHA invites our members and colleagues to celebrate this holiday that honors our area’s original inhabitants. Indigenous Peoples Day has been declared a national holiday by President Biden and is intended to counter the long standing Columbus Day holiday. In 2019, Vermont officially began to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. Here is a partial list of resources and events:

  • The VtPHA land acknowledgement statement is: "We recognize that we live and work in Wôbanakik*, Dawnland, the historical and current unceded homeland of the Abenaki people."
  • Listen to the Vermont Public Brave Little State interview with Mali Obomsawin, an Odanak First Nation musician
  • Visit the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Ferrisburgh VT and see the exhibit, “Nebizun: Water is Life,” that illustrates the Abenaki relationship with water and its importance to the health of the world. Assembled and curated by Abenaki artists and artisans of the Champlain Valley
  • View the presentation “Abenaki in the Champlain Valley: Historical, Current, and Future,” by Judy Dow, Executive Director of Gedakina. Find the link on the website of the Ferrisburgh Town Conservation Commission
  • Visit the website of Gedakina, an organization that provides resources for Native American youth, women, and families in New England.
  • Explore the website of the Vermont Indigenous Heritage Center
  • View the resources at the Vermont Department of Health website
  • Check out the resources at Atowi, an Elnu Abenaki community initiative based in Brattleboro

About the association

VtPHA is a membership organization which facilitates collaboration among people who care about public health and are interested in protecting and promoting the health of Vermont residents.

VtPHA is an Affiliate of the American Public Health Association (APHA). APHA is the national voice of public health and champions the health of all people and all communities. They are the only organization that combines a 140-plus year perspective, the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health and a member community from all public health disciplines and over 40 countries. Learn more at www.apha.org.


Vermont Public Health Association
P.O. Box 732
Burlington, VT 05402-0732

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