HIA PRACTITIONER PROFILES

Ame-Lia Tamburrini

Ame-Lia Tamburrini’s passion for the human environment began on a 6-month adventure in India where she saw first-hand the impact that environmental and social conditions can have on human well-being. From that moment on she knew that people were her passion and eventually found herself in the field of health impact assessment.

She has led a wide range of projects that assess community well-being, often among marginalized or disadvantaged populations, including seniors, people in low socio-economic brackets, and under-served communities. As an expert on community engagement strategies, she has also co-authored key publications on stakeholder engagement around health issues.

Ame-Lia is currently vice-president of Habitat Health Impact Consulting. Her responsibilities include collaborating with a fabulous group of women on interesting projects, searching for fun and engaging work opportunities, and managing health impact assessments and other population health-related endeavors. Ame-Lia holds a B.Sc. in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo and a M.Sc. in Epidemiology from the University of Calgary.

When she’s not working you’ll find Ame-Lia out exploring her natural surroundings, wherever she happens to be in the world.

How did you get started in HIA?

When I was finishing my master’s degree in epidemiology, I found myself disgruntled with the academic world. All around me I saw so much time and effort and research money going into studies that didn’t seem to impact our greater society in any way, or even be accessible to the greater society. I suppose when I got into research, I wanted to use those skills to do good in the world. I wasn’t seeing that opportunity until a job posting came across on the university listserv – “Habitat Health Impact Consulting seeks wonderful person to use research and evidence to identify unintended positive and negative health impacts of projects, policies or programs… use this information to inform decision-makers about potential health effects… develop recommendations to help alleviate negative health effects and enhance positive health effects…”. It was a job description that pulled on all of my social justice heartstrings. I applied and have never looked back.

What is a piece of advice you would give to someone doing HIA for the first time?

Think about your recommendations first and get acquainted with the decision-makers. I don’t believe in an ‘us vs. them’ approach. Decision-makers are people with real lives in real communities, and most decision-makers can understand various perspectives. If you start to think at the onset of your project about how you can relate the work you are doing to the people you are trying to influence, and what their responsibilities are, you may structure your report, your meetings, your methods in a way that more effectively brings decision-makers into the conversation.

What do you enjoy most about doing HIA?

My favourite part of HIA is having the opportunity to engage with people from all walks of life. In my opinion it is the most important part of any HIA. What I love about this component is that it brings people together – it connects people. When we listen to other people’s stories, it breaks down barriers between cultures, age groups, urban and rural, job status, positions, etc. People in Burkina Faso want the same things as people in Alaska – connections to their neighbours, affordable and culturally meaningful food on the table, safety when walking about, clean air to breathe. I will never tire of hearing these perspectives and sharing these stories.

Fabiola Santiago

Fabiola Santiago is a Research Associate at Human Impact Partners (HIP). Her passion for social justice and public health was ignited through the various experiences she navigated as a formerly undocumented immigrant and as an indigenous woman from Oaxaca, Mexico. These early experiences taught her about systemic oppression and the health inequities that permeate in low-income communities and communities of color.

She received her master’s degree in public health and her bachelor’s degree in sociology from University of California, Los Angeles. After receiving her MPH, she worked at a non-profit research and evaluation organization where she supported community based participatory research projects to develop, inform, and evaluate programs, and services throughout LA County. She utilizes her experiences, learned skills, and her Spanish fluency at HIP where she continues to work on pressing issues.

For fun and self-care she trains in boxing, Muay Thai, and lifting. For relaxation she makes soap, candles, lotions, and loves to experiment in the kitchen with new dishes as well as practice the Oaxacan dishes her mother taught her.

How did you get started in HIA?

I got started in the summer of 2013 as Human Impact Partners’ first Health and Equity Fellow. I led the wage theft health impact assessment, which looked at the health impacts that the proposed Los Angeles wage theft ordinance would have on low-wage workers in the city. I’ve stayed on with HIP as a research associate and continue to support other HIA projects.

Tell me about one of your proudest HIA moments.

It’s always reaffirming to hear partners and community members—people who have suffered the consequences of wage theft—in LA and throughout the state of California say how grateful they are that we conducted the wage theft HIA and how beneficial it is. In fact, the summary of findings from the HIA was included in the state’s wage theft bill analysis.

Getting a shout out from Senator Kevin De León during a town hall meeting was also a highlight. He congratulated HIP on this report and framed wage theft as a health issue in his speech.

What has been an unexpected outcome of your HIA work?

The wage theft HIA was conducted with partners in and on a proposed ordinance in Los Angeles. About six months after the report was released, we were asked by the state-wide coalition working on wage theft if we could participate in some of their communication activities focused on a state-wide wage theft bill. Providing testimony, leave behinds, and meeting with state legislators to present the HIA findings were all integral parts of passage of the state bill in September 2015. This outcome surpassed my expectations, mainly because it was the first HIA I ever conducted, and I was not always certain of its direction.

Katherine Hebert

Katherine Hebert is experienced in healthy community design and a well-known Health Impact Assessment practitioner having personally led 10 HIAs and having served as a mentor for 3 others. Ms. Hebert currently works for the Centralina Council of Governments as a Healthy Community Design Specialist for the Centralina Health Solutions Coalition and their Healthy Environments for Health Equity Project funded through a Plan4Health grant from the American Planning Association.

She is the founder of Creating Community Change Consulting, a consulting firm dedicated to working with communities to make small changes that have large impacts on public health and quality of life. Katherine also created and has served as the lead coordinator for the Southeast Regional HIA Summit, a three-day conference offering HIA training and sessions to increase HIA capacity. As the Davidson Design for Life Coordinator for the Town of Davidson, North Carolina, she led nine HIAs on a wide variety of topics including housing policy, neighborhood design, transit projects, street design, pedestrian and bicycle planning, food systems planning, comprehensive planning, parks and recreation planning, and worksite wellness.

Prior to her work with Davidson, she was an Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education fellow with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention working with the Healthy Community Design Initiative and the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. Katherine has a Masters in City and Regional Planning from UNC Chapel Hill.

How did you get started in HIA?

I first learned about HIA during a 10-week fellowship with the Healthy Community Design Initiative at the CDC in 2010. I had just graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a master’s in city and regional planning and had limited experience in public health. By the end of the fellowship, I had researched 45 HIA guides from around the world, which later resulted in an article in the Environmental Impact Assessment Review. From there I spent another year and a half with the CDC in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity researching and training others in HIA. After that I finally got the chance to conduct HIAs with the Town of Davidson, North Carolina as the Davidson Design for Life Coordinator. Since then I’ve completed 10 HIAs and served as a mentor for three other HIAs on a wide variety of topics.

What do you find challenging about doing HIA?

Personally, I find managing the scope of work for the HIA extremely challenging because I tend to want to look at everything and research new things. Meaningful, on-going stakeholder engagement is also a challenge that I commonly face due to time limitations and lack of inroads with vulnerable populations. Overall, I see conducting HIAs as a giant balancing act requiring project management skills and a willingness to explore different avenues and partner with those you usually wouldn’t have a chance to meet.

What is a piece of advice you would give to someone doing HIA for the first time?

Have fun with it. Usually my number one comment to those I mentor in HIA is “just breathe, it will be okay.” It is easy to become stressed when you are trying something different and out of your comfort zone, but HIA is also an opportunity to view things in a different way and reach across sectors to make a lasting impact on people’s lives. In the end, it’s totally worth your hard work and anxiety.

Sophie Grinnell

Having left school with a handful of qualifications and a year of studying Little Dorrit, Sophie ended up in the leisure and hospitality industry managing restaurants, nightclubs and bowling allies. Whilst she enjoyed it, she decided it was time to go to university. So armed with two small children (aged 1 and 5) she embarked on a Diploma in Environmental Science.

Following this, she attended university completing a Degree in Environmental Engineering, and enjoying it, continued onto a Masters in Water, Energy and the Environment. Her research interest for both degrees consisted of watching grass grow – literally – discovering the first non-genetically modified grass seed that remediated heavy metals from contaminated soil from lead mines. During this she also sold solar panels. Her first ‘post’ university job was as an Environmental Planner submitting planning applications and negotiating 3rd Party Issues.

She then moved onto the position of Health Impact Assessment Officer, leading a Capacity Building HIA Project with Health in All Policies – a tripartite project across a local municipality and local health service, headed up from the University of Liverpool. Her responsibilities included: undertaking HIAs on a range of topics (Housing, Housing Improvement Programme, Cycling and Land-Use); integrating health into a range of impact assessments and strategies; workshop and focus group facilitation; and developing a HIA Screening Toolkit.This project led to a number of invitations to speak at conferences including the WHO. She has also been involved as the HIA expert practitioner for the EU Quality of Life Project.

She is currently a freelance HIA practitioner, whilst undertaking her PhD: “Exploring the Social Health and Well-Being Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing.”

Outside of work her family is a ‘host family’ for foreign students and she also chairs a local youth group. Her hobbies include Barre Concept, being a new runner and attempting to grow vegetables, albeit badly.

How did you get started in HIA?

I sort of fell into the job. I was working as an Environmental Planner and saw an advert for an HIA Officer; they were looking for someone with a planning, environmental, and health background. I had two out of the three: I have two environmental engineering degrees (undergrad and postgrad) and had worked within the planning environment. I got excited – didn’t think I would be successful but I was.

Who do you look up to?

My parents – my mum is a psychologist, she’s my bounce for my HIAs and research, and my step-dad’s business intuition, he’s my critical eye. My PhD Supervisor/Professor who has supported me through all my degrees – entering into university as a mature student, he has always been on my side. My recent move to start my PhD – he was my first point of contact, and he’s supported me from the start. Someone I trust and respect.

What do you enjoy most about doing HIA?

Knowing the HIA recommendations have influenced policy change, and the complexities of the HIAs.


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