Environmental Factor, June 2008, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Environmental Justice Grantee to Receive Jane Jacobs Medal
By Eddy Ball
On May 5, the Rockefeller Foundation announced that NIEHS extramural grantee Peggy Shepard was chosen as the winner of the prestigious 2008 Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership. Along with her medal, she will receive a check for $100,000 during a ceremony September 8th at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City.
Shepard is the executive director and co-founder of the non-profit West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT)(http://www.weact.org/) . Started in 1988, WE ACT is New York's first environmental justice organization created to improve environmental health and quality of life in communities of color. According to the Rockefeller Foundation announcement, Shepard is being honored for her work at the forefront of the environmental justice movement for more than twenty years. WE ACT has been recognized as a model for communities throughout the country.
A former Environmental Justice Program grantee, Shepard is currently the principal investigator on an Ethical, Legal, & Social Implications of Genomic Research program (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/programs/egp/elsi/index.cfm) grant monitored by NIEHS Health Sciences Administrator Kimberly McAllister, Ph.D. WE ACT collaborates with the NIEHS-funded Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan and the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health to implement an educational component and a demonstration project in "Developing an Effective Community Ethical Review Model."(http://tools.niehs.nih.gov/portfolio/sc/detail.cfm?appl_id=7120007)
An English major who began her professional life as a writer and editor, Shepard served as the guest editor of a special supplement of Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), "Advancing Environmental Justice Through Community-Based Participatory Research"(http://www.ehponline.org/docs/2002/suppl-2/toc.html) which was published in April 2002. Shepard also collaborated on several articles between 1999 and 2002 that were published in EHP.
Shepard authored "Issues of Community Empowerment" and "The Federal Advisory Committee's Proposal For Justice," Fordham Environmental Law Review, in 1996 and 1999. Her most recent publication was as a co-author of published in the Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine (2006).
The Jane Jacobs Medal is the latest in a long list of honors for Shepard, which include the 10th Annual Heinz Award For the Environment and the State of New York Women of Excellence Award. She is the former chair of the U.S. EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) and a former member of the National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council of the National Institutes of Health.
According to the Foundation's News Advisory, the Jane Jacobs Medal was created in 2007 in honor of the author and activist who died in April 2006 at the age of 89. In the 1950s, when the Foundation launched an Urban Design Studies program that helped foster the emergence of the new discipline of urban design and theory, one of the first grants was awarded to the then-obscure writer from Greenwich Village for the research and writing of a book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (registration required for free online access)(http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/08/17/reviews/jacobs.html) . Almost fifty years later, Jane Jacobs' book is considered by many to be the most influential book written on urban planning in the 20th century.