ATLANTA— Georgia State alumna Priscilla Oliver knows first-hand how critical the nation’s experts in environmental health are in the fight to suppress the spread of COVID-19. Recently retired from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Atlanta, Dr. Oliver will soon complete her one-year term as the president of the board of directors for the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA).
“The environment is even more important now than it was two months ago, and our 6,700 members are on the front lines of ensuring it is healthy and safe for our citizens,” said Dr. Oliver. “Since COVID-19 has hit, there is greater recognition of the importance of having safe places to live and visit.”
The NEHA has mobilized to help members and the public understand and combat the coronavirus, closely monitoring it and providing its members and other stakeholders access to critical information and updates while supporting the environmental health workforce as its members effectively and safely do their jobs.
“Our members work hand-in-hand with federal and state entities to address health-related issues in our communities,” said Dr. Oliver. “That includes the FDA, EPA, HUD, Homeland Security, the CDC and many more. Environmental health professionals are involved in keeping our water clean, ensuring the air we breathe is healthy, dealing with hazardous waste, helping disaster relief and keeping beaches safe. They are essential partners in the effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak.”
Dr. Oliver’s storied 46-year career has included positions with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Congress, U.S. EPA, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Morehouse School of Medicine. She was a member of the Journal of Environmental Health’s Technical Editorial Advisory Board for more than a dozen years and a peer reviewer for more than 15 years.
An Alabaman native, Dr. Oliver holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama, an M.P.A. from Georgia State’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (formerly the GSU Policy School) and a Ph.D. from the former College of Education & Human Performance (now the College of Education & Human Development).
Among its many member services, the NEHA provides a credentialing program and publishes the widely respected peer-reviewed Journal of Environmental Health. John Steward, who advises the NEHA on sustainability, is a senior academic professional in the School of Public Health’s Department of Population Health Sciences at Georgia State University.
“I have worked closely with Dr. Oliver for many years through the National Environmental Health Association,” he said. “Dr. Oliver is a great leader and champion of environmental health causes and those working in the field. She is dedicated to improving the health of people throughout the world by addressing environmental hazards, promoting environmental equity and working to make Earth a better place.”
Story by Alison Tyrer