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Nursing alum honored by White House

July 10, 2013

Laura Anderko earned an MS in Nursing from NIU

Laura Anderko, PhD, RN, has been named a Champion of Change in the category of Climate and Health by the White House. She and other champions were recognized at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House July 9.

Assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Howard K. Koh told the champions he is humbled by their work.

“You have to be someone willing to take a risk despite overwhelming odds,” he said.  “You have to be someone willing to step into the fray and make a difference, and declare that the status quo is unacceptable.”

While at the event, Anderko shared with senior officials her views on protecting public health in a changing climate.

“I am honored to be acknowledged for my work in raising awareness and advocating for policy changes that will protect the public’s health in light of climate changes,” Anderko said.

Nationally known for her environmental work, Dr. Anderko earned her Master of Science in Nursing (Specialty, Community Health) from Northern Illinois University’s College of Health and Human Sciences in addition to a Ph.D. in Public Health and B.S. in Nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She holds the Robert and Kathleen Scanlon Endowed Chair in Values Based Health Care at Georgetown University’s School of Nursing & Health Studies.

She is a scholar and educator in the fields of epidemiology, public health and environmental health. A Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellow, Dr. Anderko previously served on the Environmental Protection Agency’s federal advisory committee, the Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC) and currently serves on its National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee Research Workgroup. Dr. Anderko also serves as a member of the Regional III Health Equity Council for HHS, chairman of the board for the national group, Alliance of Nurses for a Healthy Environment, and as a member of the advisory group for the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health.

Laura Anderko was honored by the White House as a "Champion of Change" July 9. (Photo courtesy Georgetown Univ. Medical Center)

Laura Anderko was honored by the White House as a “Champion of Change” July 9, 2013. Photo courtesy Georgetown Univ. Medical Center

Anderko has conducted research, published widely, and been interviewed by the media about a range of public health issues, including the human health impacts of climate change. She regularly speaks out on climate change issues, including providing testimony to Congress. She most recently was a panelist during a webinar for the Climate Reality Project on the role of health care professionals in mitigating climate change. She has received the Health Care Without Harm Charlotte Brody Award for her advocacy work in environmental health and is a member of the Health Care Without Harm Nurses Working Group in addition to serving as chair of the Board of Directors of the Alliance of Nurses for Health and the Environment.

Through the Champions of Change initiative, the White House recognizes individuals for extraordinary work in their communities on a variety of topics, according to the initiative’s website.

In addition to her national work, Anderko is a member of the advisory committee for the Environment Initiative and teaches courses on health disparities and environmental justice at Georgetown.

“People are involved in climate change, but they often don’t understand the health implications,” she said.  “A prominent event like this is a great opportunity to raise awareness.”