NEHA March 2024 Journal of Environmental Health



Dawn Kiesewetter, MPH Philadelphia Department of Public Health

Please describe any hobbies, activities, or causes you are passionate about. I love to bake and find it to be a great stress reliever. I will often bake for our o‘ce and special occasions—it helps me and every- one really appreciates it. What is one thing that most people do not know about you that you would be willing to share? I have a mini Goldendoodle named Nacho and I absolutely adore him. I love to play and walk with him. I use that time to decom- press, think, and meditate. What accomplishment are you most proud of? Honestly, my children. I love being a mother. They changed my life for the better and I love watching them becoming adults and being able to share in their experiences and sometimes oƒer advice. Pro- fessionally, I am proud of the training and technology initiatives we have been able to provide. We have worked hard to update all of our technology and systems to be more e‘cient and streamlined. We have also been able to provide NEHA membership to all staƒ and the REHS/RS credential to staƒ that qualify. Who do you look up to and why? My parents as they worked hard to advance themselves and their children through various adverse experiences. Throughout it all, they have supported us with whatever they could and never gave up trying to improve and be better. Is there a resource that you use frequently for your work that you would recommend to other environmental health professionals? I would recommend a few books that have resonated with me and remind me of the influences of policy and politics on health out- comes: The Political Determinants of Health by Daniel E. Dawes; Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe; and A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind by Harriet A. Washington. What was the best professional advice given to you? Don’t give up and keep learning. Even if what you are doing does not work, you can still learn something. Your time is not wasted. We thank Dawn Kiesewetter for sharing with us!

The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) is shin- ing a spotlight on the people within our membership through this feature in the Journal . This month we are pleased to introduce you to Dawn Kiesewetter, the director of Environmental Health Ser- vices (EHS) at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health in Pennsylvania. She has been in the environmental health profession for more than 20 years. The mission of EHS is to maintain environments, prevent dis- ease, and promote public health through education and regulation. EHS monitors, assesses, inspects, and educates the public on vector control, food protection, lead and healthy homes, environmental engineering, and tobacco control. As director, Kiesewetter works to ensure that all EHS programs enforce their respective regulations, statutes, and ordinances. This work includes providing the neces- sary inspection and education activities to control environmental health hazards to protect and improve the health of all people who visit, work, play, and live in Philadelphia. Why did you join NEHA and what aspects of member- ship have you found most valuable to your career? NEHA’s mission is to build, sustain, and empower an eƒective environmental health workforce. I think that is important in my organization and I want our team to be a part of NEHA and to have access to the many tools and credentials it oƒers. I wanted every- one in my division to be a member. Membership also oƒers us a chance to interact with other members to see what they have been able to accomplish and the creative ways they are able to enact changes to positively aƒect environmental health. Why did you choose the environmental health field? I feel like it chose me. I realize that my destination has always been to help improve environmental and public health; however, there were numerous detours along the way. For the last 20 years of my career, environmental health has been the focus of my career in the EHS. Starting as a health inspector and working my way up to director, I have observed the impact of regulation and policy to improve indoor and outdoor environments and systems, prevent disease, and education to help correct behaviors and habits that improve health. Throughout the pandemic, EHS was out in the field conducting inspections and enforcing COVID-19 restrictions. This reinforced my commitment to my department and reiterated the importance of strengthening our systems to be prepared for public health emergencies.


Volume 86 • Number 7

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