40 under 40 class of 2019Leadville , Colorado
Director of Environmental Health and Health InspectorLake County Public Health Agency
BOLD SOLUTION: Jackie joined the Lake County Public Health Agency as Director of Environmental Health in September 2012 and built from scratch several rural agency environmental programs, including retail food, schools and child care centers, OWTS, radon waste tire, and well water testing.
Five Questions for Jackie
1. Who or what inspired you to enter the field of public health?
I have always wanted to help people. Throughout school I wanted to understand how to prevent illness. I saw a connection between our environment, exposures to hazards, and poor health. I decided I wanted to help others understand these environmental connections too, while working toward prevention of exposure.
2. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I didn’t know, but I always wanted to grow up and help others. At different times, I thought about being a zookeeper, museum curator, fireman, policeman, jet pilot, lawyer, cruise ship captain, park ranger, and a surgeon.
3. Describe yourself in three words.
Passionate. Determined. Protector.
4. What would success in public health look like to you?
A happy, trained public health/environmental health workforce without budget fears, collaborating with a resilient, educated, and knowledgeable community that is empowered to take responsibility for being good stewards of public and natural resources. Prevention and preparation are key. Our workforce would be cross trained with neighboring counties ready to respond to any outbreaks, disasters, or crises that hit the region.
5. What is one of the most interesting projects you’ve worked on in public health? What made it interesting or rewarding?
The most interesting project I’ve worked on is an ongoing multi-year environmental clean-up project that was initiated in 2012 when a child was found with elevated blood lead levels living in a dilapidated house on a three-acre illegal junkyard contaminated with toxins and hazardous waste. In 2015, the EPA helped remove hazardous and toxic chemicals. In 2018, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment helped remove almost 400 tons of waste tires. This multi-year project has removed fire hazards that threatened Lake County critical infrastructures for decades and in 2019, we are still working on legal efforts to get this cleanup completed.