Community Outreach & Translation Core



  • Engage with the community and researchers to understand the environmental health and justice needs and concerns of the community. 
  • Communicate and disseminate the Center's children's environmental health and justices (CEHJ) research findings to community residents, policy-makers, health care professionals and the public.


  • Community Advisory and Stakeholders Board, CASB: As key partners, the CASB members identify community needs, assess our annual plan and guide and implement initiatives.
  • CCCEH Youth Advisory Council: The CEHJ Advocates train as peer educators, identify community needs and engage in community educational workshops, outreach activities and community wide events.
  • Communications: Center research is communicated via publications, news outlets, op-eds, Center's newsletter, social media platforms, and through our partners' communication systems.
  • Community Outreach & Capacity Building: Conduct CEHJ Workshops and provide technical assistance to support the developement of a children's environmental health & justice agenda within CBOs, schools and early childhood agencies.
  • Educational Materials Development: Develop & disseminate CEHJ educational materials with partnering agencies and community through workshops, CCCEH website, newsletter and social media platforms.


Anabel Cole, MA, MPH
Officer of Research and COTC Coordinator, CUMSPH

Lariah Edwards, PhD
Associate Research Scientist, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, CUMSPH

Julie Herbstman, MSc, PhD
Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, Director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health, CUMSPH

Carolina Montes Garcia
P30 Center Coordinator, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, CUMSPH
Yoshira Ornelas Van Horne, PhD

Assistant Profesor, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, CUMSPH

Marcela Ortiz y Tamayo, ScD
Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, CUMSPH

Peggy Shephard
WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Executive Director

Maricela Ureño, MPH
COTC Program Coordinator, Center for Children's Environmental Health Director, CUMSPH
Ami Zota, ScD, MS

Associate Professor, CUMSPH, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, CUMSPH

Community Engagement Activities

International - November 2019 - The Center collaborates with Peking University’s College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering organizing the international conference in Beijing. Drs. Tang and Perera were the primary speakers at this conference. Participants in this international conference included representatives from NGOs, the Chinese government, Chinese Universities, and the US Embassy in China, as well as students.The conference included presentations and discussions on the following topics: Epidemiological evidence on the health effects caused by air pollution; Biological mechanisms by which pollution induces adverse health effects; Identifying important risk factors in the environment; Domestic and international health policies. 



Community Engagement Initiatives

Youth Activities  

CCCEH EHJ Advocates

CCCEH “Environmental Health and Justice (EHJ) Advocates” assumed several leadership roles.  EHJ Advocates developed Green Recipe Book, English/Spanish, planned and participated in the Moving Forward to Beauty Justice Conference, College Prep, NIEHS Virtual Workshop and Youth Coalition Earth Month Activities. In addition, EHJ Advocate Interns and Dr. Herbstman presented at NIEHS, “Creating Authentic Partnerships between the (CCCEH) and Community Youth, April 28th, 2022.

Youth Coalition formed April 2022. Earth Month activities included: a park clean-up, community gardening, and Plastic Problem documentary screenings, (English and Spanish), engaged 110 individuals.


CCCEH hosted twelve students, 5 graduate level, 5 EHJ Advocates interns and two high school students.  Deliverables included:  creating public service announcements, (PSAs); conducting CEHJ educational presentations; planning and presenting at CEHJ conferences; a lead water testing project; supporting study participants with access to health services; and implementing the Center’s Child Cosmetic and Body Products Survey. Summer 2022 COTC hosted a Public Health Career Visit for the Dreamer’s Program, including a visit to the EHS METALab.

Our  3rd & 4th Annual College PREP was held for Washington Heights, Bronx, and Harlem Youth. The workshops were held on October 2021, and August 2022 with an average attendence of 27 students.

Community Engagement

Community Advisory and Stakeholder Board (CASB)- Three CASB meetings were held, one was held on June 14th to report back on COTC EHJ Needs Assessment,  the second was held on December 10th   to discuss lead related efforts as per CASB feedback and the third CASB was held on  May 6, 2022, at which NYC Department of Health conducted a session on Lead regulation and Tenant Rights as per our CASB member request. Our CASB has also hosted the majority of our CEHJ educational sessions during this time.

CEHJ sessions (90) were conducted across COTC initiatives, with over 950 attendees.

Moving Forward to Beauty Justice Conference collaboration with Columbia NIEHS P30 Center and WE ACT, over 95 attendees. Conference Partners.

Air Pollution and PAHs Report Back Session was conducted with CCCEH study participants and research partner Oregon State.

Educational Resources

Healthy Home Healthy Child, Mandarin pamphlets now available in print. COTC EHJ Community Needs Assessment 2021 is available on our website.


April-May 2020 - Leveraging web and social media communications in order to increase public engagement, revitilize our virtual presence and further environmental health and justice.  

March 18, 2020 -Youth Activities and Youth Council Development - Electronic surveys were sent to youth to explore interest and translation opportunities. The first meeting is set for March 18th, 2020, to discuss project activities and strategic plan. In person gatherings due to COVID-19 were cancelled but Ms. Cole coordinates and conducts virtual meetings.

January to March 6th 2020 - Environmental Health and Justice Bilingual-Spanish workshops focusing on the harmful effects of toxins and pollutants in utero and on the developing child have been conducted in partnership with our new CASB members. Ms. Ureño conducted eight of the fourteen scheduled sessions, prior to Covid-19 outbreak, at which 239 individuals attended. Topics included: Healthy Child Healthy Home presentations on: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, PAH, PBDE-flame retardants, BPA-Bisphenol-A, Phthalates and Personal Care Products, Pesticides and Integrated Pest Management, Lead and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, (as per agency request), and Climate Change, Air Pollution and NYC Clean Heating Oil Campaign.

February 2020 - Community Advisory and Stakeholder Board (CASB)-More than a dozen new members from various organizations joined the center’s CASB. Members reviewed the strategic plan and identified activities for collaboration. As a result, the Center has held workshops at the following member organizations: Intermediate School 143 Parent Association, PS 278, the Lang Youth Program and NYP Washington Heights WIC Staff Training. Scheduled upcoming workshops include: West Harlem Head Start, Isabel Senior Center, Healthy Women Healthy Families Manhattan Bronx Doulas, and Lang Parents.


November 13, 2019 - Beauty Inside Out-Health Risks associated with Personal Care Products-Uptown Chats organized by WEACT in partnership with Columbia’s NIEHS Center for Environmental Health and the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health held a second panel discussion on personal care products. The focus is to increase awareness on the issue and its impact on communities of color, and set the stage for our work to further advocacy and policy development. The panel featured: Freelance Beauty & Lifestyle Writer Blake Newby as the moderator, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health’s Assistant Professor of Epidemiology Dr. Jasmine McDonald, WE ACT’s Director of Environmental Health Lubna Ahmed, Follain’s Store Educator Kiana Michaan, and WE ACT’s Director of Federal Legislative Affairs Kerene Tayloe.  

September 2019 - Burning Dirty Heating Oil Infographic -In support of the NYC Clean Heat Program, the Center in collaboration with WEACT completed a bi-lingual English/Spanish heating oil infographic to raise awareness among tenants and property owners to transition building heating oil from #6 and #4. These are cheaper dirty oils that increase air pollution, affect human health and the health of the planet. The aim is to inform and mobilize communities in Washington Heights, Harlem and the South Bronx to move to #2 heating oil, a cleaner burning oil, natural gas and renewable energy.  The infographic is in print and is being disseminated in-person and through virtual outreach events to engage community members and legislative leaders. 

September 30, 2019 -Roundtable Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, WE ACT, and the NIEHS Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan hosted a day-long discussion titled Energy, Health, and Justice on at the EPA Regional office in NYC. The discussion focused on the impacts of the current energy system on the health and well-being of low/moderate income people to ensure environmental justice in these communities. The convening aimed to achieve the following goals: 1) share research on how our current energy system impacts the health and well-being of low to moderate income residents and environmental justice communities through a series of presentations; and 2) establish a common platform for health-based policy recommendations through a series of facilitated dialogues. The roundtable discussion was widely attended by stakeholders from various sectors.

January 15th, 2019 - Beauty Inside Out-Health Risks associated with Personal Care Products, Community Briefing was co-hosted by the Center, WE ACT and the Northern Manhattan Center for Environmental Health at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The goal of the briefing was to share research findings with community members, health care professionals, advocates and other stakeholders. This briefing focused on research related to health risks from exposure to chemicals present in common personal care products. 

January 26th and February 7th 2019 - Mobile Application Assessment  - Focus groups were conducted with mothers from the cohort to help determine which of the available APPS facilitated information for consumers to assess products and toxicity. Detox App was the preferred App. The Detox APP will be suggested to participants attending our workshops as a helpful tool families can use to help them assess both home cleaning and personal care products.  

May 2019 - Columbia University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs hosted forum titled Housing New York: Policy Solutions Towards Equity and Affordability- 5th Annual Policy Forum for Elected and Appointed Officials. Dr. Diana Hernandez, COTC Director was a faculty panelist at the forum.


Fall of 2018 to Fall 2019 - Collaborative Translation Activities with WE ACT - WE ACT collaborated with the Center to communicate Environmental Health and Justice findings through a number of meetings, briefings, and educational trainings and workshops. These include the following:

  • Community Board 12 Meeting - Lubna Ahmed, WE ACT’s Director of Environmental Health, and Kim Burke, CCCEH’s former Program Coordinator, presented on the topic of heating in the Washington Heights and Inwood neighborhoods of Northern Manhattan. Approximately 20 participants attended.
  • Environmental Health and Justice Leadership Training (EHJLT) - WE ACT incorporated information on heating oil into their EHJLT curriculum in Spring and Summer of 2019. This program is taught at a high school in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Northern Manhattan. Approximately 100 students participated.
  • WE ACT Educational Workshops from August and September 2019 - We ACT integrated information on heating oil into their sessions in the Inwood neighborhood of Northern Manhattan. These efforts are part of WE ACT’s work to develop an action plan that addresses the health impacts of climate change on the community of Inwood. Approximately 70 individuals participated in the workshops.
  • March 19, 2018 - Community Briefing- Science to Action in Reducing Environmental Health Risks was hosted together with WE ACT.  Gina Lovasi presented findings from the policy project evaluating the benefits of specific clean air policies in New York City and the extent to which all communities in New York City experienced benefits. Dr. Julie Herbstman discussed her experience sharing personal exposure results with participants as a way to improve environmental health. Peggy Shepard shared updates on local and national policy changes and the passage of the Asthma Free Homes bill by New York City Council. Attendees included: representatives from the Bronx Borough President’s Office, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Habitat Map, Mount Sinai Hospital, and local community members.