Keeping PRHE running smoothly

PRHE’s success and effectiveness is not just due to our scientists, but also because we have a team that includes the best in making organizations be their best. Meet members of our Operations Team who work behind the scenes to support and grow our mission:

Alana D’Aleo provides general operating support to PRHE and is also project manager of the UCSF EaRTH Center that launched in 2020.

Anne Sausser coordinates communications and was a co-founder of PRHE’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

Kristin Shiplet is PRHE’s long-time Associate Director of Operations and Development.

Q. What brought you to PRHE and do you have a personal connection to this work? 

Anne: I grew up next to a gigantic orange grove in Southern California where there was open spraying of pesticides. On hot days we would cool off in the creek unaware that the water contained pesticide run-off. We didn’t know about the potential health effects of those exposures back then. Working at PRHE allows me to contribute to a greater public understanding of the connections between health and the environment.

Kristin: I have always worked in nonprofit management, and when I first learned about PRHE eight years ago, I just loved what they do. This job has given me the opportunity to help address reproductive health challenges that so many face and to reshape our thinking that the disease is not the fault of individuals, but rather polluting industries. I love working for an organization whose goal is to hold industry and government accountable, and establish systemic ways to protect people from dangerous chemicals.

Alana: I first came to PRHE because I wanted to be part of an organization that was making a difference, although I didn’t understand the gravity of chemical exposures at the time. It’s amazing to work with brilliant researchers and now I’ve become the houseguest that will tell you to throw out your nonstick pans and plastic containers.

Q. What does the Operations Team do exactly?

Kristin: We touch all aspects of PRHE’s work from development to HR to grants to project management, to data collection and reporting. We provide support and we problem solve. Essentially, none of PRHE’s work could happen without the structural foundation that the operations team provides.

Anne: We are also responsible for promoting our work culture here at PRHE. For example, we launched a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee to help us be more thoughtful about how we address environmental justice and health equity in today’s social justice landscape. We thought it was important to provide the means for our staff to collectively help with solutions around DEI issues.

Kristin: We also have three additional members that comprise our amazing Ops Team: Allison Rozema, who provides executive support to Tracey and supports me on fundraising; Andrea Phillips, who supports the Science & Policy team, and Ariel Eastburn, who supports the Research team.

Q. Alana, you helped launch the UCSF EaRTH Center. What is it and what are you trying to achieve?

Alana: We aim to embed environmental health across UCSF and in the medical field more generally. We achieve this through fostering cross-discipline collaborations and providing educational and mentoring resources for early investigators and health professional students. We also offer lab services, consultation, and funding for pilot projects that grapple with new or challenging environmental health questions. With a membership of over 70 researchers, 30 active research projects, 8 health professional students and 4 advisory committees, I always have plenty to coordinate.

Q. Anne, what do you do for communications and why is that important to PRHE’s work?

Anne: I provide project coordination for the team which includes behind-the-scenes work on our website, blog, and social media. I also do graphic design and work closely with our communications consultant to translate and promote PRHE’s work. Our communications are about making sure the work our researchers and others do has the greatest impact possible.

Q. Kristin, you lead Operations as well as Development. How does PRHE raise the funds needed to do its work?

Kristin: People may not know that PRHE needs to raise all of its operating budget and government research grants do not always cover this very important work. So we are always working to engage with funders to support our critical infrastructure, policy, and communications. We are well known for our capacity to serve the field and be at the leading edge of new work, such as our recent public opinion survey which showed strong bi-partisan support for keeping people safe from harmful chemicals. Many of our projects couldn’t happen without forward-thinking funders who value protecting communities from toxic chemicals.

Alana: I’ll also add that every member of our Operations team works on grant applications which can take hundreds of hours, coordinating with dozens of people, and have specific federal and university requirements that need to be complied with. We manage the entire process from start to submission, and provide data, graphics, and edits. Making sure grants are submitted on time and correctly is essential to keeping the lights on.

Q. You all have been at PRHE for many years. What growth have you seen and how has PRHE’s work changed?

Kristin: When I started, we were a team of 12 and now we’re a team of 29, so we’ve grown significantly. Our operating budget has more than tripled in the 8 years I’ve been here, and we’ve grown our funding base which has enabled us to take on exciting new projects.

Alana: The EaRTH Center has expanded PRHE’s reach as our investigators work in climate, water, plastics, and more. The Center has also allowed us to engage more directly with the community whether we are funding a community-led research project, placing health professional students with community organizations, or working with our researchers to translate their findings for communities. And we’re still growing!

Anne: Operations has also had to change because of the growth. When we were small, we could fix things as we go, but now as a larger organization, we have to rethink our systems and plan more deliberately, which is what our team does – keeps the machine running smoothly.

Kristin: And we’re fortunate to work for an organization that values operations as a partner and team player in decision-making. Thinking three steps ahead and ensuring everyone can do their best work is essential to our mission to research chemical harms, drive policy action, and ensure a healthier environment for all.