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MCN advocate to be recognized for improving lives of workers

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Amy Liebman photo

Environmental and Occupational Health leader “driven by sense of justice,” mixes policy with practicality

The American Public Health Association will recognize Amy Liebman, MCN's Director of Environmental and Occupational Health, for her innovative and outstanding efforts to improve the lives of workers.  Liebman will receive the 2011 Lorin Kerr Award, an annual APHA Occupational Health and Safety Section accolade for an activist’s sustained and exceptional efforts to better the lives of workers.

“Amy has forced many to open their eyes to the environmental and occupational health risks of migrant workers,” said Celeste Montforton, PhD and lecturer with the department of Environmental and Occupational Health at George Washington University. Montforton was one of four members of the OHS Section who nominated Liebman for the Kerr Award.

As a public health professional Liebman has devoted her career to improving the environmental and occupational health of vulnerable immigrant communities and workers through innovative education and policy initiatives.

“I am driven by a strong sense of justice for the people who harvest our food and build our homes. A safe work place is a fundamental human right and populations who are working out of desperation deserve the same protection afforded to other workers,” Liebman said.

According to Dr. Rosemary Sokas, Professor at Georgetown University, Liebman has been an effective activist because of her ability to mix practicality with policy. Liebman paved the way “to connect clinicians to the needs of seasonal farmworkers and has worked to incorporate prevention messages into training at health centers [who serve migrant communities],” Sokas said, who also nominated Liebman for the Kerr Award. 

Ms. Liebman works throughout North America to help clinicians and community health centers incorporate environmental and occupational health perspectives into the primary care.

She has been a national leader in advocating for the use of the “Promotores de Salud” model, an innovative community training method applied throughout the world that empowers lay health workers to improve health and access to health care.  Liebman was involved in award winning programs that engaged community health workers to help families along the US-Mexico border who lived in neighborhoods that lacked running water and sewerage systems. This model is now widely used in the US to educate migrant workers and communities with knowledge and resources about environmental and occupational hazards and best practices to reduce risks.

Lorin Kerr was a lifelong activist and served for over 40 years as a physician for the United Mine Workers. He was dedicated to improving access to health care for coal miners and other workers, as well as obtaining compensation for and preventing black lung disease.

Ms. Liebman will receive the 2011 Lorin Kerr Award at the APHA annual meeting in Washington DC. The Occupational Health and Safety Section will present this award during its award luncheon from 12-2 pm on November 1 in Room 152A of the Washington Convention Center.

The American Public Health Association aims to protect families and communities from preventable, serious health threats. Through APHA’s Occupational Health and Safety Section, the organization provides leadership and expertise on occupational health matters, recognizing the intrinsic link between the work environment, and the health and safety of families, communities and the environment at large.



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