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CSF Board Members

Alison Johnson, Chair
Topsham, Maine

Varda Burstyn
Peterborough, Ontario

Pamela Gibson, PhD
Churchville, Virginia

Jeffrey May
Tyngsborough, Massachusetts

Karen McDonell
Gig Harbor, Washington

L. Christine Oliver, MD
Boston, Massachusetts

Steven Temes
Red Bank, New Jersey

Robert Weggel
Reading, Massachusetts

   
 
   

Chemical Sensitivity Foundation Board Member Résumés

Alison Johnson, chair of the Chemical Sensitivity Foundation

Alison Johnson, chair of the Chemical Sensitivity Foundation, is a summa cum laude graduate of Carleton College and studied mathematics at the Sorbonne on a National Science Foundation Fellowship. She received a master's degree in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin, where she studied on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. In 2010 she received a Distinguished Achievement Award from Carleton College for her work on chemical sensitivity.

Johnson has produced and directed documentaries titled Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: How Chemical Exposures May Be Affecting Your Health; Gulf War Syndrome: Aftermath of a Toxic Battlefield; The Toxic Clouds of 9/11: A Looming Health Disaster; and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A Life-Altering Condition. The back-cover praise for the latter film includes this statement from Lt. Gen. Ronald R. Blanck, D.O., former commander of Walter Reed Army Medical Center: "I was privileged to work with Alison Johnson as she did research on the role of chemical exposure to the unexplained illnesses of Gulf War veterans. Her works on exposure to toxins and chemical sensitivity with their attendant health effects are landmarks in a poorly understood field. Alison Johnson is clearly a gifted researcher, writer, and film maker."

The books that Johnson has written about chemical sensitivity are titled Casualties of Progress: Personal Histories from the Chemically Sensitive; Gulf War Syndrome: Legacy of a Perfect War; and Amputated Lives: Coping with Chemical Sensitivity. The latter book contains a Foreword by Dr. L. Christine Oliver of Harvard Medical School. For information on these books and DVDs, see www.alisonjohnsonmcs.com.

Johnson also has strong interests in the fields of literature and history and has published three biographies: Wallace Stevens: A Dual Life as Poet and Insurance Executive; Henry James: His Life Revealed Through His Letters; and Louis XVI and the French Revolution. She has also produced and directed a documentary titled The World of Wallace Stevens.

Her family memoir, The Eleventh Hour Can't Last Forever, is endorsed by Warren Buffett.

 
Varda Burstyn

Varda Burstyn is a novelist, scholar, writer, activist, and public policy consultant who was born in Israel, was raised in Israel and Canada, and has lived and worked in Toronto, Tel Aviv, Chicago, Vancouver, Montreal and Cincinnati. Her many early achievements include teaching film studies at Atkinson College and York University in Toronto and writing, researching, and presenting five multi-hour series for the CBC's award-winning national radio documentary program, Ideas, on such varied themes as women's health and environmental health, the politics of sexual representation, the popular culture of Olympic and professional sport, and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

During the early and mid-1990s, the bulk of Burstyn's work shifted to consulting inside Ontario's health care sector, first as a major policy speech writer and then as a policy and change consultant—both at the ministerial level and in regional and community change projects involving multiple initiatives for health reform, including her personal interests in environmental health, women's health, and equity and access issues. From 1996 to 2004 she was Vice-Chair of Greenpeace Canada.

In 1999 the University of Toronto Press published a major scholarly work by Burstyn, The Rites of Men: Manhood, Politics and the Culture of Sport. During the early and mid-2000s, she wrote her first fictional work—a prophetic, fact-based novel of environmental and political suspense, Water Inc., which has now been translated into French, German, and Korean. (Booklist called it: "A smart, sexy, witty, and hard-hitting ecothriller.") During this period, she also wrote several articles about children's health under threat from environmental hazards, which were anthologized in Praeger Press's "Childhood in America'" series.

Since 2008 Burstyn has worked with a variety of allies and clients—patients' organizations, health care providers, government health officials, physicians and others—on an extended project to bring about health care services for victims of toxic injury who suffer from chronic, environmentally-linked illnesses in the province of Ontario.

Burstyn's forthcoming book Upstream will be her second work of fact-based fiction. In this epic work, she uses the eyes of characters who lead the petrochemical world or are caught in different ways within that world to paint a heart-stopping picture of the forces that drive the petrochemical economy—who wins, who loses, and who fights back against the ravages of chemical injury.

 
Pam Gibson, Ph.D.
Pam Gibson, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at James Madison University. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Rhode Island in 1991 and has since studied the life impacts of having environmental sensitivities. Dr. Gibson is the author of the book Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: A Survival Guide, 2nd ed., as well as numerous journal and conference papers. For further information on Dr. Gibson’s book, see www.earthrivebooks.com and for her research, see www.mcsresearch.net
 
Jeffrey May
Jeffrey C. May holds a B.A. in chemistry from Columbia College and an M.A. in organic chemistry from Harvard University. He is Principal Scientist at May Indoor Air Investigations in Tyngsborough, MA and has been investigating IAQ problems in homes, schools and offices for more than 20 years. May is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Work Environment at University of Massachusetts, Lowell; and author or co-author of four books on IAQ published by The Johns Hopkins University Press: My House is Killing Me!; The Mold Survival Guide; My Office Is Killing Me!; and Jeff May’s Healthy Home Tips.
 
Karen McDonell
Karen McDonell, who was a paralegal before a sick building exposure made her chemically sensitive, has been a leading MCS advocate in the Seattle area, where she has assembled a database of over 800 area residents with chemical sensitivity. Her efforts led to the establishment by the Washington Legislature of a task force on MCS. McDonell organized and raised funds for the first Washington State Conference on MCS, which was held in Seattle in 1993 with over 350 in attendance. She also organized a 1996 MCS conference that was cosponsored by the University of Washington, School of Continuing Education, as well as a conference on children's environmental health, and served as the facilitator at these conferences. McDonell is also a long-time board member of the Washington Toxics Coalition.

 
L. Christine Oliver
L. Christine Oliver holds an MD degree from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine Chapel Hill and MPH and MS degrees from Harvard School of Public Health. In 1976 she joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School, and she has been an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine there since 2009. From 1980 to 1996 she was first Co-Director and then Director of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2007 she was appointed Co-Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Occupational Lung Disease. Environmental and occupational lung disease and multiple chemical sensitivity are among her areas of specialization.

For over twenty-five years, Dr. Oliver has been a contributing editor for the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Her many special accomplishments include (1) the introduction of occupational and environmental medicine back into the Harvard Medical School curriculum and (2) the organization of courses that provided the opportunity for both didactic, tutorial, and worksite experience for students, as well as an introduction to medical-legal and political aspects of occupational medicine, aspects to which students would not have had access otherwise.

Dr. Oliver is a frequent speaker at conferences in the United States and abroad. Her clinical practice in the field of occupational and environmental medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital has focused primarily on these areas: (1) occupational asthma, (2) airways disease associated with construction work, (3) asbestos-related disease, (4) chemical sensitivities, and (5) building-associated illness. She has been the lead author on nine journal articles and a co-author on seventeen other articles describing the results of original research in the area of occupational and environmental health.

In 2006 Dr. Oliver received the Cushing-Gavin Award from The Labor Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston for her work with both labor and management in furthering workplace health and safety in the Greater Boston area. She is the only physician to have received this award. In 2016 she received the prestigious Dr. Irving J. Selikoff Lifetime Achievement Award from the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization "in honor of her tireless dedication to increasing awareness about asbestos to eliminate diseases."

 
Steve Temes
Steve Temes, is an industrial hygienist who received a BA degree in Biological Sciences (Pre-Med) from Rutgers College in 1977 and a Master of Business Administration from Monmouth University in 1982. He is the owner of AirWays Environmental Services, where he is an indoor air quality consultant and a Certified Microbial Consultant (ACAC). Temes is active in the Indoor Air Quality Association. He has over thirteen years of experience in industrial and laboratory safety and health and is the co-author of several chemical patents.

Temes is experienced in industrial hygiene environmental risk assessment practices and hazard communication and has served as a consultant to commercial and residential property owners and managers performing investigations of building-related health complaints and analysis of indoor pollutants and HVAC systems since 1990. He has prepared many forensic cause-and-origin study reports as a building scientist in cases of water intrusion/condensation and resulting indoor microbial growth. He has also performed many hundreds of building studies in which occupants had expressed health complaints or concerns, identifying contaminant sources responsible for occupant symptoms and recommending effective corrective action. In his work, he has conducted personal interviews with thousands of individuals regarding their building-related symptoms and has acquired extensive experience with chemical sensitivities and related health issues.

 
Robert Weggel
Robert Weggel received a B.S. degree in physics from MIT and studied applied mathematics on the graduate level at Harvard. From 1966 to 1996, he was an analytical engineer and applied mathematician at the Francis Bitter National Magnet Lab at MIT, where he became the assistant head of the Magnet Technology Division in 1992. From 1996 to 2002, he was a Senior Research Engineer at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he continued to design magnets. He has lectured at dozens of international magnet conferences and has written a hundred peer-reviewed journal articles. He brings to the board of the Chemical Sensitivity Foundation the perspective of a spouse of an MCS patient, and for several years he helped his wife Diane edit the newsletter of the Massachusetts Association for the Chemically Injured. He is also a former treasurer of the New England Chapter of the Sierra Club.


 


 

 
 
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