by Jeff Masuda
Effective March 1st, 2013, Tara Zupancic will be concluding her role as Associate Director with The Centre for Environmental Health Equity in order to pursue other career and life opportunities. On behalf of CEHE students, staff, and supporters, I would like to thank Tara for her major contributions to advancing environmental health equity over the past six years.
From the beginning, Tara has been instrumental in laying the foundation upon which CEHE now stands. As co-founder of our network, it has been Tara’s steady vision and determination to build a pan-Canadian constituency of like-minded scholars and advocates committed to addressing the many gaping gaps in research and policy attention in this country around the environmental health and wellbeing of our most vulnerable citizens.
Tara and I began working together in 2007, when I was a new postdoctoral fellow at the McMaster Institute of Environment and Health and she was a long-time advocate in the area of children’s environmental health as well as an MPH student in the Health Promotion specialization program at the University of Toronto. Very early on, we both agreed that the “environmental health” research field was overly fragmented, which to us, seemed to provide an all-too-convenient excuse for inaction in both environmental and health policies at all levels. Working to do something about this fragmentation, we set out to document the state of environmental health research in Canada over the last quarter century as a backdrop for a national priority-setting workshop, held in Hamilton in 2007. This early work is now published in the Canadian Geographer (Vol. 52:4, 2008), co-authored with our mutual mentors Blake Poland and Donald Cole. The workshop, which brought together dozens of Canada’s most enthusiastic researchers, students, and policy influencers, resulted in the creation of a new national network, at the time called the Canadian Network for Environment, Health, and Social Equity, whose participants went on to undertake further research and capacity building initiatives together, many of which are still bearing fruit today.
Following these early successes, Tara went on to conclude her Master’s degree, part of which included a senior level practicum that, fortunately for me, led to a second opportunity for us to work together. This time focusing on multi-method research on environmental justice issues in Parkdale, Toronto, Tara assembled an amazing team of community researchers to investigate the underlying inequities that are responsible for manifest differences in environmental conditions between wealthy and poor neighbourhoods in that city. The results of this work led to numerous recommendations for local policymakers, and are available on this website (www.cehe.ca/thesickcity). The findings of this work are also published in Social Science and Medicine (vol 75:7, 2013).
With years of experience and an MPH in hand, Tara was gracious enough to forego the likelihood of well-paid and secure employment in order to continue the adventure of “network building” with me – all the while with scarce resources and a highly uncertain future. The formal launch of CEHE in 2010 was only possible through Tara’s commitment to the long game as well as her instrumental role in shaping our next big project – Knowledge Leaders in Children’s Environmental Health. Now in its final year, this project has already led to yet further momentum building, now with the support of 21 extremely talented emerging leaders in environmental health research, policy, and advocacy. These leaders are putting their talent to work on some of the most egregious inequities in children’s health in this country (see www.cehe.ca/postprogram). Of course, along the way, you will find many other building blocks of CEHE’s success, including Tara’s gift for incisive blogging and social media advocacy scattered throughout this website, as well as her relentless networking on behalf of our collective cause.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and I wish Tara well on her next adventures – let’s just hope that they are not too far afield! While she will be sorely missed, she departs only after personally ensuring that all the pieces are in place for CEHE’s continued reinvention and success.
Read:: Tara Zupancic’s Blog
Direct Link: www.cehe.ca/tarazupancic
More than a colleague – a mentor and friend.Submitted on Fri, 22/02/2013 – 8:39am.
Congratulations Tara – your huge accomplishments have moved you into another phase of your professional and personal life. I am a firm believer that we must embrace change as it fosters limitless positive growth. I’ll miss our conversations and unique brainstorming sessions but your positive attitude and smart demeanour will stay with me for life.
I truly look forward to your next innovative and collaborative adventures!
All the best TaraSubmitted on Fri, 22/02/2013 – 10:18am.
Although we didn’t get a chance to know you very well, we will be indebted to you for the opportunity that your hard work provided to the Knowledge Leaders and our wonderful week in Vancouver. The research opportunities that are emerging from that week will be a lasting legacy.
Diana (Dee) Lewis-Campbell
Transformative conversationsSubmitted by on Mon, 25/02/2013 – 12:01am.
We have spent hours communicating and although we have never met in person, your presence has changed my life. You have a way of phrasing questions that for me have fostered new ways of seeing the world. When in doubt, I will sometimes refer to our discussions and remind myself of new possibilities. Thank you for all of your generous and genuine support. As for your work on Knowledge Leaders, congratulations on the outcomes of your *tight* project management skills! I am impressed by all of the growing projects and wonder where it will all lead. It has already led to a shift in my role on community projects towards a stronger emphasis on equity. I am thankful for the opportunities this has opened up.
Wishing you continued prosperity!
FarewellSubmitted by Guest on Mon, 25/02/2013 – 8:50am.
I just want to say thank you…you are inspiring! (and of course, the best of luck and safe travels as you exlore new opportunities)
All the Best, TaraSubmitted by on Mon, 25/02/2013 – 9:47am.
Wishing you success a little bit of luck, good health for you and your family, and most of all, ‘endless energies’ for your new professional and life adventures.
i believe without you ‘Vancouver’ would have perhaps less or not at all possible.
We all had a great time there.
Still hope to hear from you once in a while,
if you can drop us a line. Who knows, maybe we will see and meet you again.
Its been a pleasure to get to know you.
Have a great journey!
We’ll miss you!Submitted on Mon, 25/02/2013 – 11:12am.
Thank you for our conversations, your wisdom and guidance, as well as the inspiration you fill those around you with. You are an incredible teacher and friend, and I look forward to hearing about the next steps of your journey.
All the best and a million thanks.
Seeds sown with loveSubmitted on Tue, 26/02/2013 – 2:10am.
Sometimes people come into your life and as a result, you are forever changed for the better. You are one of those people in my life. It was clear from day one of my interaction with you at CEHE that equity was not just a concept for you, but a deeply held belief and beautifully executed practice. I have been privileged to benefit from your wisdom, vision, generosity and compassion. Meeting you was like encountering a wind of courage and strength that has gently blown me in the direction of my best self. Your intelligence and talents can not be denied, but I believe it is this gift of helping those around you to bloom into their most precious predestined radiant selves that is your greatest asset. The passion you have for creating a better, healthier, more equitable world is obvious and you have the commitment to make that vision a reality. Just as I have no doubt that my life is abundantly blessed for having met you, I have no doubt that the next chapter for you will be a fruitful one. Thank you for the beautiful glow that is your presence and the warmth of your heart which helps to heal and nurture everything around it. May you continue to soar and may we all work together for the better world we all so richly deserve.
Connecting!Submitted by Guest on Thu, 28/02/2013 – 10:18pm.
Tara, Success & Happiness in your next endeavours!
You are a key role player at Where the Children Play in Parkdale, I trust our paths will connect again soon.
A message from TaraSubmitted on Sat, 23/03/2013 – 10:52am.
by Tara Zupancic
This is long overdue and I’ve been in touch with many of you directly but I just wanted to say thank you so very much for the warm wishes and messages. Friendship has shaped every opportunity I’ve been given, and I am incredibly grateful.