Image by Alex Shutin

Our Mission

To build a network of clinician leaders advocating for climate change solutions that protect the health of our patients and communities.

Our Vision

 

Clinicians have the knowledge and mission to play a vital role in protecting the health and prosperity of Virginia’s families and communities from climate change. VCCA brings this critical perspective to climate-related policymaking in our state.

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Our Values
 

Climate Change and Health - Climate change is real and a threat to the health of all Virginians.   VCCA focuses on protecting the health of our patients and communities through education, community outreach, and advocacy around climate policy solutions.

Clinician Voice - Health professionals from a demographically, geographically, and clinically diverse range of all medical disciplines, as trusted messengers in society, have a stake and a voice in the subject of climate change and health. 

Nonpartisan - VCCA is not a partisan body.  We focus on climate and health. We support laws and initiatives that promote the health of our patients and communities through climate friendly policies.

Justice - Climate policies should consider factors related to social justice sensitive to the needs of underserved communities who too often bear a disproportionate burden of negative health impacts due to climate change.

Health Focus – Though a healthy environment is fundamental to health,  VCCA’s expertise and focus lies in the policies and programs that explicitly address the human health impact of environmental policies.

Evidence – As members of the scientific community, VCCA contributes to climate change research and critically evaluates climate literature to promote evidence-based recommendations on health policies.  

Our Work

Advocacy

Climate policy is health policy. VCCA clinicians provide credible, health-based perspectives on climate policy solutions to ensure that policies are made with the health of our citizens and communities as a top priority. During our annual Health and Climate Lobby Day, dozens of clinicians and health students from across the state gather in Richmond to advocate on behalf of their patients for clean energy solutions.  We also provide opportunities throughout the year for our members to engage in advocacy around climate policy solutions. 

Education/Research

VCCA brings educational events on climate and health to medical centers across Virginia.  In collaboration with partners, we coordinate conferences that convene experts from Virginia’s academic centers and beyond. Through these events we educate practicing clinicians on what changes in the climate mean for the health of their patients and their practice.

 

Our clinician leaders provide lectures at hospitals and clinics across the state. We have delivered presentations at Inova Fairfax and Alexandria Hospitals, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Carilion Clinic and others. 

 

VCCA is proud to participate in the newly formed Virginia Department of Health Climate Change Committee, launched in 2019.  We applaud Virginia Department of Health for this initiative and look forward to supporting this critical work in the future.

 

Community Outreach

VCCA collaborates with community leaders to educate and empower the public around local and state climate-related policies that impact our health and welfare. We testify at public hearings, participate in review groups on energy and environmental policy and publish letters and opinion pieces that support climate policy solutions. We also deliver presentations to community organizations, helping the public understand what a changing climate means for the health of families and communities.

Our Team (click on pictures for full bio)
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Samantha Ahdoot, MD, FAAP
Founder, Chairperson of Steering Committee
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Robert Kitchen, MD, FAAFP
Vice-Chair of Advocacy
 Steering Committee Member
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Tim O'Mara, MD
Vice-Chair of
Community Outreach
 Steering Committee Member
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Kathleen Price, MD
 Steering Committee Member
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Krupal Shah, MD, MPP
Vice-Chair of
Community Outreach
 Steering Committee Member
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Nicholas Snow, MD
Vice-Chair of Membership & Recruitment
Co-Chair of Education
 Steering Committee Member
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Neelima (Neelu) Tummala, MD
Vice-Chair of Public Relations
 Steering Committee Member
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​ Homan Wai, MD, FACP
Co-Chair of Education
 Steering Committee Member
Lena Bichell
 Steering Committee Member
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Isabel Contreras
Steering Committee Member
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Irène P. Mathieu, MD 
Steering Committee Member
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Matthew Meyer, MD 
Steering Committee Member
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Mona Sarfaty, MD, MPH, FAAFP
 Advisor
Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health
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Jerome A. Paulson, MD, FAAP
 Advisor
Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health
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John Bagwell, BA
Staff: Director of Operations
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 Learn a Bit About Who We Are

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Samantha Ahdoot, MD, FAAP
Chairperson of the Steering Committee

Dr. Samantha Ahdoot is a practicing pediatrician at Pediatric Associates of Alexandria and an Assistant Professor of Medical Education at University of Virginia School of Medicine. She graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in English and earned her medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine. She completed her residency in Pediatrics at Tufts Floating Hospital for Children. Sam served as Chair of Pediatrics at Inova Alexandria Hospital from 2015-2019, and is on the Board of the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as Environmental Champion. She represents the AAP on the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health Steering Committee, and was lead author on the AAP Global Climate Change and Children’s Health Policy Statement and Technical Report, published in Pediatrics in November 2015. She is Chair and Founder of Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action.

 
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Robert Kitchen, MD, FAAFP
Vice-Chair of Advocacy
Steering Committee Member

Dr. Robert Kitchen is a board certified family physician who retired in April 2018 after thirty-nine years of practice. He most recently practiced with the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group providing care for members of Kaiser Permanente in Northern Virginia. During his twenty-four years with MAPMG he cared for a panel of patients and also held administrative and leadership positions. Prior to this practice he served twenty years in the Air Force with both stateside and overseas assignments with the last six years being on the faculty of the Family Practice Residency at Andrews Air Force Base. Bob received his MD degree from Tulane University School of Medicine and his BS from the US Air Force Academy.

 
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Tim O'Mara, MD
Vice-Chair of Community Outreach Steering Committee Member

Dr. Timothy O’Mara is a graduate of Georgetown University Medical School. He completed his pediatric residency at Inova Fairfax Hospital where he also served as chief resident.  Tim has been practicing general pediatrics in Northern Virginia for 15 years.   Tim joined VCCA in 2017.  He has spoken to legislators in Richmond and Washington about clean energy and the health effects of climate change.  Tim has offered public comment at utility hearings and presented at community events focusing on clean energy.

 
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Kathleen Price, MD
Steering Committee Member

Dr. Kathleen Price received her MD from the University of Michigan and completed her Rheumatology fellowship at George Washington University.  She retired from Rheumatology practice after more than 30 years in private practice in Northern Virginia.  She volunteered for over 20 years with the Arlington Free Clinic.  Kathy has been a member of the Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action sine 2018 and of the Citizens Climate Lobby for several years.  She has lobbied the Virginia Legislature on energy bills.  She has also given public comment to the Legislature’s Energy Subcommittee and to the Fairfax County Department of Environmental Quality.  She has educated and lobbied Congress in Washington about climate and health.

 
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Krupal Shah, MD, MPP
Vice-Chair of Community Outreach
 Steering Committee Member

Dr. Krupal Shah completed his medical school at Duke University in
2009 and his residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the
University of Michigan in 2013. He has a bachelors degree from Yale
University in Biomedical Engineering and a Masters in Public Policy
from the University of Chicago. He has been a member of the Internal
Medicine clinical faculty at Inova Fairfax Hospital since 2016 and
practices as an inpatient  physician (Hospitalist) with additional
responsibilities in Pediatrics. He also serves co-medical director of
the CTU-North ward in the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute. Krupal
has a strong personal interest in wellness, holistic medicine and
sustainability, which he brings into his daily patient care practice.
With VCCA, he has met with national and VA state legislators to
educate and advocate for policy changes to mitigate the effects of
climate change. He has also partnered with local community
organizations to speak to the health impacts of climate change. He has
been involved with Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action since 2017
and currently serves as a Steering Committee Member and Vice-Chair of
the Community Outreach Committee.

 
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Nick Snow, MD
Vice-Chair of Membership & Recruitment
Co-Chair of Education
 Steering Committee Member

Dr. Nick Snow is a practicing gastroenterologist in Winchester.  He earned his Chemistry degree from Yale, and his MD from Ohio State.   He did residency and fellowship at Duke before joining the Internal Medicine faculty there. He left Duke in 1995 when he moved with his family to the Shenandoah Valley.   He has been active in writing letters to the local paper, and speaking to community groups and medical groups on climate change and health for a decade.  Nick has been a member of VCCA since 2018, and has lobbied on climate issues on multiple occasions.  He is on the board American Conservation Film Festival based in Shepherdstown, a Climate Reality Leader, and a member of Citizens Climate Lobby.

 
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Pamela Tinker, B.S. Physical Therapy., MAIS
Steering Committee Member

Mrs. Pam Tinker is President and Founder of Frog Pond Early Learning Center, a non-profit school with a nature-based curriculum. Pam is a graduate of MCV/VCU in Physical Therapy (PT) and worked for 15 years in the INOVA health system.  She was instrumental in planning and directing the Mount Vernon Hospital Rehabilitation program which included Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech-Language Pathologists, Recreation Therapists, Neuropsychologists and Physiatrists. Other PT experience includes hospital and outpatient neurological rehabilitation; school based physical therapy in Fairfax County and Falls Church Public Schools; home health physical therapy; and geriatric care. Pam is a tribal citizen of the Cherokee Nation and founding member of the Capital City Cherokee Community, a newly formed satellite community of the Cherokee Nation. 

 

Pam is a native Northern Virginian. She has been married 40 years to retired Cardiologist, Bruce Tinker, and they have two adult children. She has hosted children and adults over the past thirty years at their mountain retreat, where she introduces groups to the natural environment and hosts a variety of workshops.  

 
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Neelima (Neelu) Tummala, MD
Vice-Chair of Public Relations
Steering Committee Member

Dr. Neelu Tummala is a physician and clinical assistant professor of surgery at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She completed medical school at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and residency in Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.  She has a special interest in advocacy concerning the health effects of climate change, and has been actively involved with providing medical education, conducting research, writing, and giving public testimony on this issue.  She is a trained Climate Reality Leader and apart from Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action, works with the American Lung Association, The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, and Environment Virginia as a volunteer activist and educator.

 
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​ Homan Wai, MD, FACP
Co-Chair of Education
 Steering Committee Member

Dr. Homan Wai obtained his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and completed his Internal Medicine residency at George Washington University Hospital in 2009. He has been a faculty at Inova Fairfax Hospital since 2009 and practices as an inpatient Internal Medicine physician (Hospitalist). He also serves as the Clerkship Director of Internal Medicine at the UVA School of Medicine regional campus at Inova. Homan was a member of the Sustainability Committee at the Inova Fairfax Campus from 2009-2015 and served as co-chair and chair for the committee from 2011-2015. He was an inaugural member of Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action since its inception in 2017.  Homan served as the Vice-Chair of Operations and Recruitment from 2018-2020 and has now transitioned to the role of Vice-Chair of Education.

 
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​ Lena Bichell
 Steering Committee Member

Lena Bichell is a native of Nashville, TN, graduate of Georgetown University, and current third-year medical student at the University of Virginia School of Medicine where she founded the UVA chapter of Medical Students for a Sustainable Future. While at Georgetown, Lena majored in Environmental Biology, which provided the spark that ignited her interest in climate change. During college, she was a field research assistant for soil scientists, hydrologists, geologists, and evolutionary biologists studying climate-related topics in Belize, Southern Mexico, Iceland, and Australia. Through these varied projects coalesced her understanding of the human impact of the environment as well as the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration. She completed her post-bac courses at Vanderbilt University followed by a year as a Postbac-IRTA fellow at the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID, of much recent COVID-19/Fauci fame) studying rare autoinflammatory diseases. During the summer of 2020, she was honored to work in the Center for Health, Humanities, and Ethics at UVA, focusing on the intersection of climate, health, and race. A member of the class of 2023 Hook Scholars Program, Lena strives to engage the arts and humanities in communicating the impact of climate on health. She is excited to serve on the VCCA Steering Committee to make lasting impacts on climate change and health across Virginia and beyond.

 
 
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Isabel Contreras
 Steering Committee Member

Isabel Contreras is a Second Year Physician Assistant student at Shenandoah University located in Winchester Virginia. After completing the Physician Assistant Education Associations’ Student Health Policy Fellowship in 2020, she began working with the Education committee with VCCA to engage in conversations about climate change and opportunities for growth in institutions across the state. In addition to this work, Isabel is acting the Class of 2022 Vice President, Co-Social Media Chair, and organized the event “Hour 2 Empower” with the nonprofit Fear2Freedom last spring. Isabel obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Christopher Newport University and was heavily involved in student-led research within the Neuroscience and Psychology department. In her free time, she enjoys staying active, reading, and spending time with her family and friends. 

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Leah Reichle
 Steering Committee Member

 

Leah Reichle is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Prior to medical school, she majored in Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia and completed research on Arctic tundra vegetation changes. Her studies in environmental science emphasized to her the immediate and ongoing threats to human health that have resulted from environmental neglect and pollution. This inspired her to pursue a career in medicine, where she hopes to advocate for the vulnerable communities most affected by climate change. In medical school, she has written multiple policy resolutions for the Medical Society of Virginia advocating for environmental justice, such as requiring Health Impact Assessments for natural gas infrastructure. She helped to found UVA’s chapter of medical students for a sustainable future and to create UVA’s first climate health elective. She is also a sub-chair of the national advocacy committee of Medical Students for a Sustainable Future. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, playing with her dog, and quilting.

 
 
Irène Mathieu, MD
Steering Committee Member

Dr. Irène P. Mathieu is a writer and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Virginia, where she serves as affiliate faculty in UVA’s Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities. Irène earned a BA in International Relations from the College of William & Mary before completing a Fulbright fellowship in the Dominican Republic. She earned her MD from Vanderbilt University and completed a residency in general pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was selected as a Global Health Track resident.

 

Irène is also the author of three poetry collections and serves as an associate editor for the Journal of General Internal Medicine’s humanities section. Often called an “eco-poet,” she has developed curricula using poetry to teach undergraduates, medical students, and pediatric residents about social determinants of health. She is particularly interested in climate justice advocacy, community-engaged research, and global health equity. 

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Matthew Meyer, MD
Steering Committee Member

Matthew J. Meyer is a critical care anesthesiologist and an Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Virginia. His first job was as an environmental educator at a non-profit focused on conservation and stewardship in Vermont. He went to medical school at the University of Vermont, and completed a residency in Anesthesiology and fellowship in Critical Care Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. He researches perioperative efficiency and sustainability. His goal is to eliminate healthcare waste and thus lessen the impact of the healthcare economy on the environment. 

 
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Mona Sarfaty, MD, MPH, FAAFP
VCCA Advisor
Executive Director, Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health

Dr. Mona Sarfaty is the Director of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health comprised of 21 medical societies representing over 550,000 physicians, more than half the physicians in the U.S. She is a family medicine physician and public health doctor who has engaged in teaching, research, and advocacy for over 30 years. As an academic faculty member with expertise in primary care, preventive services, and health policy, she lectured at national & regional venues including medical societies, health plans, health departments, professional organizations, & government conferences. In the middle of her career she worked as a Senior Health Policy Advisor for the U.S. Senate Health Committee for 7 years where she planned hearings, wrote legislation, negotiated policy, and met with constituents. She is the author of widely circulated guides and publications, including many peer reviewed articles and two book chapters on climate change and health. She founded the Consortium in 2016 after assessing physician experience with the health effects of climate change in cooperation with the George Mason University Center for Climate Communication.

 
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Tracy Kelly, MDDNP, MSN, CPNP-P/AC
Steering Committee Member

Dr. Tracy Kelly, joined the UVA School of Nursing in February 2019 as program director of their Pediatric Acute Care NP program. Dr. Kelly has more than 20 years of experience as an acute care pediatric nurse practitioner and has practiced at a number of noted hospitals, including Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Yale New Haven Hospital, Morristown (NJ) Memorial Hospital, and Duke University Medical Center. In addition, she brings more than a decade of experience in the classroom, having taught nursing students at Duke, Yale, and Seton Hall Graduate School of Nursing.

In addition to developing graduate nursing curricula, writing grants, and coordinating research studies, Dr. Kelly’s global work is both expansive and impressive. Most recently, she was the lead pediatric educator for the only tertiary children’s hospital in Sierra Leone, as part of the Welbodi Partnership, located in Freetown. With Partners in Health, she cared for Ebola patients in West Africa in 2014 and 2015, and worked for two years as a clinical mentor for pediatric clinicians and nursing students with the Rwandan Ministry of Health from 2012 to 2014.

Dr. Kelly earned a BSN from Georgetown, an MSN from UVA, and a DNP from Yale, and has been active in her community as a volunteer with the Eyes, Ears, Nose, Paws canine medical training program, as a North Carolina Medical Advisory Disaster Preparedness Team member, and as a board member of Hemophilia of North Carolina.

 
 
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Jerome A. Paulson, MD, FAAP
VCCA Advisor
Medical Society Consortium
on Climate and Health

Jerome A. Paulson, MD, FAAP is Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics and Emeritus Professor of Environmental & Occupational Health at the George Washington University Schools of Medicine and of Public Health. He created the American Academy of Pediatrics Program on Climate Change and Health. He is a consultant to the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health and is a founding member of Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action. He is helping a group of clinicians create George Clinicians for Climate Action. He is a past chair the executive committee of the Council on Environmental Health of the AAP and past Medical Director for the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units – East. He served on the Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee for the US EPA. Dr. Paulson co-created, and for a number of years lead, the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health & the Environment.

 

Dr. Paulson received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with honors and with general honors from the University of Maryland, College Park, MD. He received an MD degree from Duke University in Durham, NC. He did his pediatric residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospitals and Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, MD. He also completed a fellowship in Ambulatory Pediatrics at Sinai Hospital.

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John Bagwell, BA
Staff: Director of Operations

John has been working with VCCA since its founding to develop organizational strategy and manage day to day operations. John is an nonprofit consultant and has worked with a wide range of clients including others in the public health and climate spaces. John holds a BA from Wofford College and is based in Richmond, Virginia.

 
 
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Ursula Gately
Advocacy & Research Fellow
Steering Committee Member

Ursula is a junior at Georgetown University studying Biology of Global Health and Environmental Studies on the premed track. She became very interested in the intersection of environmental and social determinants of health when volunteering as a medical scribe in internal medicine back home in Arizona. In the past, she has conducted research on mosquito resting and climate change with Arizona State University and worked as a wrangler at a dude ranch in Colorado. Currently, she leads the environmental justice branch of Georgetown's Renewable Energy and Environmental Network and is the executive director of Georgetown's Undergraduate Environmental Research Journal. Ursula is very grateful for the opportunity to continue on as VCCA's Advocacy and Research fellow this year. She is excited to learn more about environmental health issues and hopes VCCA will act as a touchstone in her learning how best to blaze a future for herself in the intersection of medicine and environmental health. 

Andrew Vanichkachorn
Education & Communications Fellow
Steering Committee Member

Andrew Vanichkachorn graduated from the University of Virginia in 2021 with a double major in Global Public Health and Environmental Science. Since graduation, he is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Health at UVA's School of Medicine and is in the midst of applying to medical schools. Andrew has been a firm believer of health-based environmental action since high school and has long-term goals to integrate a future medical career with important public health aspects, such as environmental health. In the past, he has been very interested in eco-toxicology and has most recently investigated the potential risks of pollutants created in the wake of the worldwide pandemic. Andrew is excited to be a part of VCCA this year and hopes to learn more about present-day environmental health issues and to continue finding ways to link physicianship, public health, and environmental concerns over the next year.