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Mission

Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action educates and mobilizes clinician leaders to bring the health voice to climate policymaking in Virginia.

Vision

Virginia will become a national model for equitable climate change solutions that protect the health of all Virginians.

Theory of Change

Clinicians have the knowledge and mission to play a vital role in protecting the health of Virginia’s families and communities from the effects of climate change. This clinical voice can overcome entrenched partisan and economic barriers, by focusing on the health benefits of climate solutions and the health dangers of inaction.

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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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
UVA Med Student
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Isabel Contreras
Steering Committee Member
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: Executive Director

 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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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. 

 
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: Executive Director

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.