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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 residents.

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

Clinician voice is trusted — Health professionals from a range of medical disciplines have a stake and a trusted voice in the subject of climate change and health.

Nonpartisan action is effective — VCCA is not a partisan body; we focus on climate and health and support laws and initiatives that promote the health of our patients and communities.

Climate change is related to justice — Climate policies must consider factors related to social justice and be sensitive to the needs of communities who bear a disproportionate share of negative health impacts due to climate change.

Health is the area of 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 is important — VCCA members are part of the scientific community, contributing to climate change research and evaluating 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 prioritize the health of our citizens and communities. 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. With partners, we coordinate conferences with experts from Virginia’s academic centers and beyond. These events help educate practicing clinicians on what changes in the climate mean for the health of their patients.

 

Our clinician leaders give 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, and we applaud the Department of Health for this initiative.

 

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, VCCA
Chair, Steering Committee
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Robert Kitchen, MD, FAAFP
Vice-Chair of Advocacy
 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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Pamela Tinker,
BS, Physical Therapy, MAIS

 Steering Committee Member
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
Samim Atmar, MD Co-chair of Healthcare Sustainability, Steering Committee Member
Paul DiLorenzo, MD, FACC
Steering Committee Member
Abigail Hankin-Wei, MD
Co-chair of Healthcare Sustainability, Steering Committee Member
Irène P. Mathieu, MD 
Steering Committee Member
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Vivienne Pierce McDaniel,
DNP, MSN, RN
Steering Committee Member
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Matthew Meyer, MD 
Steering Committee Member
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Tracy Kelly,
DNP, MSN, CPNP-P/AC
Steering Committee Member
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Jerome A. Paulson, MD, FAAP
 Advisor
Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health
Sara Wohlford, MPH, RN
Co-chair of Healthcare Sustainability, Steering Committee Member
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John Bagwell, BA
Executive Director, VCCA
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Ryan Adams, BA
Communications Manager, VCCA

Learn a Bit About Who We Are

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Samantha Ahdoot, MD, FAAP
Chair 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 BA 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. Ahdoot served as chair of pediatrics at Inova Alexandria Hospital from 2015–19 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, published in Pediatrics in November 2015. She is chair and founder of VCCA.

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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 39 years of practice. He most recently practiced with the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group, providing care for patients of Kaiser Permanente in Northern Virginia. During his 24 years with MAPMG, he also held administrative and leadership positions. Prior to this practice, he served 20 years in both stateside and overseas assignments with the Air Force, the last six on the faculty of the Family Practice Residency at Andrews Air Force Base. Kitchen received his MD from Tulane University School of Medicine and his BS from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Bob Bio
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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. Snow has been a member of VCCA since 2018 and has lobbied on climate issues on multiple occasions. He is on the board of the American Conservation Film Festival based in Shepherdstown, is a Climate Reality Leader, and is a member of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Nick Bio
Neelu Bio
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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—ENT/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 providing medical education, conducting research, writing, and giving public testimony on this issue. She is a trained Climate Reality Leader and, apart from VCCA, 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 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 2011–15. He has been a member of Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action since its inception in 2017. Homan served as the vice-chair of Operations and Recruitment from 2018–20 and has transitioned to the role of co-chair of Education.

Paul Bio
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Paul DiLorenzo, MD, FACC
Steering Committee Member

 

Dr. Paul DiLorenzo is a practicing cardiologist and founder of Fairfax Heart Associates, currently at Inova Cardiology. He completed medical school at University of Virginia School of Medicine, residency at George Washington University, and fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He is former president of the medical staff at Inova Fairfax Hospital; chair or member of numerous committees; investigator in many multicenter trials; author of multiple manuscripts; and frequent lecturer. He has been interested in environmental issues since the 1970s. He was the catalyst to ending Styrofoam at Inova Fairfax. He supports VCCA’s efforts in reducing climate change both for global health and global existence. He believes that small changes in personal behavior make a difference and set an example and that codifying changes in policy to mitigate climate change make an even bigger difference. He has an electric car.

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Samim Atmar, MD
Co-chair of Healthcare Sustainability, Steering Committee Member

 

Dr. Samim Atmar is an Emergency Medicine physician working at the Inova Health System. He was born in Afghanistan and, at a young age, moved to Pakistan as a refugee before later immigrating to the United States as a teenager. He obtained his medical degree at Albert Einstein College of Medicine followed by residency at Mt. Sinai St Luke’s-Roosevelt in NYC. He completed the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science Technology Policy Fellowship (STPF) with a focus on climate change and social justice at the US Agency for International Development (USAID). He is the co-chair of the Healthcare Sustainability Committee of the Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action. Dr. Atmar is fluent in Spanish and Farsi (Dari) and interested in exploring the nexus between health, climate change and social justice. 

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Abigail Hankin-Wei, MD
Co-chair of Healthcare Sustainability, Steering Committee Member

Dr. Abigail Hankin-Wei is an emergency physician who works at INOVA Fairfax Hospital and Page Memorial Hospital in Luray. Hankin-Wei was a member of Healthcare without Harm when she was a medical student at the University of San Francisco. After medical school, her interest in the health of communities, and the intersection of social, economic, and environmental factors with individual health led her to pursue a master's in public health at the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating, she completed an EM residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, followed by a research fellowship at Emory University. From 2015–21, she lived in Maputo, Mozambique with her family, and collaborated with the ministry of health to develop the first EM residency program in Mozambique. While in Mozambique, she witnessed firsthand the devastating consequences of climate change and extreme climate events on the most vulnerable communities on the planet; she also witnessed a different approach to the practice of medicine, especially with respect to equipment reuse and waste minimization. These experiences prompted her to become active in VCCA upon her return to the U.S. Hankin-Wei co-leads the healthcare sustainability committee with Samim Atmar and Sara Wohlford.

Abigail Bio
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. Mathieu 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. Mathieu is also the author of three poetry collections and serves as an associate editor for the humanities section of the Journal of General Internal Medicine. 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.

Irène Bio
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Vivienne Pierce McDaniel, DNP, MSN, RN 
Steering Committee Member

Dr. Vivienne Pierce McDaniel is a registered nurse with over 17 years of leadership and academic experience who places a high value on advancing health equity, especially for underserved and underrepresented populations. She is a diversity and inclusion consultant for James Madison University School of Nursing and Sentinel U healthcare simulations and learning innovations. As an adjunct nursing professor in a graduate program, she teaches health policy and advocacy and supervises students through their doctor of nursing practice projects. McDaniel is the president of the Central Virginia Chapter National Black Nurses Association (CVCNBNA) and co-chairs the CVCNBNA’s Health Policy Committee. She serves on several boards, including the board of trustees of Henrico, Parham, and Retreat Doctors’ Hospitals, the Virginia Nurses Foundation, the Virginia State University BSN Completion Advisory Board, and the Central Virginia Chapter Nurses Association Board of Directors. She is the inaugural chair and equity ambassador of the Virginia Nurses Association and the foundation’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council and has authored several publications related to her DEI work. McDaniel earned her doctor of nursing practice degree from Walden University with a focus on health policy and advocacy, her MS in nursing management and organizational leadership and BS degree in nursing from American Sentinel University and an associate’s of applied science degree in nursing from Thomas Nelson Community College. She is a 2021 fellow of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing inaugural Diversity Leadership Institute.

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Matthew Meyer, MD
Steering Committee Member

Dr. 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 nonprofit 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.

Matthew Bio
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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 its Pediatric Acute Care NP program. 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. She has more than a decade of experience in the classroom, having taught nursing students at Duke, Yale, and Seton Hall University College of Nursing. In addition to developing graduate nursing curricula, writing grants, and coordinating research studies, Kelly was the lead pediatric educator for the only tertiary children’s hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, as part of the Welbodi Partnership. With Partners in Health, she cared for Ebola patients in West Africa in 2014 and 2015 and worked as a clinical mentor for pediatric clinicians and nursing students with the Rwandan Ministry of Health from 2012 to 2014. Kelly earned a BSN from Georgetown, an MSN from UVA, and a DNP from Yale. She 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.

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

Dr. 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 VCCA. He is helping a group of clinicians create Georgia Clinicians for Climate Action. He is a past chair of the executive committee of the Council on Environmental Health of the AAP and past medical director for the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units for the east coast. He served on the Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee for the U.S. EPA. Paulson cocreated, and for a number of years lead, the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment. Paulson received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with honors and with general honors from the University of Maryland, College Park. He received an MD from Duke University in Durham, NC. He did his pediatric residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital  and Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, MD and completed a fellowship in ambulatory pediatrics at Sinai Hospital.

Jerry Bio
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Pamela Tinker, BS Physical Therapy, MAIS
Steering Committee Member

Mrs. Pam Tinker is president and founder of Frog Pond Early Learning Center, a nonprofit school with a nature-based curriculum. Tinker 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 PT in Fairfax County and Falls Church Public Schools; home health PT; and geriatric care. Tinker is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and founding member of the Capital City Cherokee Community, a newly formed satellite community. A native Northern Virginian, Tinker has been married for 40 years to retired cardiologist Bruce Tinker, and they have two adult children. She has hosted children and adults over the past 30 years at their mountain retreat, where she introduces groups to the natural environment and hosts a variety of workshops. 

Pam Bio
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Sara Wohlford, MPH, RN
Co-Chair of Healthcare Sustainability, Steering Committee Member

Sara Wohlford is the director of sustainability at Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, where she facilitates and coordinates programs that reduce inefficiencies and waste and promote environmental sustainability. After receiving a master’s degree in public health from Virginia Tech, Wohlford conceptualized and proposed her current position, created a work structure for sustainability for Carilion’s seven hospitals, and developed the Carilion Clinic Environmental Stewardship Council. Her programs increase recycling, decrease energy use, decrease natural resource consumption, and divert tens of thousands of pounds of waste from Virginia landfills annually, while educating and demonstrating to staff, patients, and visitors the inextricable links between community health, environmental health, and sustainability. Her program received the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award Gold Medal for improving health and the environment in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Sarah Bio
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John Bagwell, BA
Executive Director, VCCA

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

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