Health Care Without Harm and the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE) annually present the Charlotte Brody award to a nurse who promotes and protects environmental health. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of CleanMed, we were unable to recognize McDermott-Levy in person. Please join us in celebrating Dr. Ruth McDermott-Levy for exemplary environmental nursing leadership.
McDermott-Levy, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, currently serves as associate professor and director at the Center for Global and Public Health at Villanova University M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing.
“I’m deeply humbled to join the ranks of Charlotte Brody award recipients. I have such respect for all of those leaders, and they're doing such great work,” says McDermott-Levy.
From educating nursing students to civil disobedience at the nation’s capital, McDermott-Levy’s climate and environmental advocacy exemplify the ways nurses can lead in the face of the climate crisis. Over the course of her career, she has seen environmental nursing shift from a focus on personal exposures in the workplace to nurses engaging in climate change leadership.
As a lead author of “Addressing the Health Risks of Climate Change in Older Adults,” published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing, McDermott-Levy shared, “We want to help nurses understand climate change and the need for specific interventions to support climate adaptation for the older adult population. It is everyone’s responsibility to learn about climate change and to participate in slowing the trajectory of climate change.”
One of her proudest moments was her arrest with Jane Fonda and Charlotte Brody herself in October 2019 protesting complacency in climate action, a cause according to McDermott-Levy that was “important enough to get arrested for.” Handcuffed on the ride to the police station, McDermott-Levy and Brody reflected on the history of civil disobedience and “just kept working.”