Honoring our own: Thresa Pattee, Health Care Without Harm’s 2024 Environmental Health Hero

  • US & Canada

Thresa Pattee, our beloved colleague, friend, and posthumous recipient of our 2024 Environmental Health Hero Award

Each year, we select an Environmental Health Hero to recognize and celebrate their contributions to the environmental health movement. This year, Health Care Without Harm is honoring one of our own staff members who passed away in March after a valiant battle with bone cancer.

Thresa Irene Pattee, as all who knew her would agree, was a force of nature. In her eight years at Health Care Without Harm, she brought a passion for the mission of the organization that was matched only by the impressive breadth of her talents and intellect. From her first role as Practice Greenhealth Food Program Coordinator and forward into Sustainability Strategy Manager, and finally as Program Director for Greenhealth Approved, she seemed to move effortlessly from one topic to another, a step ahead of most everyone else. You could give her any role, and she would shine.

That same energy and intellectual curiosity was a part of Thresa’s personality. She could connect with anyone on a personal level and was as comfortable in front of a Board of Directors as she was running the pool table in a cowboy bar. Her sense of humor was unrivaled. She always took the work seriously, but never herself. Colleagues recall plenty of laughter while working through tough challenges. And that was what made Thresa so great.

Too often, awards like this go to the person who leads the organization or whose quote gets in the press. But any of us who work to bring about meaningful change in this world know that it is movements, organizations, networks, groups of people working toward a common goal that bring about real and lasting change. And those organizations and movements are fueled and driven by individuals working largely behind the scenes, learning on the fly, stepping in wherever and whenever needed, and doing it at a high level. That was Thresa.