The 50 Most Influential EHS Leaders

June 1, 2010
Love them or despise them, these are the 50+ people we feel have the most influence on EHS.

They say things are easier the second time around. That's not true in the case of the 50 Most Influential EHS Leaders.

In 2008, when we first began the daunting task of trying to name 50 (living) EHS leaders, I was worried that we would have difficulty coming up with that many names. Soon, we realized that we easily could name 100 leaders or more, particularly if we opened it up to international representatives.

This year, because of recent (national and international) events, we found it even more difficult to narrow the playing field and once again, we went over our goal of 50 EHS leaders. Even so, this list isn't perfect. We can argue about the names found here and their influence, but I think when looked at as a whole, this group is a fine representation of the people who are moving EHS in new directions.

Our list includes government appointees (such as OSHA Administrator David Michaels), academics, union EHS leaders, legislators, the presidents of professional associations, litigators, safety industry leaders and safety “gurus.” Some could be placed in several categories, so we tried to choose the category that best represents their current work.

Every person on this list — through their advocacy, teaching, research, mentoring, legislating, litigating or rulemaking — plays a role in steering the course of EHS.


More has been heard from President Barack Obama about occupational safety and health than his five predecessors combined. Obama is the first president to issue a presidential proclamation in honor of Workers Memorial Day. The proclamation comes on the heels of a particularly deadly period for U.S. workers, with four incidents with multiple fatalities occurring in the past several months. From his appointment of EHS advocates to key positions at NIOSH, OSHA, MSHA and EPA, to his eulogy at the service for the 29 West Virginia miners who perished in April, it's obvious that Obama is having an impact on workplace safety and health.

David Michaels, PhD, MPH, assistant secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, is an epidemiologist and a nationally recognized leader in the scientific community's efforts to protect the integrity of the science on which public health and environmental policies and regulation are based. Before coming to OSHA on Dec. 9, 2009, he was professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, directing the department's Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy. From 1998 to 2001, Michaels served as assistant secretary of energy for Environment, Safety and Health.

Jordan Barab joined OSHA as deputy assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health on April 13, 2009. He previously served as special assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA from 1998 to 2001, when he helped the agency promulgate the ergonomics workplace safety and health standard that was repealed by Congress in March 2001. Barab was senior labor policy advisor for health and safety for the House Education and Labor Committee from 2007 to April 2009, and worked on workplace safety issues for the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board from 2002 to 2007. He also created and wrote the award-winning blog, Confined Space, from 2003 to 2007.

Dr. John Howard served as the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) from July 2002 through July 2008, when his 6-year term ended without being renewed in a controversial decision that brought criticism from safety and health stakeholders. Reappointed to the position of NIOSH director on Sept. 3, 2009, Howard also currently serves as the World Trade Center Programs coordinator for the U.S. Department of Health Human Services.

Thomasina V. Rogers is chairman of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, which adjudicates workplace safety and health disputes between the Department of Labor and employers. Having been confirmed three times to the review commission, Rogers has served the second-longest tenure in the agency's 38-year history. She remains the first woman to be designated as chairman — a distinction she achieved in 1999 under President Bill Clinton — and she also is the only African American to serve on the commission.

Lisa P. Jackson, confirmed by the Senate as the EPA administrator on Jan. 23, 2009, leads that agency's efforts to protect the health and environment of Americans. She and a staff of more than 17,000 professionals are working across the nation to usher in a green economy, address health threats from toxins and pollution and renew public trust in EPA's work. As administrator, Jackson has pledged to focus on core issues of protecting air and water quality, preventing exposure to toxic contamination in our communities and reducing greenhouse gases. Jackson is the first African-American to serve as EPA administrator.

Joseph A. (Joe) Main was nominated by President Obama as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health (MSHA) and confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 21, 2009. He is an internationally recognized expert in mine health and safety issues. For more than 40 years, he has worked to improve every aspect of miner health and safety, both in the United States and internationally. He spent most of his career with the United Mine Workers of America, eventually managing the international health and safety program of the UMWA. He faces a tough tenure, following the Big Branch South Mine disaster in April, which claimed the lives of 29 miners.

Hilda L. Solis was confirmed as Secretary of Labor on Feb. 24, 2009. Prior to confirmation as secretary, Solis represented the 32nd Congressional District in California, a position she held from 2001-2009. Under her watch, OSHA and DOL have increased pressure on employers with high injury rates, focused more attention on the safety of Hispanic workers, pushed an ambitious regulatory agenda and proposed new regulations, such as a proposed rule for Injury and Illness Prevention Programs. Meanwhile, MSHA has undertaken an inspection blitz of mines with high incident rates.

Ray LaHood, confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of Transportation on Jan. 23, 2009, has proposed a federal rule in an attempt to specifically prohibit texting by interstate commercial truck and bus drivers. Under his leadership, the U.S. Department of Transportation has launched pilot programs in Hartford, Conn., and Syracuse, N.Y., to test whether increased law enforcement efforts can get distracted drivers to put down their cell phones and focus on the road.

John Bresland is president and CEO of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). During Bresland's tenure, the board has expanded its investigation capability and has conducted important safety investigations of the dust explosion at Imperial Sugar, the natural gas explosion at ConAgra, the reactive chemical disaster at T2 Laboratories and the fire and explosion at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Washington. With Bresland at the helm, CSB realized its greatest success in implementing recommendations; for example, with the Labor Department's recent commitment to develop a new comprehensive combustible dust standard for general industry.


Dr. Thomas Krause is chairman of the board for BST, a consulting firm specializing in comprehensive safety solutions he founded BST in 1979. He is actively involved in leadership coaching and has authored several books and articles on safety and leadership. He is known as one of the founders of the behavioral safety movement.

Dr. E. Scott Geller is a founding partner and co-owner of Safety Performance Solutions and alumni distinguished professor at Virginia Tech and director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems in the Department of Psychology. He has authored more than 300 research articles and over 50 books or chapters addressing the development and evaluation of behavior-change interventions to improve quality of life.

Dr. Richard D. Fulwiler, CIH, CSHM, is president of Cincinnati-based Technology Leadership Associates, a consulting firm specializing in increasing individual effectiveness and building organizational capability in the health, safety and environmental arena. He previously spent 28 years working with Procter & Gamble, where he retired as the company's director of health and safety worldwide. He is adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and course director for the Leadership and Management Course at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Terry Mathis, an internationally recognized expert in the application of safety culture and behavior-based safety strategies, founded ProAct Safety in 1993. Before founding ProAct, he was a director of training for Coca-Cola, where he developed several new innovative approaches to safety, and worked for two of the major safety consulting companies. Mathis is a veteran of over 700 safety improvement projects in 18 countries and 12 languages, has spoken at the American Society of Safety Engineers' annual conference, regional conferences and Seminar Fest, Industry Week's Best Plants Conference various other safety and training functions.

Frank White is senior vice president of ORC Worldwide, an international human resources firm that delivers customized consulting, networking and data resources to organizations around the world. White practiced law prior to joining ORC, representing industry clients in major federal and state occupational safety and health litigation and rulemaking proceedings. He also held several senior management positions in the U.S. Department of Labor, including the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, where he was responsible for managing OSHA's activities in the development of safety and health standards and the implementation of enforcement policy.


C. Christopher Patton, CSP, is president of the American Society of Safety Engineers. The principal health, safety and environmental engineer for Covidien (Formerly Tyco Healthcare/Mallinckrodt), Brown has served as a chapter president and as a region vice president for ASSE, has chaired ASSE's Future Safety Leaders Conference Task Force and served as a member of the Professional Member Task Force. He was awarded the prestigious ASSE Charles V. Culbertson Outstanding Volunteer Service award for 2006-07.

Cathy L. Cole, CIH, CSP, is president of the American Industrial Hygiene Association and director of corporate occupational health for the Sherwin-Williams Co. A member of AIHA for 17 years, Cole has faced a tough year, which found the organization examining the size of its board, the support it gives to related shareholder groups such as the Academy of Industrial Hygiene and its conferences, product offerings and standard-setting activities.

Stephen J. Reynolds, Ph.D., CIH, serves as chair of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. He is a professor in the Occupational Health and Safety Section of Colorado State University and also is director of the CDC/NIOSH-funded High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety. In that role, he is involved in rural and agricultural health research, education, outreach and policy on a regional and national level. He was named a 2010 Fellow Award winner by AIHA.

Natalie P. Hartenbaum, M.D., MPH, FACOEM, is the president of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM). She is chief medical officer of Occumedix, Inc., and adjunct assistant professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her M.D. from Temple University School of Medi-cine and her MPH from the Medical College of Wisconsin. Hartenbaum is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, and the American Board of Preventive Medicine in occupational medicine.

Kay Campbell, Ed.D., RN-C, COHN-S, FAAOHN, is president of the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses and manager of Global Health & Productivity for Glaxosmithkline. She has held various positions in the company for the past 26 years, including management of disability, clinical operations, health promotions and worklife initiatives. Campbell also serves as adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a national and internationally recognized lecturer on management, health promotions and disability management.

Raymond Davis Layne joined the Voluntary Protection Program Participants Association in January 2005. As executive director, Layne is responsible for the guidance, direction and day-to-day activities of the VPPPA National Office staff. Before joining VPPPA, Layne served as an OSHA area director, deputy regional administrator, OSHA regional administrator and finally as deputy assistant secretary for OSHA. This has been a tough year for Layne and VPPPA, as concerns about the future of OSHA's VPP program mounted.


William M. Lambert is the president and CEO of MSA, a global leader in the development, manufacture and supply of safety products used by workers in the fire service, homeland security, construction and other industries, as well as the military.

Charles S. “Sid” Ellis, past president of North Safety Products (now Honeywell Safety Products), is chairman of the board for the International Safety Equipment Association, the trade association in the United States for companies that manufacture safety and personal protective equipment.

Henri-Dominique Petit is chairman and Brice de la Morandière is CEO of Sperian Protection, which serves the global personal protective equipment (PPE) industry, providing hearing, eye, respiratory, fall, body and hand protection. Petit was named CEO of Bacou-Dalloz in June 2004 and now serves as president of the board. De la Morandiere was named the group's COO in August 2008 and CEO in March 2009. George W. Buckley is the chairman, president and CEO of 3M, a global leading supplier of respiratory, hearing, eye protection, and other personal protective equipment products. Prior to this appointment, he was chairman and CEO of Brunswick Corp. In addition to 3M, George serves on the boards of Black & Decker and Archer Daniels Midland Co.

Dan Shipp is the president of ISEA and as such, has submitted testimony to OSHA on behalf of the organization and its members about such proposed rulemakings as “Employer Payment for Personal Protective Equipment” and noise control and hearing conservation.

Mike Standley, of Oxarc Safety Products Division, is president, and Jackie King, executive director, of the Safety Equipment Distributors Association (SEDA), which represents companies that distribute safety equipment and related products and services. Its member companies are leaders in the distribution of personal protective equipment to a broad spectrum of users. Chances are if your employees are using it, a SEDA member is responsible for bringing it to your facility.


Arthur G. Sapper is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is based in the firm's Washington, D.C. office. He focuses his practice on all areas of occupational safety and health (OSHA) law and mine safety and health (MSHA) law, including inspections, litigation, rulemaking, counseling and lobbying. He litigates regularly before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, the federal appellate courts and various administrative bodies.

Attorney Steve Yohay is shareholder in the Washington office of Ogletree Deakins. He represents major employers nationwide in federal and state OSHA inspections and citation contests. He has particular expertise in addressing OSHA investigations, settlement negotiations and litigation following major industrial accidents, including civil and criminal matters. He has favorably resolved for his employer clients many cases involving “willful” and “egregious” citations, including those involving serious or fatal employee injuries.

James Lastowka is a partner in McDermott Will & Emery LLP's OSHA, MSHA & Catastrophe Response Group and is based in Washington DC. Prior to joining private practice in 1990, he served as commissioner on the Federal Mine Safety & Health Review Commission, general counsel for the Mine Safety Commission and assistant general counsel of the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.

Edwin G. Foulke Jr., is a partner in the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips. He co-chairs the firm's Workplace Safety and Catastrophe Management Practice Group. Prior to joining Fisher & Phillips, Foulke was the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health and he chaired the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission in Washington, D.C.

Mark Dreux, a partner in Arent Fox's labor and employment practice, is a nationally recognized leader in occupational safety and health law, specializing in representing employers and trade associations in all aspects of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. His practice includes counseling clients in regulatory compliance with the standards and regulations promulgated by OSHA and state plans, investigating significant workplace incidents, managing OSHA inspections, contesting OSHA citations, defending employers in OSHA enforcement actions, conducting safety and health audits and due diligence reviews and engaging in regulatory advocacy.


Juan Somavia is the ninth director-general of the International Labor Organization (ILO), a position he has held since 1998. An attorney by profession, Somavia has wide experience as a diplomat and academic and his involvement in social development, business and civil organizations have all helped shape his vision of the need to secure decent work for women and men throughout the world.

Seiji Machida was appointed director of the ILO's Programme on Safety and Health at Work (SafeWork) in February 2010. An engineer, Machida joined the ILO in 1989 and has served in the Occupational Safety and Health Branch (SafeWork) and the East Asia Multidisciplinary Advisory Team (EASMAT). Prior to joining the ILO, Machida was senior occupational safety and health officer, Ministry of Labour, Japan.

Dr. Margaret Chan is the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO). It is Chan who leads that organization's efforts to battle pandemic flu outbreaks around the world. Before being appointed director-general in 2006, Chan was WHO assistant director-general for Communicable Diseases as well as the representative of the director-general for pandemic influenza. Prior to joining WHO, she was director of health in Hong Kong, where she confronted the first human outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza in 1997 and successfully defeated the spate of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Hong Kong in 2003.

Judith Hackitt, CBE, was appointed chair of Britain's Health and Safety Commission in 2007 and became chair of HSE when the two organizations merged in 2008. She previously served as a commissioner from 2002 to 2005. Under her leadership, the board of HSE decided to take the lead in developing a new strategy that would recognize the many changes that continue to take place in occupational safety and health and industry and which present new challenges for the health and safety system as a whole. A renewed emphasis on the consultation process has earned widespread support from all stakeholders and has enabled HSE to fine-tune its strategies with support of stakeholders.

S. Len Hong is president and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), which was established in 1978 to promote the total well-being — physical, psychosocial and mental health — of working Canadians by providing information, training, education, management systems and solutions that support health, safety and wellness programs. A not-for-profit federal department corporation, CCOHS is governed by a tripartite council representing government, employers and labor.


Peg Seminario, director OHS, AFL-CIO, began working for the organization in 1977. Since then, Seminario has established herself as a strong labor activist, participating in a wide range of regulatory and legislative initiatives, including air contamination regulations, legislative reform of the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act and 20 OSHA rulemakings, including those on benzene, beryllium, lead, hazard communication, hearing conservation, formaldehyde, asbestos, air contaminants, respiratory protection, grain handling, hazardous waste operations and ergonomics.

Scott Schneider, CIH, is division director of Occupational Health and Safety for the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund of North America. For the past 19 years, Schneider has been doing occupational safety and health work for the Labor Movement, including 5 years as ergonomics program director for the AFL-CIO's Center to Protect Workers' Rights.

Eric Frumin is the health and safety coordinator for Change to Win, a 5.5-million member partnership of five unions: the Service Employees International Union, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Laborers' International Union of North America and United Farm Workers of America. He is a leading national trade union spokesperson on issues of job safety, health and disability, including OSHA standard setting and enforcement, and occupational disease and injury surveillance.

Mike Wright has held the position of director of health, safety and the environment for United Steelworkers of America since 1983. Much of his career has focused on the issue of workplace hazard communication, with his other areas of expertise being risk communication, industrial hygiene and occupational and environmental health. Wright has requested and participated in numerous NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluations on behalf of workers he represents.

Joel Shufro is executive director, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), a non-profit coalition of 200 local unions and more than 400 individual workers, physicians, lawyers and other health and safety activists. The coalition is part of a nation-wide network of 25 union-based safety and health organizations.


Celeste Monforton is an assistant research professor, the George Washington University's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, and regular contributor to the public health blog, The Pump Handle. She probably is best known for scouring the fine print in public records to discover that U.S. Labor Department officials were preparing to gut longstanding worker protections, and for meeting surreptitiously with miners to learn how company officials concealed asbestos and other hazards when federal inspectors were coming. In 2006, following the Sago Mine disaster in Kentucky that killed 12 coal miners, she paused her doctoral research to assist the investigation launched by the state's governor.

Joseph Grenny is the coauthor of the New York Times bestsellers Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations and Influencer. David Maxfield is the coauthor of Influencer. Grenny and Maxfield surveyed more than 1,600 frontline workers, managers and safety directors across 30 safety-conscious organizations in 2009 to discover the crucial conversations that drive workplace safety. Their research also calculated the organizational cost of avoiding those crucial safety conversations, discovering that employees waste an average of $1,500 and an 8-hour workday for every crucial conversation they avoid.

Erich J. (Pete) Stafford is executive director of the Center for Construction Research and Training, formerly known as The Center to Protect Workers' Rights (CPWR). NIOSH recently announced a 5-year, $25 million co-operative agreement award to be given to the center, which was created by the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO. The center includes both internal researchers and a university-based consortium involving nine different academic partners. NIOSH intends for the center to directly link to the diverse construction community, to serve as a leader in applied construction research, and to diffuse and disseminate effective interventions in the construction industry.


In September 2009, following the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, Sen. Thomas Harkin (D-Iowa) became chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. As a young senator, Harkin was tapped by Kennedy to craft legislation to protect the civil rights of millions of Americans with physical and mental disabilities. What emerged from that process would later become Harkin's signature legislative achievement — the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the first woman to represent Washington state in the U.S. Senate, is chair of the HELP Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety. Along with Sen. Ted Kennedy, she introduced the Protecting America's Workers Act in the Senate. She continues to use her oversight role with the Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety to protect workers at the workplace and to continue to fight for workers' rights to organize and collectively bargain.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif, chair of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee, have kept worker safety and health legislation moving forward. The two recently called on the nation's coal mine operators to redouble efforts to ensure that miner safety is a top priority. In addition, the Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on a proposal to strengthen protections for workers who blow the whistle on dangerous workplace conditions, and guarantee a voice for families of workers killed, and those who are seriously injured or become ill on the job.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Reps. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., and Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., in April introduced the Safe Chemicals Act in both houses of Congress. If passed and signed into law, the legislation will overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) and the way the federal government protects the public from toxic chemicals. The Safe Chemicals Act requires safety testing of all industrial chemicals and puts the burden on industry to prove that chemicals are safe in order stay on the market.

You! Every EHS professional has the potential to impact the practice of EHS, not only at their facility, but the entire profession. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

Sponsored Recommendations

ISO 45001: Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS)

March 28, 2024
ISO 45001 certification – reduce your organizational risk and promote occupational health and safety (OHS) by working with SGS to achieve certification or migrate to the new standard...

Want to Verify your GHG Emissions Inventory?

March 28, 2024
With the increased focus on climate change, measuring your organization’s carbon footprint is an important first action step. Our Green House Gas (GHG) verification services provide...

Download Free ESG White Paper

March 28, 2024
The Rise and Challenges of ESG – Your Journey to Enhanced Sustainability, Brand and Investor Potential

Work Safety Tips: 5 Tactics to Build Employee Engagement for Workplace Safety

March 13, 2024
Employee safety engagement strategies have become increasingly key to fostering a safer workplace environment. But, how exactly do you encourage employee buy-in when it comes ...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!