Jen’s interest in this pubic health issue evolved after one of her sons reacted to a neighborhood lawn pesticide application on the playground in 2009. Her pediatrician’s questions and concerns inspired Jen to inquire about the lawn pesticides used by her neighborhood contractor. The following year, when Jen’s four sons were all exposed to freshly applied herbicide, she dug in to learn about the pesticide regulatory system and the health impacts of the ingredients.
The inevitability of cumulative exposure, potential health consequences, and inability of existing regulations to curb exposure motivated Jen to action in 2010. She and friend Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin began educating their community leaders, and urging the community’s transition to safe pesticide-free lawn care on common areas. In the spring of 2013, the Kentlands community launched a pesticide-free trial on common areas, which has become permanent for the common recreation areas and playgrounds.
In the fall of 2013, Alex and Jen were excited to meet like-minded residents from around Montgomery County at a Council-sponsored hearing on pesticide use. Safe Grow Montgomery was born! The founding volunteers have been working together for over three years with the mission to protect all Montgomery County residents from exposure to unnecessary lawn pesticide use.
With her background in law and communication, Jen has been a valuable part of the Safe Grow Montgomery volunteer team. She explained complex regulatory, health and exposure issues to councilmembers and their aides; and translated what industry opponents of the law called emotional pleas, into a compelling public health argument.
Jen’s favorite outdoor activities are hiking, mountain biking and skiing with her husband and four sons.