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With new hire, coalition aims to ramp up anti-lead poisoning efforts

A woman with short light brown hair wearing a necklace of teal colored beads, a grey sweater, and navy blue pants sits on a wooden bench in Village Gate Plaza
Photo provided
Clare Henrie is the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning's new program manager.

The new program manager for the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning says the Rochester community has done a lot to prevent children from being exposed to lead in their homes, but more needs to be done.

The coalition recently hired Clare Henrie for the role, the first paid position in the organization in several years.

“One of the short-term efforts that I hope to accomplish,” Henrie said, “is really making sure that our community engagement efforts are strengthened and inclusive and really reaching the right people who need to understand the hazards of lead, and the hazards of lead that may be in their own home.”

The coalition formed in 2000 and is an advocate to prevent childhood lead poisoning. It had an early success when the city passed laws in 2005 requiring many rental properties to be tested for lead.

Throughout the years, it has compiled data on childhood lead poisoning and launched educational campaigns.

But in 2022, the most recent year the data is available for, about 140 Monroe County children had elevated blood lead levels. Henrie said that number should be zero.

“I don't want to alarm people,” Henrie said. “But we need to make sure that community members still understand that lead hazards are still present in a lot of homes. It's not something that people want to think about.”

She said childhood lead poisoning is also tied into issues such as housing quality and environmental justice.

Henrie is native to the Rochester area, and she previously was the policy and advocacy director for the Climate Solutions Accelerator of the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region. Before that, she worked for the New York State Children’s Alliance, first as director of programming, and then as director of public policy and advocacy.

Coalition leaders believe that experience makes Henrie a good fit for the new position.

“We look forward to continuing CPLP’s critical work of education and outreach to reduce lead poisoning in our community — and Clare is just the kind of compassionate and thoughtful individual to carry that evidence-based message,” coalition co-chair Mel Callan said in a news release.

Causewave Community Partners helped the coalition secure a three-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fund the position. It is also providing space and operations support for the program manager.

Jeremy Moule is a deputy editor with WXXI News. He also covers Monroe County.