Healthy Rhode Island Environmental Design Summit

Rhode Island State House by Nicholas Millard

Co-sponsored by the Rhode Island Department of Health, EDRA44Providence takes on an unprecedented environmental design applied research goal, focused on Rhode Island’s health policy.

In addition to promoting the value of research for advancing environmental design and theory building, the 2013 EDRA conference will bring the expertise of researchers converging in Providence for the conference together with local initiatives that have health implications, and with policymakers who shape and implement health policy for Rhode Island.


To that end on May 29, there will be a day-long Healthy Rhode Island Environmental Design Summit where Rhode Island health providers, architecture and planning professionals, politicians, lay and professional community leaders, educators and students will be invited to join with conference attendees in sessions (descriptions follow) that will:


  • Provide local champions the opportunity to present their place specific projects and programs to attendees and become informed about each other’s activities in order to learn from each other, “seed” additional initiatives, and create opportunities to increase coordination, cooperation and overall effectiveness.
  • Provide distinguished scientists in each session the forum to validate with research local initiatives, frame questions for future studies in support of these initiatives, and provide examples of best practices from elsewhere that may help local action. From their ranks will come the interlocutors, who will lead the sessions and provide pointed questions with the goal of identifying policy objectives, barriers, points of synergism, opportunities for coordination, and topics for future research.

Each session will also include an influential Rhode Islander distinguished for service to government, state, Federal, non-profits, and higher education who will act as rapporteurs. Their task will be to summarize the presentations and formulate proposals for new policies, to present in the Wednesday Plenary Session, with Fred Kent, CEO of Project for Public Spaces, acting as the interlocutor. The goal of this session is a call for action to inform policy makers and to mobilize public support for the proposed policies. 


Individuals wanting to attend this event can do so as part of the full conference registration for EDRA44Providence, or by selecting the one-day registration option for Wednesday, May 29.


Summit Program:

8:30am-9:00am     Welcome and Introductions

  • Lefteris Pavlides, Ph.D., AIA, EDRA44Providence Co-Chair
  • Donald J. Farish, Ph.D., JD, President, Roger Williams University: The Importance of Academic-Government Community Partnerships
  • Sheldon Whitehouse, United States Senator (D-RI): Environmental Health & Public Health: Intersection of Climate Change and Affordable Care Act
  • Christopher Koller, Rhode Island Health Insurance Commissioner: Designing Healthy Places--The Real Affordable Care Act
  • James Bennett, Director of Economic Development, City of Providence: Sustainable Providence
  • Barbara Fields, Regional Administrator, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities - HUD, DOT & EPA

9:00am-10:30am     Introducing a Place-Based Approach to Healthy Communities

Facilitated by Peter R. Simon, Medical Director, Division of Community, Family Health and Equity, Rhode Island Department of Health, this session provide an overview of the summit and will set goals for Rhode Island to achieve health objectives through environmentally informed design affecting prevention and the establishment of a network of health stations across RI for the delivery of primary health care. 

  • Dr. Michael Fine, Director, Rhode Island Department of Health: Health Station for Primary Care Delivery in Rhode Island
  • Dr. Richard Jackson, Professor and Chair, Environmental Health Sciences, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health: Why Environmental Design Makes a Difference
  • Fred Kent, President, Project for Public Spaces: Health Dimensions of Public Spaces

10:45am-12:15 pm     Creating Health Stations for Primary Care and Prevention

Facilitated by Debajyoti Pati, Ph.D., FIIA, LEED AP, Rockwell Endowment Professor, Texas Tech University, this session focuses on the criteria for creating architectural programs and designs for Health Stations via analysis of the activities to be supported and site selection parameters including the neighborhood being served and its physical, institutional and social infrastructure and resources. RAPPORTEUR: Joan M. Retsinas, Ph.D. 

  • Jim Bersen, President and CEO, Greater Providence YMCA: Community-wide Health and Wellness
  • Charles Jones, President & CEO, Thundermist Health Center:Transforming the Health of our Communities through Provisions of Affordable, Culturally Competent Primary Care & Wellness ProgramsStephanie Paolino, AIA, LEED AP, Vision 3 Architects: West Warwick Health Care Center: Patient Centered Medical Home Programming and Design for Comprehensive Primary Care and Prevention
  • Johan Verspyck, AIA, Design Leadership at Shepley Bulfinch: Woonsocket Thundermist Health Care Center: Patient Centered Medical Home Programming and Design for Comprehensive Primary Care and Prevention
  • Adam Shyevitch, Executive Director, Health Leads Providence: Health Leads: Leveraging College Students to Connect with Patients with the Basic Resources They Need to be Healthy
  • Lynn P. Blanchette, RN, Ph.D., Vice President, Scituate Health Alliance: Environmental Model for Delivering Community-based Public Health
  • Kathy Harper RN, EDAC, MBA, Vice President for Clinical Coordination, Parkland Hospital System: Lessons from the Parkland Hospital Community Services (Texas) Studies Part One
  • Gena English, RID, AAHID, EDAS, RAS, Senior Program Manager, FF&E/Interior Designer: Lessons from the Parkland Hospital Community Services (Texas) Studies Part Two

12:15pm-1:00pm     Lunch sponsored by Sodexo Education and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce


1:00pm-2:30pm     Streets for Healthy Living

Facilitated by Daniel Iacofano, Ph.D., FAICP, ASLA, Founding Principal, MIG, this session will develop criteria for designing streets for healthy living that accommodate their active utilization by all ages and abilities in order to contribute to population health and sociability via supporting pedestrian activity;providing public transportation and enhanced bicycle utilization to minimize car use and; reducing criminal activity. RAPPORTEUR: Jane Sherman

  • Bob Smith, Deputy Chief Engineer, RI Department of Transportation: Engineering Complete Streets and Road-Dieting
  • Eugenia Marks, MA, Senior Director of Policy, Audubon Society of Rhode Island: Complete Streets: Designing Healthy Places in Rhode Island
  • Bill DeSantis, Director of Bicycle Transportation Planning & Design, VHB: Providence Bicycle Plan Part One
  • Eric Weis, Chair, Providence Pedestrian and Bicycle Commission: Providence Bicycle Plan Part Two
  • Amy Pettine, Special Projects Manager, RI Public Transit Authority: RIPTA "R" Rapid Bus Routes and their Transit Corridors Part One
  • Barry Schiller, RI Public Transit Authority Riders Coalition: RIPTA "R" Rapid Bus Routes and their Transit Corridors Part Two
  • Michelle Cortes-Harkins, Director, Providence Children’s Initiative, Family Services of Rhode Island: The Walking School Bus/Children's Opportunity Zone
  • Doug Still, City Forester, Providence, RI:Treescapes and Heat Islands
  • Galen Cranz, Ph.D., Professor of Architecture, UC Berkeley: Somatic Implications for Street Design

2:45pm-4:15pm     Healthy Neighborhoods

Facilitated by Joanna Lombard, M.Arch, Professor of Architecture and Epidemiology, University of Miami, this session will present criteria for and examples of neighborhood plans, projects and programs that promote healthful living. RAPPORTEUR: Scott Wolf, Executive Director, Smart Growth, RI.

  • Nancy Howard, Senior Program Officer, Local Initiatives Support Corporation: Building Sustainable Communities
  • Richard Godfrey, Executive Director, RI Housing:Keep Space RIH
  • Ana Novais, Executive Director, Division of Community, Family Health and Equity, Rhode Island Department of Health:CHEW - Centers for Health Equity and Wellness to Achieve Healthy Neighborhoods
  • Frank Shea, Executive Director, Olneyville Neighborhood Housing: The Olneyville Collaborative
  • Margaret DeVos Executive Director, Southside Community Land Trust
  • Channavy Chhay, Executive Director, Socio-Economic Development Center for Southeast Asians
  • Ellen Cynar, MPH, Program Coordinator, Providence Healthy Communities Office: Community Gardens & Lots of Hope Initiative
  • Michael McCormick, Assistant Vice President for Planning, Design and Construction, Brown University: A Neighborhood Park's Role in Creating a New Neighborhood

4:30pm-6:00pm     Healthy Cities, Multi-Municipal, and States through Academic-Government-Community Partnerships

Facilitated by Roderick Lawerence, Professor, University of Geneva, Switzerland, this session will identify municipal, regional, and state partnerships among academic institutions, government agencies, and community organizations to promote healthy communities and identify barriers (especially regulatory) that need to be addressed moving forward. RAPPORTEUR: Ken Payne, Ph.D., former Policy Director, Rhode Island Senate.

  • Chris Witt, AIPC, Director of Planning and Communications, RI State Wide Planning: Consortium Model for Regional Plan for Sustainable Development
  • Gemma Gorham, Chair, RI Food Policy Council: RI Food Policy Council: Community Food Security
  • Doug McLean, Senior Planner, South Kingstown: Healthy Places by Design & Local Comprehensive Planning Part One
  • Eliza Lawson, Health Policy Analyst, Rhode Island Department of Health: Healthy Places by Design & Local Comprehensive Planning Part Two 
  • Martha Matchnik, District Executive Director, Greater Providence YMCA: Healthy Places by Design & Local Comprehensive Planning Part Three 
  • Jim Lucht, Former Information Director, The Providence Plan: Healthy Housing Mapper
  • Sheila Dormody, Providence Environmental Sustainability Task Force: Sustainability Partnerships
  • Kim Boekelheide MD, PhD, Director, Superfund Research Program, Brown University: Collaborative to Create Community Health Partnerships

7:00pm-8:00pm     Findings + Recommendations

Facilitated by Fred Kent, President, Project for Public Spaces, this session will build from and upon the presentations and discussions from the day’s sessions to make recommendations that will promote a healthier Rhode Island.

  • Government Representative: Michael Fine, Director, Rhode Island Department of Health
  • ​Labor Representative: George Nee, President, Rhode Island AFL-CIO 
  • ​Business Representative: William J. Gilbane, Jr. President and COO, Gilbane Construction  
  • ​Academic Representative: Christina Paxson, President, Brown University 

* All speakers confirmed as of 5/24/13.


EDRA appreciates the generous support of our Summit sponsors: