Printer-friendly version Print this page

Kathleen MacVarish, MS, REHS/RS

Clinical Assistant Professor of Environmental Health

Director of Practice Programs

Boston University School of Public Health

Boston, MA 02118



University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and teaches graduate courses in topic areas that include local public health and emergency preparedness. She also directs the community and workforce development programs in the Office of Public Health Practice (PHP). Major BUSPH PHP programs include:

          Local Public Health Institute of MA; a training and education institute to strengthen the capacity of the local boards of health and health departments in MA

          MA Public Health Regionalization Project; a coalition working to strengthen the MA public health system by creating a sustainable, regional system for equitable delivery of local public health services

          New England Alliance for Public Health Workforce Development- a HRSA-funded Public Health Training Center

          Partnership for Effective Emergency Response- a collaborative to enhance the communication capacity in the Greater Boston metropolitan area during response to health and medical emergencies and disasters

          Practice-based Research Network-the MA partner for the national network to expand and enhance research on public health systems and services and to apply research findings through evidence-based practice


Ms. MacVarish was a local Board of Health Agent in Massachusetts for 15 years and also worked as a Sanitarian/Inspector in California and New York. She has been a Registered Sanitarian/Registered Environmental Health Specialist (RS/REHS) since 1986. She received a B.S. in Food Science from Cornell University and an M.S. in Environmental Studies from UMass Lowell. Her professional activities have included a variety of appointed and elected positions in national and state associations. She serves by Governor Appointment as Secretary of the MA Board of Registration of Sanitarians. She is a past-president of the Massachusetts Health Officer's Association (MHOA) and currently serves as co-chair of their Education Committee. She is an Executive Board and Education committee member of the Massachusetts Environmental Health Association (MEHA), an active member of the National Environmental Health Association and the American Public Health Association and a member of the Advisory Council for the Northeast Public Health Leadership Institute. Ms. MacVarish also serves as a site visitor for the Council on Education for Public Health and Food Code Review workgroup member for the MA Department of Public Health. She also served on a workgroup for the recently formed national Public Health Accreditation Board and in 2011 began the year long CDC Environmental Public Health Leadership Institute program.


Leadership Development Opportunities

As a longtime National Environmental Health Association member, Northeast Public Health Leadership Institute Advisory Committee member, and Director of Public Health Workforce Training Institutes in New England, I've been aware of leadership development opportunities across the country. I wanted to experience one myself; both for personal growth and for professional knowledge (to be better positioned to train other members of the workforce in leadership skills). I was delighted to be accepted to EPHLI and knew that while I had considerable experience and skill with program management, I was not terribly strong in personal reflection or systems thinking and had no formal leadership training.


The MBTI and Skillscope assignment highlighted some of my strengths and weaknesses, and while there were no big surprises, it helped me and my Coach focus on areas and methods of improvement, especially in terms of communication and management style. The Systems Thinking sessions and assignments forced me to study and understand why in MA, with so much training underway, we were not 'hitting the mark' in terms of the most effective kind of training. Recognizing the 'quick fix' helped me identify key stakeholders and resources that could move us toward the long-term solution.

The highlight of the EPHLI experience for me has been the networking with fellow Environmental Health professionals and especially the opportunity to work under mentor Tim Hatch and to be part of Team #1 (a team in the truest sense) with Marcia, Blaine, and Richard. It was very disappointing to hear that EPHLI is not accepting applications for a new cohort because this is a wonderful program to build leadership capability.