Polly is a Senior Fellow and former Associate Director at Center for a Livable Future and a Research Associate in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences.
In 1996, Polly joined the Center shortly after the Center’s creation. As part of a two-person team, Polly helped Director Bob Lawrence launch the Center by initiating the interdisciplinary collaboration, research, education, and community outreach that continue to be a hallmark of the Center today. Polly served as Associate Director of the Center until 2010.
What inspires Polly is the worldview that human beings are an integral part of the ecology of our place. This was succinctly expressed over 80 years ago by Sir Albert Howard, the father of organic agriculture—"the health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible."
Polly has devoted her life to two major interests: health and the environment. A physician trained in pediatrics, Polly realized that her primary interest was in public health. She led several successful land preservation campaigns in Baltimore County, worked to improve nature and science education, initiated and organized the first Hazardous Household Waste days in both Baltimore City and County, among other environmental advocacy efforts. At the Center, these interests all came together in a setting that looks upstream for solutions to human health and environmental problems.
Because Polly believes it is important to practice what we preach, she also initiated the Ad Hoc Committee for the Greening of Johns Hopkins, a University committee for increasing environmentally sustainable practices. This effort, which began in 2000, laid the groundwork for the official JHU Sustainability Committee in place today.
Community involvement and family are very important to Polly. She initiated and ran a program for student, staff and faculty volunteers at the Rose Street Community Center in East Baltimore from 1998 to 2005. This included a tutoring program for children. In 2005, Polly was awarded the Johns Hopkins Martin Luther King Award for her contributions to the community and to healing racial intolerance.
In 2005, Polly moved to Providence, RI to be near two of her children and her six grandchildren. As Senior Fellow, she serves as course faculty for the popular online course at JHSPH: Food Production, Public Health and the Environment and continues to be involved in other CLF activities.
Polly is a graduate of Radcliffe College, Harvard Medical School and received a Master of Public Health degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Polly Walker, MD, MPH
“The most important role for all of us in the health professions is to get informed and then involved in the important decisions about how our food is produced and how the environment is protected or abused in the process.”