Honoring an Outstanding Health Professional


The Bettie Kettell Outstanding Health Professional Award

Dr. Sydney Sewall, MD, MPH, member of our Science Advisory Council, has been a pediatrician in Maine since 1982. Currently teaching pediatrics at the Maine-Dartmouth Family residency, Dr. Sewall was a past president of the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. A member of the Maine chapter of the Physicians for Social Responsibility, Dr. Sewall has worked throughout his career to advance public health initiatives and protect children’s health in Maine.

This year, Dr. Sewall advised and participated in drinking water and flame retardant hearings, and authored a compelling op-ed about toxic flame retardants that ran in the Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel. “Flame retardants are like the lead we used to put in gasoline—an example of ‘better living through chemistry’ gone awry,” Dr. Sewall wrote, raising the alarm and informing Maine people about how much LD 182, our flame retardant phase-out, was needed. 

This award goes to a nurse, physician, or other health professional who embodies the spirit of Bettie Cornise Detjen Kettell, R.N. (1947-2015), an operating-room nurse for more than 40 years whose outstanding leadership, compassion, intelligence, and insight made her a fierce advocate for environmental health. Concerns she had about patterns she saw as a healthcare provider motivated Bettie to do research and take action to prevent health harms linked to toxic chemicals. She lent her expertise, voice, and passion to lobbying in Maine and nationally. She joined the Board of Directors of the Environmental Health Strategy Center as well as multiple other organizations and initiatives through which she pursued what she viewed as her ministry for the environment.