Recognizing Ginger Jordan-Hillier, Organizer for Change
The Environmental Health Strategy Center this year recognizes organizer and advocate for change Ginger Jordan-Hillier as the winner of our 2018 Frank Hatch Environmental Health Leadership Award.
“Ginger Jordan-Hillier was the best organizer inside of state government that I’ve ever known, bar none,” said Mike Belliveau, executive director of Environmental Health Strategy Center. “In Maine, Ginger raised awareness and mobilized state agency leadership to support and implement the landmark Kid Safe Products Act. Nationally, she organized like-minded agencies in multiple states to speak with a united voice in favor of toxic-free products. Ginger is the classic hero who works behind-the-scenes, the hallmark of a great organizer, who at long last deserves public recognition.”
Ginger grew up in Millinocket and Orland, in a family with strong connections to Maine's outdoors and community service. She discovered political advocacy as a college nursing student in New Hampshire where she became involved in the Muskie for President campaign and discovered close-up the power of organizing for change. Transferring to the University of Maine at Farmington she continued her interested in political advocacy by inviting gubernatorial candidates to the campus to meet students and staff and registering hundreds of university students to vote. She went on to work as the Assistant Campaign Director for Sen Muskie's '76 Senate campaign. As a proven organizer, Ginger was recruited by the newly formed Maine State Employees Association public sector labor union, to assist with field organization, advocacy efforts for legislative funding of their first contract, and led development of their first steward system.
Home with kids, she continued organizing as a community volunteer, holding leadership positions with the library, water association, local medical center and several local political committees. Raising kids brought a growing awareness and concerns around food additives, chemicals in children's pajamas (she began sewing safer alternatives for her own kids) drinking water quality, and lead paint.
Ginger was hired in the Commissioner’s Office at the Departments of Conservation in 2000. Improving employee health and safety, helping to build the Maine Healthy Beaches programs, coordinating a department wide hazardous waste pick up, and other successful organizing efforts, ultimately led to her hiring as the first Environmental Public Health Coordinator at the Department of Environmental Protection. This new position was tasked with a key role in building programming to deal more comprehensively with toxic chemicals in consumer products. Ginger staffed the Governor's Task Force on Safer Chemicals in Consumer Products, assisted with the development of a related Governor's bill, subsequent passage of the Kid's Safe Product Act (KSPA) and early implementation of KSPA. She helped coordinate 13 states with similar interests in bringing a state vision of chemicals policy improvement to the national arena and was Maine's representative in the creation of the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse. In other areas, she staffed Maine's participation in the binational Mercury Task Force and national Quick Silver Caucus
With her knowledge of the inner workings of state government, strong organizational skills, optimism and energy, Ginger was a leader in state government and an important ally to our Strategy Center efforts to pass the Kid's Safe Products Act in 2008 which established the nation's first comprehensive chemical safety law for children's products.
“It’s been said that we should never underestimate the ability of committed, passionate people, with a good idea, to come together, inspire others and grow their idea into action and change,” said Ginger. “I know this is possible because successfully organizing change is something I've been privileged to be part of for four decades.”
Given to an exemplary leader whose actions over a lifetime have created a significant positive impact on environmental public health, the Frank Hatch Environmental Health Leadership Award pays tribute to Frank Hatch (1925-2010), an extraordinary public servant, activist, and philanthropist whose achievements are a source of inspiration about the power of public engagement and advocacy. Following a highly regarded political career, Frank championed and led nationally renowned campaigns to protect Maine’s environment and public health. His leadership at the helm of the John Merck Fund launched the Environmental Health Strategy Center in 2002 and led to the passage of the landmark Kid Safe Products Act in 2008. A lifelong New England resident, Frank Hatch was also a civic and cultural leader recognized for his contributions to the arts.