American Lead Poisoning Help Association, Inc.

You are not alone anymore...

ALPHA's Mission is to raise awareness about lead poisoning, and to provide a national support network for families affected by lead.

The American Lead Poisoning Help Association (ALPHA) is comprised of parents, professionals, and concerned citizens from all over the country, dedicated to the prevention of childhood lead poisoning. Our goal is to bring families together to network, share ideas & experiences, and promote lead awareness within our communities and throughout the country.

The current parent movement began in November 2005, and as a direct result of focusing on the Trenton/Mercer County, NJ area in developing a successful model for reaching parents and children in at-risk neighborhoods.  The key component of ALPHA is the follow-through: most grant agencies locate the parents to let them know there is a problem, then do little more as funding has ended.  Since parents are ultimately in charge of their child/children's well being, it is important to link them together with other parents with similar circumstances.

ALPHA's Board of Trustees


Leann Howell - Executive Director, President
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Michele Gaffney (TX) - Secretary
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Marian Johnson - Treasurer
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Mike Martin (AZ)
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Janet Phoenix, MD (VA)
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Barry Sugarman (NJ)
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Steve Weil (MD)
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Leann Howell - Executive Director, Board President, ALPHA

Fourteen years ago, Leann Howell was a new mother, renovating a two-hundred-year old house when she first learned about lead poisoning; her then-infant son’s blood lead levels were almost four and a half times what the Center for Disease Control considers as lead poisoning, simply from breathing lead dust and vapors while the old paint layers were removed.  She has worked in a variety of lead-related positions, including graduate intern with the Ohio Department of Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program in Columbus, Project Coordinator with Community Lead Education And Reduction Corps in Newark NJ, and Manager of the Lead and Healthy Homes Department with Isles in Trenton.

Leann received her Master of Arts in English and Bachelor of Science in English Writing and Theater through Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.  In March 2006, she received a national Lead Star Award at the Indoor Environmental Health and Technologies Conference for her work in founding the American Lead Poisoning Help Association, a national tax-exempt nonprofit organization, and pending funding, a national parent support group to raise awareness of lead.  ALPHA’s celebrity spokesperson, Leadie Gaga, has moved lead poisoning awareness into Trenton pop culture since October 2010.Leann and her husband live in South Jersey with their children: Julian, and the twins, Carly & Chrissy, and Chestnut.

Marian Johnson - Treasurer, ALPHA

Marian Johnson attended Glassboro State College and earned a BA in education in 1965. She worked as  an elementary and middle school teacher in New Jersey for 34 years. Her involvement in lead poisoning began when her nephew Julian was diagnosed as an infant. That was more than 10 years ago. She has worked with Julian as both an aunt and teacher for a good portion of his life. She has seen first hand the effects of lead poisoning and understands the frustrations and fears of all "lead parents".  As a result,  Marian co-founded ALPHA, has attended lead awareness meetings and has helped at local lead testing events. Because of her education background she believes that education is the key to wiping out lead poisoning in this country and will continue to work to that end.

Michele Gaffney, M.Ed. - Secretary, Parent, and Webmaster, ALPHA

Michele Gaffney’s involvement with lead poisoning began in 2001 when her son was diagnosed with a Blood Lead Level of 93.  Since that time she has been active in lead poisoning prevention and education.  She co-founded ALPHA and has served as a speaker and participated in discussion panels at several national lead and healthy homes conferences.  Michele has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Special Education.  She has served on the Board of Directors for several parent organizations.  Michele is a proud recipient of the Lead Star Award and she is passionate about the work she does and about raising awareness concerning the hazards of lead to children, adults, and the environment.

Michael Martin - Research Analyst, Arizona School Boards Association

Michael Martin is the research analyst for the Arizona School Boards Association.  He regularly prepares reports on education topics of statewide relevance.  One of those reports, titled "A Strange Ignorance", summarized the research on lead poisoning and its effects on school children.  He has a B.A. in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in economics from the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies at California State University, Sonoma.  He is a co-founder of ALPHA and was formerly the assistant financial advisor to the Arizona Senate, a research analyst with the Arizona Tax Research Association, the Arizona Public Affairs Officer for the Internal Revenue Service, and an instructor in the U.S. Marine Corp Electronics School.  He is married to an elementary school principal and has a thirteen-year-old son in eighth grade.

Janet A. Phoenix, MD, MPH - Executive Director, Coalition for Environmentally Safe Communities

Dr. Janet A. Phoenix is Executive Director of the Coalition for Environmentally Safe Communities, a tax exempt non profit organization dedicated to providing technical assistance and training to communities at special risk for environmental disease. Dr. Phoenix is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Howard University College of Medicine. She is an internationally recognized expert on lead poisoning prevention. She has extensive experience on childhood asthma, having developed a train the trainer curriculum to reduce environmental asthma triggers in the home. Dr. Phoenix is a co-founder of ALPHA and has been a grants manager for lead poisoning prevention programs for over 10 years, having managed the National Lead Information Center, a $1.2 million dollar per year national clearinghouse and hotline for the public and for governmental agencies. In addition she currently manages two HUD funded grants to provide technical assistance, training and financial resources to community based organizations for lead hazard reduction activities. She has served as a consultant to USAID providing assistance to academic and governmental agencies in Poland , Hungary and Egypt on policy development to reduce exposure of their populations to environmental pollutants. She serves on two federal advisory committees for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee and the National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee.

Stephen Weil - Founder and Chairman, Board of Director's, Coalition for Environmentally Safe Communities

Mr. Weil currently serves as chair of the Coalition’s board of directors and is cofounder of the Coalition. Mr. Weil is a co-founder of ALPHA and has over 15 years of extensive involvement in the lead hazard control field. Through his numerous conferences targeted to lead hazard control professionals and his managerial relationship with the Lead and Environmental Hazards Association (formally the National Lead Assessment and Abatement Council), he has developed strong relationships within the lead hazard control industry. In 1996 Weil established the first National Conference on Lead-Safe Housing, now in its seventh year. His experiences in conducting numerous technical workshops and conferences on lead-based paint hazard control practices; his management of the Indoor Environmental Health & Technologies Conference, held this year in New Orleans, May 13-16, and his work as publisher of trade publications to the industries and agencies involved in lead hazard control, have provided him with extensive contacts in the industry.

Barry Sugarman, Esquire

Since 1991 Mr. Sugarman has represented individuals and the families of those who have suffered injury and wrongful death. Admitted to practice law in both New Jersey and New York, Barry litigates cases in both states’ Courts for those harmed by dangerous and defective products and the negligence of others.

Mr. Sugarman represents those injured by many different kinds of products including Asbestos, Diet Drugs (Fen-Phen), Accutane, Avandia and others. He and his firm individually, and together with regional and national law firms, work to obtain the best results possible for victims of corporate misconduct.

Barry is proud to be an advocate for the elderly and children. A substantial part of his practice is devoted to lawsuits against nursing homes for negligence and violations of law causing catastrophic injury and death. He also represents children suffering from lead poisoning caused by their exposure to lead paint in poorly maintained housing.

Barry regularly presents and moderates local and national seminars related to nursing home negligence, asbestos litigation and childhood lead poisoning. In 1996, he was selected as a finalist for the Trial Lawyer of the Year Award by Trial Lawyers for Public Justice for his work on the White v. City of Newark lead poisoning class action.

He is a member of several boards and organizations including the Public Interest Law Center of New Jersey, Advocates for a Lead Safe New Jersey, the American Association for Justice and the Middlesex County Bar Association.

Barry has served as a Barrister in The Joseph Halpern Inn of Court helping less experienced attorneys develop their legal skills.erved as a Barrister in The Joseph Halpern Inn of Court helping less experienced

attorneys develop their legal skills.


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    Site created and maintained by Michele Gaffney.  Last updated on 12/4/2012

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