A Career Spent Building Bridges; Janice Camp Retires

A Career Spent Building Bridges; Janice Camp Retires

After 35 years with the department, Principal Lecturer Janice Camp has retired. She began her career as a graduate student, working in and then directed the Field Research and Consultation (Field Group) group for years before heading the Continuing Education Programs. In these roles, Camp connected our department to workers, employers, health and safety professionals, and others in the professional practice community.

“She’s made a tremendous impact,” said Chair Michael Yost. “She has spent her career building bridges.”

Camp was working as a critical care nurse and a single mother with a four-year-old daughter when she decided to get a graduate degree. She moved to Seattle to enroll in the Occupational Health Nursing program in the UW School of Nursing, with financial support from our Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety.  After she took an industrial hygiene course in our department co-taught by Professor Emeritus Michael Morgan, she decided to also complete an industrial hygiene master’s degree—

At the time, the field of industrial hygiene was largely dominated by men. Camp was one of only two women completing the degree. Camp estimates that at that time just a quarter of the professionals working in the field were women.

That didn’t deter Camp, nor did working doing an internship at Todd Shipyards. Shipbuilding was an industry often labeled tough because of widespread reluctance to health and safety measures. The company had recently hired Douglas Briggs, (MSPH, Industrial Hygiene & Safety, 1984). He supervised Camp, asking her test noise levels across the shipyard. “She brought with her a blend of occupational health and industrial hygiene,” he said, and a persuasive manner that convinced the workers to wear noise monitors. Both were unusual.

She was past president of and active in the local chapter of the American Industry Hygiene Association, the Pacific Northwest Section – AIHA, which honored her in April 2015 with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Over the past three decades, she has responded to many emerging occupational hazards facing Washington state workers. The award recognized Camp for her long history of working with leaders in manufacturing, healthcare, and other sectors and mentoring students. She helped plan annual professional and industry conferences and designed programs that were directly and immediately applicable to practice.

Camp became a lecturer in the department while directing the Field Group. She co-taught the course, Occupational and Environmental Health: Policy & Practice, with Sharon Morris

“She cared deeply about political issues and their relationship to environmental health and safety,” said Clinical Professor Michael Silverstein, who also co-taught the course with her.

For six months in 2007, she worked in Senator Patty Murray’s office in Washington D.C.  The Democrats had recently taken control of the Senate, and Senator Murray appointment as chair  of the Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee carried a great deal of weight. Camp worked with Senator Murray’s staff member, Bill Kamela, and shared an office with some of Iowa Senator Tom Harkin’s staff.

Camp remembers helping speechwriter draft a congressional floor speech for Senator Murray to support Senator Kennedy’s minimum wage bill. She also worked on an asbestos bill, talking to geologists about the classification they used for asbestos fibers.

“It taught me more about how policy is made at the federal level, which I could use in my policy class when I returned to Seattle ” she said.

When she returned to teaching, she said, “I used to tell students: one way you’re going to make a difference in policy is as a subject matter expert.” It’s when you’re behind the door working in the office next to the politician that you’re making a lasting difference.

A celebration in her honor was held on June 17, 2015 at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture. View the photos from the event.