Alumna Ivory Iheanacho makes moves in occupational health and safety

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Her public health practice is industrial hygiene; her passion is worker health.

USF College of Public Health alumna Ivory Iheanacho said she was driven to public health for its ability to “safeguard our communities.”

The Baton Rouge, La. native earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental management from LSU before deciding to make the move south to Tampa, Fla. for her masters of science degree in public health.

She earned her MSPH in industrial hygiene from the USF College of Public Health in 2014, a degree which she said exposed her to the vastness of the public health profession.

“My graduate curriculum included a variety of courses such as health policy, toxicology and epidemiology,” she said. “What interested me most about public health is how broad of a profession it is and how a variety of systems work together to protect public health.”

Iheanacho performing ventilation survey at military automotive paint booth in Albany, Georgia. (Photo courtesy of Ivory Iheanacho)

Now, she’s putting what she learned earning her degree to work in Portland, Ore. as a senior consultant for Ramboll, a leading international engineering, design and consultancy company.

“With Ramboll I’m engaged with providing exposure assessment and exposure reconstruction support,” she said. “Consulting can be fast paced which means staying organized is an absolute must. Who and what I work on as a consultant changes from week to week, but I find it rewarding to look back at the clients I’ve worked with and see how I was able to help them.”

Iheanacho said the COPH’s environmental and occupational health program is hands on, and after graduation she found herself using the skills she learned while earning her degree, including the research skills she developed while writing her thesis.

“With consulting, I have had the opportunity to support a variety of worker populations within academia, healthcare, local government, private industry, manufacturing, military and now through litigation support,” she said.

She’s also become involved with the volunteer community within the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). Since 2017, she has served on the Continuing Education Committee (CEC), a national volunteer committee within AIHA.

“The mission of CEC is to ensure AIHA members are provided with the highest quality of training programs and educational opportunities for professionals in occupational and environmental health,” she said. Her leadership doesn’t stop there. In 2017, Iheanacho worked with four other AIHA members to cofound the Women in Industrial Hygiene (WIH) volunteer committee within AIHA. She now leads national WIH outreach efforts to raise awareness about public health, occupational health and the industrial hygiene profession within the community.

The cofounders of Women in Industrial Hygiene (WIH) Volunteer Committee. (Photo courtesy of Ivory Iheanacho)

In 2018, she was elected president of the Pacific Northwest regional chapter of AIHA.

Iheanacho becoming president of Pacific Northwest Local Section – PNS AIHA at the Northwest Occupational Health Conference in Bremerton, Wash. (Photo courtesy of Ivory Iheanacho)

“I work with a phenomenal executive committee to provide members with a wide range of networking opportunities in the occupational health and safety field,” she said.

In all, her passion for worker health has its roots at the USF COPH.

Iheanacho as a student at the AIHce 2013 Conference in Montreal. She’s pictured with Dr. Yehia Hammad, a professor of environmental and occupational health at the COPH, who she said was one of her inspirations during her time as a student. She also credited Drs. Steven Mylnarek and Thomas Bernard for inspiring her. (Photo courtesy of Ivory Iheanacho)

“What sets USF COPH apart from other programs was the emphasis on practical application, requiring a field experience to ensure students have practical experience before graduating,” she said. “I look back at my time at COPH as a pivotal step in my career and personal life. I made lasting friendships with the students and staff of my program and have COPH to thank for where I am now.” 

Fast Five for COPH Alumni:

  • What did you dream of becoming when you were young?
    An explorer.
  • Where would we find you on the weekend?
    Hiking the trails.
  • What is the last book you read?
    “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
  • What superpower would you like to have?
  • What’s your all-time favorite movie?
    Any Simon Pegg film.

Story by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health