Mission & Values

About Us

We develop and connect leaders.

RIHEL is a nonprofit organization incorporated in the State of Colorado. The major academic affiliates of RIHEL, in which most of the RIHEL faculty hold appointments, include the University of Colorado – Colorado School of Public Health and the University of Denver. We are grateful to the University of Denver for their generous donation of office space and work infrastructure.

RIHEL provides leadership training, builds linkages among leaders, and strengthens the relationships among health professionals, environment professionals, the academic community, the public sector and the private sector. The Institute was founded and sustained for fourteen years by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Financial support for the Institute has been provided by the many sources included in the “Sponsors” section.


The mission of the Regional Institute for Health and Environmental Leadership is to develop and connect leaders who work collaboratively in diverse sectors and communities to create and sustain the health and well-being of people and the environment.

The goals of the Institute are to:

  • Develop Leaders: Enhance and develop leadership training in the Rocky Mountain Region.
  • Connect People: Build upon and foster a diverse and multi-disciplinary Institute network among fellows, alumni, Board members, other health and environment professionals and the community.
  • Influence People to Create Better Health and Environments: Address the health and environmental challenges of diverse communities through a portfolio of resources and activities (fellows, alumni, projects, existing and new programs, etc.)
  • Sustain the Institute: Provide the people and financial resources to assure the continuation of the Institute and its mission.

RIHEL’s Dynamic Statement on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility

RIHEL believes in the dignity, interdependence, inherent value and purpose of all human lives. All people matter to the collective us, including the people who have been – and too frequently remain – marginalized in our society. RIHEL is unwavering in our stance that violence and intolerance is a public health crisis fueled by isms and phobias: racism, sexism, homophobia, genderphobia and other varieties of dehumanization. RIHEL will actively work towards dismantling systemic oppression and violence while not reinforcing them.

RIHEL denounces all actions and beliefs rooted in hatred, for they erode individual, community and environmental well-being. RIHEL rejects as contradictory to our organizational values any policy that devalues the role of science in the common good or diminishes the lived experiences of communities of color in the United States.

RIHEL strives to break down barriers; we encourage public health and environmental work to dismantle systemic racism and colonization; we advocate for behaviors that foster mutual understanding; and we call upon leaders at all levels to model ethical behavior.

It is our charge as public and environmental health leaders, practitioners and students to assure the conditions in which people can be healthy. RIHEL supports efforts to increase access to opportunities to voting, health care, education, employment, safe living and working conditions and the many other social determinants of health.

RIHEL treasures and stands for equity because equity is the road to equality. As a training organization, our responsibility is to create an equitable learning environment where people engage and interact free from fear or retribution. We commit ourselves to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in thought and in action.

RIHEL is accepting of everyone and their lived experience so that all may learn. We find these values to be self-evident and fundamental to public and environmental health. We continually strive to check our biases and accountabilities, as individuals and in our policies and practices, so that we are not a force of disenfranchisement.

RIHEL works as a force against isms to dismantle the structures enabling its many forms, be they systemically or individually meditated. We are intentional in making our practices, recruitment efforts and organizational culture consistent with the beliefs expressed in this statement. RIHEL invites the community to read more about us, our mission, goals and values.


  • The dignity of all people is worthy of our respect.
  • Integrity is the most central RIHEL operating principle. We treat our fellows, alumni, faculty, staff, Board, friends, vendors and the public honestly, honorably and transparently.
  • Our workforce and our communities deserve our very best, and RIHEL is committed to excellence in the products and services that we provide.
  • Diversity intrinsically enhances virtually every aspect of life, and we seek it to enrich our work.
  • Health and environmental leaders accept the challenge to seek environmental justice and health equity.
  • Individuals and communities share the responsibility for health and the environment.
  • Leadership is the behavior by which one influences others in the attainment of a common goal.
  • Leaders speak truth, and encourage and empower others to give voice to their values and goals.
  • Effective leaders lead by example.
  • Effective leaders incorporate coaching (strategic thinking partnerships) throughout their work and relationships.
  • Servant leaders place service before self.
  • Effective leadership requires the courage to take risks.
  • Collaboration and inclusiveness are front line leadership tools for addressing complex problems.
  • Leadership learning is a lifelong process.
  • RIHEL is strongly committed to the future, as are all legitimate leadership endeavors.
  • An appreciation of our humanity and humor can facilitate difficult processes and add joy to life. Creativity, passion, flexibility, and the desire to learn and grow are attitudes that help us grow as individuals, as leaders and as an Institute that develops, connects and leverages people.

RIHEL seeks to be the leadership development resource of choice for the health and environment professions in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. While the public health/environmental health workforce is our central constituency, nearly every industry and sector affects the public’s health or the environment in some way. The leadership challenges to the public’s health are complex, and the government sector cannot successfully address these challenges alone. Accordingly, RIHEL serves the leadership development needs of a broad array of Rocky Mountain industries who are essential partners in the work of creating and sustaining healthy communities. By uniting the public and private sectors, productive relationships and creative solutions to our challenges can be achieved.

The Need For Leadership

There is currently a great need for a new kind of leadership because the challenges to health and the environment have never been greater, and because old paradigms of leadership are no longer effective in our very complex social, political and economic milieu. RIHEL’s leadership development programs seek diverse cohorts of middle- to senior-level professional men and women who are technically competent in their fields. When they have enough experience and future-orientation to have their own visions, these workers are ready for the leadership development opportunities that RIHEL offers.

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