Leah Berger Jensen Appointed Director of the Tulane University Nitrogen Reduction Challenge

Leah Berger

Kenneth Schwartz, Director of the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking is pleased to announce the appointment of Leah Berger Jensen as Director of the Tulane University Nitrogen Reduction Challenge as of July 1, 2016.

Jensen is the principal and owner of The Berger Group, a firm dedicated to creating healthy, vibrant communities. The Berger Group provides expertise and professional services grounded in a framework of health equity, social justice and capacity building. She has been a consultant to the project for over a year with her consulting firm.

The Tulane University Nitrogen Reduction Challenge is an international competition that will award a single $1 million prize to the Team with the best in-field solution to reduce the amount of crop fertilizer entering the world’s waterways. The runoff of crop fertilizers causes hypoxia (oxygen-deprived water), which leads to massive marine and plant life death.

“We in New Orleans and the Gulf South are the catch basin for fertilizer and runoff from farms in middle America as it enters rivers upstream, then flows south into the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, thus creating the Dead Zone,” says Jensen. Therefore, the Challenge is seeking innovative in-field solutions with the goal of combatting hypoxia and environmental Dead Zones.

In her expanded role as Challenge Director, Ms. Jensen is responsible for internal logistics; external affairs; and education about hypoxia, Dead Zones and its impact upon the Gulf Coast and world waterways and communities. This includes leading promotion, recruitment and education efforts for the Challenge across diverse sectors, including innovation and entrepreneurship, agriculture, science, and technology. She interfaces with local and regional partners across the south, as well as supporters at the national level including the EPA, USDA, and White House’s Office of Science of Technology.

International Teams are encouraged to apply as Dead Zones impact waterways word-wide. Registration is simple and requires only a bio and 1-page Abstract, which must be submitted online. Registration Deadline is August 15, 2016.

The Challenge is generously funded by Phyllis M. Taylor, president of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation and board member of Tulane University.

Jensen was initially selected to be a part of the Challenge team in 2015 because of her strong relationships throughout Tulane University. Prior to founding The Berger Group, Ms. Jensen worked at Tulane University School of Medicine (TUSOM) for over seven years where her efforts led to the development and founding of five health centers and founding of TUSOM’s Office of Community Affairs and Health Policy, serving as its Executive Director. She concurrently served as Co-Executive Director of the Ruth U. Fertel/Tulane Community Health Center, where she developed and managed a brand new, state-of-the-art clinic dedicated to providing high-quality, cost-effective care to under-resourced and uninsured families.

Over the years Ms. Jensen has been honored for her work, including selection as one of New Orleans’ CityBusiness “Women of the Year”, New Orleans “Top 40 Under 40”, the nation’s “100 Great Disruptive Heroes” for her pioneering work in the health care delivery system, participation in New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute (NORLI), and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. She serves as a Board Member for Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine’s Alumni Association and is on the Advisory Committee for Louisiana Healthcare Connections.

Ms. Jensen received her Bachelor of Arts from Connecticut College in both Cultural Anthropology and Gender and Women Studies. She attended the School for International Training in Kenya with a focus in Development, Health, and Society, and received her Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in 2004 with a focus in International Health and Development.