Joan Claybrook, President Emeritus of Public Citizen and former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has received the 2012 Community Hero award from the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Community Hero Award was created by the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy to recognize distinguished injury prevention leaders and exemplary programs that contribute to improving safety in our communities.
In 1966, Claybrook teamed up with Public Citizen founder Ralph Nader to successfully lobby for passage of the nation's first auto safety laws. As administrator of NHTSA under President Jimmy Carter, she issued the first standards requiring air bags in all passenger vehicles and the first fuel-economy laws. These acts empowered government to establish safety standards for new vehicles and issue recalls for defective vehicles and parts. She went on to serve as president of Public Citizen from 1982 until 2009.
"Motor vehicle safety is recognized by the CDC as one of the top ten public health success stories of the last century, and much of this success is attributable to the work of Joan Claybrook," said Andrea Gielen, ScD, ScM, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy. "We in the field of injury prevention are indebted to Joan's tireless service, advocacy and leadership."
While at the Bloomberg School to accept her award, Claybrook spoke on "The Politics of Safety" at the annual Daniel J. Raskin Memorial Symposium on Injury Prevention. She shared her thoughts on how research and data favoring safety initiatives often conflict with political pressures on policymakers and administrative agencies, and offered her recommendations on what can be done to facilitate progress in safety programs.
Claybrook earned her law degree. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1973. Her work on behalf of civic interests has been recognized with numerous awards and honors including honorary degrees from Georgetown University and Goucher College. She received the Philip Hart Distinguished Consumer Service Award from the Consumer Federation of America and the Excellence in Public Service Award from Georgetown University Law Center. She is a member of the boards of Public Citizen, Citizens for Tax Justice, Public Justice Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and the Georgetown University Law Center's Board of Visitors.
The Community Hero Award was established in 2005. Past awardees include Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, (former and then) Commissioner of the Baltimore City Health Department and Dr. Ileana Arias, (former and then) Director, National Center for Injury Prevention & Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.