Meet Frank James MD – CELP Board Member

Frank James MD (and friend)

Frank James MD (and friend)

Frank is the Health Officer for San Juan County and Health Officer for the Nooksack Indian Nation, and a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health. Frank also serves on the Board of Directors of the Institute for Village Studies and Responsible Development and on the organizing committee for Whatcom Docs, a group of physicians bringing scientific evaluation to the health impacts of the proposed coal port and coal trains in Bellingham. Frank is the former Executive Director of Honor Works, and a co-founder of the CEDAR Project on the Lummi Nation, a community organization that builds leadership in young people.

Frank has been on the Board of Directors for CELP since 2014. We asked Frank some questions about how he became passionate about protecting Washington’s waters, and how he became involved with CELP. Here are a few of his answers:

What’s your first memory of being aware of water conservation, or conservation in general?

My great grandmother said fairly often,  “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

How did you first become aware of/involved with CELP?

I have worked for and with NW Tribes for over 25 years, CELP is well known to the Tribes. John Osborn [current CELP Board Chair] and I went to medical school together even longer ago.

What do you find most challenging about protecting water in Washington?

Water quality is something most people can relate to but water quantity is something that most people have thought we would never have a problem with in Washington State. Getting people to take the issue seriously has been a real challenge.

What do you wish other people knew about CELP or water conservation generally?

The historic role of CELP in many of the landmark water decisions is well known in some circles but the general public is unaware of the role CELP has played in critical water litigation over several decades.

If you could change one thing about CELP, what would it be?

It’s profile in the public eye.

What’s your personal philosophy on what should be done about water conservation?

Knowing that my personal effort to conserve is wonderful and it feels good but real impacts at the societal level require larger actions to change policy.

Why are you supporting CELP as opposed to other groups working on water conservation?

Many people work on water quality issues but very, very few on water quantity.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming involved with CELP?

It is very exciting to be part of an organization that is taking on one of the most important areas for the future of our community. CELP has a strong reputation for being effective and in taking on the most important issues facing our region in the area of water policy.

What’s it like to be a board member for CELP?

The staff and other board members are all very busy people but take the time to listen to the public and to take meaningful action in the best interests of the larger community. It is easy to be proud of the historic tradition of effective action over many years. The challenge is to keep that tradition up at the level it has been due to the truly outstanding efforts of prior board members.

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for CELP?

I do research, teach and practice medicine. I do research with the Nooksack Indian Tribe on the role of culture in keeping tribal members healthy, I am on the faculty of both University of Washington School of Public Health and Yang Ming University Taipei, Taiwan in Global Health and I practice at Travel Medicine Northwest helping to prepare people to travel abroad safely and caring for returning travelers that have become ill abroad.