Welcome to Hertzberg’s Heroes! Team Hertzberg periodically highlights individuals and entities that are heroic in their dedication to improving lives in the San Fernando Valley and beyond. If you know someone we should recognize as a Hertzberg Hero, please let us know at Senator.Hertzberg@sen.ca.gov!
A longtime San Fernando Valley resident, Robina Suwol is the founder and Executive Director of California Safe Schools — an organization that advocates for environmental justice — and she is passionate about protecting the health of schoolchildren. Suwol formed California Safe Schools in March 1998, after her young son was accidentally sprayed with pesticides while on his way to kindergarten. He suffered a severe asthma attack, and that scary moment motivated Suwol to do something about it.
After much research, which revealed environmental and human health risks associated with pesticide usage, particularly for children, who are the most vulnerable, Suwol brought her findings to the Los Angeles Unified School Board. She received abundant public support. Along with her vision for a safer learning environment, Suwol helped establish a “precautionary principle” for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to strive towards the complete eradication of using dangerous chemicals to fight weeds, bugs and other pests on school grounds.
Suwol’s activism extends to helping develop public policy in Sacramento. In October 2005, she effectively collaborated with then-Assemblymember Cindy Montañez to develop AB 405, which strengthened the Healthy Schools Act by prohibiting use of experimental pesticides on school grounds. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger later signed the bill into law.
Suwol is widely considered a crusader for the kids of California, and her work to make our schools and environment safer for our children continues. Today, you will often find her working with industry experts, educational leaders and policy advocates to realize these goals. Robina Suwol’s story is a testament to how meaningful change is often the result of actions taken by ordinary people who see problems and try to fix them. We honor her efforts by welcoming her as one of our Hertzberg’s Heroes.