Be Well

Assuring healthy, safe, and sustainable physical environments that promote walking and bicycling, physical activity, and clean air for all of UCLA.


More About Be Well

We collaborate with campus and community leaders to identify, plan, and implement best practices for active and safe transit (especially walking and bicycling), facilitation of physical activity in everyday activities, clean and green campus spaces, and building campus awareness about the built environment.

Be Well Leadership

Dr. Richard J. Jackson, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Richard Jackson's passions are health, nature, architecture, creating visions, and protecting children. He has worked extensively on chemical hazards, building public health strategy, leadership, and he strongly focuses on how the ‘built environment’ affects health. He has served as the Director of the CDC National Center for Environmental Health, California's top state health officer, on the Board of Directors for the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and is an elected Honorary AIA. He is professor and chair of Environmental Health Sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health with appointments in Pediatrics, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES), and Urban Planning. He has received the John Heinz environment award for his work, and is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine. 

Renee Fortier M.A./M.S., Co-Chair

Renée Fortier (B.A. Rice University; M.A./M.S. UCLA), Executive Director UCLA Events & Transportation, oversees both a comprehensive transportation program and the campus Events Office, and is co-chair of the Built Environment (BE Well) pod of the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative. With a daily population of 70,000, UCLA reduces traffic, and improves air quality and quality of life for the UCLA campus and the community at large through an extensive sustainable transportation program, including public transit passes, bicycle programs, carpools, vanpools, shuttles, and a campus fleet which is 50% alternative fueled. UCLA’s transportation programs have garnered awards from the Air Quality Management District, Association for Commuter Transportation and L.A. Metro, as well as the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), and have received a “Best Workplace for Commuters” - Gold designation and a “Bike Friendly University” – Silver designation.

Jimmy Tran, BE Well Graduate Student Researcher

Jimmy is a third year graduate student completing his dual master degrees in Environmental Health Sciences and Urban and Regional Planning. His interests are in understanding how we can change our social and physical environments to make healthy options such as walking and biking the preferred option. As the BE Well Pod graduate researcher, Jimmy aims to bring together the creative passions of students, faculty, and staff can influence policy to make UCLA’s campus healthier and safe, and sustainable.

Have a question, concern, or an idea? We would like to hear about it!

Be Well at: 


By Aubrey Freitas

Photo via Creative Commons

Everyone in this world makes sacrifices and has beliefs they fervently up hold, but humanitarian aid workers, many of whom serve at the front lines in impoverished areas, go above and beyond for those in need. For the past seven years these men and women have been honored on August 19th, World Humanitarian Day. This celebration was established by the United Nations to recognize and commend all aid workers for the bravery and dedication they have displayed, especially because many go unrecognized in day to day life. Over 130 million people require humanitarian assistance globally to survive, so it is incredibly important that we take the time to thank and celebrate humanitarians for the amazing impact they have on our global community.

  There is one man in particular that has made tremendous sacrifices and shown extraordinary bravery through his actions as a humanitarian: Gino Strada. Strada, born in Milan, Italy on April 21, 1948, has been achieving remarkable feats in the world of healthcare for over two decades. The 68-year-old is the co-founder of the UN-recognized organization, EMERGENCY, which is a highly specialized medical humanitarian organization that aims to provide quality healthcare to people of war-torn countries. Since it’s creation in 1994, EMERGENCY has provided care for over six million people in fifteen different countries, and the numbers are only rising, according to The Guardian.

Strada began his humanitarian efforts after graduating from the University of Milan in 1978 as an MD with a specialization in trauma surgery. After coming to the United States in the 1980s, he worked as a lung and heart transplant surgeon at Stanford University and the University of Pittsburgh until 1989 when he left his position to start working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), where he focused on trauma surgery and war victims. Strada’s work with the ICRC lead him to places like Pakistan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Somalia, and is what ultimately inspired him and his late wife, Teresa Strada, to start EMERGENCY. Working with the Red Cross was ultimately not enough for Strada; he wanted to make bigger contributions in the world of medicine by creating hospitals that provided a higher standard of care for citizens of war-torn areas. Strada was not the sole believer in this dream; after their time with the Red Cross came to a close, Strada and his wife were able to gather a group of their coworkers who shared the same mentality, forming the original sector of volunteer doctors that served the organization. Strada’s wife would later serve as president of EMERGENCY, and it is her charisma and dedication to which Strada credits both the amount of volunteers that aided them in later years and the success of the nonprofit in its entirety.

EMERGENCY works in collaboration with local governments. Trainers impart knowledge and skills to local healthcare professionals and leave once the site has proven to be stable. EMERGENCY has built much more than just hospitals; their additions also include specialized surgical, rehabilitation, pediatric, first aid, healthcare, and maternity centers, as well as mobile and outpatient clinics that offer help to migrants and unaccompanied minors. All services provided by EMERGENCY are free of charge, as the organization views healthcare as a basic and inalienable human right. Throughout the years, the organization has created hospitals in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Cambodia, and the Central African Republic. In 1996 they built the first hospital in Iraqi Kurdistan, in 2003 they opened the first cardiac center in Africa, and today they have eight hospitals in conflict areas, as well as 54 first-aid posts and healthcare centers in heavily mined areas, or otherwise close to the front lines.

Strada and EMERGENCY heavily campaign against the root cause of war and human suffering, and protested Italy’s military involvement in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. In 1997, EMERGENCY’s protesting influenced the Italian government’s decision to ban the production and use of antipersonnel landmines. Strada revealed in an interview with Right Livelihood that he refused to accept financial support from the Italian Foreign Ministry in 2001 and 2003, because he believed it contradictory for an organization that is involved in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to express desire to help civilians that were harmed by the war.

EMERGENCY is an organization created to help people. It believes in the greater good of people, and all involved with the group campaign for a world without war. Gino Strada took his passion for peace and healing and created something amazing: a health organization that has been improving the lives of those who need it most, yet are often overlooked because of the financial and physical state of their country. EMERGENCY has impacted the world of healthcare by showing that the wellness of all persons is equally important, and that the establishment of healing centers on the front lines is possible with enough bravery and dedication. Gino Strada is a humanitarian who has gone above and beyond the duties of his job description by living his beliefs in his day-to-day life and being a forceful advocate for change. At 68 years old, Strada continues to practice medicine for EMERGENCY clinics and hospitals, along with his daughters who have joined to campaign, and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

If you are interested in learning more about EMERGENCY, would like to donate to the cause, intern with the organization, or volunteer for them, you can visit the official website here for more information.

Aubrey Freitas is an undergraduate student at UCLA double majoring in English Literature and Psychology with a minor in Italian. She is a blogger for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative in the Mind Well section, which focuses on the importance of mindfulness and mental health. Aubrey is the founder of the organization Warm Hearts to Warm Hands, which teaches the skill of knitting to people of the community in return for their donation of an article of clothing they create with the skill, to be given to local homeless shelters.

UCLA Reveals Project to Make LA 100% Sustainable by 2050
We are what we build.