Colleen Healy Boufides, J.D., is a deputy director with the Network’s Mid-States Region Office. Her current work focuses on public health legal authority and decision-making; collaboration between medical-legal partnerships (MLP) and public health, particularly as it facilitates translating individual legal challenges into population-level legal interventions; laws supporting the community health worker profession; and legal issues relating to environmental health and climate change. Prior to joining the Network, Colleen worked at the Michigan Primary Care Association where she focused on policy and operational issues affecting Michigan’s federally qualified health centers. Before that, she worked as a commercial litigation associate for a large Michigan-based law firm and supported local nonprofit organizations as a board member and by providing pro bono legal assistance.

In 2019, Colleen was included in the de Beaumont Foundation’s list of 40 under 40 in Public Health and she received the American Public Health Association Law Section’s Early Career Award for Excellence in Public Health Law. Colleen received her law degree from the Duke University School of Law and her Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University – the Barrett Honors College, where she studied psychology and global health. Colleen is a member of the state bar of Michigan.

Articles & Resources

Learning from the Flint Water Crisis: Legal Implications and Community Public Health Impacts

WebinarsEnvironment, Climate and HealthSafe Drinking Water

May 15, 2018
by Colleen Healy Boufides, Jennifer Bernstein and Peter D. Jacobson

In 2014, while under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager, the city of Flint, Michigan, switched its water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River. As a result, lead from the aging service lines to homes leached into the drinking water and poisoned thousands of Flint residents.

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Learning from the Flint Water Crisis – Protecting the Public’s Health During a Financial Emergency

ReportEmergency Legal Preparedness and ResponseEnvironment, Climate and HealthFlint Water Crisis Project

February 13, 2018
by Colleen Healy Boufides, Denise Chrysler, Jennifer Bernstein and Peter D. Jacobson

This report, co-authored by attorneys from the Network for Public Health Law and the University of Michigan School of Public Health, details why shortcomings in the structure and implementation of laws related to public health, safe drinking water, and emergency financial management failed to stop or mitigate the Flint water crisis. Along with key findings, the report provides recommendations to help prevent similar crises from happening in other communities.

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Emergency Manager Law Primer: Protecting the Public’s Health During Financial Emergencies – Lessons Learned from the Flint Water Crisis

PrimerEmergency Legal Preparedness and ResponseEnvironment, Climate and HealthFlint Water Crisis Project

February 13, 2018
by Colleen Healy Boufides, Denise Chrysler, Jennifer Bernstein and Peter D. Jacobson

This primer is intended to help policymakers and practitioners incorporate the lessons learned from the Flint Water Crisis to avert and/or mitigate future crises.

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Bed Bugs – They’re Still Here

Law & Policy Insights

January 29, 2018
by Colleen Healy Boufides and Denise Chrysler

A recent $3.5-million jury verdict awarded to residents of a bed-bug infested apartment complex in Los Angeles illuminates issues raised by many bed bug cases, including whether the burden to eliminate bedbugs should be placed on landlords or tenants; whether current state laws and local ordinances are effective in addressing bed bug issues and affording relief to victims; and whether these laws encourage productive behavior by landlords and tenants.

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Crafting Richer Public Health Messages — Gaining Broad Policy Support in Politically Polarized Times

Webinar SeriesPublic Health Advocacy and MessagingBecoming Better Messengers (Old Ver.)

September 17, 2017
by Colleen Healy Boufides and Gene Matthews

Designed for public health practitioners, lawyers, researchers and scientists, government and healthcare officials, and business and community leaders, this three-part webinar series, co-sponsored by the Network and the Center for Public Health Law Research, will explore the interdisciplinary messaging teamwork necessary to fashion legal and policy interventions in these politically polarized times. Using concepts and frameworks adapted from both Moral Foundations Theory and the Five Essential Public Health Law Services, the presenters will describe fresh approaches and practical examples for convincing lawmakers and the public to adopt new policies during these challenging times.

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Crafting Richer Messages: Moral Foundations Theory and Communication Strategies for Public Health

Law & Policy InsightsPublic Health Advocacy and MessagingBecoming Better Messengers

August 14, 2017
by Colleen Healy Boufides and Gene Matthews

Effective messaging of public health issues and solutions is essential to public health practice and especially to developing public health laws and policies in a polarized political environment. A number of strategies presented in the workshop were grounded in Moral Foundations Theory, which offers insights into moral psychology and decision-making that are helpful for understanding how value judgments are made.

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Public Health and the Courts: Is there a fundamental right to a stable climate system?

Law & Policy InsightsEnvironment, Climate and HealthClimate and Health

February 15, 2017
by Colleen Healy Boufides

Frustrated by what they perceive as insufficient federal legislative and executive efforts to address climate change, a group of young plaintiffs and other activists have filed suit against the federal government, citing a wide variety of health-related harms they have suffered because of the government’s inability to reduce carbon emissions.

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