Lead-Safe Wisconsin - Lead Safe for Kids Award

Dr. Catherine Slota-Varma, a pediatrician from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, served as co-chair of the Wisconsin Childhood Lead Poisoning Elimination Plan Implementation and Oversight Committee (IOC) from its development in 2004 until her untimely death in 2007. Dr. Slota-Varma was an amazing advocate for children at risk of lead poisoning. Her patients knew her as Dr. Kitty.

A recognition in her honor was developed by the IOC in 2010. See below for recipients of this recognition, the Dr. Kitty's Lead-Safe Kids Award.

Dr. Kitty's Lead-Safe Kids Award Recipients

In April 2013, Jeff Havlena (left), former data surveillance manager for the Wisconsin Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, received the recognition award in Dr. Kitty's honor from current IOC Co-chair Chuck Warzecha, Director, DPH Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health.

Jeff matched blood lead test reports with WIC and Medicaid enrollment, and developed report cards to inform health care providers of opportunities to improve their testing efficiency. In this way, Wisconsin became a national leader partnering with Medicaid and WIC, ensuring that high-risk children get tested for lead in blood and creating opportunities for early interventions to reduce exposure. 

Jeff also identified areas of high-risk housing, thus helping housing programs to target limited resources to areas of greatest need. 

Finally, Jeff’s work also allowed Wisconsin to set evidence based goals and to measure our progress at reducing lead poisoning.

Tom Sieger, former co-chair of the Wisconsin Childhood Lead Poisoning Elimination Plan Implementation and Oversight Committee (IOC), received the Lead-Safe Kids Award in honor of Dr. Kitty Slota-Varma. Sieger co-chaired the IOC with Dr. Kitty for 3 years before her death in 2007. Tom is pictured to the left with current IOC Co-chair Karen Ordinans, Executive Director of Children's Health Alliance of Wisconsin.  who was Tom's co-chair from 2007-2010.

Tom provided the guiding leadership for the development of the IOC and served as co-chair until his departure from the Division of Public Health. His ethical character combined with wise counsel allowed the evolution of the strong, committed and united body we find in our IOC.

More about Dr. Slota-Varma (Dr. Kitty)

Dr. Slota-Varma was active in childhood lead poisoning prevention on many levels:

  • Local Level: As a pediatrician practicing for over 25 years, Dr. Slota-Varma treated many children with elevated blood lead levels and played an active role in curbing elevated lead poisoning rates among children in the Milwaukee Area. She assisted the City of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Health Department in developing a local plan to eliminate childhood lead poisoning.

  • State Level: Dr. Slota-Varma was instrumental in the development of the plan to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Wisconsin in 2004 and in its implementation and oversight. She chaired the statewide committee for more than 3 years. She was formerly president of the Milwaukee Pediatric Society and was active in the Milwaukee Academy of Medicine, the Medical Society of Milwaukee County and the Wisconsin Medical Society.

  • National Level: In September 2003, Tommy Thompson, as Secretary of Health and Human Services, and former governor of Wisconsin, appointed Dr. Slota-Varma to serve a three year term on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention.

In 2006, Dr. Slota-Varma was awarded the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary's Partnership for Public Health Award.

Last Revised: October 4, 2016