Founder and Director, Tara Zupancic, MPH

Screen Shot 2019-10-18 at 5.03.51 AM (1)Tara is a public health scientist specialized in environmental health, health equity and knowledge translation. For over 20 years, Tara has focused on the relationship between the environment and human health with an emphasis on child well-being and vulnerable populations. She works to advance equity in public helath programs and policy, combining scientific evidence with the leadership and lived experience of communities.

Tara has helped to lead both national and international forums to set research, capacity building and policy agendas, including the Bonding Through Bars International Roundtable on maternal and child health at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies (UBC) and Knowledge Leaders in Children’s Environmental Health, a two-year national program, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.   More recently, her reports for the David Suzuki Foundation and Toronto Public Health, in collaboration with EcoHealth Ontario, led to the Toronto Board of Health’s recommendation to significantly increase the city’s urban green space, particularly in disadvantaged or historically under-served neighbourhoods.
Tara is the co-founder of the Centre for Environmental Health Equity based at Queen’s University, where she served as Associate Director until 2013.    She is the co-author of one of the largest systematic reviews on Canadian environmental health research, which formed the basis of a  pan-Canadian strategy on health equity and the environment.
Tara holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine. She lives in rural Caledon with her family, and a growing gang of rescue pets, where they aspire to make it a net positive place for people and planet.

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'the hill' 2014

‘the hill’ 2014

Dedication: My mother was born in Hamburg Germany in 1941. At four years old, she fled with her mother and three siblings from the allied bombings. They eventually reunited in an Austrian refugee camp near Linz where they lived for ten years before coming to Canada.  My dad was born on a farm near Ljubliana in the former Yugoslavia (now Slovenia). When he was five years old, his father was abducted and murdered, under the guise of politics.  My dad and his four siblings were raised by his mother and aunt. At the age of 18, under the cover of night, he swam into Austria after two former failed attempts. He made his way to Canada with dreams of exploring South America.

Both of my parents speak fondly of their youth and see the world as a place of goodness. They are examples of steel forged in fire while maintaining hearts of gold. I owe my sensibilities about humanity, fairness, and wellbeing to them. It’s through them I understand “all good things are wild and free”.


Selected Publications and Presentations

Zupancic, T, Westmacott,  C. (2016) Working with local governments to support health equity through the built environment. BC Centre for Disease Control.

Zupancic, T., The Nature of Cities: building health from the ground up (Keynote). European Forum on Urban Forestry, Ljubljana, Slovenia, June 1st, 2016.

Zupancic, T., Kingsley, M., Jason, T., Macfarlane, R. (2015). Green City: Why nature matters to health. Toronto Public Health. The city of Toronto.

Zupancic, T., Bulthuis, M., Westmacott, C. (2015). The impact of green space on heat and air pollution in urban communities. The David Suzuki Foundation.

Masuda, J. R., Zupancic, T., Crighton, E. et al. (2014). Equity-focused knowledge translation: a framework for “reasonable action” on health inequities. International Journal of Public Health59(3), 457-464.

Masuda, J.R., Zupancic, T., Poland, B., and Cole, D. (2008). Environmental health and vulnerable populations in Canada: mapping an integrated equity-focused research agenda. The Canadian Geographer 54(4): 427-450.

Zupancic, T., Masuda, J., Hancock, T., et al. “Equity-focused Knowledge Translation in Children’s Environmental Health”. Canadian Public Health Association 2012 Annual Conference, Public Health in Canada: Creating and Sustaining Healthy Environments. Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton, Alberta June 14, 2012

Zupancic, T., “Reducing Health Inequalities: Influencing Change Through Settings Approaches.” Canadian Public Health Association 2012 Annual Conference, Public Health in Canada: Creating and Sustaining Healthy Environments. Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton, Alberta June 11, 2012

Zupancic, T., “Supporting Urban Communities’ Capacity to Promote Environmental Health Equity Through Dialogue.” Climate Change Adaptation and Health Equity Workshop Summary Report Metro Hall, 55 John Street, Room 310, Toronto May 24, 2011. Workshop Summary Report:

Zupancic, T., “Equity-focused Environmental Health Assessment” Extreme Heat and Climate Change in Urban Settings. Engaging Priority Populations, 2011 OPHA/HPO Fall Forum October 6, 2011, Toronto Marriot, Toronto, Ontario

Zupancic T and Burkhart, S., “An Introduction to Children’s Environmental Health” Best Start Annual Conference 2005 


Peer Reviewer (2012) Urban Physical Environments and Health Inequalities: A Scoping Review of Interventions Canadian Institutes for Health Information