Bari Klein dreams of a community with walkable neighborhoods, safe crosswalks, well-used bike racks and farmers markets. And with her help, Harford County is getting more of those things.
With Klein, 52, as the public health manager at Healthy Harford, there will always be fewer traditional “health fairs” and more life-changing initiatives that get to the root of healthy living in Harford County.
“People come to health fairs, get their blood pressure checked, walk away and nothing changes,” says Sharon Lipford, executive director of Healthy Harford. “Bari is smart, creative, innovative and understands true public health and how to make changes.”
Klein, who has worked at Healthy Harford for 10 years and been in her current position for two, seamlessly manages dozens of initiatives and partnerships among schools, nonprofits, government agencies, recreation groups and health organizations. She recently implemented Days of Taste, a national program that connects famous chefs, local farmers and nutritionists with school-aged children. At the other end of the age range, she manages a program called CarFit, which shows seniors how to use technology in late-model cars as well as how to ergonomically adjust seats and safely get in and out of vehicles.
Klein also urges county and municipal governments to create the infrastructure for healthy living. According to Planning Department director Kevin Small, her input helped shape Bel Air’s Sustainability Plan, which includes provisions for connections between sidewalks and trails to encourage running and walking, as well as brochures on those activities.
“In modern times, we think of health as medical care. But traditional medicine is healthy lifestyles with good sleep, eating well and moving about,” says Klein. “Really, we are just going back to our roots.”