By Abby Weingarten
Yosef Shapiro, a lifelong science aficionado, enjoys finding solutions to complex problems that will ultimately improve the health and safety of his community.
He joined New College on September 21 to do just that, as the new director of environmental health and safety/emergency management for the campus.
“I’ve always liked the sciences. When I was little, my grandfather bought me a science encyclopedia, and I read it cover to cover because I wanted to see how things worked,” Shapiro said. “In this field, there’s something new every day to deal with. I get to find problems and try to correct them and, at the end of the day, I feel very good inside that I’ve kept people healthy and safe. What more can you ask for?”
Shapiro was previously the environmental health and safety manager at Barry University in Miami Shores, where he had worked since 2012. He has 20 years of extensive experience in environmental health and science positions across educational and community institutions. His background is in public health, occupational safety, and preventive and reactive maintenance.
“One of the things I do is I assess every building on campus (dorms, classrooms, etc.) to get a baseline of safety data—where they are now and where we’d like them to be in the future,” Shapiro said. “And then I determine what improvements are needed.”
Shapiro is an expert on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) compliance, and hurricane-related emergency evacuation planning.
At Barry, Shapiro was part of the COVID-19 response team that was tasked with preparing the university to safely reopen amid the pandemic.
“COVID is one of the most difficult situations I’ve ever dealt with. At Barry, we physically went into every classroom, paced off six feet, created distancing circles, ordered hundreds of sanitizing stations, gave out branded masks, etc.,” Shapiro said. “We made a whole bunch of task forces and looked at this from so many different angles.”
Shapiro also created and administered safety programs for the university, such as tripping hazard prevention; and fire, chemical and traffic protocols. Developing mass notification systems for potential encounters with active shooters, implementing lightning detection systems, overseeing asbestos removal, improving pedestrian maneuverability, performing environmental health surveys, and conducting safety trainings on campus have all been part of Shapiro’s work.
Prior to his time at Barry, Shapiro was a project coordinator for the Broward County School Board, as well as an operations analyst and safety and security officer for the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County. He holds a master of science degree in environmental science from Florida International University, and his thesis was entitled Alternative Fuel Technologies for Transportation.
At New College, Shapiro will be working directly with the Campus Police Department; the Finance Office; Housing/Residential Life; and the Office of Facilities, Planning and Construction, as well as making contact with emergency management organizations like the local fire departments and paramedics. Once Shapiro has created these close relationships within the community, he will draft an official emergency plan for the New College campus.
“New College is already beautiful but I think I can make it even better by enhancing and refining it,” Shapiro said. “I’m anxious to get started, to make the campus as healthy as possible. That’s what I do. That’s what makes me happy.”
Abby Weingarten is the editor/writer in the Office of Communications & Marketing.