New Associate Director Brings an ‘Outside Perspective’ to EHS

September 28, 2023

As a child growing up on Long Island, Courtney Drayer had dreams of becoming a paleontologist. As she progressed through her high school years, she realized the field wasn’t quite what she expected.

“Paleontology is a lot of biology,” Drayer said. “As a child, you think it’s history and earth science, but it’s really about skeletal structures and phylogenetics. Turns out, I was more interested in earth sciences.” 

That interest led Drayer to the University of Miami, where she graduated with a degree in geological sciences in 2005. She then spent some time in a stable isotope geochemistry lab, which led to working in the field of hazardous waste, which led to attending the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College under a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) fellowship and graduating with her MS in environmental and occupational health sciences in 2012.

And all of that eventually led to Drayer joining Yale Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) on September 1st as its new associate director.

“It’s always been something engrained in my work ethic to keep advancing in my career and to learn new things,” Drayer said. “Any place I have worked, I have been redirected into a new interest and that’s been exciting to me.”

Drayer is joining EHS from New York University Langone Health, where she has spent the past two and a half years serving as a manager in its environmental health and safety program. In the role, she acted as the lead industrial hygienist, laser safety officer, and sat on the Radiation Safety Committee. She was responsible for regulatory compliance, directed the indoor air quality, HAZCOM, laser safety, and fire extinguisher programs while using various metrics to manage the development and improvement of several safety programs.

“If I was going to leave a job that I loved at NYU Langone, I wanted to do it for the right institution,” she said. “I was already familiar with the Yale EHS program because the website is such a great resource. When I was researching programs for NYU Langone, I would look at other universities because they have such valuable information to share. Since I was already familiar with the caliber of many of the Yale EHS programs, I knew it was the type of job that was worth the risk of leaving New York City.”

Drayer served as the director of environmental health and safety at New York Institute of Technology from 2020-2021 and worked at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene from 2013-2020, first as part of the division of administration as an officer in occupational health and safety before moving on to become the division of disease control’s chief of health and safety in the Public Health Laboratories. She was a research safety specialist at Columbia University Medical Center from 2010-2013 and served as a technical services representative in healthcare and higher education for Triumvirate Environmental from 2009-2010.

She was invited back to Hunter College as adjunct faculty in the School of Urban Public Health in 2014 and was asked to join the NYU School of Global Public Health as adjunct faculty in 2021.

Drayer is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM), and Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). She is also the secretary of the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s (AIHA) Non-Ionizing Radiation Committee.

In her new role with EHS, Drayer will oversee the Occupational Health & Safety, Research Safety, and Technology and Outreach sections.

“Courtney’s role as associate director at EHS is an important one with significant responsibilities,” said Kevin Charbonneau, EHS executive director. “Her previous university, industrial hygiene, and collegiate teaching experience make her a great fit for our program and a strong mentor to our safety professionals within EHS. It’s been great over the past few weeks getting to know Courtney better and being able to share the many things that Yale and EHS have to offer. I hope you will take a moment to introduce yourself to Courtney if your paths should cross as she continues to venture out to the many spaces across campus.”

“I’m hoping to bring an outside perspective from my time working at places like NYU, Columbia, and the New City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene,” Drayer said. “I have seen how other top programs operate, both what works well and what doesn’t. Hopefully, I will be able to bring some of those ideas here where they will be useful. I am excited to see how EHS does things at Yale.”