Helga Luest, M.A
Helga is a senior communications manager with Abt Associates, a research and government consulting firm, where she leads efforts with HHS, DOJ, Ed, and EPA. A few of her projects include leading a branding effort for malaria elimination for the Health Ministry of Zimbabwe, leading a public messaging campaign on lead and drinking water for EPA, and serving as project director for the National Bullying Prevention Initiative and StopBullying.gov. Helga has worked in public interest public relations and health communications, providing strategic counsel and communications support over the past 30 years. She was a television news producer earlier in her career.
In 2018 she ran for Maryland State Delegate and, although not advancing from the primary election, Helga remains very engaged in community efforts and advocates to address climate change and promote trauma informed approaches. Helga is an expert on behavioral health issues, social behavior change communication, violence and bullying prevention, child abuse and neglect, family and domestic violence, and trauma-informed support.
She received her certification in climate change and health from Yale, trained by former Vice President Al Gore to join the international Climate Reality Leadership Corps, and is currently working on her CC-P certification with the Association of Climate Change Officers. In 2016 Helga was appointed to the Maryland Governor’s Family Violence Council, she has served the U.S. Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus Advisory Group since 2009, and currently supports the development of the U.S. Congressional Trauma-Informed Care Caucus. In 2011 she was awarded the Congressional Unsung Hero Award for her effective advocacy work on violence prevention and response.
Helga’s passion for this work stems from her work with survivors to turn the dark cloud of violence into positive social change – something she learned in her own experience as a survivor of attempted murder and domestic abuse. The criminal justice process became a Forensic Files episode, as her case was one of the first in the United States to be tried with dental pathology as critical evidence. Outside of work, Helga facilitates a community art collaboration that is proving to build personal and community resilience. Luest is a distance runner who is training for her 16th marathon. She is the mother of teenage twins, has two rescued dogs, and resides in Rockville, MD.