What our Health Equity Champions Mean to the Communities they Serve

By now you are familiar with the names of this year’s MPHA Health Equity Champions. We asked colleagues of our Spring Awards Breakfast awardees to share a more intimate perspective on what makes these individuals extraordinary in the public health space. Click here to reserve tickets and for more information on the event.

Deborah Klein Walker, Paul Revere Awardee

Deborah Klein Walker, Paul Revere Awardee

“It was a personal joy and a professional obligation to nominate Debbie Walker for the Paul Revere Award.  I will come back to that word, ‘obligation.’ First, the joy. I have known Debbie since I was assigned to her as an academic advisee when she was on the Maternal and Child Health faculty at the Harvard School of Public Health. From the start, she has been a mentor, a role model, an adviser, occasionally a co-conspirator and always a friend. She was clearly on her way to becoming a Big Macher, as we say in Jewish, even in those early days. But she has always been the most accessible of Big Machers.

The obligation I mentioned is not to Debbie, although I owe her much. Rather it is to public health. I worked with Debbie again at the Department of Public, and under her leadership we were at the forefront of family centered care for children with special health care needs, smoking prevention and cessation, universal coverage for pregnancy care, life span, person-centered systems of care for individual with disabilities, and on and on. The drive to be a trailblazer in public health has characterized Debbie’s work throughout her career, and is formed by her commitment to public health as a fundamental responsibility of any society to its people, and to public health systems as the means through which that duty is fulfilled. In honoring Debbie, I feel we all acknowledge how important that commitment is, and implicitly pledge to be part of fulfilling it.” – Deborah Allen, Director, Child, Adolescent and Family Health at Boston Public Health Commission

Shani’s contributions to health equity are recognized nationally and her skills, leadership and commitment inspires people and institutions to be better.

Shani Dowd, Lemuel Shattuck Awardee

Shani Dowd, Lemuel Shattuck Awardee

“Shani’s students give her rave reviews for her practical approach to the field of mental health and health equity. Over the past 30 years, Shani has been consulting to local health and human service organizations on cultural competency and health equity strategies to help them improve their services to people of all backgrounds, and has been training the next generation on delivering Culturally Appropriate Mental Health Services. Her work is essential for creating more culturally competent practitioners in our increasingly diverse communities and for creating a healthier and more inclusive Massachusetts.  Shani’s contributions to health equity are recognized nationally and her skills, leadership and commitment inspires people and institutions to be better. I am enormously thankful to call her my friend and colleague.” – Mike Devlin, Director of Grants and Initiatives, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation

 

Jen Slonaker, Alfred Frechette Awardee

Jen Slonaker, Alfred Frechette Awardee

Under Jen Slonaker’s direction, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts has launched unique strategies to engage and inform young people, including creation of the Get Real Teen Council (GRTC), an active group of peer leaders who serve as “sexperts” in the community. Recognizing the importance of an external assessment of Get Real’s effectiveness, Jen forged a partnership with The Wellesley Centers for Women to conduct a rigorous impact evaluation of the curriculum. The findings indicate the curriculum has a significant impact on delaying participant sexual activity and has positively impacted the lives for more than 200,000 youth.

“Jen embodies the traits of a true public health leader in her commitment to ensuring that young people have access to comprehensive, medically accurate sex education.” –Mattie Castiel, Commissioner of Health and Human Services, City of Worcester

“Jen is a beacon to many of us in the public health field for her critical educational work in the field of public health prevention.” – Linette Liebling, Visiting Instructor of Psychology, Wheaton College

“Dr. Matt Sadof is the first physician I have heard talking about why it is so important for doctors to understand what it took for their patients to get to their appointment.

Matt Sadof, Public Health Leadership Awardee

Matt Sadof, Public Health Leadership Awardee

“Dr. Matt Sadof is the first physician I have heard talking about why it is so important for doctors to understand what it took for their patients to get to their appointment. He truly believes that providers will provide better care if they can empathize about the social determinants that their patients experience every day and how that impacts their health. He not only provides good care in his doctor’s office, he dedicates time to bettering the environments that affect his patients’ health outside his doctor’s office.” – Jessica Collins, Partners for a Healthier Community

“Long before ‘social determinants of health’ was coined, Megan Sandel was promoting (safe, affordable, and stable) housing as, in her words, a “vaccine for good health”.

Megan Sandel, Public Health Leadership in Medicine Awardee

Megan Sandel, Public Health Leadership in Medicine Awardee

“Long before ‘social determinants of health’ was coined, Megan Sandel was promoting (safe, affordable, and stable) housing as, in her words, a ‘vaccine for good health’.  Megan has a deep commitment to improving conditions for our most impacted communities and individuals, with a deep focus on improving asthma outcomes for black and Latino kids. She is an ardent supporter of Community Health Workers, a visionary, great strategic thinker and an asset to the many partnerships, boards and coalitions with which she works.  It’s great that Megan and Matt Sadof are both getting MPHA’s Public Health Leadership in Medicine Award; they’ve both been shining examples of pediatricians working in partnership to improve health equity and have worked together for years!”  -Stacey Chacker, Project Director, Health Resources in Action

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