MPHA 2023 Awardees

Kevin Cranston, Paul Revere Award

Kevin Cranston is the Assistant Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Director of the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences. Kevin’s career in public health began in 1987 as an Adolescent AIDS Prevention Specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he established a street youth outreach program, and continued as the HIV/AIDS Program Director at the then Massachusetts Department of Education. In 1995 he joined the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as the Assistant Director of AIDS Prevention and Education in the HIV/AIDS Bureau, quickly becoming Director of the program (1996-2001) before expanding his scope as Deputy Director (2001-2003) and then Director (2003-2009) of the entire Bureau.

Throughout his career, Kevin’s work has been shaped by a lifelong dedication to the lives and welfare of young people and has been deeply rooted in the LGBTQ community. His work at MA DOE was instrumental in establishing the Safe Schools for LGBTQ Youth program and in establishing the first data collection on gay and lesbian youth through the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which pioneered methods of data collection on sexual orientation that is essential to current understanding of health inequities for LGBTQ communities. Moving to MDPH, Kevin assured that resources were prioritized for youth at risk of HIV/AIDS and supported the then Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth (now the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, still the only commission of its kind in the United States). He advocated for sexual orientation questions on the adult Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey and then worked to test and implement questions on gender identity which have provided critical information on health inequities experienced by the trans community.

In 2009, Kevin was appointed to lead the new Bureau of Infectious Disease, which combined the HIV/AIDS Bureau with the Bureau of Communicable Disease. His work to align the critical prevention, surveillance, and response programs targeting these and other infectious diseases into one unified bureau drew upon all of his strategic planning, policy, programmatic, and leadership skills. In 2016, Kevin was appointed to Assistant Commissioner and oversaw another merger with the creation of the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences. In this role Kevin has provided leadership in response to issues ranging from HIV to H1N1 to EEE to Ebola to COVID-19 to Mpox.

In addition, Kevin has laid a critical foundation for the future of public health by advocating for renovation of the State Public Health Laboratory and overseeing the early phases of implementation, assuring quality data collection and reporting, working with the Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers and Scientists/MOSES to create a career ladder for epidemiology staff within state government, and serving as both a role model and mentor for people within MDPH.

Kevin’s work has had state, national and international impact. He serves on the Massachusetts Special Legislative Commission on LGBT Aging and on the Executive Committee of the Harvard Center for AIDS Research. He is the past Chair of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors and of the National Coalition for LGBT Health and is a former member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. Kevin has also served as a technical advisor to national, state, and provincial AIDS control programs in Nigeria, Brazil, and South Africa.

Kevin Cranston holds an M.Div. degree from Harvard Divinity School and a B.A. in Theology from Boston College, fields of study that no doubt have guided his long career to create greater health equity and justice.

Dr. Matilde Castiel, Local Public Health Leadership Award

Dr. Matilde (Mattie) Castiel was first named the City of Worcester’s Commissioner for Health and Human Services in September 2015. In this capacity, she oversees the Divisions of Public Health, Youth Services, Human Rights and Disabilities, Veterans Affairs, Elder Affairs, and Homelessness along with advancing important new initiatives that fall under the scope of youth violence and the current opioid crisis, mental health, reentry from jail, and COVID-19.

At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Castiel used every opportunity to mobilize city-wide stakeholders to meet community members on the ground. This included convening a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force that updated Covid-positive data by demographic and zip-code, informing mobile testing and then alter vaccine outreach. This also included securing vaccines from the state so that Worcester’s public health department could provide vaccination cites around the city, including locations such as churches, community centers, shelters, senior and public housing, and many more.

Dr. Castiel was on the founding Executive Committee of the Massachusetts Large Cities Health Collaborative and currently serves as its President.

A doctor by training, she has worked as a Board-certified physician in Internal Medicine in the Worcester community for over 34 years, including working at UMass Memorial Medical Center and Family Health Center of Worcester and as an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, and Psychiatry at UMass Medical School.

Dr. Castiel has always held a professional and personal mission to work with the underserved. She founded the Latin American Health Alliance (LAHA), a nonprofit organization in Worcester dedicated to combating homelessness and drug addiction in 2009, where she continues to serve as its Medical Director today. LAHA’s programs consist of the Hector Reyes House a substance abuse treatment facility for Latine individuals and two transitional houses, one of which is named after her. In 2015, LAHA opened Café Reyes on Shrewsbury Street, an innovative jobs training program for the residents at Hector Reyes House and transitional houses.

Dr. Matilde “Mattie” Castiel was born in Camaguey, Cuba and immigrated to the U.S. in 1962 as part of Operation Peter Pan. Raised and educated in California, she completed her medical training at the University of California-San Francisco after earning a B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from California State University – Northridge.

Adrienne (Andy) Epstein, Lemuel Shattuck Award

Adrienne (Andy) Epstein, RN, MPH, is a member of the Advisory Council on Public Health for the Brookline Public Health Department. She has spent more than 45 years as a nurse and public health advocate in Massachusetts and Africa and has been a role model for how public servants and public resources can be deployed to tackle health problems and systems challenges grounded in social conditions that create health inequities.

Andy’s clinical work has crossed settings, from home-visiting, to community health centers, to emergency room care in a developing health system in Mozambique. In each of these settings Andy not only brought clinical skills in diagnosis and treatment, but developed strategies for new models of care delivery that addressed social conditions and could therefore improve outcomes.

In 1988 Andy helped develop an initiative with visiting nurses from home health agencies across Massachusetts to provide care for homebound and dying people with HIV. This was a time when HIV and AIDS were highly stigmatized and options for care statewide were severely limited. There was no treatment save for AZT which extended life for 4-6 months. There was no Ryan White Care Act, and therefore no federal funding for HIV and AIDS care and treatment programs. Andy rallied nurses to start HIV programs at agencies that rarely went outside their “lane.” She then turned her attention to developing the framework for the creation of the ACT-Now program, which utilized state resources to incentivize the provision of HIV/AIDS treatment and support services by hospitals and health centers. This innovation formed the basis of integrating HIV/AIDS care into routine medical care, very different from the specialized and isolated AIDS clinics that formed in the rest of the country. The impact of this work is that Massachusetts continues to have some of the highest rates of HIV viral suppression in the U.S. and concomitant sustained reductions in HIV incidence.

Andy’s work at the state Department of Public Health and the Boston Public Health Commission brought her focus and skill to additional public health challenges. She helped inform the clinical and public health components of the Commonwealth’s pilot needle exchange program, oversaw its first program evaluation, and later directed the pilot use of nasal naloxone at a time when this life-saving medication was only available via injection by EMTs and emergency room clinicians, reversing thousands of overdoses and saving lives. In the early 2010’s, Andy worked to overhaul Massachusetts Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST). With her guidance, a landmark report was created on how to empower residents of Massachusetts to make informed and well-considered end-of-life decisions.

When Medical Marijuana was approved by the voters, and even before, Andy, working behind the scenes as usual, helped create the structures to support a regulatory regime for medical marijuana dispensaries within DPH. In 2015, Andy began working as a nurse at one of the first medical marijuana dispensaries in MA. In that role, she helped many patients with a range of disorders who found that marijuana, used thoughtfully, could alleviate many painful and distressing symptoms.

Throughout her career, Andy Epstein has worked to think creatively and push systems to respond to emerging health needs, keenly focusing on health inequities.

Tiana Davis, Emerging Leader/Alfred Frechette Award

Tiana M. Davis is a Deputy Public Health Commissioner for the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services (SDHHS). Tiana oversees the Health Services for the Homeless Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center offering primary care, behavioral health, dental, and enabling support services across the Western Mass Tri-County (Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin) to individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Through this work, she is dedicated to ensuring that homeless residents are treated with respect and have access to quality healthcare and support services.

Before joining the SDHHS, Tiana worked for over 15 years in public health at a community health center, a local hospital, and for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Health & Human Services, where she developed a deep understanding of the healthcare system and the challenges faced by patients and of healthcare policy and its impact on communities across the state.

Committed to seeking ways to address public health challenges and improve health outcomes, she obtained a Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy and Management from the University of Massachusetts.

Tiana has strong ties to the community and is passionate about giving back, believing everyone has a responsibility to help create positive change. These are not mere words; she holds firm to the belief by demonstrating the deeds of volunteering at local organizations serving underserved populations.

Committed to improving the health of our community through innovative programs and policies, she embraces the challenge of actively influencing and formulating ideas to promote positive results and much-needed change.

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