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CPHA Awards

Award for Excellence in the Promotion of Health Equity:

Presented by the Colorado Public Health Association, the Colorado Society of Public Health Education and the Public Health 

JULISSA SOTO: Julissa has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to ensure that Latino immigrants have information about and access to vaccines for COVID-19.  Throughout the past two years, I've watched her work long hours nearly every day of the week to bring vaccination clinics to immigrants throughout Colorado.  She's helped host vaccination clinics at churches, schools, community centers and essentially any location accessible to Latin immigrants who will allow her to set up shop. I believe she has made it her personal mission to ensure that every person who wishes to receive a vaccination has access to one.  While this has been a challenging undertaking in the broader community, it has taken a special touch and commitment to outreach to Spanish-speaking immigrants who may be lacking in information, receiving inaccurate information or may be concerned about government interaction and intrusion.  Julissa has made it her mission to create a welcoming, culturally accessible and appropriate environment to promote public health and welfare.     2nd Nomination: We have been working with Julissa directly as the POC for COAccess whose community has had limited access to masks and COVID-19 testing throughout the response. In her work distributing tests, masks, and vaccinations to the Latino community she has single handedly put more at-home rapid antigen tests into one priority population than any other organization.     3rd Nomination: Since September 2021, Julissa has organized 70+ COVID-19 vaccine pop-up clinics in Colorado immigrant communities (less than 50% are vaccinated). Julissa regularly brings in hundreds of Latinos for vaccination at each community mobile vaccination event. She goes wherever people are, and on their timelines like evenings and weekends. To date, her clinics have vaccinated almost 20,000 in Latino communities. She has become Colorado's outspoken leader seeking Latino public health equity. Her new program, Vacunas en su Casa, brings not only Covid-19 vaccination but also other critical child and adult vaccinations from DTaP/Tdap to Varicella, into the Latino communities. (Colorado is 44th in the nation in overall vaccination and Latinos are impacted the most.)   Through Julissa's leadership state and county health leaders are now seeing the changes that are needed for equity are not impossible and can work. Julissa is all about solutions not just lamenting the health equity problem. Working with state and county health departments as well as Colorado Regional Accountable Entities (RAEs), she's formed strong partnerships to test and implement innovative solutions. Solutions that are translating into public health reform that finally addresses the health care disparity in Colorado.    4th Nomination: Julissa Soto has been a trailblazer in health equity for more than two decades. In fact, her work often epitomizes the goals of health equity by ensuring each person, without exception - gets the opportunities they need to live their best lives. Most recently, Julissa worked to ensure equity in the fight against COVID-19. She spearheaded efforts across Colorado to break down language and economic barriers to combat the virus by engaging diverse community groups and religious organizations of all kinds. Her community engagement efforts helped to save thousands of lives in Colorado and led to the vaccination of more than 18,000 Latino adults, youth and children, as well as the distribution of more than 90,000 COVID-19 tests and 40,000 masks. Throughout her career, Julissa has been a strong and effective advocate focused on health equity. Having received accolades from Governor Polis and U.S. Senators Hickenlooper and Bennett, she's often recognized for her work as one of Colorado's leading Latino immigrant advocates. But Julissa's advocacy and actions focus on equity for all people - regardless of color, language, immigration status, religion, sexual orientation, economic status or mental health status. Julissa Soto truly sets the standard for this award.    5th Nomination: Julissa Soto's approach to promoting Health Equity has improved vaccination rates and access to care for Coloradoans. She goes where the community trusts and is able access care. She puts community at the forefront of all her efforts. We need this type of innovation in promoting health equity excellence.


Award for Technical Innovation in Public Health:

This award was established in1972 in recognition of P.W. Jacoe, a Colorado Board of Health member in the 1950s, for his devotion to duty, his excellence of work and accomplishments, his interest, his leadership and contributions to the physical science field of public health. The award is to be given to a person who has made an outstanding technical innovation in public health.

GARY DEYOUNG: Dr. Gary DeYoung joined public health after a successful career in education at the collegiate level. To his surprise and to the surprise of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded. Throughout the response, Gary developed internal systems to track the status of thousands of case investigations, hundreds of potential outbreaks, collect survey responses, and schedule thousands of community vaccine appointments. He developed systems to serve where there were gaps and challenges in other systems to ensure MCPH's response was not delayed by technological issues. Gary helped our community members stay up to date with accurate data via our Data Dashboard as well as our healthcare providers and community partners to maintain situational awareness of disease burden. MCPH's successes throughout the COVID-19 response relied on the systems that he innovatively developed. Despite the burdens we collectively carried throughout the response, Gary maintained an approachable demeanor, sense of humor, and true compassion for his colleagues. Our community may not know how much he has done throughout the last two years, but we all appreciate that lives were saved, programs were improved, and public health is better because Gary DeYoung made a career change.


Emerging Leader in Public Health: 

This award is given to an individual early in their career serving in a public health capacity who has demonstrated outstanding initiative on behalf of the Colorado public health community. 

ARI RUIZ LEDOUX: Ari is an inspiring emerging leader in Public Health. She recognizes the importance of representation in this field, and believes more young women of color should be at the table. Ari is someone who is on the frontlines of social change and sees the value in community coming together to protest, share food, and be heard within their communities. Ari is coming in hot. She has an incredibly powerful and moving voice, and uses spoken word poetry to touch the hearts of many. Ari is involved in multiple youth organizations, including EYE For Prevention, Rainbow Coalition, and more. Ari has been essential in our PhotoVoice project and #EYEsurvive Expo, she has given multiple trainings, workshops, and presentations, and is a dedicated youth leader. Ari is a mentor for the other youth, and an educator for the adult allies. She is committed to social justice, youth mental health advocacy, substance misuse prevention, and being the change we want to see in our communities! Ari is an inspiration and truly deserves this award and recognition.


Exemplary Frontier Public Health Nurse Award:

Recognized a Public Health Nurse who has demonstrated exemplary service in a local public health agency located in a Colorado rural/frontier community.

 LAUREN GILBERT: Lauren has shown exceptional leadership during Summit County Public Health's COVID response. From leading our Contact Tracing Team, to managing PODs for COVID vaccine distribution, and most recently, as our Nurse Manager, Lauren brings calm and thoughtful direction to our small but mighty team. Lauren was instrumental in helping SCPH administer over 30,000 vaccines since Dec 2020.   

2nd Nomination: Lauren was an outstanding leader during the COVID response. She was heavily involved in all aspects of the pandemic response, from coordination of a robust Contact Tracing Team to overseeing the COVID vaccination clinics. She was calm under pressure, open to suggestions, developed innovative and creative solutions, and maintained a sense of humor throughout the response. Lauren is your candidate for this award!!   

3rd Nomination: Lauren is extraordinarily dedicated to her work, always seeking to advance the health of people in our county while being kind and compassionate toward the patients served. She was instrumental in helping our department provide vaccines during the pandemic and went above and beyond to help us excel in our delivery of care to the community.     

4th Nomination: Lauren demonstrates an incredible ability to lead. She moved into her manager role in the midst of our COVID-19 response just as vaccine arrived.  She seamlessly transitioned from leading our Contact Tracing Team to leading our vaccination distribution.  This was a huge undertaking, as willingness from local providers to vaccinate was underwhelming. Lauren organized and oversaw 150 PODs throughout the community and coordinated 575 volunteers. This huge undertaking resulted in Summit County Public Health providing 32,118 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.  The largest number of vaccines given at any one POD was over 1500 in just four hours! Not only does Lauren shine in her ability to organize and coordinate events, she identifies ways to make improvements and build enhanced partnerships for better health in Summit County. She wears numerous hats, which allow her to develop relationships, make community connections and expand her expertise in whatever comes her way.  She enhances PH's reputation in Summit by providing solid research behind her recommendations, and good PR.  It is undeniable that Lauren has been a gift to Public Health and Summit County and is deserving of recognition for her unyielding energy and passion for enhancing the health of our community!


General Recognition: 

Do you know someone who is deserving of recognition for contributions and accomplishments in public health, but the above awards categories do not quite fit? Tell us more!

PAOLA BABB: I first met Paola through the Hunger Free Colorado's community council. She has always been a champion of our community regarding food insecurity and food access. When the pandemic hit, food insecurity was increasing and it was through her efforts that made an impact not only in the marginalized communities but Spanish speaking residents. Her efforts brought the attention of her current position at DPHE where she continues to champion marginalized communities and LEP speakers. Her compassion and passion for her work has made her indispensable. I could not think of anybody else who deserves more recognition than Paola in all of the work she has done in providing equity in the health sector for hundreds of families here in Colorado. Her work speaks for itself and her dedication and due diligence are evident in all the relationships she has created throughout the local government agencies and organizations that help families gain access to healthy living. Incredible work!


John Muth Award: 

Named in honor of Dr. John Muth, who served as CPHA President 1983-1984 and El Paso County Department of Health Director, and is still practicing internal medicine and obstetrics & gynecology in Colorado. This award is given to a member of CPHA who has made an outstanding contribution to the Association.

 LISA PETERS & SAMANTHA BERTOMEN: Lisa and Samantha have done an extraordinary job reviving and leading CPHA's Emerging Leaders Committee. In the past 12 months, they built a completely new vision and infrastructure for the committee, which is now reaching hundreds of students and emerging leaders in public health; engaging them in dynamic ways; and supporting CPHA's strategic goal to build a public health movement. The changes they have implemented will positively impact CPHA for years to come and have been an example of what's possible for CPHA to achieve. Lisa and Samantha have successfully cultivated a community for those entering public health that connects them to professional opportunities and networks. The folks in this community are the ones who will address our most pressing public health issues, and we need new public health professionals who are excited and ready to tackle the work to be done. With Lisa and Samantha's fearless leadership, the next generation of public health in Colorado has taken a significant step forward and the future of CPHA and Colorado's public health community is bright.


Lifetime Achievement Award: 

This award honors an individual who has retired from full-time employment in public health, in recognition of their significant contributions and leadership in the field of public health. 

TOM DUNLOP: Tom has been working in environmental public health for 52 years. Five decades of service is no small feat and, in that time, Tom has had a distinguished career and continues to be a public health archetype and a source of inspiration and knowledge for Pitkin County Public Health. Tom started in environmental public health in 1970 at the Larimer County Environmental Health Department. In 1976, he was hired by the City of Aspen to create their Environmental Health Department and it was combined with Pitkin County in 1980. Under Tom’s guidance the department had a reputation as an innovator in environmental health programs. In 2001, Tom ‚ “retired” from Pitkin County but continued his work in public health through NACCHO, ASTHO, CDC, and NEHA. He served on numerous boards and partnered to teach food safety courses. In 2012, he was rehired by Pitkin County to supervise the Smuggler Mounting Superfund Site and continues in this role today.  In 2020, Tom came out of retirement to work full time during the Covid-19 pandemic response. His expertise and knowledge were invaluable to Pitkin County Public Health during this time. I would be happy to provide his cv upon request; given the length of his career, it is 14-pages long.


Lillian Wald Award: 

Lillian D. Wald (1867–1940) was a nurse, social worker, public health official, teacher, author, editor, publisher, women’s rights activist, and the founder of American community nursing. Her unselfish devotion to humanity is recognized around the world and her visionary programs have been widely copied everywhere.

The Lillian Wald Award was given to a public health nurse who demonstrates leadership skills among peers and community; has practiced a minimum of 5 years; and is creative, resourceful and innovative in addressing public health concerns in the community. This person is caring in relationships with colleagues and clients, and initiates, implements and evaluates public health interventions that focus on health promotion and disease prevention, and shares public health knowledge with colleagues and the community.

ANN SCARPITA: Ann has been working in TB programs for over 15 years and has been the Tuberculosis Nurse Consultant for the State of Colorado for nearly 7 years. In this role, she serves as a tuberculosis (TB) subject matter expert, providing direction and guidance to Colorado public health agencies to manage TB patients through care and promoting best practices.  Ms. Scarpita played an important role when the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment launched its TB Elimination plan ‚ Elimination in Colorado "The Time is Now" in December 2016. Along with this work, Ann recently completed a Master's of Science in Nursing in August 2022 and has worked tirelessly on the collaborative CDPHE and CPHA PHN Section Toolkit entitled, "Colorado Professional Scopes of Practice in Public Health: A Toolkit For Understanding Public Health Roles". The toolkit includes an extensive dive into delegation in Colorado and a self-directed e-learning module focused on nursing delegation in Colorado. The toolkit development process included building a diverse workgroup of 23 members and contributors that included public health professionals across each type of public health role. Ann led the project from initial concept to final product and will continue as the lead as we move into the dissemination and knowledge improvement stages.


Public Health Champ Award: 

The Public Health Champ Award was created in 1982 and goes to a full-time public health employee who is not in a high-level management position. The recipient must be a member of CPHA and have made an outstanding contribution to public health.

GILLIAN GRANT: Gillian Grant is a Champ because she embodies inclusive public health practice across her work at Trailhead. Of particular note is her steady leadership with the Regional Health Connector program, which is an innovative Colorado-based workforce dedicated to connecting the systems that keep people healthy. As an incredible advocate and champion for this work, Gillian has transformed the program by elevating the strengths of each RHC, who themselves promote health equity, amplify awareness of social needs and resources, and advocate for community voice and choice. The RHCs operate in a complex, often misunderstood role, but under Gillian's leadership, the program's impact across the state has become undeniable. Gillian brings her whole, authentic self to everything she does - which inspires the RHCs and her colleagues alike to do the same. Anyone who crosses paths with Gillian will remark on her generous, kind spirit and vision for a world where every person can be who they are in any space. This includes modeling/encouraging rest, joy, and community. It is an honor to work with a gem like Gillian - we are all better for it. We urge the committee to honor her with this award, which she would never ask for, but undoubtedly deserves.


Award for Excellence in Policy:

This award is presented annually to a person or organization for highly visible past or present efforts within local, state or national efforts in support of public health issues.

COLORADO ORGANIZATION FOR LATINA OPPORTUNITY AND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS (COLOR): From their Birth Justice Advocacy work to their Reproductive and Sexual Health Equity work to their work in Medicaid and Connect for Health Colorado enrollment and COVID vaccination promotion, COLOR's work towards equitable, stigma free, compassionate healthcare for all Coloradans is a remarkable achievement in statewide policy. COLOR has led several successful campaigns including Senate Bill 9, which creates the Reproductive Health Care Program allowing more Coloradans to receive reproductive healthcare through Medicaid, regardless of immigration status.

Congratulations to the Colorado Public Health Association's 2022 Award Winners!

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