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Mountain Path

CPHA Awards

Congratulations to the Colorado Public Health Association's 2023 Award Winners!

Award for Excellence in Policy: 

Established in 1988 by CPHA, 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.

Chris deGruy Kennedy: Representative Kennedy and his team were instrumental in advocating for and passing HB23-1244 which supported the Regional Health Connector (RHC) program with a sustainable funding solution. He made time to connect with RHCs, program staff, and partners in order to ensure the RHC workforce, which connects the systems that keep people in Colorado healthy, were supported in their needs. Representative Kennedy understands that conveners and connectors like the RHCs are an integral and necessary part of healthcare and public health systems and was willing to advocate for continued funding and support. He also made key connections and partnerships with other Representatives and Senators to ensure cohesive support for the introduced bill.   It is important to celebrate the elected officials from our communities who understand the importance of systems change in healthcare, and are willing to back their passion up with action and advocacy. We greatly appreciate Representative Kennedy and his team for listening, acting, and for their passion in making Colorado a place with even greater opportunities and access for people.

Award for Excellence in the Promotion of Health Equity:

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

Cynthia Hazel (4 Nominations): Dr. Cynthia Hazel is a valuable partner and great contributor to the Champions for Vaccine Equity program at the Colorado Dept of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) during the COVID pandemic.  I first met Cynthia two years ago at the Public Health of the Rockies conference.  I was very impressed with her presentation and her community engagement efforts in vaccine inequities. Cynthia joined our Champion program in November 2021.  Since then she has provided her Public Health knowledge and expertise in vaccine equity and serving disproportionately impacted communities of color.  The Champion program is a partnership between healthcare professionals and community leaders/members. It fosters relationships and shares information with marginalized communities of color about vaccine effectiveness, safety and access.  Cynthia is very instrumental in helping to reduce health inequities by presenting factual information with COVID-19 education, building vaccine confidence and dispelling misinformation around COVID vaccination.   Cynthia recently completed a training with community health ambassadors/navigators on Building Vaccine Confidence. My team and community leaders and members were extremely impressed with her delivery style and insight.  I am so excited for Cynthia's nomination for this award and believe she is deserving of such honors. She is professional, dedicated, reliable and compassionate.

2nd Nomination: Cynthia is an incredible resource for the community. Alongside a multitude of impressive accomplishments her organization has done, I was blown away when during the height of the COVID pandemic, she was able to organize multiple vaccine clinics in a historically black and brown section of town. She and her organization minimize barriers that people from these neighborhoods often face for healthcare and provide important public health resources and information.

3rd Nomination: Cynthia brings community-centered interventions to the community that are well thought out and received. Her organization's work in delivering vaccines to mono-lingual Spanish speakers and the African communities in Aurora was a resounding success. As part of the team that delivered the intervention, the community members who received vaccines felt welcome, understood, and heard. This is because Gyedi delivers interventions that focus on community input, involve volunteers who are passionate about helping their communities, and address issues around health equity, like vaccine access and health literacy discrepancies. More recently, Cynthia led a health literacy training to train providers on cultural bridging techniques and to provide care for diverse backgrounds using techniques and advice informed by community members. In the program, community leaders provided input to develop the curriculum and central issues their communities face when navigating healthcare. A training curriculum was developed and delivered to practicing healthcare providers. The healthcare providers then applied their learnings in a community setting where they educated community members on topics of interest and answered many community members' questions. To date, I've not been part of a program that's as innovative as this in addressing health equity gaps and ensuring the community is the focus.

4th Nomination: I served as the Executive Director of Immunize Colorado for 10 years.  I first met Cynthia Hazel in 2021 during the height of the pandemic, when people of color were up to four times more likely to die from COVID and up to 10 times less likely to be vaccinated.  Dr. Hazel was recruited to serve on the newly formed Vaccine Equity Taskforce to provide stakeholder expertise and to serve as a vaccine ambassador to the community.  I was immediately struck by her knowledge of community-based participatory research and her ability to gather and use actionable data.  Dr. Hazel quickly became a go-to stakeholder for speaking requests and community engagement efforts.  As a Co-creator and Founder of the Gyedis Project, I had the opportunity to learn more about her efforts to provide public health and vaccination services to the African refugee and immigrant community when Immunize Colorado partnered with Caring for Colorado to distribute grant funding to community organizations.  Through this funding, I witnessed highly successful efforts to conduct attitudinal research and vaccination services at faith-based organizations resulting in improved attitudes toward the provision of health services and increasing access to services in highly impacted communities. Dr. Hazel highly deserves this award as she continues to grow her impact in public health.

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.

Yesenia Wilson: Yesenia is a rising star and emerging leader in public health who has given so much to the Colorado public health community and the Colorado community at large. This year, Yesenia led efforts in planning and executing the first-ever Policy and Advocacy Summit put on by the Colorado School of Public Health and the Colorado Public Health Association. Yesenia’s collaborative efforts led to over 75 event attendees and glowing feedback about the content of the event. Yesenia spent months in preparation and the event was successful largely due to her contributions. Yesenia has also demonstrated her immense leadership skills as a delegate of CPHA’s Emerging Leaders Committee. Her positivity and inquisitiveness are infectious, and she is not afraid to meet any challenge that faces her. Yesenia currently serves as the Housing Affairs Specialist at Colorado’s Behavioral Health Administration.  In her role, she actively addresses social determinants of health and health disparities across Colorado by connecting and working with community-based organizations (CBOs), stakeholders, and government agencies. Yesenia is currently a MPA/MPH dual degree student at the CU Denver and the Colorado School of Public Health. The Colorado public health community is fortunate to have Yesenia as an emerging leader in the field and is truly deserving of this award as an emerging leader in public health. 

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.

Marcia Clendenen: Marcie has been a member of the CPHA PHN Section for two years and quickly became involved in several PHN Section projects. She continually challenges membership in centering the perspectives of rural Coloradans and those working in public health in rural regions of the state. Marcie has become a trusted and valued PHN leader for CPHN PHN members statewide. Marcie has also taken an active role in working to move the Future of Nursing Recommendations forward, she enthusiastically serves as secretary for the Colorado Action Coalition Strategic Advisory Committee #4 (SAC#4). Marci's enthusiasm for improving public health in rural Colorado communities is definitely contagious and we are fortunate to have her as an exemplary public health nurse in Colorado.

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!

Sara Miller: Sara has been in the field of public health for over thirty years and she still has a passion for public health that is unwavering. Her contributions to the field of public health in Colorado are numerous. She is so deserving of this award!

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 practiced 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.

Jason Vitello: Jason joined the CPHA board in 2016 as the first at-large board member with a specific focus on health equity. He has since made tremendous contributions and impacts, including: partnering with COSOPHE to launch a health equity webinar series which highlighted key health equity experts working on various pressing issues across Colorado, creating and leading CPHA's Health Equity Coalition of 100+ members, serving as the first Health Equity Director and first Health Equity Officer, increasing the racial/ethnic and professional diversity of the board and membership, integrating health equity into all of CPHA's focus areas, guiding CPHA in making and living a formal commitment to health equity and being an anti-racist organization, and serving as the liaison between CPHA and DU in creating the Health Equity Network Exchange. Furthermore, in recent years during what has been an unimaginable time for our field, Jason led Pulse Checks where our community could share in our grief and be reminded of our resilience, through his, and know that we were not alone. Jason has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to equity and justice, continuously models deep compassion and care for communities, and is leaving a significant legacy with CPHA that has been unmatched by anyone. (My understanding is that Dr. Muth passed away earlier this year. Please consider renaming this award the Jason Vitello award starting in 2024.)

Lifetime Achievement Award: 

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

Elise Lubell, MS., MCHES®: Elise is retired, she worked in public health and after retiring she is still very committed to advancing our field. She is the lead for COSOPHE, the Colorado Chapter for the Society for Public Health Education and very much involved with CPHA. Although I have not known her very long, I'm extremely impressed by her continued commitment to public health, even as a retiree. As someone new to the field, I find her lifelong passion absolutely inspiring!

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.

Cynthia Horn: Cynthia Horn, NP, is our Chief Nursing Officer. She is an outstanding public health nursing superstar.  She has worked with WCDPHE for over 20 years. She is always patient and empathetic with her patients and staff.  Her knowledge of our clinical programs is nothing short of amazing. Cynthia is an expert in Family Planning, STI, Immunization, TB, CPED/WWC, and WISEWOMAN.   Cynthia also understands the administrative side of these grant programs.  She has been a wonderful teacher for me personally and has helped so many nurses throughout her career. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cynthia was a steadfast leader directing testing services so that people in her community could be protected. She did this while also ensuring that our clinic ran normal operations – never closing for our patients that needed care. Coming out of the pandemic, she has played an invaluable role as we have achieved 100 community-based clinics offering STI screening/testing and immunizations over the past year.  Cynthia is selfless, dedicated to serving those most vulnerable with kindness and professionalism. She is incredibly humble and never seeks the spotlight. The success of our clinic over these many years is a testament to Cynthia’s passion for Public Health and those she serves.

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.

Samantha Lawson: As a colleague and witness to her outstanding dedication, unwavering passion, and transformative impact in the field of public health, I am convinced that Samantha is the embodiment of an emerging leader in this critical domain.  Samantha has consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership skills, taking on complex challenges and spearheading initiatives that have improved the health outcomes of vulnerable populations. Her ability to collaborate effectively with diverse stakeholders, including community organizations, government agencies, and healthcare providers, has been instrumental in driving positive change. Samantha possesses exceptional communication skills, which she utilizes to advocate for evidence-based policies and raise awareness about pressing public health issues.  What sets Samantha apart is her unique combination of vision, innovation, and perseverance. She consistently seeks innovative solutions to address emerging health concerns and has successfully implemented groundbreaking programs that have resulted in tangible, measurable improvements in community health. Her drive to make a lasting impact and her ability to inspire and motivate others to join her cause is truly remarkable.  Samantha's commitment to equity and social justice is evident in all aspects of her work. She actively seeks to address health disparities and implement interventions that promote health equity for underserved communities. Her dedication to inclusivity and cultural competence has earned her the respect and admiration of her peers.  In conclusion, Samantha Lawson is an exceptional emerging leader in the field of public health. Her visionary approach, transformative impact, and dedication to equity make her an outstanding candidate for the Emerging Public Health Leader Award. I wholeheartedly support her nomination and believe she has the potential to shape the future of public health positively.

Roy Cleere Distinguished Service Award: 

The Colorado Public Health Association's Distinguished Service Award was renamed in 1974 in honor of Dr. Cleere who was the director of the Colorado Department of Health for 38 years. The award goes to someone who is a member of CPHA and has made an exceptional contribution to the field of public health in Colorado.

Kelsey Robinson: I am delighted to nominate my exceptional supervisor, Kelsey Robinson, for the Colorado Public Health Association's Distinguished Service Award. Kelsey's unwavering dedication and exceptional accomplishments align perfectly with the spirit of this esteemed award. Like Dr. Cleere, Kelsey has devoted herself to improving public health in Colorado. Through her remarkable guidance, she has established a solid foundation of knowledge and best practices for LPHAs in developing community health assessments and improvement plans. Kelsey's creation of the peer learning network echoes Dr. Cleere's commitment to collaboration, weaving together public health planners across the state fostering a vibrant tapestry of collective growth and progress. Kelsey pioneers transformative change by addressing assessment shortcomings and revitalizing annual documents, turning them into powerful tools for monitoring and LPHA utilization. Following in Dr. Cleere's footsteps as a catalyst for positive change, Kelsey leads the development of the state health assessment and state health improvement plan. In recognition of Kelsey's unwavering dedication, transformative leadership, and passion for public health, she is truly deserving of this award. Embodying the legacy of Dr. Cleere, she carries the torch forward and inspires all who work alongside her in the pursuit of a healthier future for Colorado.

Sabin Award: 

The Florence Sabin Award was established in 1947 by CPHA. The award is made for achievement in the public health field, in recognition of the outstanding leadership of Dr. Florence Sabin in the promotion of better public health in Colorado. This award is made to a person whose primary career is not in the public health field.

Allison Rosenthal: Allison Rosenthal has actively been involved in the Colorado Public Health Association, most recently serving as the Director of the Culture of Data Committee. She has continuously contributed to not only her committee but the organization as a whole. 

Allison currently works as a Statistical Analyst at the Colorado Department of Public Safety's Office of Research and Statistics, where she consistently goes above and beyond to incorporate public health theories and practices. She is a leader among her team whom others often turn to for advice, whether for personal support or professional guidance, especially when it relates to public health or public policy. She advocates strongly for our broader community's health and safety on and off the job. 

Allison exemplifies both leadership and commitment to the promotion of public health in Colorado. She is truly deserving of the Sabin Award!

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