2013 Helen Rodriguez-Trias Social Justice Award


Diana M. Bontá, RN, DrPH, trustee of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Archstone Foundation received the Helen Rodriguez-Trias Social Justice Award.

The award honors public health workers who have worked toward social justice for underserved and disadvantaged populations.

Bontá has served as the President and CEO of The California Wellness Foundation and she was vice president of public affairs for Kaiser Permanente’s Southern California Region. There her responsibilities included providing strategic direction in the areas of public relations, community benefits and government relations, grant management, corporate communications and media relations for over seven years.

Among her many positions during a more than 40 years of work in health care, public policy and corporate health philanthropy, Bontá was appointed by California Gov. Gray Davis to lead the state’s Department of Health Services, where she oversaw one of the nation’s largest anti-smoking campaigns and the state’s Medicaid program. From 1988-1999, she served as director of health and human services for the city of Long Beach. Previously she was deputy executive director of the California Family Health Council and Los Angeles Regional Family Planning Council. She also is an adjunct associate professor in the UCLA School of Public Health and a member of the Board of Director for the American States Water Board. She also was appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as commissioner with the City of Los Angeles Board of Fire Commissioners, and served on the CDC Director’s Advisory Board as well as APHA Executive Board and was chairperson of the Executive Board in 1999 and 2000.

“Dr. Bontá has been a longstanding public health leader and champion for underserved and vulnerable populations,” said Alek A. Sripipatana, PhD, MPH, chair of the APHA Asian Pacific Islander Caucus for Public Health. “Her social justice work can be exemplified from her advocacy for adequate daycare facilities and the need to address homelessness as the directors of the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, to shepherding the statewide expansion of MediCal and the Healthy Families program that lead to health care access for an additional 1 million uninsured children as the director of the California Department of Health Services.”

Bontá has authored chapters on health communications and public health administration and she was responsible for the creation of the first nurse patient ratios in the nation in California. Among her many awards and honors are the National Medical Fellowships Public Health Service Award, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy Community Award, the National Hispanic Medical Association Leadership Award, the UCLA School of Nursing Sterling Award of Achievement, UCLA Visionary Leadership Award and the APHA Presidential Citation.