APHA's Public Health Awards Ceremony and Luncheon recognizes individuals who will receive the association's most distinguished awards. APHA honors those who exemplify professionalism and dedication to the field of public health.
Join us at the event on Monday, Nov. 13, 12:30-2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased during the registration process or can be added by logging back in to your registration record.
Meet the 2023 Award Winners
APHA Distinguished Public Health Legislator of the Year Award
Recognizes a legislator at the federal, state or local levels who strongly supports of public health.
Recipient: U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-WI
APHA Executive Director Citation
Honors an APHA member for their exceptional service to the Association.
Recipient: Robert Ross, MD, MPA, president and CEO of the California Endowment
Sedgwick Memorial Award
Honors an individual for their distinguished service to advance public health knowledge and practice in the field of research, administration, education, technical services or a specialty field of public health practice. The Sedgwick Memorial Award is the Association’s oldest and most prestigious honor.
Recipient: Nancy Krieger, PhD, MS, professor of social epidemiology, American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
APHA Award for Excellence
Recognizes an individual for making a significant and well-recognized contributions to the improvement of community health by utilizing scientific knowledge or innovative organizational strategies.
Recipient: Rebecca Seguin-Fowler, PhD, RDN, LD, CSCS, associate director, Institute for Advancing Health through Agriculture; chief scientific officer, Healthy Texas; and professor, Department of Nutrition, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University
David P. Rall Award for Advocacy in Public Health
Honors an individual who has made outstanding contributions to public health through science–based advocacy. The award is a tribute to David P. Rall, MD, PhD, whose scientific-based advocacy efforts advanced public health and prevention across many fields and in many forms.
Recipient: Pedro Rodrigues Curi Hallal, PhD, MSc, the Alvin and Ruth Sandall professor of kinesiology and director of the Master of Public Health program, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Helen Rodriguez-Trias Social Justice Award
Honors an individual who has worked toward social justice for underserved and disadvantaged populations. The award is named after the late Dr. Helen Rodriguez-Trias, past president of the American Public Health Association.
Recipient: Angela Diaz, MD, PhD, MPH, director, Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center
Victor Sidel and Barry Levy Award for Peace
Recognizes an APHA member who has made outstanding contributions to preventing war and promoting international peace. APHA past presidents, Victor W. Sidel, MD, and Barry S. Levy, MD, MPH, endowed the award in 2008.
Recipient: Samer Jabbour, MD, MPH, professor of public health practice, faculty of health sciences at the American University of Beirut (outgoing) and researcher, Syrian Center for Policy Research, Beirut, Lebanon
APHA Presidential Citation
Recognizes a person or organization in recognition of outstanding contributions to the advancement of public health or the public health profession.
Recipient: Dolly Parton
Milton and Ruth Roemer Prize for Creative Local Public Health Work
Honors a local health officer of a county, city or other unit of local government who has demonstrated creative and innovative public health work.
Recipient: Allison Arwady, MD, MPH, the former commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health
Lyndon Haviland Public Health Mentoring Award
Recognizes an individual for their essential role of mentoring in public health and leadership development.
Recipient: Sharon Laing, PhD, MS, associate professor, School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership, University of Washington Tacoma, and adjunct associate professor, University of Washington Seattle School of Public Health
Ayman El-Mohandes Young Professor Public Health Innovation Award
Recognizes a young public health professional who is making a significant, innovative contribution to the public health field. The award is endowed by Ayman El-Mohandes, MPH, MD, MSc, MBBCh, a former APHA Executive Board member.
Recipient: Yan Wang, PhD, MS, assistant professor of epidemiology, University of Florida
Other Special Recognitions
Help Us Help Them: Feminist Women’s Health Center
Martha May Eliot Award
Honors a professional worker from the field of maternal and child health. The award is named after the late Dr. Martha May Eliot. past present of the American Public Health Association and a moving force in APHA’s Maternal and Child Health Section.
Recipient: Jeannette Ickovics, PhD, the Samuel and Liselotte Herman professor of social and behavioral sciences, Yale School of Public Health
Award Recipient Bios
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., will receive the 2023 APHA Distinguished Public Health Legislator of the Year Award for her advocacy of increased national public health funding, LGBTQ rights and reproductive rights.
The award goes to a lawmaker who has made vital improvements to the public’s health. Baldwin has introduced multiple pieces of legislation intended to reestablish freedoms and access to care for groups that face increased threats to health, safety and stability. After the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in 2022, Baldwin introduced the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2023 this March to enshrine access to abortion care into law.
She previously introduced the Respect for Marriage Act in July 2022, which called for all states to recognize same-sex -marriages performed in other states, and affords couples protected rights such as access to Social Security benefits and a spouse’s employer-funded health care. President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law that December.
Baldwin continues to be a proponent of adequate public health funding, as hundreds of millions of dollars in increased funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration are a result of her work as chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee.
Baldwin was elected to Congress in 1999 as a representative for Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District, and was elected a senator in 2013.
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Robert Ross, MD, MPA, is the recipient of the 2023 APHA Executive Director Citation for his decades-long mission in funding community groups whose work enhances racial and health equity across California.
The Executive Director Citation is given to an APHA member who furthers the association’s reach through their outstanding public health service.
For more than 20 years, Ross has served as the president and CEO of the California Endowment, a private, nonprofit organization that provides grant funding and support for programs that enhance schools, health care, community development and criminal justice reform for all California residents.
APHA recognizes Ross for his work through the endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative, which was a decade-long program to invest in education, lower incarceration rates and reduce health inequities in 14 California communities through policy change. Accomplishments from initiative interventions include a 50% drop in school suspensions between the 2011-12 and 2018-2019 school years and helping create a nearly $38 million statewide youth investment grant program that funds community-based groups working to deter young people from entering the criminal justice system.
Ross will retire from his role at the California Endowment in 2024.
He has previously served as San Diego County’s director of health and human services agency and the city of Philadelphia’s commissioner of public health.
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Nancy Krieger, PhD, MS, is being honored with APHA’s 2023 Sedgwick Memorial Medal for Distinguished Service in Public Health for her lifelong scholarly work and activism in social science and championing health equity.
The award, one of APHA’s highest honors, was named in recognition of the late Professor William Thompson Sedgwick, a former APHA president and the head of the department of biological and public health at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It recognizes outstanding achievements in the field of public health.
Krieger has been widely published for her work on the social determinants of health—how where one is born, lives and works affects their well-being—and its link to the prevalence of many health issues such as chronic disease, infant mortality and cancer. She is lauded for her work highlighting marginalized communities and the effects of racism on health, most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic when data proved the disparities in both deaths and access to preventive care.
Krieger is also the co-founder and chair of APHA’s Spirit of 1848 Caucus, a network of public health professionals focused on how social inequality affects health. Formally recognized by APHA in 1997, the Caucus identifies the year 1848 as a pivotal year of events that shaped world views on public health, race and class. Krieger’s work via the Caucus has helped highlight educational tools that train public health professionals to look at health through a social justice lens.
“She is the rarest of public health scholars who is at the same time a profound thinker, an empiricist, a public health activist, and a scholar of the deepest integrity and talent, who is connected both personally and through her work with the politics of the day,” said Anne-Emanuelle Birn, ScD, MA, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the University of Toronto-Scarborough’s Department of Global Development Studies.
Krieger is the professor of social epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and director of the school of public health’s interdisciplinary concentration on women, gender and health, as well as the American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor.
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Rebecca Seguin-Fowler, PhD, RDN, LD, CSCS, is the recipient of the 2023 APHA Award for Excellence for her comprehensive body of research and interventions that have improved the public health of underserved populations in rural America.
The award goes to a person who has made and will continue to make significant achievements in improving public health through the marriage of science and innovation.
Many of Seguin-Fowler’s research-based programs focused on reducing the barriers to better nutrition and exercise for older adults and people living in rural areas. She has received funding from agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for nutrition and physical activity education and interventions that have been replicated across the nation.
One of Seguin-Fowler’s most notable and ongoing research projects is StrongPeople, which provides mid-life and older adults with strength training, exercise and nutrition classes, as well as guidance on how to advocate on behalf of their community to address public health concerns. Since 2003, she has been the director of StrongPeople community-based programs which are active in over two dozen states.
She is also associate director of Texas A&M University’s Institute for Advancing Health through Agriculture, where her work includes a mobile health program that brings cooking demonstrations, fresh produce and health fairs directly to urban and rural parts of Texas. Under her leadership, Seguin-Fowler mentors faculty members and postdoctoral fellows researching issues such as food systems and nutrition security via the Institute’s Healthy Living program.
In addition, Seguin-Fowler does data analysis, program planning, assessments and more as chief scientific officer of Texas A&M’s Healthy Texas Initiative, a program that helps improve child nutrition, reduce obesity and manage chronic disease for over 400,000 people living in southern Texas.
“Dr. Seguin-Fowler’s programs have reached nearly every state in the U.S., as well as several other countries, helping hundreds of thousands of individuals improve their health and providing critical skill-building and support to a vast range of health educators working to serve their local communities,” said Patrick Stover, PhD, director of Texas A&M University’s Institute for Advancing Health through Agriculture.
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Pedro Rodrigues Curi Hallal, PhD, MPH, is being honored with the David P. Rall Award for Advocacy in Public Health for his work in COVID-19 health data transparency in a hostile political climate.
Named for Rall, whose scientific research was a boon to prevention and environmental health policy, the award is given to a mid-career public health professional who has used science-based advocacy to influence policy change.
As the former president of the Federal University of Pelotas in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, Hallal created the EPICOVID-19 project, a survey that tracked the spread of COVID-19 across all Brazilian states. He rejected political pressure from former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to censor survey results after they revealed health disparities between white and Indigenous citizens. The racial and ethnic health disparities uncovered in the EPICOVID-19 project were published in journals such as The Lancet Global Health and highlighted in media outlets such as BBC and The New York Times.
Hallal faced public character assassination and threats to his job and safety for highlighting the Brazilian government’s failure to enact public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Despite resistance to policy change on the federal level, some Brazilian cities and states have developed public health policies based on Hallal’s work.
“A lesser mortal could have retreated to safety, and stopped their efforts given that personal—and family—safety was at stake,” said I-Min Lee, MBBS, MPH, ScD, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “But Dr. Hallal valiantly continued in his work to inform public policy in his country.”
Hallal is now the Alvin M. and Ruth L. Sandall professor of kinesiology and director of the Master of Public Health program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
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Angela Diaz, MD, PhD, MPH, is the recipient of the 2023 Helen Rodriguez-Trias Social Justice Award for a career of advocacy and innovation in creating quality standards of care for vulnerable adolescents and young adults.
Named in honor of the late Rodriguez-Trias, a past president of APHA, the award recognizes a public health professional’s leadership, advocacy work and mentorship in seeking social justice for underserved populations.
Diaz, who had Rodriguez-Trias as a mentor, has spent decades centering social justice and health equity in the care of mostly low-income minority youth as director of the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in New York City. Since 1989, Diaz has led the center in providing relevant health care and assistance that reduces barriers to care such as mass transit fares to get to and from appointments and free laboratory tests. Today the center helps over 12,000 patients annually.
Diaz has also been an advocate for education and policy change surrounding child trafficking and the need for a holistic approach from social service workers, health care providers and law enforcement to help victims who were traditionally viewed as criminals. Among her advocacy work was her participation in a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee that released the 2013 report “Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States.” The report was influential in the creation of state and federal child trafficking legislation, such as the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015. She also co-authored “Preventing Child Trafficking: A Public Health Approach,” a 2019 book for health workers who want evidence-based strategies to stop the harms that lead to child trafficking to begin with.
“Dr. Rodriguez-Trias’ staunch commitment to social justice and equitable care helped fortify Dr. Diaz’s commitment to this work,” said Martín-José Sepúlveda, MD, FACP, a distinguished university professor at Florida International University’s Office of Research and Economic Development.
Diaz is the dean of global health, social justice and human rights and the Jean C. and James W. Crystal professor in adolescent health at Icahn School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics and Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health. She is also a professor at the school of medicine’s department of global health and health systems design.
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Samer Jabbour, MD, MPH, is the recipient of the 2023 Victor Sidel and Barry Levy Award for Peace for his work in bringing global attention to public health and human rights crises in Arab countries plagued by conflict.
The award is given to an individual whose accomplishments focus on promoting global peace and preventing war. It is endowed by two APHA past presidents Victor W. Sidel, MD and Barry S. Levy, MD, MPH, known for their research on the devastating public health consequences of war.
Jabbour is one of three co-chairs of The Lancet-American University of Beirut Commission on Syria: Health in Conflict, which humanized victims of the war in Syria, railed against the destruction of health care facilities and called on health care professionals worldwide to advocate for conflict resolution.
He is also the founding chair of the Global Alliance on War, Conflict, and Health, which supplies agencies and research professionals with evidence of the horrors of war as a way to track international humanitarian law violations and find a pathway to peace. In addition, Jabbour was the lead editor of 2012’s “Public Health in the Arab World,” which brought together over 80 authors to write chapters on the specific health challenges in places such as Egypt and Palestine, its intersection with politics and the fight for equity.
“As a physician, public health professor and scholar, Dr. Jabbour embodies the professional ethical charge that more should embrace, to name and redress militarism, armed conflict and war as unnecessary, preventable and unjust determinants of global health,” said Shelley White, PhD, MPH, associate professor of the practice and the director of experiential learning within the Global Public Health and Common Good Program at Boston College’s Connell School of Nursing.
Jabbour is a professor of public health practice, faculty of health sciences at the American University of Beirut (outgoing) and research, Syrian Center for Policy Research, Beirut Lebanon.
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Dolly Parton is the recipient of the 2023 APHA Presidential Citation for her commitment to vulnerable and marginalized groups and her philanthropic giving for COVID-19 research.
The APHA Presidential Citation is given to an individual or organization for outstanding advancements in public health or its profession.
In April 2020, the singer-songwriter donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., to help fund research on COVID-19 treatments. Part of her donation went toward funding the creation of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which first became available to the public through a Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization in December 2020.
Parton has been a supporter of same-sex marriage laws in the United States and Australia and has voiced opposition to a proliferation of state bills that place restrictions on where trans people can use the bathroom.
She has also inspired an early love of reading through her Imagination Library, which provides free books to one in 10 U.S. children under age 5. The program, which began in 1995, has given away over 213 million age-appropriate books to children across the U.S., as well as Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.
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Allison Arwady MD, MPH, received the 2023 Milton and Ruth Roemer Prize for Creative Local Public Health Work for her interventions aimed at reducing health disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
APHA members Milton Roemer, MD, and Ruth Roemer, JD, endowed the prize to recognize innovative public health work.
As the former commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, Arwady helped create a Community Health Response Corps in 2020, which deployed hundreds of people from Chicago-based community groups to expand COVID-19 vaccination and access to personal protective equipment in underserved communities. She was also instrumental in forming the Racial Equity Rapid Response Team, which worked with the department of public health on targeted interventions to reduce health disparities among white, Black and brown Chicagoans.
Arwady is also credited for her transparency and accessibility since the onset of the pandemic. In addition to making sure the health department’s latest COVID-19 transmission data was available online for the public, Arwady held weekly Facebook Live sessions called “Ask Dr. Arwady” via the department’s Facebook page.
“She led the city’s response with a strategic lens on health and racial equity, with a judicious understanding of Chicago’s communities that were hit hardest because of preexisting economic and historical inequities, which she addressed even before the pandemic,” said Meghan Phillipp, MBA, executive director of the Health Care Council of Chicago.
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Sharon Laing, PhD, MS, is the recipient of the 2023 Lyndon Haviland Public Health Mentoring Award for guiding young health professionals involved in community-based research and student programming.
The award is given to accomplished professionals who are dedicated to mentoring the future public health workforce by helping students and early-career professionals with resume-building work such as research and professional development.
New and emerging public health workers credit Laing for her effort to diversify the field of public health research by recruiting minority students onto her research teams, and helping students find grants and scholarships to travel and present their research. Over nearly a decade, Laing has mentored students whose research includes how COVID-19 affected the mental health of the Vietnamese community and the use of mobile technology to reduce alcohol abuse and cyberbullying. Laing remains involved in her student’s lives after graduation, offering professional advice on career moves and feedback on soon-to-be-published papers.
Laing is also a member of APHA’s Committee on Health Equity, which is tasked with monitoring and promoting best practices in diversity, inclusion and social justice across APHA member and leadership groups such as its boards, councils, Affiliates, Caucuses and Sections. She was recently praised for helping a student facilitate a Committee on Health Equity webinar aimed at recent public health graduates. Laing helped secure two panelists for the webinar attended by nearly 100 people.
Laing is an associate professor at the University of Washington-Tacoma’s School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership.
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Yan Wang, PhD, MS, is the recipient of the 2023 Ayman El-Mohandes Young Professional Public Health Innovation Award for her work in using technology to study the science behind substance use and alcohol addiction.
The award goes to a public health professional who is age 40 or younger and finds creative solutions to complicated public health issues. El-Mohandes endowed the award in hopes of recognizing public health workers who have made an early and meaningful impact on public health through innovation.
Part of Wang’s research has focused on the use of wearable alcohol biosensors that can detect the presence of alcohol in populations more susceptible to substance abuse, such as people living with HIV. She has received multiple grants for her research, such as a National Institutes of Health grant that will make data from biosensors easily accessible in an existing health app for users with HIV. She also received a National Institute on Aging grant to address the dearth of research about how medical cannabis affects the health of older adults—a population using medical cannabis at much higher rates.
“Her passion for improving the health and well-being of all individuals, especially those with pre-existing vulnerability, is truly remarkable,” said Nancy Barnett, PhD, a professor at Brown University’s Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences. “Her strengths as a researcher are evident in her numerous successes in grantsmanship and dissemination of research.”
Wang is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Florida.
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Jeannette Ickovics, PhD, is the recipient of the 2023 Martha May Eliot Award for her influential work behind prenatal health care and its intersections with chronic disease prevention and behavioral health.
The Martha May Eliot Award recognizes excellence in maternal and child health and achievements that raise the field’s profile. The award honors the late Dr. Eliot, a former APHA president, a Maternal and Child Health Section leader and chief of the Children’s Bureau of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
Ickovics’s research focuses on interventions that improve maternal health for vulnerable populations, such as group prenatal care—grouping pregnant people with similar backgrounds together for patient education and emotional support. She was the first to receive National Institutes of Health funding for a randomized controlled trial on group prenatal care and was instrumental in creating curriculum and guidelines to replicate successful group prenatal care programs across the country.
For 15 years, Ickovics also mentored dozens of future medical care professionals as the founding director and principal investigator of the “T-32” Training grant. Funded by NIH, the grant gives trainees experience in policy, social research and behavioral research.
“Dean Ickovics and her team of researchers and clinical partners have created innovative solutions, conducted rigorous trials, and aligned incentives to meet the triple aim—enhanced health care quality, improved outcomes, lower costs—for pregnant women and their families,” said Sten Vermund, MD, PhD, the Anna M.R. Lauder Professor of Public Health at the Yale School of Public Health.
Ickovics is the Samuel and Liselotte Herman professor of social and behavioral sciences and professor of psychology at Yale University. She previously served as the dean of faculty at Yale-National University of Singapore College.
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2023 APHA Committees – Thank you for your service.
APHA Awards Committee
- Daniel Powell, OD, PhD – Chair
- Donna K. Beal, MPH, MCHES
- Carmen R. Nevarez, MD, MPH
- Jonathan Smith, PhD
- Irene Tami-Maury, DMD, MSc, DrPH
- Deanna Wathington, MD, MPH
Martha May Eliot Award Committee
- Carol M. Easley Allen, PhD, RN – Chair
- Beth A. Blacksin, PhD, RN
- Jodi Bower, DHA
- Arthur R. James, MD
- Clifford Larochel, MPH, MA
Milton and Ruth Roemer Prize Committee
- Beth M. Roemer, MPH – Roemer Representative
- Scott A. Clardy – City/County Health Official
- Jeanette Kowalik, PhD, MPH, MCHES – Chair, Health Administration Section
- Cody J. Mullen, PhD – Chair, Medical Care Section
- Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH – State Health Official
Student Assembly Selection Committee for the Lyndon Haviland Public Health Mentoring Award
- Laura Ray – Chair
- Haley Moss – Immediate Past Chair
- Cassie Du – Mentoring Co-chair
- Mercedes Richmond – Mentoring Co-chair
- Georges C. Benjamin, MD – APHA Executive Director
- Chris Chanyasulkit, PhD, MPH – APHA President