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Beverlee A. Myers Award for Excellence in Public Health

Class of 2018


The Beverlee A. Myers Award for Excellence in Public Health recognizes the contributions of public health and health care services professionals in improving the health status of all Californians and the millions who visit the state each year. The award is presented annually to an individual, not currently working at CDPH, who has exhibited outstanding leadership and accomplishments in California. Established in 1993, in honor of the late Beverlee A. Myers, this award reflects the leadership and dedication to all aspects of public health improvement and exemplified throughout her 25-year career, including her service as director of the California Department of Health Services from 1978 to 1983.


2018 Awardee: Dr. William Walker

Dr. William Walker's 44-year career in public health not only influenced public health in Contra Costa County, but California and the nation. His innovative work strengthened the intersection between public health and health care. Dr. Walker supported the most comprehensive secondhand smoke laws in the state. He also created school-based clinic services, and has become recognized nationally for his work with low-income individuals and his efforts to reduce health disparities.

Nominated: Dr. Daniel Anderson

The nomination for Dr. Daniel Anderson stated he has worked tirelessly to reduce the burden of cancer among all Californians. Through his contributions to state cancer coalitions, Dr. Anderson led the successful revision of California's state cancer plan, and his efforts have contributed to increasing colorectal cancer screening rates statewide. Dr. Anderson is a true example of a dedicated, passionate public health servant who has touched many lives.

Nominated: Kenneth Baird

The nomination for Dr. Baird stated he blends more than 30 years of public health experience with a passion for integrating contemporary approaches to build healthy communities. His concept of the Pillars of Public Health are innovative and creative. Dr. Baird has been an instrumental leader in the Central Valley Opioid Safety Coalition, and has taken on the very difficult task of addressing health disparities in Fresno County.

Nominated: Angelo Bellomo

The nomination for Angelo Bellomo noted he was responsible for establishing the first County Health Department HazMat program in California.  He had an impactful career in public environmental health, focusing on changes in the physical and social environment that help improve health, not just protect it. He has been a local and statewide champion for environmental justice and health equity.

Nominated: Janis Burger

The nomination highlighted Janis Burger's leadership with Health in All Policies which brought a multi-sectorial approach to health protection and promotion. Her work includes climate change and its impact on health, particularly on low-income individuals, farm and ranch workers, rural residents, and those already marginalized by public policy. She has also been recognized as a White House Champion of Change for Climate Change and Public Policy.

Nominated: Dr. Ronald Chapman

Dr. Chapman has had a long career in public health, serving both at the county level and with the state. He has had a passion for continuous quality improvement (QI) in every organization he has served. One such QI effort, in 31 clinics over two years, resulted in a 60 percent decrease in hospital admission rates of low-income children with asthma.

Nominated: Dr. Sara Cody

The nomination stated Dr. Sara Cody is a compelling advocate for racial and health equity. She spearheaded the expansion of public health to include an intentional upstream investment in social determinants of health. By developing the African/African Ancestry Health Assessment, Dr. Cody strives to eliminate wide health disparities and improve health outcomes for uninsured and low-income residents. She has brought many jurisdictions together to achieve significant and positive long-term health outcomes.

Nominated: Jared Fine

With 45 years of public service in the dental field, Dr. Jared Fine has made quite an impact. He was a project co-director on a national demonstration project for the California Dental Medicaid Program, testing innovative approaches to increase dental visits by young children. Also, Dr. Fine initiated a program at Women, Infants, and Children sites to bring preventive dental services to families with children 9-15 months old.

Nominated: Wesley Ford

In his role as leader of the Division of Substance Abuse Prevention and Control for Los Angeles County, Wesley Ford has spearheaded the development and implementation of a program to expand access to drug and alcohol treatment for low-income LA residents. He is a tireless advocate for helping providers, patients and the public understand addiction as a chronic, biopsychosocial disease.

Nominated: Dr. Mark Ghaly

Dr. Mark Ghaly has built systems of care to enrich the health and well-being of vulnerable people in the public safety net. His motivation is clear. Improve the lives of the most marginalized in our society today, including: homeless and incarcerated individuals; those suffering from serious mental illness; those battling substance dependence impacted by poverty; and those who have suffered through structural violence and trauma. In his relentless pursuit of social justice, Dr. Ghaly has led numerous groundbreaking efforts.

Nominated: Kathie Guerro 

The nomination for Kathie Guerro highlighted how she worked collaboratively to form Community Hubs within the First 5 El Dorado Children and Families Commission. The hubs offer community-based prevention and early intervention services in the county.

Nominated: Virginia Herold

The nomination stated that, under Virginia Herold's leadership, the California State Board of Pharmacy has nearly tripled in size, become a national leader in consumer protection, and is recognized as an innovative pharmacy regulator. She has led the effort to combat the epidemic of prescription drug abuse, and substantially strengthened the board's regulatory framework for pharmacies that compound sterile drug preparations.

Nominated: Dr. Katheryn Icenhower 

The nomination for Dr. Kathryn Icenhower noted she has dedicated her career to improving the health and well-being of residents of the most impoverished communities of Los Angeles, including Compton, Watts and Willowbrook. She co-founded SHIELDS for Families to provide hope for vulnerable families with a message of believing, building and becoming. Today, SHIELDS is one of the largest providers of family-centered social services in South Los Angeles, serving more than 10,000 families every year with a full spectrum of services.

Nominated: Dr. Hoda Kaddis 

The nomination for Dr. Hoda Kaddis noted that he provides structure to the California Children's Services medical program while partnering with managed care organizations. She is invaluable in her understanding of processes and procedures, and has been integral in helping the community at large to understand service models.

Nominated: Dr. Robert Kim-Farley

Nominators stated Dr. Robert Kim-Farley has made significant contributions in public health, both nationally and internationally.  He seamlessly blends academic rigor with real-world practicalities to great accomplishment, and does so with grace, humor and humility. Dr. Kim-Farley's expertise spans communicable diseases, health equity issues, immunization, legislation and environmental health.

Nominated: Dr. Neal Kohatsu

Dr. Neal Kohatsu spent more than 30 years promoting public health and advancing prevention for all Californians. He served eight years as Medical Director for the Department of Health Care Services, which provides care for approximately 14 million Medi-Cal members. Dr. Kohatsu worked at advancing population health and improving clinical quality, and co-founded an effort aimed at reducing ineffective care in the areas of opioid misuse, abuse, and maternal health.

Nominated: Debra Oto-Kent

Debra Oto-Kent is founder and executive director of the Health Education Council, addressing the pressing gaps and burden of preventable disease in California's most vulnerable communities. She has developed some of the region's first ethnic-specific taskforces, which have strong ties to the faith and business communities as well as to residents and medical providers. Oto-Kent helped create tobacco prevention strategies for adults experiencing homelessness, adults with behavioral health conditions, Alaska Natives and many others.

Nominated: Sen. Richard Pan

The nomination for Senator Richard Pan noted that he has dedicated his career to improving the health of Californians in both his local community and across the state. By co-founding Healthy Kids, Healthy Future, he helped secure health, dental and vision coverage for children. Additionally, he helped expand health care coverage to millions of Californians. Dr. Pan also authored SB277 to abolish personal belief exemptions for school vaccinations, which has helped significantly raise vaccination rates for schoolchildren.

Nominated: Hermina Parks

The nomination stated Hermia Parks has advanced the role and work of public health nurses in Riverside County, the state and nationally. She has successfully implemented programs with a strong impact on improving health outcomes for many diverse populations. Parks developed a chronic disease management program to improve the health of seniors, and her passion for health equity has influenced strategic plans that focus on social determinants of health as well as social justice.

Nominated: Marlies Perez, Chief of Substance Use Disorder Compliance, DHCS

Nominators noted that Marlies Perez's leadership paved the way to transform California's behavioral health system and better serve individuals and communities struggling with substance use disorder issues. She has led efforts to build an innovative medication-assisted treatment program to fight the opioid epidemic. Perez has forged successful partnerships with county, state, federal and tribal leadership, overcoming longstanding barriers.

Nominated: Linda Rudolph

Nominators noted Linda Rudolph's leadership with Health in All Policies, which brought a multi-sectorial approach to health protection and promotion, also brought her national recognition. She was recognized as a White House Champion of Change for Climate Change and Public Policy.

Nominated: Anna Sutton

Anna Sutton serves as director of Yolo County Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health as well as director of Public Health Nursing, helping to advance awareness and understanding of maternal mental health issues. Sutton has developed and implemented community health approaches to solutions and supports.

Nominated:  Robina Suwol

For more than 20 years Robina Suwol, through California Safe Schools, has led groundbreaking efforts to ensure schoolchildren and the public have the right to learn, work and live in a healthy environment free of environmental toxins. She spearheaded a stringent pesticide policy, and was behind the first policy in the country to embrace the Precautionary Principle & Right to Know. Suwol was named "One of Fifty Visionaries Who Are Changing the World."

Nominated: Cheryl Wilson

For more than 40 years, Cheryl Wilson has dedicated her career and efforts to changing the way housing, care and services are provided to older adults. Her efforts have assisted more than 1,000 seniors. Through her visionary leadership, thousands more seniors will receive proper care in 2018.

Nominated: Dr. Garen Wintemute 

The nomination for Dr. Garen Wintemute stated he is a public health pioneer and an unfailing advocate for understanding the epidemiology of gun violence as well as its public health consequences. Dr. Wintemute has an unstinting devotion to saving lives one at a time in the emergency department, and ultimately by the millions with public health research on violence prevention.

Nominated: Dr. Kalvin Yu

The nomination stated Dr. Kalvin Yu has fostered an environment that strives to demonstrate the usefulness of improving community health through research and collaboration. Most recently, he collaborated with local and state public health agencies to create one voice toward the 2017 hepatitis A outbreak in California's homeless communities.

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