Washington’s largest public health conference — held every fall by the Washington State Public Health Association (WSPHA) — honored four Public Health–Seattle & King County employees. All four are extremely dedicated to health equity and were recognized for exemplifying excellence and dedication in the field of public health.
Dr. Ngozi Oleru, Division Director of Environmental Health, was awarded the Public Health Leadership Award, recognizing outstanding leadership in areas such as public health advocacy, research, education, leadership and/or equity and social justice. Dr. Oleru’s career spans decades of championing environmental justice and community engagement at a local, regional and national level.
- Daphne Pie, Program Manager for Access & Outreach (in Community Health Services), was awarded the Public Health Excellence Award. This honor is for a public health employee who is not in a high-level management position and who has shown excellence in public health practice. During the past year plus, Pie led a historic effort to enroll nearly 200,000 King County residents in health insurance. She focused special attention on hard-to-reach populations, including low-income residents, those with limited English proficiency, and the homeless.
- Caren Adams from the Office of the Director, Community Engagement & Partnerships Team, was a joint recipient (with June Beleford) of the Lifetime Achievement Award for her long-time commitment to equity and community-based public health during her 24 years in public health. She has had a public health career full of accomplishments, bringing diverse groups of people together to work on challenging and emerging public health issues. She has been a non-stop champion for the interests of organizations and cities in South King County, an area most negatively affected by health inequities.
- June Beleford, from the Office of the Director, Community Engagement & Partnerships Team, was the other joint recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award — also for her long-time commitment to equity and community-based public health. Coincidentally, she also worked 24 years in public health — the same as her colleague, Adams. Beleford began as a manager of an inter-agency program for pregnant and parenting teens. She was also founder of Project MISTER (Male Information and Services To Encourage Responsibility), a project that gained national recognition. Her long list of projects, both as a convener and leader, include the Infant Mortality Blueprint for Action, Minority Health Coalition which later became the Health Justice Network, the National Black Leadership on Cancer – Puget Sound, the Environmental Justice Network, and Seattle Teens Acting To Reach Success (STARS). She has also been an equity champion in her department’s Equity and Social Justice Team.
The theme of this year’s conference, held October 12 – 14 in Wenatchee, was “Rallying the Public Health Spirit: New Approaches to Health Equity.” Attendees included public health leaders, practitioners, partners, and students.
Congratulations to all of you for your long-standing commitment to public health and your well-deserved awards!