National Association of Chronic Disease Directors Announces Winners of 2019 Impact Awards

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NACDD’s annual Impact Awards provide those who work in the field of chronic disease with an opportunity to be recognized for best practices in chronic disease prevention and health promotion, and other contributions that go beyond public health.

“The Impact Awardees, selected by their peers, are a testament to some of the best work in public health and health promotion that is helping people to achieve healthier futures,” said NACDD CEO John Robitscher.

The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) is proud to announce the winners of the Association’s annual Impact Awards. These awards are an impressive reflection of a much larger body of work from our many chronic disease practitioners in health departments across U.S. states, territories, and jurisdictions.

“The Impact Awardees, selected by their peers, are a testament to some of the best work in public health and health promotion that is helping people to achieve healthier futures,” said NACDD CEO John Robitscher. “We’re proud of our award honorees and all of our Members, who work tirelessly in every state and U.S. territory to address the tremendous burden chronic diseases place on our communities, our economy, and our national security.”

The 2019 Impact Award winners are:

  •     Marcia Pessolano received the Rising Star Award, given to an individual staff member in a state, tribal, or territorial Chronic Disease Unit who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and problem-solving skills. Pessolano is a Health Program Supervisor for the Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Program in the Community, Family Health and Prevention Section of Connecticut’s Department of Public Health. Pessolano addressed partnership gaps and solicited new stakeholders to complete 1305 grant work; she also leveraged Prevention Block funds to fill a funding shortfall so that corner stores in severely underserved parts of the state could stock fresh fruits and vegetables.
  •     Lea Susan Ojamaa, Deputy Director for Prevention and Wellness, Bureau of Community Health and Prevention in the Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health received the 2019 Mentor Award. The Mentor Award is given to an outstanding chronic disease prevention and control professional who has guided, supported, and promoted the training and career development of other chronic disease prevention and control practitioners working in a State Health Department. Ojamaa’s long-standing dedication to mentoring team members stands out to her colleagues, who note that she “models a vulnerability and humility in leadership that inspires staff to work through their own insecurities, reach deep, and grow.”
  •     Rebecca Cohen, Sherri Ohly, Dr. Mary Pesik, Lena Swander, and Shelby Vadjunec from the Wisconsin Chronic Disease Prevention Unit in the Division of Public Health for the Department of Health Services received the 2019 Chronic Disease Innovator Award. Awarded to a state, tribal, or territorial Chronic Disease Unit, the Chronic Disease Innovator Award recognizes an innovative approach to reducing the burden of chronic disease. The 2019 Innovator award is given in recognition of the inspiring work this team did to implement a hypertension control project with partners to improve blood pressure control.
  •     Andrew Croshaw, Chief Executive Officer of Leavitt Partners, received the Joseph W. Cullen Excellence Award. The award is given to an individual outside the traditional public health field who has made outstanding contributions in the field of chronic disease prevention and control. Crenshaw has played an instrumental role in positioning Leavitt Partners as one of the nation’s leading health intelligence firms. Croshaw created the Torch Insight tool, an analytical platform that turns healthcare data into actionable insights. Through NACDD and Croshaw’s leadership, Leavitt Partners has provided the use of the tool to all State Health Departments to increase their capacity for data-driven decision-making.
  •     The Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Program in the New Mexico Department of Health was honored with our Community Impact Award. This award is given to an individual or team that has made a significant impact or has achieved significant influence in a community related to chronic disease prevention and control. The team made substantial progress in reducing the use of tobacco in New Mexico through strong and inclusive community partnerships as well as culturally appropriate programming. Their accomplishments include a 65% reduction in youth smoking rates and a 44% reduction of high school youth exposure to secondhand smoke indoors.
  •     Lastly, Dr. Donald Bishop, Chief of the Center for Health Promotion for the Minnesota Department of Health, received the Lifetime Achievement Award. The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a current or former Chronic Disease Director of a State, Tribal, or Territorial Health Department whose career has contributed to reducing the burden of chronic disease in the United States. Dr. Bishop has shown dedication to the most vulnerable and greatest at risk for poor health outcomes, from children in the American Indian community to immigrant populations at great risk for diabetes to low-income Medicaid recipients. Dr. Bishop has given a lifetime of service to chronic disease prevention and health promotion in Minnesota, and his contribution to national research, promoting healthy nutrition in children, and diabetes prevention have made a meaningful difference to many. He started a number of important programs at the Minnesota Department of Health, such as the Minnesota Breast and Cervical Cancer Program and tobacco, injury, and obesity prevention.

About the NACDD Impact Awards
NACDD’s annual Impact Awards provide those who work in the field of chronic disease with an opportunity to be recognized for best practices in chronic disease prevention and health promotion, and other contributions that go beyond public health. NACDD’s Awards Committee, made up of Members and staff, reviews all nominations and announces recipients in the fall.

National Association of Chronic Disease Directors
chronicdisease.org
The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) and its more than 7,000 members seek to improve the health of the public by strengthening leadership and expertise for chronic disease prevention and control in states, territories, and at the national level. Established in 1988, in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NACDD is the only membership association of its kind serving and representing every state and U.S. territory’s chronic disease division.

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