The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is proud to announce the recipients of the 2010 Community Health Leaders Award, honoring 10 individuals who have overcome daunting odds to improve the health and quality of life for vulnerable men, women and children in underserved communities across the United States.
The Community Health Leaders Award elevates the work of these outstanding individuals to bring national visibility to their extraordinary contributions. Each awardee receives $125,000 to support their ongoing work, as well as opportunities to network and collaborate with other leaders from around the country. This year’s winners join a distinguished and diverse group of 173 previous award recipients.
The efforts of these 10 Community Health Leaders highlight the unmet need for access to quality affordable services that improve health and quality of life. Their work demonstrates the immense difference one person can make.
“The 2010 Community Health Leaders have created their own solutions to address the shortcomings in our health care system and to build healthier communities,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “These leaders have taken personal and professional risks to help the people in their communities live healthier, better lives. Each of them, through their creativity, compassion and hard work, is revolutionizing health care and the meaning of health in this country―one person and one community at a time.”
The 2010 Community Health Leaders are:
Josephine Mercado, J.D., founder, Hispanic Health Initiatives, Inc., Casselberry, Fla. When Mercado retired from her career as a lawyer in New York and moved to Florida, she learned quickly that there was little or no statistical information to document the delivery of basic health care services or information specifically to Hispanic or Black populations. Using her legal background, Mercado founded Hispanic Health Initiatives, which empowers Central Florida’s Hispanic community to make informed decisions about their health, wellness and care options. Mercado rallied an army of volunteers to educate migrant and uninsured communities about wellness and disease prevention. Since June 2000, her organization has provided health forums, health fairs, health classes and screening events to thousands of Central Florida families.
Susan Rodriguez, president and founding director, Sisterhood Mobilized for AIDS/HIV Research and Treatment (SMART), New York. Rodriguez found out that she had HIV after her husband tested positive for the virus in 1995. After it was determined that her toddler daughter had acquired HIV perinatally, Rodriguez took action. In 1998, she co-founded SMART University, a grassroots treatment and prevention education program. SMART, a project of the Fund for the City of New York, teaches uninsured and underinsured women how to survive and thrive in the face of HIV and AIDS. SMART addresses disparities in health care; empowers low-income, HIV-positive women of color with the tools and information they need to make informed health care decisions; and helps them advocate for quality HIV care for themselves and their families.
Andru Ziwasimon-Zeller, M.D., founder, Casa de Salud Medical Office, Albuquerque, N.M. Ziwasimon-Zeller was a family physician at a local hospital when he learned that the hospital was subjecting low-income and uninsured patients to unfair payment and collection practices. When, as a co-founder of the Community Coalition for Healthcare Access, he joined with patients to protest the policies, the hospital asked him to resign from its adjunct faculty. He now works as a peer with members of his community to operate Casa de Salud, a health and wellness clinic for low-income and uninsured patients. Casa de Salud combines conventional and natural medical practices to meet its patients’ physical and spiritual health needs in a culturally sensitive environment. A central mission of Casa de Salud is advocating for public policies to improve access to care.
Judy Berry, founder, Lakeview Ranch Dementia Care Foundation, Darwin, Minn.
Dana Harvey, M.S., executive director, Mandela MarketPlace, Oakland, Calif.
Joe Hollendoner, M.S.W., chief program officer, Howard Brown Health Center, Chicago.
Roseanna Means, M.D., president and chief medical officer, Women of Means, Wellesley, Mass.
Fran Rooker, co-founder and board member, Brain Injury Services of Southwest Virginia, Roanoke, Va.; The Jason Foundation, Radford, Va.
Shira Shavit, M.D., director, Transitions Clinic, San Francisco.
Kris Volcheck, D.D.S., M.B.A., dental director, Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS) Dental Clinic for the Homeless, Phoenix.