NACDD Announces 2023 Impact Award Winners

The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s esteemed Impact Awards, highlighted during the Association’s Annual Business Meeting, which was held September 26.

“Our Members work tirelessly each day to ensure a healthier future for all, and it is important to recognize and celebrate their exceptional efforts and successes,” said NACDD CEO John W. Robitscher, MPH. “This year we received many outstanding nominations for our Impact Awards, and this year’s awardees are among the best in our field. Highlighting their commitment and innovation not only shows our appreciation but inspires a brighter future for public health.”

The Impact Awards are nominated by NACDD Members and selected by a Committee of Board Members who evaluate the applications to identify the greatest impact on chronic disease prevention and control and health promotion. This year’s Awards Committee was led by Associate At-Large Director Leslie McKnight, PhD.

“We were thrilled with the number of nominations we received this year,” McKnight said. “The passion, dedication, and innovation shown by NACDD Members across our states and territories is truly inspiring! As a committee, we are honored to recognize the invaluable and impactful work of these awardees in the field of public health.”

In addition to McKnight, this year’s committee consisted of Board Members Teresa Aseret-Manygoats, Linnea Fletcher, Nancy Sutton, Barbara Wallace, Lea Susan Ojamaa, and Jamie Kahn.

The 2023 Impact Awards Winners:

Lifetime Achievement Award: Jennie Hefelfinger

Awarded 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 U.S.

  • Jennie Hefelfinger is the Vice President of NACDD’s Center for Advancing Healthy Communities. She has dedicated her career to preventing chronic disease for our nation, serving as a Chronic Disease Director at the Florida Department of Health, and then as a consultant and ultimately a staff member of NACDD. At NACDD, she led multiple successful projects, including the ACHIEVE project, a multi-faceted, multi-tiered project designed to assist community coalitions with implementing policy, systems, and environmental change strategies to reduce obesity, heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases by impacting social change strategies for physical activity, tobacco, and nutrition. She provided leadership for the overall management and implementation of the Center for State, Territorial, Local, and Tribal Support (CSTLTS) five-year grant program that provides funding to over 38 NACDD projects. She helped launch NACDD’s Center for Advancing Healthy Communities, and as its Vice President she leads the direction and program implementation. Since 1985, Hefelfinger has touched multiple public health practitioners as a colleague, friend, mentor, and leader.

Rising Star Award: Janice Kaelin-Kee
Awarded to an individual staff member in a state, tribal, or territorial Chronic Disease Unit who is not a director and who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and innovation to promote health.

  • Janice Kaelin-Kee is the Senior Health Program Coordinator at New York State Department of Health. Kaelin-Kee led a four-year initiative with the Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network of New York to expand the role of community pharmacies in increasing access to DSMES and clinical care for people with diabetes in New York State.

Mentor Award: Venise White
Awarded 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.

  • Venise White is the Statewide Training Administrator and Immediate Past President of the Florida Public Health Association. Throughout her career, White has fostered a network of mentees who in turn became mentors.

Health Equity Champion Award: Guam Bureau of Non-Communicable Disease, Division of Public Health, Department of Public Health & Social Services
Awarded to an individual and to a Chronic Disease Unit that has demonstrated progress in advancing health equity as a core value of their work and in addressing the social and economic factors that contribute to preventable health disparities, or who have applied health equity principles to improve public health practice.

Guam Bureau of Non-Communicable Disease, Division of Public Health, Department of Public Health & Social Services

  • Patrick S. Luces, Program Coordinator IV
  • Roderick Salvador, Program Coordinator II
  • Alex Silverio, Program Coordinator III
  • Elizabeth Guerrero, Program Coordinator IV
  • Grace Bordallo, Program Coordinator III
  • Josett Cruz, Program Coordinator III

The Guam Bureau remained steadfast and dedicated despite many challenges, including a 50% loss of critical staff, and a category 4 typhoon in May 2023. The team is committed to serving hard to reach and high-risk populations, reaching more than 5,000 health disparate populations since 2020. The team has also been successful in promoting vaccination; in the last six months, a total of 2,415 were vaccinated through the Health Disparities Grant team. These people are from hard-to-reach areas, ethnic minorities, the homeless, and the high-risk workforce.

Chronic Disease Innovator: Utah Department of Health and Human Services – Utah Healthy Places Index Mapping Team
Awarded to a state, tribal, or territorial Chronic Disease Unit that demonstrates an innovative approach to reducing the burden of chronic disease prevention and control.

  • The Utah Healthy Places Index Mapping Team consists of Deputy Office Director Sarah Hodson, Bureau Director Anna Fondario, Epidemiologist Claudia Bohner, and Deputy State Epidemiologist Amanda Smith. The mapping team developed the Utah Healthy Places Index (HPI) tool, which maps data on social conditions that drive health — like education, job opportunities, clean air, and other indicators that are positively associated with life expectancy at birth. The team created comprehensive training guides and within nine months of its launch 1,800 people were trained to use the tool.

Community Impact Award (Individual): Melliza C. Young
NACDD offers this award for both individuals and Chronic Disease Unit teams that have made a significant impact or achieved significant influence in a community related to chronic disease prevention and control.

  • Melliza C. Young, MD, MSGH, CDCES is a health consultant based in Guam who is a contractor with NACDD’s Center for Public Health Practice and the Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Collaborative project. Young has made considerable contributions to the Collaborative and communities in the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands, including the development of a person-centered technique “Five A’s in Pacific diabetes education.”

Community Impact Award (Chronic Disease Unit): Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Diabetes Prevention and Control Program

  • Joyce Hoth and Amy Hampton are Public Health Program Supervisors with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Diabetes Prevention and Control Program. Through their dedicated efforts, the unit helped to expand the reach of the National DPP lifestyle change program particularly among priority populations, by building relationships, implementing an umbrella hub arrangement, and creating a sustainable infrastructure.

Joseph W. Cullen Excellence AwardDouglas Jutte
The Joseph W. Cullen Award is presented to an individual outside the traditional public health field who has made outstanding contributions in the field of chronic disease.

  • Douglas Jutte is the Founder of Build Healthy Places Network and a Trustee of Mercy Housing & Purpose Built Communities. Through his work, Jutte has made an impact by promoting collaboration between community development and public health initiatives to address critical issues like poverty reduction, health improvement, and racial equity.

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