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2021 Outstanding Service and Leadership Award Winners for Career Excellence in Health Education and Promotion Are Announced

NCHEC is pleased to announce the recipients for the 2021 Outstanding Service and Leadership Award, which recognizes both individuals and organizations displaying exemplary commitment to the advancement of the Health Education Profession and of the CHES® and MCHES® credentials. 

This award program was first instituted in 2016 in order to highlight career achievements in the implementation of programs and policies that promote the role of CHES® and MCHES® within communities, populations, and/or organizational structure. We had a record number of nominations this year! First instituted in 2016, the NCHEC Outstanding Service and Leadership Award highlights career achievements in the implementation of programs and policies that promote the role of Certified Health Education Specialists within communities, populations, and/or organizational structure.

Recipient: Established Professional Category. Dayna Alexander, DrPH, MSPH, MCHES®

Dr. Dayna Alexander is a practicing Health Scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She is a subject matter expert who leads formative research and evaluation activities on national campaigns spanning over 17 states, as well as international training in South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe in support of HIV prevention. In addition to prevention, Ms. Alexander serves on Health Equity task forces and has served a critical role in COVID-19 response. She has served as a mentor to students at both Concordia University Chicago and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and encourages them to obtain an NCHEC credential.

"Dr. Alexander’s skills and experience epitomize those of a leader who creates an impact in communities," said Isa Miles of the CDC Office of Minority Health and Health Equity in her letter of support." She is diligent about developing a resourceful network of colleagues; she truly understands the importance of building a community network and knows how to gain entrée into domestic and international communities."

Recipient: Established Professional Category. Elisa “Beth” McNeill, PhD, MCHES®

Dr. Beth McNeill is a Clinical Professor at Texas A&M University where she has taught school health education and promotion to undergraduates for over 23 years. Besides serving her students, Dr. McNeill has also advanced the health education and promotion profession through providing webinars, presenting at national and international conferences, and serving as a leader in national organizations such as the American School Health Association, The Society for Public Health Education, and Eta Sigma Gamma.

“Dr. McNeill’s excitement for supporting the Health Education profession is contagious,” said Kelly Wilson, PhD, MCHES® and Division Chair for Health Education at Texas A & M. “She consistently demonstrates the ability to motivate students to obtain and promote the CHES® credential and participate in health education both locally and abroad.”

Recipient: Emerging Professional Category. Nkemdilim “Chi” Anako, MPH, CHES®

Nkemdilim “Chi” Anako is the Regional Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Trinity Health of New England. She has been at the forefront of a Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Initiative, including the development of training modules within the health system to inform the community on the importance of inclusivity. As the President of the National Association of Health Services Executives, Connecticut chapter, Ms. Anako has ensured most of the programs offered award MCHES®/CHES® credits to participants, which also serves as a learning opportunity for many healthcare leaders who may not be privy to the certification.

“Chi’s passion was highlighted when she received the 2021 LGBT Ally Award for the Tri-State Diversity Council’s LGBTQ+ Summit.” Said Sonia Asare, Regional Director of Integrity and Compliance with Trinity Health of New England. “In the last two years, Chi’s initiative has become the model that many other hospitals across the country are emulating.”

Recipient: Educational Organization Category.  Rutgers School of Public Health

The Rutgers SPH, Center for Public Workforce Development, has a long history of providing health education specialists the training, education, and technical assistance to professionals in their given sectors. They have been a provider of Category I CECH for over 30 years, offering monthly public health webinars and annual public health symposiums through collaborative efforts with partnering organizations. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the center developed and managed the Contact Tracing program for the entire state of New Jersey, training over 2,156 individuals on a variety of content areas, with supportive skills training in cultural humility, structural racism, and the structure of governmental public health in New Jersey.  

“Over the years, we have been responsible to the training and education needs of the public health workforce in New Jersey and beyond,” said Mitchel Rosen, CHES®, and Director of the Center.  “We have served as a key resource in disaster response efforts, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, 9/11, bioterrorism, Hurricane Sandy, Ebola, and others.”

Recipient: Organization Category. Newark Department of Health & Community Wellness.

The Newark Department of Health & Community Wellness recognizes the value of having certified CHES®/MCHES® staff, and provides reimbursement of fees and professional development of employees. In fact, upon passing an NCHEC certification exam, the opportunity of an automatic raise and change in title provides an amazing incentive to obtain an NCHEC credential.

“It is a requirement of the NJ Civil Service Commission, for an employee to become permanent in the title of Health Educator, they need to be CHES® or MCHES® certified,” said Nikeysha Neal, who is a Program Manager within the organization. “CHES® and MCHES® staff effectively improve the health of our city through programs focusing on effectively reducing health risks, preventing and managing diseases, and identifying community health education needs.”

This year, NDHCW has initiated a health education collaboration project, looking to identify all CHES® and MCHES®-certified Health Educators working within the City of Newark, in order to bring everyone together to partner on a week-long celebration highlighting the value of Health Education Specialists during National Health Education Week in October 2022.

The 2021 Outstanding Service and Leadership Award has once again provided an opportunity to highlight the career and industry achievements made by these individuals and organizations to others in the profession of Health Education and Promotion. The nomination period for the 2022 award program will open in October of this year.  Please consider nominating an outstanding colleague or organization for recognition.



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