Rutgers School of Public Health Staff and Alumni Honored by New Jersey Public Health Association
Rutgers School of Public Health staff and alumni will be honored at the New Jersey Public Health Association’s (NJPHA) Annual Conference and Award Ceremony on April 21, 2023, for their outstanding commitment to public health in New Jersey.
Claire Brown, MPH, assistant director of student support services, and Sarah Kelly, MPH, CPH, graduate practicum director, have been selected to receive NJPHA 2022-2023 President’s Award.
The award was established in 1983 by John Carlano, a former president and lifelong member of NJPHA. It is presented to individuals for exemplary work on the front lines of public health by the current NJPHA president.
“I am incredibly grateful to be receiving the NJPHA President's Award in recognition of my contributions to New Jersey's student-focused response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Brown, who received her Master of Public Health degree from the Rutgers School of Public Health in 2019. “Spending the spring and summer of 2020 reviewing thousands of contact tracer applications for the New Jersey Community Contact Tracing Corps was an important reminder of why I chose to pursue a public health career. Helping build New Jersey's contact tracing force gave me purpose and confidence at a time when many of us in public health were spread thin and wondering where we could make the most meaningful difference. To be awarded for this effort is an honor I never would've expected but am humbled to have,” Brown adds.
Kelly received her Master of Public Health degree from the Rutgers School of Public Health in 2009 and worked closely alongside Brown to build the New Jersey Community Contact Tracing Corps.
“Our informal, ad hoc process quickly grew into the New Jersey Contact Tracing Corps, and I am proud of the contribution that I made,” Kelly said.
Kelly has an unwavering commitment to her community, state, and profession. This is the third NJPHA President’s Award that she is receiving.
Brown and Kelly join other esteemed recipients of the NJPHA President’s Award who include Lisa Asare, Antonia (Toni) Lewis, Cathleen D. Bennett, Mitch Rosen, and Georgette Watson.
Rutgers School of Public Health doctoral alum, Grace Ibitamuno, will be receiving the Dr. Ronald Altman Student Award, which was established in 1995 and named after Ronald Altman, former New Jersey epidemiologist. The award is presented to an individual for outstanding work in a health-related course of study.
"I am humbled to have been selected for the NJPHA Ronald Altman award,” says Ibitamuno. “My career goal is to work in partnership with individuals and families as a healthcare provider and alongside communities as a public health researcher to attain and improve favorable health outcomes. Receiving this award lets me know I am on the path toward this goal."
Rutgers School of Public Health dean, Perry N. Halkitis, will also be receiving Dennis J. Sullivan
Award. The award is NJPHA’s highest honor and was established in 1976 and named after Dennis J. Sullivan, a health officer who dedicated his life to improving New Jersey’s public health.
Founded in 1875, NJPHA is one of the oldest public health organizations in the United States. Its mission is to strengthen, advocate, and advance public health in New Jersey. The association has worked in partnership with the Rutgers School of Public Health to move public health forward in the state.
When asked about the partnership with the Rutgers School of Public Health, Lisa A. Harrison-Gulla, NJPHA President, said, “I am so thrilled as the current president to have the Rutgers School of Public Health as an organizational member and student affiliate of NJPHA.” Harrison-Gulla added, “Having that connection to the next generation of public health professionals allows us to help connect them with mentors and remain abreast of what is happening in New Jersey public health.”
Former NJPHA President, Don Weinbaum, echoed Harrison-Gulla’s sentiments by saying, “The Rutgers School of Public Health has been a strong partner to NJPHA for as long as I can remember, and we look forward to continuing this collaboration in the years to come. On a personal level, I am glad to have had the opportunity to participate in the annual Public Health Symposium and other Rutgers School of Public Health activities over the past 20 years and to support students as they begin their careers.”