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Chicago Area Public Health Leaders Exemplify Commitment to Health Equity and Social Justice

Chicago, Ill. – The Health & Medicine Policy Research Group (Health & Medicine) has announced winners of its 2023 annual awards for leaders in the field of publiChicago Area Public Health Leaders Exemplify Commitment to Health Equity and Social Justicec health. The winners will be celebrated at a gala on September 20th at Ignite Glass Studios in Chicago.

“Each year, we honor extraordinary public health leaders whose work embodies our shared commitment to equity and social justice,” said Health & Medicine Executive Director Margie Schaps. “The challenges before us are enormous and these awardees give us hope that we can indeed create a better future.”

The Health Award recognizes an individual working within the health arena with an emphasis on public health and improvements in the health of populations. This year’s recipient, Nasir Zakaria, is a community leader for the Rohingya population and is known nationally and internationally throughout the Rohingya community for establishing the first-of-its-kind Rohingya Culture Center.

The Medicine Award recognizes an individual whose work in any aspect of health care delivery fosters system or institutional improvements. This year’s recipient, Dr. Jorelle Alexander of Cook County Health,

is an exceptional leader who prioritizes access to high-quality oral health care for everyone and remains committed to providing direct patient care; designing programs tailored to community needs; expanding access to care; and coordinating teams to deliver exceptional programs, services, and quality oral health care.

The Policy Award recognizes an individual working in advocacy, government, media, or philanthropy whose work encompasses many facets of policy analysis, development, planning, and implementation. This year’s recipient,

Katie Thiede of ICAN! (Illinois Contraceptive Access Now) is a tireless champion for health equity and access to high-quality reproductive health care who has spent the last decade of her career in Chicago leading reproductive health and rights organizations.

The Research Award recognizes an individual involved in any aspect of quantitative or qualitative research, community-based research, or evaluative research that promotes improvements in quality of life while recognizing the multiple determinants of health. This year’s recipient Diana Lemos, PhD, MPH, of the American Medical Association, is passionate about community well-being and social and racial justice, combining her community psychology and public health background to drive positive change.

The Group Award recognizes that the sum of the whole is often greater than the individual parts and honors an organization or coalition that supports or enhances community self-determination and independence, focuses its work on any of the determinants of health, and has had an impact beyond the scope of its programs. This year’s recipients are Acclivus, Inc. and the Healthy Illinois Campaign.

Acclivus, Inc. is a community health organization focused on improving the health and well-being of Chicago’s most vulnerable populations. Using intentional social networks to serve individuals, primarily those from communities that are disproportionately impacted by compounding barriers to health and success, Acclivus provides resources and support to assist at-risk Chicago residents with personal and professional growth.

The Healthy Illinois Campaign was founded in 2014 with the goal of making quality, affordable health care coverage accessible to all people in Illinois, regardless of immigration status. Structured as a coalition of grassroots organizations, health care providers, and policy groups, Healthy Illinois uses community organizing and advocacy to fight for immigrant access to health care.

The Emerging Leader Award recognizes leaders with less than 15 years of experience who are currently involved in community-based work with broadly defined public health implications. This year’s recipients are Bonnie Ewald and Dr. Ezekiel Richardson.

Bonnie Ewald is a dedicated public service professional working at the intersection of health care and social service delivery, health policy, research, and education to improve our problematic health care system, and ultimately, improve health and quality of life for marginalized communities.

Ezekiel Richardson is an emergency medicine physician in the city of Chicago, where he works with multiple organizations to prolong the lives of residents of underserved communities through medical care, organizing, and activism.


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