N.C. Health Equity Impact Awards Celebrate Leaders, Organizations Making a Difference

Oct. 3, 2017 — The North Carolina Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities held the first N.C. Health Equity Impact Awards in Raleigh, with former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders keynoting the awards banquet.

The Sept. 14 event recognized individuals and organizations who have successfully implemented a systems-change approach to reducing health disparities and promoting health equity across the state. 

“We want healthy people and healthy communities … that is our vision,” said Elders, who urged the audience to continue to work in their communities to improve health outcomes. 

NC OMHHD has sponsored several events in celebration of its 25th anniversary, including a Health Equity Lunch and Learn Series and a National Minority Health Month event. NC OMHHD, housed within the N.C. Department of Health and Humans Services, was established by the General Assembly in 1992. The Office’s goal is for all North Carolinians to enjoy good health regardless of race, ethnicity, disability or socioeconomic status. 

Since its inception, NC OMHHD has engaged in projects in communities across North Carolina, adhering to its mission to promote and advocate for the elimination of health disparities for all racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved populations. 

For the 25th anniversary banquet, each of the N.C. Health Equity Impact Awards were named after five people who made notable contributions in promoting health equity, training leaders and providing resources that sought to eliminate health disparities and improve health outcomes in North Carolina. 

The N.C. Health Equity Impact Awards and winners were:

  • The Larry Keith Student Rising Star Award – Jonathan Bell
  • The Reverend Richard Joyner Community Member Award – Anita Woodley
  • The Dr. John Hatch Early Career Professional Award – Allison Mathews
  • The Dr. Sharon Elliot-Bynum Organizational Influence Award – Community Health Coalition
  • The Dr. Laura Gerald Distinguished Career Professional Award – Linda King and Jacqueline Wynn

Joyner, Hatch and Gerald attended the event. Family members attended on behalf of Keith and Elliot-Bynum, who are deceased.

Before the night ended, former NC OMHHD directors Barbara Pullen-Smith, Joanne Pierce and Belinda Pettiford were honored with N.C. Health Equity Icon Awards for their leadership, accomplishments and contributions in elevating minority health, health education, health promotion, health communication and community engagement in North Carolina communities.

As the night came to a close, Elders reminded the audience of the importance of the Office’s work and that “we can eliminate disparities when we all achieve equity.”

Cornell Wright