Congratulations to our 2021 Award Winners! Awardee’s were recognized during our USOPHE Virtual Conference on November 4th, 2021.
Catherine Summerhayes Distinguished Service Award
Sarah Hodson, MPH MCHES®
Utah Department of Health
“Sarah Hodson currently serves as the new Deputy Director for the Bureau of Health Promotion at the Utah Department of Health. In this new role, she brings her skills and expertise as the bureau focuses efforts around social determinants of health. Currently Sarah is leading efforts to develop tools to be utilized by staff and partners to move upstream and work on social determinants of health.
Previous to her current role, many individuals in health promotion and education know Sarah from her role as the Executive Director of Get Healthy Utah where she focused on improving health by supporting healthy eating and active living through collaborative efforts. Her work has focused on building strong partnerships and aligning multi-sector efforts throughout the state. Sarah partnered with the Utah League of cities and Towns to support Healthy Utah Counties, a new designation program for cities and towns. The program is designed to highlight the work being done in communities through Utah to support and improve the health of residents.
While at Get Healthy Utah, Sarah conducted a survey (the Utah Health Values Study) of more than 1,000 Utah residents to find out how they think and feel about their own health and what matters most to them. Based on the information gleaned from this survey, Get Healthy Utah designed the Small Steps for Better Health Toolkit. This toolkit was designed to enable decision makers to help build a healthier Utah.
Sarah became one of Utah’s biggest champions for the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a partnership of public and private organizations working to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. During the 2021 legislative session, Sarah spent countless hours creating materials to be used by the bill sponsor during committee hearings and for individuals to reach out and educate their own legislators. The information was critical in helping stakeholders understand the benefits and cost-savings of participation in the National DPP. At every turn, Sarah promoted diabetes prevention and the National DPP in worksites through her various connections. She has been a big supporter for lifestyle coaches of the National DPP and participated in the Steering Committee for the Prevention of Diabetes in Utah since its beginning in 2018.
Additionally, Sarah graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Community Health Education from Utah State University. Sarah worked for the Arthritis Foundation, Greater Chicago Chapter for five years as the Director of Health Promotion. She was an instructor in the Health Sciences Department at Brigham Young University from 2009-2013 and worked as the Communications Development Manager for Mountainlands Community Health Center in Provo.” – quote captured from nomination form
2021 Rookie of the Year
Utah County Health Department
“Danielle joined the State’s 2nd largest local health department’s communications’ team in the midst of mask protests, debates, etc. She had to rapidly get herself up to speed with ever-changing federal, state, and local processes, and information to correctly answer questions and concerns from the public.
She is a natural with communications and started managing our social media and website comments (and there are plenty to be had!) This has been extra challenging with the rapidly changing information from the Governor’s news conferences, UDOH and CDC. When updates are released, she quickly creates new graphics to keep the public informed on our social media platforms. Then she patiently responds to the barrage of questions and complaints.
She ensures that direct messages and questions are answered quickly and correctly. She has answered literally thousands of questions and complaints from the upset members of the public with empathy and compassion. She also monitors our social media accounts and website after hours, on weekends, and holidays.
She has the unusual ability to be a planner and a doer. When she sees a problem, she fixes it, or offers solutions. Danielle is the first to offer to help, even when her plate is fuller than anyone else’s. She is always thinking ahead and trying to anticipate future needs and issues.
All of public health has struggled during the pandemic with feeling overworked, burnt out and not-recognized. Recently Facebook recognized the Utah County Health Department for the work we are doing on their platform related to COVID. This recognition would not have been possible without Danielle – no doubt about it.” – Aislynn Tolman-Hill, Public Information Officer
Shelley Fuller Health Education Scholarship
Taya G. Jerman
Utah State University
“Taya is a Master of Public Health – Health Education and Promotion (HEP MPH) student at the Utah State University (USU). Taya quickly established and proved herself demonstrating prowess as an independent and critical thinker and as an organized researcher. Currently, Taya is spearheading the qualitative data collection for one of my research projects examining falls among inpatient seniors. Additionally, she was my collaborator and coauthor on my quantitative research project reporting findings on COVID deaths among nursing home residents in the US and published in PloS One recently. Prior to serving as a GRA on my research projects and during her tenure as an undergraduate student at USU, Taya was selected as an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow (UTF) and assisted USU Sociology faculty with teaching, grading, and tutoring. It is in this role that Taya first discovered her passion for educating students about vulnerable populations, barriers to healthcare access among these populations, and importance of culturally aware teaching and communication. Simultaneous to her role as a UTF, Taya also served as a Sociology Student Advisor that gave her the opportunity to work one-on-one with students providing educational and career advising that led her to understand and apply the concept of inclusive mentoring during these sessions. Additionally, Taya has also held two research fellowship positions as an Undergraduate Research Fellow, and a Peak Research Fellow and published a co authored manuscript in a peer-reviewed journal.” – Debasree Das Gupta, PhD
2021 President’s Award
Hillary Bryan, CHES®
USOPHE Conference Planning Chairman
“Hillary took charge and chaired this year’s USOPHE Conference Planning Committee. We had another interesting year of balancing conference planning and the COVID-19 pandemic. Hillary didn’t want to do just another Zoom conference, but searched out options and snagged us some deals so this year’s USOPHE conference could be on an actual conference platform with some awesome national and global keynotes. She even thought of throwing in a food voucher to sweeten the day. To save costs Hillary built out the conference app on the Socio platform, sought out more sponsorships to help cover speaker fees, and negotiated rates all around. We all know how much time and coordination is needed to plan these events, and Hillary has kept everything very organized and on a timeline. I am so grateful she accepted to be on our board and take on our conference planning. Thank you Hillary!”–Alysia Ducura, 2021 USOPHE President