Excellence in Leadership Alumni Awards

pastawardsminiIn 2006, 2008 2009 and 2011, RIHEL proudly recognized the contributions of its Leadership Program Alumni by conferring the Excellence in Leadership Alumni Awards honoring meritorious service in the field of Public Health and/or Environment. The Alumni recognized for these awards truly represented the ideals and reflected the mission of RIHEL, and each had made significant professional impact in the fields of environmental or public health.

2011 Public Health

2011_award_mhansonMolly Hanson, LiveWell Wheat Ridge

Nominated By: Jennifer Wieczorek, Denver Public Health and Elise Lubell, Jefferson County Public Health and Environment
Image: Elise Lubell, Molly Hanson and Jennifer Wieczorek

Molly Hanson has been the LiveWell Wheat Ridge (LWWR) Coordinator for the past 1.5 years. LWWR is funded by LiveWell Colorado (LWCO), a statewide non-profit organization committed to reducing obesity in Colorado by promoting healthy eating and active living (HEAL) through policy, environmental and lifestyle changes that remove barriers and increase access to healthy behaviors.

Molly has been very successful in transforming this community-based initiative to a growing community movement. Molly replaced a poorly defined coalition and leadership structure to a higher functioning structure comprised of two taskforces (Access to Fresh Fruits and Vegetable and Active Community Environments) and a Leadership Committee. She metamorphosized the initiative from project/program focused to a policy and (built) environment focus. Molly assessed the strategic direction of the initiative and found the staffing to be inadequate and hired an urban planner to provide those skill sets. Molly has skillfully taken her expertise with Tobacco Policy and applied it to HEAL. Molly is highly admired and respected by the HEAL community, the Wheat Ridge community and her LWCO peers.

Molly’s accomplishments during her tenure are notable. Molly has significantly raised and altered the reputation and standing of LWWR such that we are working better and have greater influence and credibility with City Council and City Staff. Taskforce membership has significantly increased and LWWR has assisted the City in developing and implementing several important planning and policy documents and processes. She has written two very well received grant proposals to fund LWWR through LWCO. Molly is actively working with the Leadership Committee in developing a sustainability plan that will assure the continuation of the movement once funding from LiveWell Colorado has ceased.

It is apparent that Molly has effectively integrated the knowledge from her RIHEL training and that Jefferson County Public Health and the residents of Wheat Ridge are the beneficiaries of her experience and training.

2011 Environmental Health

2011_award_heraldArmando Herald, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment

Nominated By: Louanna Cruz, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Image: Armando Herald and Louanna Cruz

Armando works in the CDPHE Water Quality Control Division, Compliance Assurance Section, Planning and Assistance Unit. He is a drinking water rule development coordinator and a specialist in regulatory assistance to drinking water systems within the state.

Utilizing leadership principles and demonstrating exemplary leadership skills, Armando has been successful in championing rules changes, conducting stakeholder meetings and testifying to the WQ Control Commission. Armando is also committed to educating systems on the implementation of rules by conducting trainings, conference worksshops, and outreach to get the message out on new rules.

2009 Public Health

griffin-awardDonna Griffin, Wyoming Public Health

Nominated By: Judy Stallman, Wyoming Public Health
Image: Steven Huerta, Donna Griffin and Karen Meyer

I have worked with Donna for 25 years watching leadership in action.

Donna was in the first RIHEL class in 1999 blazing the trail for the rest of us. As the Chief Nurse Executive for Wyoming Public Health Nursing, Donna “challenged the Public Health Workforce process” to carryout the mandated grant activities funded by grants in other division. She turned an adversarial, competitive relationship into a team effort with the ultimate outcome of improving patient care.

Collaboratively, Donna defined what required Public Health Services were and the parameters of optional county Public Health initiatives using the “Fifty Two Card Deck” principle of service delivery. When given a card (asked to provide additional services), the new card could only be received (new service provided) if another card (one of the old services) was given up. “Inspiring a Shared Vision” has allowed consistency throughout the state and empowered the nurse managers to say “yes and no” as they evaluate additional program requests.

Encourage the Heart. Donna implemented twice monthly conference calls for the Upper level management to communicate with the County Nurse Managers When she hears of successes on the front line, she not only acknowledges those efforts with a personal note but arranges to have upper level management acknowledge the accomplishments too.

Enable Others to Act Donnas’ often heard response when told “no” is “no is not an ending, it is the beginning of finding another way to get what is needed”! With limited future funding for leadership opportunities, Donna made arrangements to set money aside for future RIHEL scholarships. The majority upper level management are RIHEL alums. She has promoted the use of work groups to tackle issues, build consensus and find solutions.

Donna creates a standard of excellence and models the way. We all look forward to hearing about the “epiphinal aha moments” she has while on a snowmobile adventure or waiting patiently in the woods during a hunting trip develping her own “credo” of values that she shared at a yearly Nurse Manager meeting. She is creative and always positive in her approach inspiring solutions instead of discouragement. Donna Rocks!

2009 Environmental Health

belew-awardGary Belew, US Army Environmental Command Health

Nominated By: Mark McMillan
Image: Gary Belew and Bobby Sanchez

Currently serves as a Land Conservation Ecologist supporting the Army Environmental Command Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) Team efforts to buffer Army installations from incompatible development that concurrently preserves sensitive wildlife habitat throughout the United States.

Mr. Belew has served as Chief, Natural and Cultural Resources Division (NCRD), DECAM, at Fort Carson and the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site totaling over 373,000 acres. Key program areas included water resources and water rights management, improved and unimproved lands management, fish and wildlife management, and the Installation cultural resources programs.

Gary has consistently supported regional interests by defining partnership potentials and assumed leadership of regional conservation partnerships that bridge the gap between public needs and public servants. His efforts have consistently supported regional ecosystem level initiatives such as the Central Shortgrass Prairie Partnership, Peak to Prairie Initiative, Fort Carson’s Greenprint and Army Compatible Use Buffer programs, the Fountain Creek Watershed Taskforce and the Front Range Ecoregional Management Team.

Mr. Belew is involved in numerous natural resource volunteer efforts. He has served on the Steering Committee of the Fountain Creek Watershed Taskforce and is currently on the Steering Committee for the Central Shortgrass Prairie Partnership in Colorado. Mr. Belew has taught classes at the Pikes Peak Community College and is the Chairman of the college’s Advisory Board of the Natural Resources Technology Program. He has been presented an Environmental Achievement Award from the Environmental Protection Agency for outstanding watershed protection and community environmental education. He has received the Outstanding Contributor Award from Pikes Peak Community College, the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Efforts in Smart Growth, and the 1996 Department of Army – Natural Resources Security Award for Large Installations. Finally, Gary’s work has been recognized in important ecological periodicals, including the tournal of The Nature Conservancy.

2008 Public Health

majzler-awardHelen Majzler, Boulder County Public Health

Nominated By: Kim Hills, Boulder County Public Health
Image: Kim Hills and Helen Majzler

For all of us at BCPH, she models the way in her very gentle but determined way. She enables us to act and to challenge the process quite regularly and in doing so allows us to stretch knowing full well that she is there for support. In her work, she inspires a shared vision with every project she takes on. But most significantly, Helen is all about encouraging the heart: in leading the celebrations of BCPH accomplishments, in rewarding others for their hard work, in documenting the history of Boulder County Public Health without fail, even in just bringing homemade scones to nearly every meeting she attends. (Everyone wants to go to Helen’s meetings!)

Between the years of 1964 to 1978, she graduated as a Registered Nurse, entered the Sisters of Mercy religious order (that means she was a nun!), got her graduate degree in public health, served as an associate professor of nursing supervising senior students during their clinical practicum at Mercy College in Detroit, left the order, and married Robert Majzler. Her public health career began as a community health nurse at the City of Milwaukee Health Department. Colorado got her in 1980.

Helen worked her way up the flagpole to Director of Clinical Services through serving in various public health nursing capacities at the health department in Boulder County. As Director of Clinical Services, she lead the department in shifting from a direct services model to population-based programming. She was instrumental in the development of the mass prophylaxis plan for Boulder County, and the list goes on.

She has been a relentless servant to many state and national public health associations, including a stint as the President of the Colorado Public Health Nursing Directors, and a key role in establishing PHNAC (the Public Health Nurses Association of Colorado). Locally, she chaired the Boulder County Movement for Children. And of course, she is a RIHEL fellow from the original class (1999) and has served (and still does) on the RIHEL Board of Directors.

Her collection of awards includes the 2004 Florence Nightingale Award and the 2002 Lillian Wald Award. And now, the RIHEL Health Leadership Award.

2008 Environmental Health

zayach-awardJeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health

Nominated By: Jo Malinowski, Boulder County Public Health
Image: Jeff Zayach and Joe Malinowski

Because of his singularly distinctive accomplishments and contributions, Jeffery J. Zayach is honored by receiving the 2008 Regional Institute for Health and Environmental Leadership “Ex-cellence in Leadership” alumni award. Jeff, who served as the Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) Environmental Health Division Manager until July of 2008, was recently selected to serve as the Boulder County Public Health Director. Jeff has indeed demonstrated all of the attributes that define him as an outstanding environmental health professional in the state of Colorado.

Jeff’s leadership and commitment to high-quality outcomes is deeply appreciated by those Jeff has worked with, as well as those who were under his active supervision. Jeff has outstandingly contributed to the concepts of leadership, management, administration, and collaboration – the essentials that prove him to be a consummate professional.

During his 17 years at BCPH, Jeff has served as an environmental health specialist, Air Quali-ty/Hazardous Waste Program Coordinator, Environmental Health Division Manager, and he now serves as the BCPH Director. Jeff has contributed greatly to the practice of environmental health over the course of nearly two decades.

Jeff Zayach has been a member of the Colorado Environmental Health Association (CEHA) for nearly his entire career, and he has served on the CEHA Board of Directors and on a significant number of work groups. In addition to CEHA, Jeff contributes his energy and expertise to a broad variety of strategic engagements that also focus on improving public health and the envi-ronment in Colorado, including:

  • Past president and current vice president of the Colorado Directors of Environmental Health
  • Board of Directors for the Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials (CALPHO)
  • Member of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) Committee on Accreditation
  • Member of the search committee for the chair of Environmental and Occupational Health for the newly instituted Colorado School of Public Health
  • Member of the Colorado Chronic Disease Task Force
  • And of course, with his recent selection to serve as public health director for Boulder County, Jeff is now a member of the Public Health Directors of Colorado (PHDoC).

More recently, Jeff has been instrumental in helping craft a sound law with his involvement in SB 194, the Public Health Reauthorization Bill. He negotiated changes with the environmental health community to develop an acceptable, and indeed, excellent legislative proposal. He helped gain support for the improved document as it passed through the legislative hurdles by his testimony before the legislative bodies and committees.

Jeff provides leadership in virtually every activity he undertakes. For example, several years ago while serving as our Environmental Health Division Manager, he made a conscious decision to make a significant change to our approach to assuring the environmental health of Boulder County, and to do so by significantly changing our internal management approach to this impor-tant role. Beginning internally, he invested considerable financial resources, brought in outside consultation, and focused on building self-directed work teams in our entire Environmental Health Program. Very early on, Jeff emerged as the principal internal leader and became the primary champion for this new way of doing business. His leadership transformed our Environ-mental Health Program from a top-down, command and control system that relied primarily on a regulatory approach to achieve environmental protection goals, to what is now a highly energized set of teams. These teams are characterized by innovation that achieves environmental protection and promotion of goals at levels far higher than what had ever been achieved under our old system.

Jeff Zayach brings an excellent educational and training background to his work in public health. He has an AA degree in Natural Resource Management, a B.S. in Wildlife Management, and an M.S. in Management, with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership. Beyond academic prepa-ration, Jeff is a graduate of the 2000 RIHEL class. Additionally, Jeff has completed the complete set of training in the Incident Command System (ICS), as well as trainings in risk communica-tion, conflict resolution negotiation, group facilitation, and teamwork development. All of these training opportunities and his commitment to professional continuous quality improvement have combined to make him one of the most skillful practitioners in the art of management.

In recognition of Jeff Zayach’s noteworthy contribution to environmental health, Jeff is the well-deserved recipient of the 2008 RIHEL “Excellence in Leadership” alumni award.

2006 Public Health

Lucille Johnson, Center for African-American Health

Nominated By: Shawn Davis, Consultant to Philanthropy
Image: not available

Lucille Johnson serves as the Director of Health Initiatives at The Center for African-American Health at the Metro Denver Black Church Initiative and is responsible for providing overall operational leadership for all health programs and services provided by the Center. As Shawn Davis, Lucille’s nominator wrote,

“In over ten years of working with communities, I have known other leaders with talent equivalent to Lucille’s. Many of them lacked her good nature and humility, and few demonstrated the genuine commitment to the community that Lucille has exhibited over and over — a commitment that is often accompanied by her excitement or enthusiasm and an uncanny ability to encourage the heart.
Lucille continues to impress me with her knowledge, skill and dedication to public health and eliminating health disparities in the African American community.  I’m sure you will find her to be an alumnus whose leadership will only shine further if she is given a 2006 Excellence in Leadership Alumni Award.  It is my hope that you will recognize Lucille Johnson for dedication to the field of public health, serving as an exemplary leader, and serving as one of RIHEL most productive alumni in the community.”
It was her dedication to Public Health and her exemplary leadership that earned Lucile Johnson the 2006 RIHEL “Excellence in Leadership” Alumni Award.