Past Recipients

The Matthew Lee Girvin Award award is presented to a recent graduate of the Rollins School of Public Health who exemplifies Matthew's selfless dedication to the field of public health and who has made significant contributions toward improving the lives and health of others.

Past Recipients

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The recipient of the 2011 Matthew Lee Girvin Award was

Rosemarie Kobau, 86OX 88C '00PH

Photo of Rosemarie KobauRosemarie Kobau’s contributions in health policy and research to improve the lives and well-being of those diagnosed with epilepsy are attained by few others so early in their careers. After receiving her degree from the Rollins School of Public Health in 2000, Rosemarie began her career as a research fellow within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) working on activities related to quality of life research and a new epilepsy program. In 2002, she accepted her current position of Public Health Advisor and Acting Team Lead of with the Health-Related Quality of Life and Epilepsy Programs.

While Rosemarie’s role as Public Health Advisor at the CDC is not unique, the impact that she is having on the communities she serves is. Shortly after settling in to her position, Rosemarie set to work to broaden epilepsy research beyond cause and cure toward understanding how people with epilepsy deal with living with seizures and the impact on their lives.

Drawing on the successes of those in the chronic illness field in creating both preventive and intervention programs to improve quality of life, Rosemarie lobbied for the CDC Epilepsy Program to begin funding those researchers conducting studies related to epilepsy self-management. Today, after five years of funding, there are three CDC funded national self-management programs and three more in testing.

Seeing an opportunity for better collaboration among researchers, Rosemarie also created the Managing Epilepsy Well (MEW) Network which consists of researchers from throughout the U.S. working together to explore ways to help people with epilepsy live well. The Network includes members who have conducted research in related areas, such as disability and asthma self-management, and are now bringing their skills to the study of epilepsy. Rosemarie’s leadership can be seen across multiple initiatives within the CDC and her impact felt throughout the larger epilepsy community. Outside of her work day, Rosemarie volunteers her time at the Emergency Operations Center mental health desk, plans workshops for epilepsy advocates, and is a member of the GA Epilepsy Foundation Board and of the National Epilepsy Foundation Board.



The recipient of the 2010 Matthew Lee Girvin Award was

Melissa Creary, '04 MPH

Photo of Melissa Creary
Melissa Creary is a 2004 alumna in Behavioral Sciences and Health Education who is making a difference in the field of sickle cell disease as a Health Scientist at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a community activist. 
 
Upon joining the Division of Blood Disorders at the CDC, Melissa was assigned to a study that examined a rare     hemophilia complication. It was there that she identified a program gap and immediately set to work addressing sickle cell disease as a public health problem by developing an agency-wide workgroup to mobilize interest in the disease at the CDC.  Through this workgroup, Melissa led a promotional campaign within the CDC and sickle cell community to increase awareness about the public health implications of sickle cell disease. Her initiative lead to the creation of the first national surveillance system and the first CDC website dedicated to sickle cell disease, as well as several publications, and numerous talks and interview across the nation to increase awareness of the disease.

Today the Division of Blood Disorders continues to work in sickle cell disease both domestically and internationally, and has made sickle cell disease a priority in its strategic plan. Melissa's work was also recently recognized by the CDC and ATSDR with the agency's Honor Award.
 
In addition to her professional achievements, Melissa also boasts a long history of service. She is a board member of Sickle Cell Empowerment for a Liberated Life, has chaired the Caucus of Emory Black Alumni, and raised over $10,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. But, most impressively, she has helped found a novel non-profit called ShadowBlossom, Inc. with two fellow RSPH alumni.
 
Melissa is currently pursuing her doctoral degree at Emory where she is investigating the political and cultural histories of sickle cell disease in the U.S. and Brazil and their impact on governmental intervention.  She retains her roles at the CDC and in the non-profit community.



The recipient of the 2009 Matthew Lee Girvin Award was

Alison L. Smith, 05MPH

Alison L. SmithAlison L. Smith, MPH is a 2005 alumna who is making a difference in the field of global HIV/AIDS. After earning her degree at age 24, Alison began working as a contractor in the Global AIDS Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a public health analyst on the HIV Surveillance Team, she was responsible for obtaining estimates of the number of people infected with HIV across the globe - often risking her own safety to do so.

Alison's leadership in establishing surveillance systems and conducting epidemiological trainings designed to teach public health workers how to process, analyze, and report data from public health surveys has produced the first reliable HIV/AIDS data for countries like Kenya, Angola, Guyana, Guatemala, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The result has been an increased and improved response to the AIDS epidemic in the most affected areas of the world.

Alison is also committed to helping others in her own community. She is a mentor for a young girl with HIV and a dedicated volunteer for the non-profit organization H.E.R.O. She has delivered meals to families with HIV, counseled and tested homeless men and women for HIV, and conducted volunteer public health research related to depression and suicide at Atlanta homeless shelters.

Alison exemplifies someone who, early on in her career and life, is making significant contributions to the field of public health and improving the lives of others both in her community and abroad. She is a young woman who makes personal sacrifices to improve the likelihood that someday HIV and the millions of lives the disease takes each year will be a thing of the past.

Alison is a first-year medical student at Mercer University.

The recipient of the 2008 Matthew Lee Girvin Award was
Rebecca Vander Meulen, '03 MPH

Photo of Rebecca Vander Meulen

When Rebecca Vander Meulen graduated from the RSPH, she had two options: serving as a presidential management intern in Washington, D.C., or as an HIV/AIDS volunteer in Mozambique. She chose the latter, for which she has received the Matthew Lee Girvin Award.

When Vander Meulen first arrived in the remote province of Lichinga in Mozambique, churches there viewed HIV/AIDS as a curse rather than a disease. Attitudes definitely have changed.

As founding coordinator of Programa de Vida, Vander Meulen has mobilized more than 300 congregations in the Diocese of Niassa to develop HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives. Last fall, some 5,000 people attended Diocesan Family Day in Messuma, where the Vida team hosted HIV teaching sessions and tested 130 people for HIV. The bishop of the diocese and his wife were among those tested.

Through other initiatives, Vida staff sponsor recreation and school programs for children orphaned by AIDS, provide seeds and farming tools to plant gardens that nourish HIV patients and orphans, and make home visits to ensure that HIV/AIDS patients adhere to treatment. Vida assisted with a local hospital expansion to accommodate confidential HIV testing and treatment.

Because Vander Meulen was in Mozambique during the alumni award presentation at Emory, her parents, Doris and David Vander Meulen, accepted the honor on her behalf. David described his daughter's commitment to helping communities control their destinies. "I was dying," he said, quoting a congregation member from an email sent by his daughter. "Now we are living."

The recipient of the 2007 Matthew Lee Girvin Award was
Leisel Talley, '00 MPH

Photo of Leisel TallyLeisel Talley, 00MPH, has helped make a difference in the lives of people affected by human catastrophe. For these efforts, she received the Matthew Lee Girvin Award, presented to young professionals who have improved the lives and health of others. The award honors the memory of Girvin, a 1994 graduate who died in 2001 during a U.N. surveying mission.

Since Talley joined the International Emergency and Refugee Health branch of the CDC eight years ago, she has assessed the nutritional needs of populations in Sudan, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Tanzania. In 2006, working with UNICEF, the World Food Program, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, and the ministries of health and agriculture in Sudan, she completed an emergency food security and nutrition assessment in war-torn Darfur, which informed government and humanitarian assistance in that region. Talley also developed culturally appropriate mental health interventions for Karenni refugees in Thailand who fled there from Burma to escape civil war and persecution.

In the course of her work, she often heeds the advice of global health professor Stan Foster. "He taught us to expect the best but be prepared for the worst," said Talley, upon accepting her award. And like Foster, she shares lessons learned with her own students in the RSPH, where she teaches the course "Food and Nutrition in Humanitarian Emergencies" as an adjunct faculty member.

The recipient of the 2006 Matthew Lee Girvin Award was
Cheryll J. Cardinez, ’99 MSPH
Photo of Cheryl CardinezCheryll Cardinez holds a MSPH from the Rollins School of Public Health.  After earning her degree in 1999, Cheryll began her career as an Epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society conducting, analyzing, and publishing original research on the causes and prevention of cancer.   In 2004, Cheryll joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an Epidemiologist for the Surveillance Research Team.  Many of her projects with the CDC focus on the use and quality assessment of data from CDC's National Program of Cancer Registries, which supports population-based cancer registries in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories.  She currently leads the NPCR-National Longitudinal Mortality Survey Linkage project, serves as the liaison between 10 NPCR state registries and the U.S. Census Bureau, and serves as the project manager for the American Indian/Alaska Native monograph that will describe the burden of cancer in this population.  Cheryll has also led the production of the annual United States Cancer Statistics, made significant contributions to the design, packaging, and marketing of the USCS website, and co-authored several manuscripts using NPCR data.

In addition to her contributions to scientific literature and providing the scientific base for many public health programs, Cheryll is an active member of the Rollins School of Public Health Alumni Association Board and a mentor for RSPH students.

The recipient of the 2005 Matthew Lee Girvin Award was
Mr. David A. Bray ('04 MSPH).
Photo of Mr. David A. BrayDavid is the CDC Associate Director of Informatics and IT Chief within the Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention and the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Program. He has led the CDC's public health IT response to 9/11, anthrax, West Nile virus, SARS and several other outbreaks. He has also led the technology components of CDC's HIV/AIDS surveillance and prevention programs. One of David's colleagues describes his work as "often a behind the scenes thankless job; as David's best public health work is when things succeed seamlessly, without notice."
In addition to his work at the CDC, David volunteers with the Jimmy Carter Project and Habitat for Humanity International where he serves as a crew leader and EMT. He is also author of a book entitled "A Willful Volunteer" which advocates for more committed volunteer leaders around the world.
David will receive his award during the RSPH graduation ceremonies on Monday, May 15, 2006. Please join the RSPH Alumni Association in congratulating David on receiving this well deserved honor.
Please join the RSPH Alumni Association Board in congratulating Mr. David A. Bray on receiving this honor!

The recipient of the 2004 Matthew Lee Girvin Award was
Ms. Chanda Mobley ('96 MPH).
Photo of Ms. Chanda MobleyMs. Mobley is currently the Director of the American Lung Association of Georgia's Camp Breath Easy Program where she has made tremendous strides in increasing the number of campers and raising public awareness about the issues of asthma. She also provides expertise and training in asthma-related issues as well as HIV/AIDS, substance abuse and diabetes to various community and state organizations.
Please join the RSPH Alumni Association Board in congratulating Ms. Chanda Mobley on receiving this honor!

2003 Matthew Lee Girvin Award Recipient
Lyrna Siklóssy '97 M.P.H.
Photo of Lyrna Siklóssy

Lyrna Siklóssy, a 1997 Rollins School of Public Health MPH in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, has worked as a public health professional in a variety of capacities. Immediately after graduating from Rollins, Siklóssy worked in a study on veterans and substance abuse at the VA Medical Center; results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.Siklóssy recognized the serious need for bilingual health educators in the Latino community in the metro Atlanta area and decided to devote her attention to health education and community advocacy. She initially focused on designing and implementing sexual violence prevention programs for Latinos, but later expanded these efforts to include other groups for whom English is not a first language.

She created the Multicultural Outreach Program at the DeKalb Rape Crisis Center where she brought a creative approach to the position, working directly with members of the community via churches, schools, beauty salons and radio stations.

To date, Siklóssy has made her greatest contribution to public health with her involvement in one of CARE Ecuador's reproductive health programs for adolescents in Cuenca, Ecuador. In conjunction with CARE Ecuador, the Clinica Humanitaria, and the European Union, she put together the area's first center for specialized medical attention for adolescents including the following services: psychological support, family planning, gynecology and internal medicine, testing of sexually transmitted infections (including HIV), prenatal care classes, partum and post-partum care for adolescent mothers, and health education classes. Her work in Ecuador also included the design and implementation of health promotion and prevention programs in two schools through the training of students, teachers and parents. The trainings included topics rarely if ever dealt with in Ecuadorian schools: self-esteem and identity building; basic concepts in sexuality and family planning; and the prevention of substance abuse, violence and sexually transmitted infections. Both programs were designed to be replicated and rolled out across Ecuador and would not have been possible without the contributions made by Siklóssy.

Future plans for Siklóssy entail continued work with Spanish-speaking adolescents and women in the United States and abroad.



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For more information, please contact:

Karla Daniels
Associate Director of Development
Rollins School of Public Health
1518 Clifton Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30322
Tel: (404) 712-8687
Fax: (404) 727-9853
Email: alumni@sph.emory.edu