Distinguished Achievement Award

Past Recipients

Each year the Rollins School of Public Health presents an award to an alumnus/a who has made an outstanding contribution in the field of public health. Given in recognition of a lifetime of career achievement, recipients exemplify dedication to the public health ideals of promoting health and preventing disease.

Dr. Raymond Kotwicki, '04 MPH

Raymond Kotwicki

The 2016-2017 Distinguished Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Raymond Kotwicki. A 2004 graduate of the Rollins School of Public Health, Dr. Ray Kotwicki now holds the endowed Charles B. West Chief Medical Officer position at Skyland Trail, a private, nonprofit residential and day treatment organization for adults with mental illnesses in Atlanta. In this role, he oversees all of the clinical, educational, and research activities within the organization. His uniquely holistic, public health approach to caring for patients with psychiatric conditions has transformed patient care at Skyland Trail and redefined the model for effective, recovery-focused mental health treatment nationwide. The Skyland Trail Integrative Model has set the bar for integrated preventative services by incorporating active living and nutrition education into treatment. The approach earned a special presidential commendation from the American Psychi­atric Association in 2015.

In addition to his direct clinical work and innovative program development, Kotwicki champions public health in other educational roles. He has served as an associate professor at Emory’s School of Medicine and at Rollis, led medical student education for Emory’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and remains an adjunct faculty at Emory, as well as at the University of Miami.

Kotwicki is a diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurolo­gy; president of the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians’ Association; and the former president of the board of directors for Positive Impact, the Southeast’s premier prevention and mental health program for people impacted by HIV/AIDS. He has given over 200 invited talks, co-edited one book to train over 50,000 police offi­cers on how to recognize people with signs of mental illnesses in the community, and is on the Board of Trustees at the Lovett School.

He is the recipient of numerous distinctions, including Emory’s “Golden Apple” Teaching Award, Leadership Atlanta Class of 2011, Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, Mental Health America and Eli Lilly’s “Heroes in Fight” Clinical Team Award, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Exemplary Psychiatrist Award.

We are pleased to recognize Kotwicki with our Rollins School of Public Health Distinguished Achievement Alumni Award.

Brigette Ulin, '97 MPH

Brigette Ulin

The 2015-2016 Distinguished Achievement Award was presented to Brigette Ulin. As Director of the Office of the National Prevention Strategy at the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), Ulin has been integral to the creation and implementation of our nation’s first comprehensive plan for preventive healthcare. Beginning in 2012, Ulin co-led teams from the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services, and 17 departments within the National Prevention Council to conceptualize and draft the National Prevention Strategy.

Since the official release of the strategy, Ulin has been in charge of its implementation across the federal government, as well as preparing annual progress reports that are presented to the President and Congress. The National Prevention Strategy has provided a critical foundation for communities to address chronic illness by offering evidence-based recommendations for promoting risk reduction and healthier lifestyles. As a result of the strategy, multiple federal departments and public sectors have started prioritizing prevention and have integrated public health considerations into their policy decisions.

Prior to her appointment to the Office of the National Prevention Strategy, Ulin spent many years with the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, where she was responsible for the management of projects addressing the prevention of youth violence, child maltreatment, and teen dating abuse. As part of her focus on violence prevention, Ulin managed a national initiative called Choose Respect, aimed at helping young people ages 11-14 years form healthy relationships to prevent dating violence before it begins. Under Ulin’s leadership, the Choose Respect Initiative received the Horizon Health Education Award by CDC’s Public Health Education and Promotion Network, and was selected as a finalist for the PR News Award for Non-Profit Public Service Announcements.

Ulin began her career at the CDC developing and evaluating national education campaigns for the National Center for Infectious Diseases, where she was widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts on the integration of viral hepatitis prevention with HIV and STD counseling and testing. Her work educated thousands of health practitioners about the importance of including viral hepatitis in discussions about HIV and STDs. She also improved awareness of viral hepatitis transmission among those at highest risk for contracting the disease.

Ulin’s contributions to the health of our nation through education and policy will enhance the lives of millions of Americans for generations to come, and it is for that reason that we are recognizing her with the Rollins School of Public Health Distinguished Achievement Alumni Award.

Dr. Jonathan (Jono) Mermin, '98 MPH

Dr. Jonathan (Jono) Mermin

The 2014-2015 Distinguished Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Jonathan H. Mermin. Dr. Jonathan H. Mermin is Director of National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prior to earning his MPH in Epidemiology in 1998, he received his MD from Stanford University and completed a residency in Primary Care Internal Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. He joined the CDC in 1995 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer.

Dr. Mermin spent a decade working with the CDC in Africa before he returned to the Atlanta headquarters in 2009. Dr. Mermin’s work in Africa—first in Kenya and then in Uganda—started at the cusp of the HIV epidemic, just prior to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Dr. Mermin conceptualized the idea and led international efforts to develop a standard, evidence-based, basic care package for people with HIV in Africa. In 2003, he implemented the first U.S. Government-funded program that provided antiretroviral therapy to people with HIV outside the United States. And in both Kenya and Uganda, he helped develop a 2-year fellowship program, modeled after the Epidemic Intelligence Service at CDC that trained people in HIV prevention and care at host institutions and developed a cadre of public health leaders.

As the Director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Dr. Mermin worked to refocus CDC’s HIV prevention activities toward “high impact prevention”, which included focusing the lion’s share of resources on four proven effective HIV prevention strategies. This new approach shifted CDC grants to health departments in the 12 cities that cover 44% of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S.

In 2013, Dr. Mermin took on the role of Director of NCHHSTP and has brought a similar outcome-oriented approach to the work of Center; focusing on cost-effectiveness and improved impact. This includes improved access to new highly effective, but expensive viral hepatitis treatments; ensuring effective STD treatment and prevention in the time of healthcare transformation; and invigorating a new approach to latent TB infection. In addition, Dr. Mermin continues to respond to urgent public health issues—he was the only Center Director at CDC to deploy for a month to West Africa for the Ebola epidemic, he is currently overseeing the emergency operations response to a large outbreak of HIV and HCV in rural Indiana, and he is involved in a multi-state drug resistant TB outbreak.

It is for his significant contributions to HIV and other disease prevention that we are recognizing Dr. Jonathan H. Mermin with our Rollins School of Public Health Distinguished Achievement Award.

Dr. Alawode Oladele, 93 MPH

Dr. Alawode Oladele

Dr. Oladele graduated from the Rollins School of Public Health in 1993 with an MPH in Epidemiology. He received his Bachelor's degree from Morehouse College and his medical degree in Urology from the Morehouse School of Medicine, then completed his internship, residency and fellowship at Emory. Today, Dr. Oladele serves as the Medical Director for the DeKalb County Board of Health's Tuberculosis Program and is the CEO and President of Premiere International Health Care Inc. Through his work with Premiere International Health Care Inc., Dr. Oladele oversees a variety of HIV and community health projects in West, East, and Central Africa.

Dr. Oladele has legacy of service that extends far beyond most. He is the creative force behind DeKalb County's "Public Health Student Adopt a Refugee Family" Program and the Global Initiative for the Advancement of Nutritional Therapy (GIANT) in Africa -- an initiative he co-founded to help eliminate hunger and malnutrition through improved nutrition, better food access, and clean water across the continent. He is an active advisor to several national and international non-profit organizations, and serves on the Board of Directors for MedShare International where he facilitated the establishment of a $1 million medical assistance program through the Federal Ministry of Health for Nigeria. He is also a sponsor and supporter of the Women of Hope Project which provides free medical consultation and drugs for those infected with HIV/AIDS.

His contributions to both his local and international communities, including his home country of Nigeria, have been recognized on numerous occasions. Perhaps the most notable accolades were the Nigerian Consulates Appreciation Award and the Alliance of Nigerian Organizations in Georgia Image Award he received in 2009.

A respected researcher, physician and published author, Dr. Oladele has spent more than 15 years as public health advocate for social justice through economic and community development, environmental justice, human rights, and social change. It is for all these reasons we have chosen to recognize Dr. Alawode Oladele with our Rollins School of Public Health Distinguished Achievement Award.

Dr. David N. Westfall, 09 MPH

Dr. David N. Westfall, 09 MPH

Dr. Westfall graduated from the Rollins School of Public Health in 2009 and currently serves as the District Public Health Director for District 2 at the State of Georgia's Department of Public Health. In this role he is responsible for promoting and improving public health in 13-county area in north Georgia. Some of his notable accomplishments to date in his role as District Health Director include increasing primary care services for HIV patients in the district's Ryan White Clinic, improving access to health care, and improving employee development for district staff.

Dr. Westfall is described by his nominator as a "champion for public health", dedicating himself to improving overall public health in the community. He holds numerous board leadership positions for organizations that help the uninsured, medically underserved areas, children who are victims of sexual or severe physical abuse, and emergency preparedness. He helped start the Good News Clinics (GNC), which provides medical and dental care at no cost to low income, uninsured residents of Hall County. Dr. Westfall currently serves as volunteer physician and advisory board member for GNC, which in 2011 provided approximately $22 million in services to uninsured residents of Hall County. In addition, he remains very engaged with the Career MPH program at Rollins through teaching and serving on thesis committees.

Dr. Stanley O. Foster, 82 MPH

Dr. Stanley O. Foster, 82 MPH

For more than 50 years Dr. Stanley Foster has been a leader in public health. He began his career with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an Epidemic Intelligence (EIS) Officer. For two years he examined thousands of school children in Arizona for trachoma, and investigated other health emergencies, such as plague, rabies, measles, shigella, kerato conjuntivitis, and rotavirus on behalf of the Indian Health Service. In 1966, Dr. Foster was invited to join the CDC’s new Smallpox Eradication Program where he spent 8 years in Nigeria, Bangladesh and Somalia (the last smallpox epidemic country in the world) working with national health workers to eradicate smallpox. His efforts helped make history in 1980 by officially eradicating smallpox from the world.

For the next 14 years, Dr. Foster worked to improve the health and survival of children in more than a dozen African countries with the International Health Program Office at the CDC. Through his work with the Combating Childhood Communicable Disease Project (CCCD), he focused on prevention, case management of priority illnesses including malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea, and strengthening preventive and curative systems.

When most would have chosen to retire from a successful career with the CDC, Dr. Foster decided he would begin his second career – sharing his knowledge and experiences with future public health leaders. He began teaching global health at the Rollins School of Public Health in 1994. For nearly 20 years, he has taught and mentored thousands of public health students and served as a source of inspiration for thousands of community health workers around the world.

Throughout his career Dr. Foster has worked tirelessly to improve the health and well-being of millions of people. Significantly shaping the landscape of public health, his impact will continue to be felt for years to come.

Rear Admiral Ali S. Khan, MD, MPH

Rear Admiral Ali S. Khan, MD, MPH

Dr. Ali S. Khan is a 2000 graduate of the Rollins School of Public Health, Assistant Surgeon General and the Director of the CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. Prior to earning his MPH in biostatistics, he received his MD from Downstate Medical Center and completed a joint residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Michigan before joining CDC in 1991 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer.

As one of the main architects of CDC's public health bioterrorism preparedness program, Dr. Khan was instrumental in upgrading local, state, and national public health systems to detect and rapidly respond to bioterrorism. He also created the Critical Agent list, which has remained the basis for all biological terrorism preparedness. These preparedness efforts were used during the first anthrax attack in 2001, during which Dr. Khan directed the CDC operational response in Washington, DC.

Over the past decade, Dr. Khan's contribution to public health has ranged from responding to and leading numerous high profile domestic and international public health emergencies (including Ebola hemorrhagic fever, avian influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the Asian tsunami, and the initial public health response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans) to designing CDC's joint global field epidemiology and laboratory training program, and engaging in both guinea worm and polio eradication. He was also an integral part of the design and implementation of the President's Malaria Initiative.

In addition to authoring over 150 peer-reviewed publications and consulting for NASA, Ministries of Health, and the World Health Organization, Dr. Khan also remains an active member of the RSPH community. He teaches as an adjunct professor in the Department of Epidemiology, serves as a student mentor, participates in the Alumni Campaign Committee, and has served as RSPH Alumni Board President.

Dr. Robert C. Bailey, 97MPH

Dr. Robert C. Bailey, 97MPH

Dr. Robert C. Bailey is a 1997 alumnus of the Rollins School of Public Health. Prior to earning his MPH in epidemiology, he received his PhD in biological anthropology from Harvard University.

Dr. Bailey has devoted much of his public health career to the groundbreaking research that has established the importance of male circumcision in the prevention of HIV and translating that research into widespread public health action; action which stands to avert over 3 million new HIV infections over the next 20 years, according to the World Health Organization.

Working with national and international partners including the Ministries of Health, WHO, UNAIDS, PEPFAR, USAID, and the CDC, Dr. Bailey has played an integral role in establishing safe, affordable circumcision and other prevention strategies in sub-Saharan Africa. Over 100,000 male circumcisions have been achieved so far with countless additional sexually transmitted infections averted, and thousands of men and their female partners counseled and tested for HIV.

Dr. Bailey is also committed to building the capacity of Kenyans to engage in research and to improve public health practice. Through grants and various support mechanisms, he supports 14 Kenyans toward earning their MPH. In addition, he is the founder a charitable organization called Health and Empowerment for African Lives (HEAL), which supports people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in Kenya with counseling, medical care, and income-generating opportunities for victims of the HIV epidemic.

Dr. Bailey is also an Epidemiology Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he mentors several junior faculty and six PhD students.

Dr. Daniel Blumenthal, 86MPH

Dr. Daniel Blumenthal, 86MPH

Daniel Blumenthal received the Distinguished Achievement Award for preparing students to serve on the front lines of public health as chair of community health and preventive medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine.

Under his guidance, Morehouse established one of the nation's first federally funded Area Health Education Centers, a pipeline program for health professionals working in underserved communities. He also created an education program that includes a rural clerkship and a community health course that is taught in the community. His department offers an "Honors in Community Service" track, the only one of its kind at a U.S. medical school.

Prior to Morehouse, Blumenthal served with the CDC, WHO, Fulton County, and Grady Memorial Hospital. When he joined the school in 1984, his department had no more than five faculty members and no research program. Today, it has nearly 40 faculty members and a cumulative total of $50 million in research funding.

"He is a quiet giant who stands tall in the corridor," said John Maupin, Morehouse School of Medicine president, of Blumenthal. "He is a champion for public health."

Taroub Harb Faramand, MD, MPH

Taroub Harb Faramand, MD, MPH

Dr. Taroub Harb Faramand, 95MPH, was honored with the Distinguished Achievement Award for her efforts to empower women in communities and guide the development of institutions to improve health nationally and globally. As senior vice president for global health programs with Project HOPE, Faramand oversees a network of core and field staff responsible for more than 80 programs in 36 countries. Trained as a physician in Russia, she has 25 years of clinical and management experience in reproductive health, maternal and child health, and HIV/AIDS.

"She is a visionary leader and strategic thinker who puts ideas into action," says Dixie Snider, 84MPH, last year's Distinguished Achievement Award recipient. While Faramand is known for her international leadership, she never lost sight of the value of working with communities. From developing a microcredit program for women in rural Egypt to designing literacy booklets in local languages, Faramand has a gift for "lifting up those most in need," says Snider.

2006 - Dr. Dixie E. Snider, Jr., MD, MPH

2005 - Dr. Suzanne M. Smith, '91 MPH, MPA

2004 - Dr. Hani Atrash '85 MPH

2003 - Dr. E. Anne Peterson '94 MPH

2002 - Dr. Oscar E. Tarragó '89 MPH

2001 - Patrick J. McConnon, '89 MPH

2000 - Allan B. Goldman, '76 MPH

1999 - Virginia Shankle Bales, '77 MPH

1998 - Dr. Erica Frank '84 MPH

1997 - Dr. Stephen L. Cochi '93 MPH

1995 - Marie F. McLeod '90 MPH