The year 2020 will go down as exceptional in nearly every respect. Even Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year – pandemic – reflects the world’s undivided focus on a public health crisis that transformed global society. In such a year, a University of Iowa award recognizing outstanding leadership in public health is changing as well.
Since 2012, the UI College of Public Health has honored public health professionals from across the state with the Iowa Public Health Heroes Awards. The intent is to recognize public health leaders who have done exceptional work to promote a healthier state through wellness and disease prevention initiatives. These leaders have demonstrated the values of the College of Public Health, including community engagement, integrity, continuing learning, quality, responsibility, and social justice.
Because of the unique and challenging situation presented by the pandemic and the amazing work performed by every public health worker in Iowa throughout 2020, the College of Public Health has chosen to present the Iowa Public Health Heroes Award to the entirety of the Iowa public health workforce. The college particularly recognizes local public health workers, who have been at the forefront of our state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Each community has experienced unique needs, but public health champions everywhere have risen to meet these challenges,” says Edith Parker, dean of the College of Public Health. “So much of their work has gone unnoticed and, too often, unappreciated. We wanted to shine a light on the amazing work that local public health professionals have done to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The health of all Iowans is enhanced through the leadership and service of so many dedicated professionals working in the public health sector,” continues Parker. “We are proud to honor all of the public health workers in Iowa and to recognize their outstanding work in the communities they serve.”
The award was announced at the opening session of the 2021 Public Health Conference of Iowa.