2024 Iowa Public Health Heroes announced

Published on March 27, 2024

The 2024 Iowa Public Health Heroes recipients (from left) Katie Owens, Elizabeth Faber, and Lina Tucker Reinders
The 2024 Iowa Public Health Heroes recipients (from left) Katie Owens, Elizabeth Faber, and Lina Tucker Reinders

The University of Iowa College of Public Health recently honored three Iowa public health leaders whose work is helping to promote better health, prevent disease, and build stronger communities throughout the state. 

The 2024 Iowa Public Health Heroes Awards were presented to Elizabeth Faber, director of Iowa Immunizes; Katie Owens, senior director of engagement for the Iowa Primary Care Association; and Lina Tucker Reinders, executive director of the Iowa Public Health Association 

The award recipients were honored Tuesday, March 26, during a reception and awards ceremony at the Public Health Conference of Iowa in Des Moines. 

Since 2012, the College of Public Health’s Iowa Public Health Heroes Award program has recognized exceptional efforts by individuals from diverse career paths whose work improves health and wellness throughout Iowa. Award recipients are nominated by their peers in the Iowa public health practice community. 

“The health of all Iowans is enhanced through the leadership and service of so many dedicated professionals working in the public health sector,” says Edith Parker, dean of the College of Public Health. “We are proud to honor these three individuals and to recognize their outstanding work in the communities they serve.” 

About the Recipients

Elizabeth Faber

Elizabeth is the Director of Iowa Immunizes, and according to her nominators, she embodies the spirit of the coalition through her deeply relational, collaborative, and community-engaged approaches to health promotion across Iowa.

 As part of her role at Iowa Immunizes, Elizabeth engages in advocacy across all levels of influence to improve vaccination rates in Iowa, working closely with individuals, community groups, and health care providers throughout the state with the goal of reducing incidence of vaccine preventable diseases.

One of Elizabeth’s greatest skills is her ability to promote a broader understanding of public health in ways that are accessible and meaningful. She makes herself available to everyone in the community, from researchers to hospital staff, to legislators and everyone in between. She meets people where they are and provides expertise, guidance, and support.

Katie Owens

Katie serves as the Senior Director of Engagement for the Iowa Primary Care Association, INConcertCare, and IowaHealth+ where her dedication, passion, and tireless efforts have made a profound impact on the well-being and health of individuals and communities throughout Iowa.

Katie’s nominator, Maggie Curran, says that Katie’s commitment to public health is evident in her unwavering advocacy for health equity and access to healthcare services for under-resourced populations, and has demonstrated exceptional leadership in developing and implementing initiatives aimed at addressing health disparities and promoting health education and awareness.

One of Katie’s most remarkable qualities is her ability to engage and empower communities to take an active role in improving their health outcomes and has built countless beneficial relationships across industries and political ideologies to improve access to care.

Katie’s grassroots advocacy efforts have shaped public health policies at the state and federal levels, championing initiatives that promote health equity for all Iowans, including an effective campaign to protect the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which ensures patients have access to affordable prescription medications.

Lina Tucker Reinders

Lina is the executive director of the Iowa Public Health Association, and through her unwavering commitment, passion, and leadership, has significantly impacted public health professionals, students, and legislative leaders in Iowa.  

In her nomination letter, Sharon Miller writes, “Since Lina became executive director of IPHA in 2019, membership of the organization has grown, surpassing 600 members in 2022.” At the same time, membership retention has increased from 68% to 98%. Lina has built and fostered relationships with many state-wide organizations which has broadened the impact of IPHA and increased awareness of the work of public health professionals.  

Lina has demonstrated a commitment to leadership by uplifting public health professionals. According to her nominators, she has been and continues to be an excellent mentor for all. Her mentorship extends beyond formal settings, and she engages with individuals at various stages of their careers, offering valuable insights and support, connections, and encouragement. 

Lina has empowered countless individuals to realize their full potential and become effective advocates and agents of change in public health. She prioritizes students and understands the importance of active student membership in IPHA. She maintains strong relationships with Iowa’s colleges and universities – including the University of Iowa – and takes the time to talk with students about the impact their professional choice will make upon individuals and communities.