The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced nine winners of the 2019 Award for Health Equity in Princeton, NJ, on Dec. 11, including the winner of the National Civic League’s joint award with RWJF, Dr. Shreya Kangovi.
The RWJF Health Equity Award recognizes individuals who “have changed systems and policies at a local level to increase the chance that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to live the healthiest life possible.” The award was launched in 2015, and the National Civic League is one of several national organizations that each select an individual who is helping to improve health equity in their community.
Dr. Shreya Kangovi, the winner of the National Civic League’s 2019 award, is the founding director of the Penn Center for Community Health Workers in Philadelphia. Dr. Kangovi was inspired by a community health worker system in India and decided to implement a similar system in the low-income neighborhoods of west Philadelphia. “We look for residents who care about others” to be health workers, said Dr. Kangovi. “These are the people who can’t turn their back on people in need, who can’t help themselves caring about the people around them.”
The residents recruited to be community health workers by the Penn Center are trained to help people with health needs to navigate systems for health care and related needs. The program has now served more than 8,000 people in Philadelphia and was developed by Dr. Kangovi into a national model called IMPaCT, which has now been adopted by communities across the country.
Other recipients of this year’s RWJF award include two community leaders who helped implement the first set of health and wellness standards for a park and recreation agency outside of Atlanta, a nonprofit director raising attention to the maltreatment suffered by Asian immigrants entering the U.S. through California’s ports and two individuals working to reduce the social isolation of older adults in low-income sections of Denver.
Below are the names and organizations of this year’s winners and additional information is available on the RWJF website.
Shreya Kangovi of the Penn Center for Community Health Worker—Selected by the National Civic League
Mary Wirshup of Community Volunteers in Medicine—Selected by the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics
Michael Klein and Gabriel Sanders of Kavod Senior Life—Selected by LeadingAge
Maria Gomez of Mary’s Center—Selected by Hispanics in Philanthropy
Tina Fleming and Lindsey Jorstad of Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation—Selected by the National Recreation and Park Association
Jose "Che-Che" Turrubiartez of Youth MOVE—Selected by Youth MOVE National
Arianna Lint of Arianna's Center—Selected by AIDS United
Edward Tepporn of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum—Selected by the Asian & Pacific Islander Caucus for Public Health
Kevin Williams and Sarah Cusworth Walker of the Pierce County Juvenile Court; University of Washington School of Medicine—Selected by Community-Campus Partnerships for Health