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Heroes for Health – PSR-LA’s 2012 Gala Dinner

John Froines PhD, Andrea Hricko MPH, Tony Iton MD, JD, MPH, Dick Jackson MD, MPH, and Bob Dodge MD

On Sunday, September 9th, the Beverly Hills Wilshire Hotel was filled with extraordinary public health advocates at Heroes for Health: PSR-LA’s 2012 Gala Dinner. The gala was a special night to honor physicians and health advocates who work to address the social and environmental determinants of health.

Dr. Nancy Gibbs, President of PSR-LA’s Board of Directors, began the program by welcoming guests and introducing Martha Dina Arguello, PSR-LA’s Executive Director who dedicated the gala to three exceptional individuals for their lifetimes of commitment to peace, social justice, and public health: Lester Breslow MD, MPH, E. Richard Brown MPH, and Leonard Fisher MD, all of who had family members present to celebrate their achievements.

After dinner, world renowned pediatrician and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the USC School of Medicine, Harvey Karp, took the stage as the emcee of the special night. Karp is also the 2001 recipient of PSR-LA’s Socially Responsible Medicine Award and a long time PSR-LA member.

To present Andrea Hricko and John Froines with PSR-LA’s 2012 Environmental Health Award was Dr. Robert Gottlieb. Dr. Gottlieb is a Professor of Urban Environmental Studies and director of the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. “What’s so compelling and important about all of Andrea’s work is how well she knows the science and how she makes it accessible to communities, and at the same time how she has come to know the experiences of those communities and the hazards that the residents in those communities face and then makes that knowledge accessible to the scientists and helps influence the direction of their research,” said Gottlieb.

Robert Gottlieb PhD and Andrea Hricko MPH

Hricko, a Professor of Clinical Preventative medicine and Director of Community Outreach and Engagement (COEP) for the NIEHS – supported Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center, is a leader in the efforts to make health a priority in the Los Angeles/Long Beach ports expansion debate and nationally known for her work on inserting health into transportation decision-making.

“I’ve been engaged in a lot of public health campaigns in my life, lead poisoning in the work place, black lung disease, silicosis and more, but I would say that the work that has captured my attention over the past ten years has definitely been the most rewarding. That’s the work in trying to get port and transportation decision makers to protect public health as they rush to build new marine terminals, new rail yards and expand freeways all too often near low income communities of color,” said Hricko. Click here to watch video about Andrea Hricko.

Gottlieb presented to John Froines next, proudly stating: “What I appreciate most about John is how he is such a gifted scientist and even more extraordinary, how he has been able to show us how that science has meaning in our lives and how that science can be turned into policy change…It’s because of his research and the way that his research has informed the policy process that John has helped make the lives of literally millions of people healthier and safer.”

Robert Gottlieb PhD and John Froines PhD

Froines, who currently serves as professor of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public health, was also presented with the Environmental Health Award for his courageous commitment to scientific integrity and for increasing our understanding of the health impacts of toxic chemicals on the health of workers and communities.

“As a scientist I am particularly honored to receive this award because scientists are not always recognized for their efforts. So this really is a statement from PSR about the importance of doing good science,” said Froines. “I’m a strong believer that for science to be successful it must be carried out with integrity. I have never wavered in my commitment to the highest level of science integrity and I think it’s crucial if the science that we do is to be trusted and taken up at the policy level.” Click here to watch video about John Froines.

Next up was the Founders Award. “PSR-LA’s Founders Award is given to an individual who demonstrates the pioneering spirit of PSR’s founders – an ability to think differently about what constitutes a public health problem,” said Karp, “Dr. Tony Iton has dedicated his career to addressing the inextricably linked issues of race, wealth, place and health.”

To present Iton with the award was Dr. Arthur Chen, a board member and former board Chair of the California Endowment and mentor to Iton. Chen was the officer for the Alameda County Public Health Deaparment when he met Iton who, at the time, was a preventative medicine student.

Arthur Chen MD and Tony Iton MD, JD, MPH

“Every once in a while you have the extreme good fortune of running into someone who is very, very special and the only thing I can think about are sports analogies how people talk about the NFL prospect or the Olympian prospect they had the privilege of being able to coach,” said Chen. “The sky is the limit, Tony is an emerging leader who we know is going to show up some place somewhere and is going to make us all proud and make us all feel that yes, someone can accomplish so much for the good of our population.“

Iton, Senior Vice President for Healthy Communities at The California Endowment, was presented with the Founders Award for his commitment to eliminating health disparities in disadvantaged communities.

“The challenges that we’re facing in this country now around the economy, around global competitiveness, around some of the major environmental challenges that are fundamentally questions of sustainability really are driven by our refusal to invest in the true resources throughout our country that live in these communities. The solution to these problems lives in those communities,”said Dr. Iton. “I truly salute PSR and I should say that when I arrived at John Hopkins at the age of 22, in 1985, the first organization that I joined was PSR. I was proud to do it then, I am proud to be receiving this award from you tonight.” Click here to watch video about Anthony Iton.

Harvey Karp began the presentation of PSR-LA’s Peacemaker Award. “Whether he is speaking to a group of 20 or 200, writing op-eds, or presenting an enormous check each year on Tax Day to demonstrate how much Ventura County taxpayers spent on nuclear weapons, Dr. Bob Dodge is constantly working to remind others of the unseen but ever present nuclear threat,” said Karp.

Robert Dodge MD and David Krieger PhD

Dr. David Krieger, a founder of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation who has served as its President since 1982, presented Bob Dodge MD with the Peacemaker Award. “He demonstrates in his life the values that I most admire that are compassion, commitment and courage,” said Krieger. “I know from my experiences in working with him across the country from New York to Santa Barbara that he is a man that cares deeply about ridding the world of nuclear weapons and in so many respects is a remarkable peace maker.”

Dodge, PSR-LA Board Member and a family physician in Ventura, CA, received the award for his longtime and steadfast efforts toward a more peaceful world and engaging professionals to prevent nuclear disaster.

“Each of us can and does make a difference. Working together, who’s voice among us, will result in the tipping point that finally eliminates nuclear weapons and realizes the will of the people? Let it be yours. If you are not already walking with us on this journey or have paused, join us now. Everything we hold near and dear, and most importantly our children’s future depends upon it. We must not stop until this goal is achieved,” said Dodge. Click here to watch video about Bob Dodge.

Richard Jackson MD, MPH, Chair of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA and a PSR-LA Board Member, was presented with the Socially Responsible Medicine Award by emcee and his longtime friend, Harvey Karp MD. “This year’s Socially Responsible Medicine award goes to Richard Jackson, an individual who has truly demonstrated how the physicians’ voice can make a difference,” said Karp. “Jackson has fought to reduce children’s exposure to lead and pesticides, create a better understanding of how toxic chemicals end up in our bodies, and lectures and speaks to architects about integrating health into urban planning. Not to mention he is the host of a 3 series special Designing Healthy Communities on PBS.”

Dick Jackson MD, MPH and Harvey Karp MD

Jackson is a renowned health expert who helped establish the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program and has impacted both state and national laws to reduce risks from pesticides and is working to improve community health by changing the built environment.

“All that greenhouse gas loading we’re doing, a third of that is coming from our buildings worldwide, and a third of it is coming from how we move people around, which is one of the reasons why I’m obsessed that it is so important we build places that can solve multiple problems, can solve some of the social issues, can solve the environmental issues, can solve the physical activity issue, obesity and the rest,” said Jackson. Click here to watch a video about Richard Jackson.

Argüello ended the night on a note of gratitude. “I want to thank you for joining us tonight, please continue to support PSR and our wonderful heroes, we work with them all the time, and again thank you for all your generosity tonight,” she said.

PSR-LA wishes to thank all who participated in our 2012 Heroes for Health Gala Dinner. Funds raised from the event will help us continue our efforts to create a safer and healthier Los Angeles.

PSR-LA Executive Director Martha Dina Argüello thanks 2012 Gala Dinner guests

Special thanks to our gala supporters: Nancy Gibbs M.D., The California Endowment, Richard Jackson M.D., M.P.H, Jemmott Rollins Group, Inc., Margaret Wacker M.D., Better World Group, Andrea Hricko M.P.H. and John Froines PhD, Metropolitan Water District, Jose Quiroga M.D., UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Drs. Donald and Judith Broder, Hilary Godwin Ph.D., Joann Hummel, Gerald Markowitz, Julia Moore and James Yamazaki M.D.

Click here to see photos from the gala.
Click here to see video from the event.

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