CDC recognizes leaders in advancing health equity

July 27, 2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is pleased has announced two winners of the 2022 REACH Lark Galloway-Gilliam Award for Advancing Health Equity Challenge.

The winners are Thamara Labrousse from Live Healthy Miami Gardens (Florida) and Healthy Savannah (Georgia). This award recognizes extraordinary individuals and organizations that work to advance health equity, reduce health disparities, and improve health in groups disproportionately affected by chronic disease.

“Health equity is at the center of the work we do at CDC, and we remain committed to achieving optimal health for all people,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH. “We are delighted to recognize Ms. Labrousse from Live Healthy Miami Gardens as well as Healthy Savannah for their work to improve the health and well-being of people in communities where they live, learn, work, and play.”

Racial and ethnic disparities in health are widespread across the United States. However, since 1999, the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program in CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (DNPAO) has been at the forefront of CDC’s efforts to reduce health disparities so that all communities can thrive. The REACH Lark Award is in memory of Lark Galloway-Gilliam, the founding executive director of Community Health Councils, Inc., and her meaningful and far-reaching contributions advancing health equity.

“We know that where and how we live can enhance or limit our ability to lead healthy, productive, and fulfilling lives,” said Karen Hacker, M.D., M.P.H, director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “The Lark Award helps us recognize those working tirelessly across the nation to make life and health better for all, despite the challenges they may face.”

Thamara Labrousse has served as the Program Director of the Live Healthy Miami Gardens (LHMG) health initiative since it was launched in 2014. Under Ms. Labrousse’s leadership, LHMG strives to ensure that work in the City of Miami Gardens (CMG) is collaboratively addressing the needs of African American and Hispanic people in the city. To improve health outcomes in the CMG, she focuses on reducing the disparities in systems that affect health—including the built environment, (e.g., efforts that support sidewalks, paths, user-friendly streets), food and nutrition security, and links to clinical services in the community. Her passionate leadership has resulted in CMG residents, organizations, and leaders actively working to strengthen the health and wellness of the community.

Healthy Savannah is a public/private partnership of more than 200 businesses, nonprofits, faith- and community-based organizations, schools, and healthcare and government agencies. In partnership with REACH recipient, YMCA of Coastal Georgia, Healthy Savannah aims to make Savannah, Georgia, a healthier place to live with a particular focus on reducing health disparities and increasing health equity for African Americans with low income and disproportionately affected by chronic disease. Healthy Savannah works to increase the availability and affordability of healthy food; access to safe places to be physically active; and connect the community to resources and each other. They work closely with community members and key partner organizations to ensure all activities are culturally appropriate and acceptable to the community.

CDC release