WASHINGTON–Twenty-seven leading professionals and students in public health and health promotion were recently recognized with awards and scholarships for their national and international achievements in health education and health promotion by the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE). 

The awards and scholarships recognize exemplary and lasting contributions to the profession in research, practice, teaching and mentorship. The awards were given in conjunction with SOPHE’s 62nd Annual Meeting and awards ceremony held October 28-29, 2011, in Arlington, Va.

SOPHE’s highest honor, the Distinguished Fellow Award, was presented to Leonard Jack, Jr., PhD, MSc, of New Orleans, La. Jack is associate dean for research and endowed chair of minority disparities research and professor, Clinical and Administrative Sciences, College of Pharmacy and chair, Department of Public Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences at Xavier University of Louisiana. 

During his 20-year career, Jack has published nearly 60 refereed articles, served as guest editor on 6 journal theme issues, authored or co-authored three books, and authored or co-authored 10 book chapters. In 2010, he was named editor-in-chief of SOPHE’s journal Health Promotion Practice. Jack’s focus on diabetes self-management, especially in African Americans, highlighted in his recent book, Diabetes in Black America, provides a new framework that expands beyond the traditional focus on individual behavior to include social context for successful disease management and control.

James Prochaska, PhD and First Lady Michelle Obama were named SOPHE’s 2011 Honorary Fellows, the highest award bestowed by SOPHE on non-members who have made significant and lasting contributions to health and health education.  Prochaska, is director of the Cancer Prevention Research Center and professor of clinical and health psychology at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston.  He pioneered the transtheoretical model, which outlines stages of change and readiness of health behavior change. Now more than three decades old, the model is arguably one of the most widely applied in health education research and practice.

Since 2010, Mrs. Obama has led a national campaign to improve the health and fitness of America’s children. The “Let’s Move” campaign has galvanized health, human service, transportation, civic, business, media, and other sectors to tackle the problem of childhood obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity opportunities.

The Health Education Mentor Award was presented to Collins Airhihenbuwa, PhD, professor and head of the Department of Biobehavioral Health at Pennsylvania State University.  This award recognizes an individual who has influenced individuals’ professional development, fostered the link between research and practice, and utilized creative strategies to facilitate the mentoring process.

Dr. Airhihenbuwa has served as chair for 25 students completing their master’s and doctoral theses, and worked to cultivate the unique talents and abilities of each protégé.  Letters from nominees describe him as reachable, attentive, current, optimistic, patient, encouraging, competent, fair and sensitive. 

Winners of the Program Excellence Award include “The Best Me Program” of Kaiser Permanente Oakland, Calif., and the “HealthMPowers” of Atlanta, Ga.  Both programs address pressing contemporary health issues of children and adolescents. 

The Ohio SOPHE Chapter received the 2011 Chapter Excellence Award for its efforts to extend continuing education programming to more health professionals throughout the state via distance learning.

Among the distinguished students honored this year was Devin Madden, MPH, a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, who received the Graduate Student Research Paper Award.  Madden’s master’s thesis used photovoice methodology to improve understanding of body image among adolescent females of different cultures. 

The 2011 Vivian Drenckhahn Student Scholarship recipients were Candace White, MPH(c), of East Stroudsburg University in Pa. and Patricia Boston, MPH, CHES, DrPH(c), of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Fla.  Each scholar will receive $1500 toward completing her health education degree. 

Other honors given at the SOPHE 2011 Awards Ceremony included the SOPHE Trophy; two SOPHE Presidential Citations; four SOPHE 21st Century Student Scholarships; the SOPHE/CDC Injury Prevention Student Fellows; SOPHE/CDC Child, Adolescent and Student Health Fellows; SOPHE/CDC Quality of Life Fellows; and the SOPHE/ATSDR Environmental Health & Emergency Preparedness Fellows.  The 2011 Lawrence Green Paper of the Year for Health Education & Behavior and the 2011 Sarah Mazelis Paper of the Year for Health Promotion Practice, were also presented, with each author receiving a $1,000 cash award.

About SOPHE’s Annual Meeting
Held October 28-29, 2011 in Arlington, Va., SOPHE’s annual meeting equips our nation’s public health professionals to help Americans live healthier lives. Topics discussed included obesity prevention, environmental health, community intervention to decrease high risk behavior, chronic disease prevention, LGBT health, adolescent health, smoking cessation and diabetes prevention and management. For more information about the meeting or SOPHE, see

The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) is a non-profit professional organization founded in 1950 to provide global leadership to the profession of health education and health promotion and to promote the health of society. SOPHE’s 4,000 international and chapter members work in various public and private organizations to advance health education theory and research, develop disease prevention and health promotion programs, and promote public policies conducive to health. For more information, go to