OCOE Awards

These awards are named for Dr. Beti Thompson, a community-based participatory research practitioner at Fred Hutch. Dr. Thompson has devoted her research career to helping underserved populations and works with community partners and stakeholders to develop culturally relevant interventions that addresses public health concerns brought forth by the community. She has been an inspiration and role model for many working towards social justice for medically underserved and disadvantaged populations.

Community Health Trailblazer Award

Fred Hutch Trailblazer

This award goes to a community health trailblazer who has had an extraordinary impact on the health and well-being of their community, their nation, or the state through their dedication and service to the community.

Nominees can be individuals, groups, or organizations that strive for inclusion to achieve a world of equity, where all members benefit from the resources that are available in our society. 

Cancer Health Equity Research Award

Fred Hutch Equity

This award recognizes an outstanding scientist from the Fred Hutch/University of Washington Cancer Consortium who has made significant contributions to cancer health equity research and the scientific understanding of the etiology, detection, diagnosis, treatment or prevention of cancer health inequities.

The candidate should have a published body of work in health equity, an ongoing collaboration with disparate communities, and/or a history of working with populations in health equity.

Past Award Recipients

Marcela Suárez Díaz

Marcela Suárez Díaz

Community Health Trailblazer Award, 2020

Marcela Suárez Díaz was awarded the 2020 Beti Thompson Community Health Trailblazer Award. Ms. Suárez Díaz is a coordinator who works with a team of promotores de salud at Sea Mar Community Health Centers in Washington’s Skagit and Whatcom counties.  Ms. Suárez Díaz and her team were honored for their work to bring culturally and linguistically appropriate services to the farmworker communities in the northern part of the state. She and her team act as a bridge between the farmworker communities and county health services, offering services such as on-site mobile health and dental clinics and nutrition classes at farmworkers’ camp sites.  

In accepting the award, Ms. Suárez Díaz introduced two of her Sea Mar colleagues who work with her. “Our mission is to bring hope in the middle of difficulty,” Suárez Díaz said. “Today we are witness to a very great miracle: recognition. Recognition of the work of this team who have given everything from their hearts.”

 Kemi Doll, M.D., M.S.C.R.

Kemi Doll, M.D., M.S.C.R.

Cancer Health Equity Research Award, 2020

Dr. Kemi Doll was awarded the 2020 Beti Thompson Cancer Health Equity Research Award.  Dr. Doll is an Assistant Professor and a gynecologic oncologist at the University of Washington.  She is also the Project Lead for Endometrial Cancer Action Network for African-Americans (ECANA).  Dr. Doll was honored for her work as an outstanding scientist who has made significant contributions to cancer health equity research by trying to achieve better outcomes for black women with endometrial cancer.  Her research has shown some black women don’t recognize the warning signs of this cancer and don’t always receive the same level of care from providers. Black women also have a higher rate of aggressive biological subtypes of endometrial cancers. This results in markedly worse outcomes.  In addition, Dr. Doll is a tireless advocate for more diverse representation among trainees, scientists and physicians. 

Dr. Doll said, “I am very grateful for the recognition of the work I do in partnership with black women with endometrial cancer. These awards are more than just gold stars. Health disparity research is undervalued and there is systematic underfunding for research in topics of health equity. These awards matter.”

Dr. Beti Thompson presented the 2020 awards to Ms. Suárez Díaz  and Dr. Doll at a virtual ceremony on Friday, May 15, 2020. 

Christina Del Alma

Christina Del Alma

Community Health Trailblazer Award, 2019

Cristina Del Alma was awarded the 2019 Beti Thompson Community Health Trailblazer Award for her work in her role as Health Assistant with Public Health Seattle/King County's Breast, Cervical & Colon Health Program (BCCHP).  Ms. Del Alma ensured that clients who needed treatment for breast or cervical cancer had smooth access to the Medicaid Treatment Program.  In addition, she helped create a seamless process for clients needing colonoscopy services.


Many of the clients accessing services through the BCCHP program are dealing with multiple barriers to accessing care, including language, transportation, fear and lack of knowledge of the U.S. health care system. Colleagues shared, "Cristina provided a compassionate voice and ear, understanding, support and follow-up to those clients needing extra support."

Unfortunately, Ms. Del Alma was not able to receive the award in person.  The award was accepted by her colleagues, Amy Duarte and Heather Fluegel of Public Health Seattle/King County at the Pathways to Equity Symposium on the Fred Hutch campus on Friday, May 10, 2019.

India Ornelas, Ph.D.

India Ornelas, Ph.D.

Cancer Health Equity Research Award, 2019

Dr. India Ornelas was awarded the 2019 Beti Thompson Cancer Healthy Equity Research Award.  Dr. Ornelas is an Associate Professor at the University of Washington (UW) School of Public Health and an Associate Member in the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutch.  Dr. Ornelas is also the Research Director at the UW Latino Center for Health.  She has over 20 years of research and public health practice experience and is committed both professionally and personally to improve health equity. Her research focuses on how social and cultural factors influence health and the development of interventions to address health disparities. Specifically, she works in partnership with communities to develop and test culturally relevant interventions in the areas of mental health, substance use and cancer prevention.

Ornelas said she was honored to be chosen for the award. "Thank you for this incredible recognition. I feel so lucky to be able to work in partnership with so many amazing community partners."

Dr. Beti Thompson of Fred Hutch presented the award to Dr. India Ornelas at the Pathways to Equity Symposium on the Fred Hutch campus on Friday, May 10, 2019.

Rachel M. Ceballos, Ph.D.

Rachel M. Ceballos, Ph.D.

Cancer Health Equity Research Award, 2018

Dr. Rachel Ceballos is an Associate Member with Fred Hutch's Public Health Sciences Division, and an Affiliate Assistant Professor at the University of Washington's School of Public Health. She has over ten years of experience working with populations suffering from health disparities, particularly Latinos and African Americans.

Ceballos fosters a community-based participatory approach where community individuals are co-players in the research process. As a result, she has well-established relationships with a wide range of community individuals. In addition to her research, she mentors underserved students who come to the Hutch for summer internship programs.

She thanked her research team and community partners and said, "This is really a team award."

Bridgette Hempstead

Bridgette Hempstead

Community Health Trailblazer Award, 2018

Bridgette Hempstead was awarded the 2018 Beti Thompson Community Health Trailblazer Award for her leadership and advocacy in underserved and disadvantaged communities in the Puget Sound. Hempstead has more than 20 years' experience working to address health disparities in Washington state and is founder and president of Cierra Sisters, Inc., an African-American breast cancer support organization.

"This is truly such an honor for me," Hempstead shared after receiving the award. She said she appreciated the partnership with Fred Hutch and added, "With us working together, we can conquer the world. We really can make a difference in health disparities."

Giselle Zapata-Garcia

Giselle Zapata-Garcia

Community Health Trailblazer, 2017

Giselle Zapata-García is a supervisor of community engagement at Molina Healthcare, with more than 20 years' experience in reducing health disparities in Washington state. She is co-founder and coordinator of one of the largest annual healthcare fairs in King County.


Zapata-García said she was sharing the award "with all of the wonderful and amazing colleagues who have joined me throughout the years in our efforts to eliminate health disparities. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the years, the support, the partnerships, the collaborations, the friendships, and for your trust. We do what we do because it's the right thing to do and receiving such prestigious recognition is never what we expect. This award is for us all, none of us can do this much needed work alone."