These three 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.
This award goes to a community health champion 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.
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.
This award recognizes an outstanding staff member from the Fred Hutch/University of Washington Cancer Consortium who has made an extraordinaory extraordinary contribution in elevating health equity and/or engagement with underrepresented/underserved communities as priorities within their project/program.
The candidate should show creativity and/or innovation in the development or application of strategies to elevate priorities such as health equity and/or engagement of underrepresented and underserved communities in research.
Jeff has dedicated his life to public service in a variety of spheres. Whether as an administrator of two county health districts, the Executive Director of the Washington State Public Health Association, or the chair of the Washington State Board of Registered Sanitarians, his achievements are diverse and remarkable. But first and foremost, Jeff is truly a community champion.
At the annual Washington State Public Health meeting, he initiated an agenda that focused on community needs and priorities, centering the entire conference to exemplify health equity and community. Jeff has also been instrumental in the success of the Community Action Network of Eastern Washington (CANEW). As one nominee put it: “He has the ability to dance around a room and bring his insights, experiences, and expertise to the community.”
Dr. Cole brings an untiring dedication to advancing healthcare in rural communities. This is especially important because rural residents face many obstacles in accessing good health care. For example, limited access to care means that people living in rural areas have lower rates of colorectal cancer screening. Through an NIH-funded study, Dr. Cole implemented an evidence-based colorectal cancer screening research study with rural primary care clinics in the WWHAMI region. Through ongoing community engagement, she has achieved buy-in from rural clinics and participation in the colorectal cancer screening program.
Dr. Cole also initiated the Rural Health Laboratory where community engagement and community priorities are identified. This makes a space for academic investigators to work with communities to apply research that meets the communities’ needs.
This example of community-based participatory research in action is a hallmark of health equity and we are inspired by Dr. Cole’s exemplary example of health equity research. As one of her nominees noted: “[Her] work stands out as a shining example of how dedicated researchers can make a real difference in rural communities.”
Dr. Wallace has captured not only local, but also national attention for his excellence in public relations and advocacy. Two months after he became the Director of External Relations for the Fred Hutch HIV Vaccine Trials Network, the network switched its focus to COVID-19 and the initiative to expand COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. Dr. Wallace quickly developed and established new relationships and collaborations to educate, engage, and listen to diverse groups that were initially mistrustful of the vaccines. He implemented listening sessions where various communities could come and talk about their concerns. His approach in town halls, webinar series, and educational sessions reached more than 2.5. million people.
Dr. Wallace became a spokesperson for including diverse and underserved populations in clinical trials around COVID. His work is outstanding and was featured in Bill Gates’ book, How to Prevent the Next Pandemic. He regularly engages diverse community groups, uses anti-racist and faith-based messaging, and works with Faith Ambassadors from Black, Latino, and Native communities to talk about the vaccine and clinical trials.
Retired Director of Marketing & Grants for the Communities of Color Coalition, founding member of the Black and African Descent Collaborative for Prostate Cancer Action (BACPAC), prostate cancer survivor, and tireless community advocate Benjamin “Ben” Young, was awarded the 2022 Beti Thompson Community Champion Award. “Ben’s work is grounded in the social determinants of health,” Thompson said, during the award presentation. “Social factors like racism, stigma, historical trauma; housing, income, and food insecurity. He is well aware that it is difficult to focus on cancer prevention when such disadvantages exist.” His nomination letter provided a clear picture of Ben’s commitment and approach, describing him as “outspoken with little to no filter when it comes to educating his community on health equity or educating other key stakeholders on this same subject.” When accepting the award, Ben shared, “I enjoy and take pride in the opportunities I have been given, but I also know there is a lot more work to do. I want to see more people of color standing up here and giving presentations…”
Dr. Bárbara Baquero, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor in Health Systems and Population Health at the UW School of Public Health was awarded the 2022 Cancer Health Equity Research Award. Dr. Baquero’s research focuses on the design and implementation of community-based interventions to reduce health disparities and advance health equity among underserved populations, particularly Hispanics/Latinos living in urban and rural communities in the US, with an emphasis on promoting active lifestyles and healthy diets. Dr. Beti Thompson presented the award to Baquero, describing her commitment to “move the science forward in a way that always reflects the community voice… putting community first and respect always.” During the acceptance of the award Baquero reflected on her path, “I read my first paper by Dr. Beti Thompson 20 years ago, when I first emigrated to the US, and I was trying to make my way to Grad School… Being here now is incredible, almost beyond my dreams. This award reinforces my commitment to continuing to do this work.”
Physician Dr. Consuelo Rodriguez de Negrete was awarded the 2021 Beti Thompson Community Health Trailblazer award for her tireless work to educate others and share resources to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 among the Hispanic and Latino population in the Yakima Valley. Through her expertise as a physician in the Mexican health care system and her ability to candidly explain navigating health care in Yakima, she has become a trusted source of information for Spanish speakers in the Valley. Rodriguez de Negrete led the training of 20 Spanish-speaking health educators, or “promotoras,” in the Yakima Valley, who went on to educate over 4,000 families about COVID-19 prevention, treatment and vaccination.
Dr. Negrete shared, “I am very happy to be here today. Thank you for this honor.” She accepted the award on behalf of the many organizations and people who have supported her in this work, including Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, La Casa Hogar, her English teacher and the Yakima Health District. “It is a wonderful opportunity to work with my Latino people. I want to continue to work with all of you as we look ahead to do the important work that still needs to be done. Thank you!”
A urologic surgical oncologist and researcher with Fred Hutch and the University of Washington, Dr. Yaw Nyame was awarded the Beti Thompson Cancer Health Equity Research Award for his work to bridge health equity gaps in African American men diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“Dr. Nyame chooses to work with the community that he serves to address prostate cancer health outcomes and recognizes that to do this, he must consult with the community, as well,” read just one passage from his nomination letter. “He believes that not only is a ‘seat at the table’ needed, but community members should have more input in study design, dissemination of information, and methodology. This makes the process truly immersive and a true community-based research project.”
When accepting the award, Dr. Nyame shared, “This award is really representative of many people. Not only mentors, but also tremendous partnerships with individuals. I say this to highlight that this kind of work does not happen in isolation. Receiving this award gives me more motivation to continue to do what I am doing and to follow in the footsteps of the previous award winners, Dr. Ceballos, Dr. Ornelas and Dr. Doll…and I look forward to taking on that challenge. Thank you!”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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."
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."
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."