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Berkeley Health community members honored with 2019 Public Health Commencement awards

Congratulations to the recipients of the School of Public Health’s 2019 commencement awards. These members of our community were recognized for their outstanding commitment to both the School and field of public health.

Henrik L. Blum Award for Distinguished Social Action:
Lilia (Lily) Calleros BA ’19

Originally from Pacoima, California, a small city in the San Fernando Valley, Calleros credits her upbringing with developing a passion to dismantle barriers to education and health in inner cities and immigrant communities. As a School of Public Health student, she served as the events chair for Diversity, Inclusion, Community and Equity (DICE), and she assisted the D.R.E.A.M. (Diversity Respect Equity Action Multiculturalism) Office and the Center for Public Health Practice and Leadership. She also led a social media campaign to raise over $1,500 for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

As Professor of Health Planning and Administration, Henrik L. Blum MD, MPH (1915-2006) was highly respected for his teaching and his innovative contributions to the curriculum, particularly in the areas of health planning and health policy. Following Dr. Blum’s retirement, friends and associates decided that one fitting testimonial to his inspiring professional and personal life would be the establishment of this award, given annually to a graduating student whose public health activities symbolize the spirit of social justice and democratic action which Dr. Blum epitomized in his own life and which he succeeded in instilling in the minds and hearts of students, professors, staff and alumni.

Alumna of the Year:
Jane C. Garcia MPH ’80

Garcia is the CEO of La Clínica de La Raza, one of California’s largest community health centers serving multilingual and multicultural populations. Since she became CEO in 1983, La Clínica has grown to more than 1200 staff members at 40 sites in Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties. She is a board director of The California Endowment and is the immediate past chair of the Board. Garcia has previously served on the Board of Governors of the Alameda Alliance for Health and is the immediate past president. She has also served on the National Cooperative Bank and Capital Impact Partners, a community development financing institute.

Each year since 1978, a graduate of Berkeley Public Health has received the Alumnus or Alumna of the Year Award. The honoree is selected based on his or her outstanding contributions to the field of public health and because he or she exemplifies those inspirational achievements and qualities to which this graduating class can aspire.

Zak Sabry Mentorship Award:
Maureen Lahiff PhD

Lahiff has been a lecturer and academic coordinator in biostatistics at Berkeley Public Health since 1991. She was instrumental in the development of the undergraduate public health major and played a key role in helping to establish the Online MPH program. Lahiff majored in math through the honors program at the University of Detroit, and then earned a master’s degree in math and statistics from the University of Michigan. After working for several years as a statistical programmer, she then earned a PhD in statistics from the University of Chicago. Her areas of expertise include multivariate methods, time series and longitudinal data, and acculturation and health. She has been a volunteer instructor with the college program at San Quentin State Prison since 2000. A Master Birder, Lahiff looks forward to more environmental justice activism and education as she transitions to retirement.

The Zak Sabry Mentorship Award was established in 2004 on the occasion of the retirement of Professor Zak Sabry in tribute to his outstanding commitment to mentoring. The award is given to a faculty member who has a distinguished record of mentorship and has been nominated by an alumnus or alumna.

Sheldon Margen Award:
Anoop Jain DrPH ’19

Recognized by Forbes as one of its “30 under 30” social entrepreneurs, Jain is the founding director of Sanitation and Health Rights in India (SHRI), a non-profit that improves access to toilets and safe drinking water throughout rural Bihar. As a doctoral candidate at Berkeley, he focused his research on elucidating the possible social determinants of toilet ownership and use in India. He has garnered several awards for his efforts to improve WASH outcomes in India, including the Global Citizen Award in 2014 and the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian award in 2017. Jain’s work with SHRI has been featured on MSNBC, NPR and the BBC World News.

The newly established Sheldon Margen Award will be given annually to a graduating student who best exemplifies Dr. Margen’s voracious curiosity and ability to draw upon knowledge of multiple disciplines to address the health problems of society’s most vulnerable. Professor Emeritus Sheldon Margen, MD (1919-2004) had a passion for learning and teaching. He was a pioneer in the field of wellness, drawing from many fields including medicine, nutrition, endocrinology, biochemistry, statistics, public health, and ethics. At the University of California, Berkeley, Margen co-directed more than 20 human nutrition studies, the results of which formed the basis for many of the dietary recommendations on food labels today. In 1984, he co-founded the Wellness Letter, a health promotion and disease prevention newsletter. He was a champion of progressive causes, working tirelessly for social justice around the world.