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Recognition Award

HomeAboutAwardsRecognition Award

The Membership Committee of the Global Alliance recommends individuals or organizations for special recognition.

The program acknowledges significant contributions of individuals or organizations that align with and reflect the Alliance’s core values. In particular, honorees engage in behavioral health research, practice, or advocacy that helps to promote more humane social policy. Honorees represent the diverse disciplines (e.g., psychology, social work, law, public health, psychiatry, education, nursing, and other allied fields) that make up the Alliance’s membership.

2020 Honorees

Center on Halsted

Though Center on Halsted’s building opened in 2007, their history goes back 1973 when they were known as Horizons Community Services, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ social service agency. COH has a proud legacy of advocacy, support and educational services, the same services that helped form the core of COH’s programming. The Center provides a vast array of programs and services, from anti-violence to behavioral health to HIV-AIDS/STD programs for men, women and seniors.

Color of Change

Color of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. They help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around them. As a national online force driven by 7 million members, Color of Change moves decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.

Color of Change’s campaigns and initiatives win changes that matter. By designing strategies powerful enough to fight racism and injustice—in politics and culture, in the work place and the economy, in criminal justice and community life, and wherever they exist—they are changing both the written and unwritten rules of society. They mobilize their members to end practices and systems that unfairly hold Black people back and champion solutions that move us all forward.

Monica Rochon, Founder, Rooted Resistance

Roc is a trans masculine educator who received their Bachelor of Science in Sports & Leisure Management from Eastern Connecticut State University and received a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of South Florida. Roc is a doctoral student in the Department of Sport Management at Florida State University. Their focus is on physical culture and the active body. Roc is the Founder of Rooted Resistance, LLC. They continue to make sense of their own experiences and find that the connections to others is not coincidental. Roc believes it’s important to map out how individual stories and community narratives connect to structures that influence people’s lives. Roc believes in collective responsibility and is committed to reimagining spaces for movement for the Queer and Transgender communities.

Rooted Resistance is a program that is committed to creating socially just, accessible fitness and wellness environments for queer, trans, gender non-conforming, non-binary, gender-queer and historically untapped populations. Queer and trans people often experience a constant negotiation of who they are and, in wellness spaces, feel repressed, highly visible or not visible at all. Through an interactive curriculum, the program is facilitated through functional movement and a dialogue-centric approach to very real individual, cultural, and systemic oppressive experiences within and throughout each intersection of identity in the queer and trans communities. Rooted Resistance sessions are designed to empower, affirm, and create an alternative healing space for their community.


PASOs values and promotes equity in all they do. They raise awareness about discrimination and disparities and work to improve the status of Latinos in South Carolina so that every person has an equitable chance to be healthy and successful, without discrimination or unequal treatment based on race, nationality, language, documentation status, or other classification. PASOs believes in justice, fairness, and treating their participants with the dignity they deserve. Everyone merits the opportunity to grow strong and happy and achieve their goals, and PASOs works hard every day to make that happen.

PASOs utilizes the Community Health Worker (CHW) model and nurtures grassroots leaders within communities called Promotores, or CHWs, that serve as trusted access points for others. PASOs trains these grassroots leaders to navigate and connect individuals to appropriate resources. The CHW model helps amplify the voices and lived experiences of community members to inform the solutions and policies implemented that affect their lives.

Monica L. Wendel, DrPH, MA and the Youth Violence Prevention Research Center

The Youth Violence Prevention Research Center is a partnership of young people, community members, artists, organizations, and scholars who are applying the best available science to violence prevention while recognizing the limitations of science in addressing the everyday challenges of many communities. They believe that racial injustice produces conditions that lead to young people viewing violence as their best option and that, by increasing everyone’s knowledge of black history, they can help change the narrative about their communities, their people, and themselves. 

2019 Honorees

Bard Prison Initiative and Max Kenner, Executive Director 

The Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) challenges expectations regarding who should be enrolled in college and works to address issues of access and inequity in higher education. Founded in 1999, BPI extends the Bard College liberal arts curriculum into six New York State prisons. After a selective admissions process, students enroll in the same courses that they would on Bard’s main campus, are held to the same standards as Bard College students, and graduate with Bard College degrees. Since 2001, BPI has issued an estimated 50,000 credits and, via Bard College, conferred roughly 550 degrees to students at the six prison campuses.

The initiative facilitates preparation for the challenges of community reintegration post-incarceration, and BPI alumni join a network of staff, partners, and fellow alumni when they leave prison. BPI alumni are well-positioned to identify and intervene in the public health challenges facing vulnerable communities, given their unique combination of expertise, experience, education, and credibility.  Following their release, 85% of BPI alumni secure employment within two months of returning home. Many also continue their education post-release, and BPI alumni have enrolled in upwards of 40 colleges and universities.

In 2009, BPI established the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison to facilitate the establishment of college-in-prison programs across the country. To learn more about BPI, watch the Ken Burns documentary, College Behind Bars. is a Canadian organization that engages young leaders in revolutionizing mental health. In Canada, like other countries, suicide among young people is a leading cause of death. The Jack movement began in 2010 following the suicide of Jack, the 18-year-old son of Eric Windeler and Sandra Hanington. Together with close friends, Jack’s parents started the Jack Project to help young people in getting the help they need. Since 2010, has continued to expand their programming through Jack TalksJack Chapters and Jack Summits and to provide a platform for young leaders.  

Today, is an organization of 2,500 young leaders and staff working to dismantle barriers to positive mental health across Canada. The Jack movement is supported by tens of thousands of advocates and allies across Canada working to strengthen youth mental health in Canada.  

Jane Gubser, Psy.D, Executive Director of Programs, Cook County Sheriff’s Department

The Cook County Jail wasn’t designed to be a psychiatric facility, but it has turned into one of the largest mental health institutions in the country. According to Sheriff Tom Dart, one-third of the more than 7,000 detainees in the Cook County Jail suffer from some form of mental illness. Dr. Jane Gubser, a clinical psychologist, oversees the mental health program within the jail where a variety of mental health initiatives work with men to address mental health needs. 

For example, a Special Management Unit (SMU) replaced solitary confinement. The Unit once was called “segregated housing.” Now, it’s referred to as a “rehabilitative unit.” Men in the SMU are offered six mental health-focused groups every week. The groups work with the men on emotional regulation, anger management, and coping skills.   

A Mental Health Transition Center has emerged as a hub for a diverse array of innovative treatment strategies. Men participate in both comprehensive one-on-one and group counseling to freely discuss their shared experiences and fears. Mental health counselors work with inmates in a therapeutic setting isolated from the rest of the jail. The men in the Transition Center are all housed together, allowing them to continue working together at night on the skills taught to them during the day.

Finally, mental health counselors work one-on-one with men to personalize their re-entry to society. Depending on the needs of an individual, counselors work with help individuals in the Cook County Jail to secure temporary housing if needed, develop resumes and reach out to employers when employment is needed, and assist with educational needs.  

José Ramón Fernández-Peña, MD, MPH, Director of Health Professions Advising, Northwestern University

José Ramón Fernández-Peña was recognized for his leadership in helping immigrant health professionals to enter the U.S. workforce. Dr. Fernández-Peña is the founder and executive director of the Welcome Back Initiative (WBI), a program to assist immigrant health professionals already living in the U.S. through the necessary steps to enter the U.S. health workforce. The WBI currently includes centers in California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, New York, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Maine. In 2011, it received the E Pluribus Unium prize from the Migration Policy Institute. The program has served more than 17,000 people from 168 countries and has assisted thousands in joining the U.S. health workforce. 

He also is a founding member of the steering committee of IMPRINT, a coalition of organizations working to promote and implement best practices in the integration of immigrant professions. He has advised the White House Domestic Policy Council on the economic integration of foreign-trained professionals and has served as an expert panelist on this topic at national and international fora.   

2018 Honorees

Walidah G. Bennett, Director of Multi-Faith Veteran Support Initiative

Walidah Bennett is the founder and Director of the Multi-Faith Veterans Initiative (MVI), housed in DePaul University’s Egan Office for Urban Education & Community Partnerships. The initiative works citywide to integrate mental and behavioral health with faith institutions. The goal is to develop community circles of support by linking veterans and their families to local services and resources available within the community. In so doing, they work to improve the quality of life for veterans and their families. 

Walidah has worked with numerous non-profits and faith-based organizations and has served as a mental health consultant at the local, state and national levels. She is on faculty in the Social and Behavioral Science Department South Suburban College.

Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, MFA, MDiv, Executive Director of Campaign for Southern Equality

The Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) aims to promote equality among LGBTQ Americans living in the South. CSE was established in 2011 by Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, who serves as the executive director of the organization. CSE’s aims to empower grassroots leaders to promote the legal rights and health of the LGBTQ community. Currently, CSE is actively involved in leading the Legal Equality Project, the Southern Equality Fund (SEF), and the Community Health Program. The Legal Equality project aims to strike down anti-LGBTQ laws, passing pro-LGBTW policies across the South, and helping communities build their capacity for advocating for racial equity, economic justice, health equity, and immigration reform. The SEF aims to empower local leaders by providing grants, trainings, and support. As part of the Community Health Program, CSE developed a toolkit that includes information about important legal, health, and family resources for the LGBTQ community in the South. CSE also developed a Trans in the South Resource Guide and provides training and funding to support providers of culturally competent services in the region. Since its inception, CSE has provided over 140 free LGBTQ legal and resource clinics across the South. In addition, from 2011 to 2015, CSE led the WE DO Campaign aimed at achieving marriage equality in the South using a blend of direct action, public education, and litigation to strike down marriage bans. Their work is particularly important given that many Southern states are characterized by lack of legal protections based on sexual orientation or gender expression.

Carl Clark, MD, President/CEO of Mental Health Center of Denver

Carl Clark is the president and CEO of the Mental Health Center of Denver. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Council for Behavioral Health. Dr. Clark’s early experience with his father’s bipolar disorder stimulated a commitment to helping people with mental illness regain their lives, hopes, and aspirations. He joined the Mental Health Center in 1989, became the Medical Director in 1991 and the CEO in 2000. After becoming CEO, he challenged the Mental Health Center of Denver to be the “Center of Excellence” with the best and most innovative mental health services in the country. His vision has been to create treatment methods that are strengths-based, person-centered, and recovery-focused. Dr. Clark inspires a culture of well-being within the Mental Health Center of Denver. He has led the organization with a focus on what people can do, not what they can’t do.

His vision and that of his staff was reflected in the development of the Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-Being in the Park Hill Neighborhood of Denver. The campus is a collaboration between the Mental Health Center and the Northeast Park Hill community. The campus is an innovative and community-informed center that promotes well-being across the lifespan. The site features an inclusive preschool, a full-service dental clinic for children, a one-acre urban farm that produces healthy food for neighborhood residents, an aquaponics greenhouse, horticultural therapy spaces, community gardens, a teaching kitchen, a community room, a gymnasium and a full array of mental health services for all ages. 

Doug Ammar, JD, Executive Director of Georgia Justice Project

The Georgia Justice Project (GJP), headed by long-time Executive Director Doug Ammar, works “to represent and support individuals in the criminal justice system and reduce barriers to reentry.” Now with a track record of over 30 years of work in this context, GJP staff and volunteers engage in diverse efforts toward these goals, from direct legal representation and coalition building to education and policy advocacy work. The GJP’s innovative approach recognizes the linkages among crime, poverty, and unemployment and, in addition to their legal services, GJP programming integrates social services and employment support, serving extremely low-income members of their area, largely representing Atlanta and DeKalb County. Through its programming, the GJP seeks to provide services and influence practice both to minimize the consequences of a criminal record and support economic stability. The GJP has demonstrated success in (a) working with the Georgia legislature to reduce barriers to re-entry, and (b) providing cost-effective services and supports for their clients, and their efforts have been recognized with a diverse range of honors, including the Annie E. Casey Families Count Award and the Elbert P. Tuttle Award from the Anti-Defamation League. In 2018, the GJP received the Dream Forward Social Justice Award from The King Center, “given yearly to those who have demonstrated an outstanding impact in the community they serve as well as the work they do in helping to advance The King Center’s mission to carry Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King’s work of nonviolent social change.”

Vicki Hines-Martin, PhD, PMHCNS, RN, FAAN

Director of the Office of Health Disparities and Community Engagement & Professor University of Louisville, for her work in Mental Health, Community Engagement, Health Disparities and Social Justice.

Since graduating from the University of Cincinnati with an MSN and the University of Kentucky with a PhD, Dr. Vicki Hines-Martin has professionally and personally impacted the community on both a local and national level. She is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and President-Elect of the International Society of Psychiatric Nurses. Through organizational work and research, she demonstrates her commitment to African American Nurses’ education, diversity in nursing and promotion of well-being. Academically, Hines-Martin is a nursing professor at the University of Louisville where she mentors doctoral students who have successfully focused their research in the areas of health disparities and underserved populations.

Dr. Hines-Martin has received numerous awards for her community work and currently serves on the board of a local community organization, Neighborhood House, which provides services in a low-income community. Her focus on community is a core aspect of both of her university roles within nursing and the Office of Health Disparities and Community Engagement. Students seek her out as a mentor because of her passion for, intentionality and effectiveness in the work she does in these critical areas. Her most current work on the AAN mental health expert panel focused on vulnerable and underserved community-based populations. The AAN work has resulted in a position paper that was recently forwarded to the White House at the request of Vice President Biden. It will be used in new policy development.

2017 Honorees

Libby Safrit, MA, LPA-HSPA, Executive Director of Teen Health Connection

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Teen Health Connection celebrated their 25th year of behavioral health innovation in 2017. Teen Health Connection was ‘ahead of the curve’ in providing integrated primary and mental health care services, and this unique non-profit healthcare practice also delivers health education and prevention programs for youth aged 11 to 22. In addition to the comprehensive and coordinated care they provide to youth, they conduct health education and outreach through the practice, the local school system, and the community, with supports and programming addressing topics ranging from sexuality and risky behavior to teen-focused mentoring, and from adolescent substance use and prevention to skill-building courses for parents.

Also notable is the fact that Teen Health Connection serves as the medical home for youth in the custody of the county’s Department of Social Services / Youth and Family Services (i.e., child welfare). Moreover, since 2011, Teen Health Connection has conducted comprehensive psychological assessments for youth entering county custody (those in foster care). These assessments are “service independent,” i.e., Teen Health Connection does not provide any of the recommended mental health services for these youth, reducing potential bias and self-referrals for services. Teen Health Connection has also had a consistent role in the state-mandated work of the multidisciplinary Mecklenburg County Child Fatality Prevention and Protection Team, charged with identifying and advocating for needed systemic changes to improve protections for children and reduce the likelihood of tragic negative outcomes for children who are involved in the local child welfare system.

Danielle Martin, MD, CCFP, MPP

Associate Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine and School of Public Policy and Governance, Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation, Vice President, Medical Affairs and Health System Solutions, Women’s College Hospital, Toronto

A family doctor by training, Dr. Martin has utilized her expertise in health care policy, health services research, and innovation in care to work for social change in Canada and the United States. Guided by the notion that research and education centering on health care policy and systems can foster change and improve the likelihood that the multifaceted health needs of communities are met, Dr. Martin has sought to increase understanding of healthcare system issues and to remove barriers to care. Dr. Martin has been a prominent advocate for preserving and improving public health care in Canada and, in recent years, has been a meaningful voice in discussions and debates about the health care system in the United States. For instance, she has appeared before a U.S. Senate subcommittee examining health care systems and has advocated for single-payer health care as a mechanism for ensuring equal access to care for all. Dr. Martin practices family medicine at the Family Practice Health Centre at Women’s College Hospital (Toronto) and functions as the Vice President of Medical Affairs and Health System Solutions at the hospital. She has received numerous awards and been cited for her contributions to the health and well-being of people in Canada (and beyond) and her commitment to social responsibility.

María Pacheco, MS, Founder of Wakami and Communities of the Earth

Ms. Pacheco has been internationally recognized as a global leader for creating economic opportunities for women and families living in poverty. She founded Wakami and the non-profit Communities of the Earth which seek to reduce poverty and malnutrition in rural Guatemala by linking communities with local and international markets. Her efforts empower local women and bring sustainable change to these rural communities by employing a “double methodology”: 1) Communities of the Earth provides training and mentoring to women in rural communities of Guatemala as they open, manage, and grow their own formal businesses; and 2) Wakami becomes the first client of the newly incorporated rural companies, exporting their products worldwide. The training is grounded in a participatory approach that helps individuals generate income and encourages them to invest that income in resources, products, and services that can improve their health and quality of life (i.e., nutrition, education, housing, and living conditions). Ms. Pacheco received an MS degree in Agriculture from Cornell University, was a Fulbright Scholar, and was named a fellow of the Aspen Institute Global Leadership Network. She was the recipient of the 2016 International Award from Diller von Furstenberg Family Foundation and received 3rd place in the Chivas Venture competition in 2016.

Yvonne Rafferty

PhD Professor of Psychology, Pace University

Yvonne Rafferty, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at Pace University in New York and a 2017-2018 Fulbright Scholar to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Studies Research Program. As a Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Rafferty is currently conducting research and social policy work in Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos, with a project titled, “Prevention and Protection Practices for the Successful Identification, Recovery and Reintegration of Victims of Child Trafficking in Southeast Asia.” Dr. Rafferty has conducted extensive research and international advocacy on the protection of children from trafficking, as well as prompted greater attention on the need to focus on child trafficking prevention. In addition to research on child trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, Dr. Rafferty has also conducted research on homelessness, AIDS and adolescents, children with disabilities, and early childhood education. Her current research focuses on discrimination and violence against girls within a global context. Dr. Rafferty served as a representative for the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues to the United Nations for 12 years and was especially active with the Working Group on Girls, Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) Committee on Child Rights, Psychology Coalition, and NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons.

Deborah Gross, DNSc, RN, FAAN. Professor of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Gross is best known for her work in promoting positive parent-child relationships and preventing behavior problems in preschool children from low-income neighborhoods. At Johns Hopkins University, she holds joint appointments at the School of Nursing, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the School of Medicine, and the Department of Mental Health in the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Previously, as associate dean for research and a department chair at Rush University College of Nursing, Dr. Gross and colleagues developed the innovative Chicago Parent Program, which improves parenting behavior and reduces child behavior problems. The program currently is used in many settings, including Head Start centers in Chicago and New York City. Dr. Gross was a Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellow. Among her many recognitions are the Friends of the National Institute for Nursing Research President’s Award for Outstanding Research, the American Academy of Nursing Edge Runner Award honoring developers of model programs offering solutions to healthcare challenges, and induction into the Sigma Theta Tau Researchers Hall of Fame. She has served on numerous review panels for the National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Medicine, published more than 100 articles, book chapters, and abstracts, and currently serves on the editorial board of Research in Nursing & Health and Nursing Outlook. To learn more about the Chicago Parent Program, watch this video.

2016 Honorees 

Brook Griese, PhD and Judi’s House

Based in Denver, CO, the Judi’s House’s staff conducts community-wide outreach and provides a host of free services and supports to children and families who are grieving. They have also been working to expand, with the goal of establishing a network of professionals focused on increasing access to effective care for grieving children and families. Dr. Griese, a clinical psychologist, has worked to ensure that their interventions are grounded in data, and they have recently established the JAG Institute (see to house their research and training initiatives, with the goal that this will expand. They are also working with partners to develop web-based tools and information systems that can support effective care as well as collaborative research and evaluation. Dr. Griese and her colleagues have worked tirelessly to help advance and strengthen the field of childhood bereavement. And, importantly, Dr. Griese has advocated for social change around grief/bereavement care, working to “ensure that preventive and early intervention services are available to all bereaved children and families who need them — regardless of whether they have a diagnosable disorder in the DSM.”  

Tonda Hughes, PhD, RN, FAAN 

Tonda Hughes is a professor at the Columbia University School of Nursing and director of Global Health Research. Dr. Hughes also holds the title of Professor Emerita at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she was Collegiate Professor and Associate Dean for Global Health in the College of Nursing, and Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Health. She also holds honorary appointments in Australia (University of Technology-Sydney & Deakin University), England (Oxford Brookes University) and in the United States (University of Pennsylvania). Dr. Hughes has distinguished herself through her work on women’s mental health and substance use. She has conducted groundbreaking research on issues related to chemically dependent nurses and alcohol use by sexual minority (lesbian and bisexual) women. The impact of Dr. Hughes’ research is evident in the many awards that she has received from diverse organizations at the local, national, and international levels. Most recently, she received the 2016 Achievement Award from the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the LGBT community, for exemplary commitment to quality of health services for LGBT persons, and for improving the environment for LGBT healthcare workers. Dr. Hughes was also an early career author in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, publishing her very first professional article in the journal.

Robert Simmons, JD (Executive Director) and Council for Children’s Rights

Based in Charlotte, NC, the Council for Children’s Rights works to support “every child’s right to be safe, healthy and educated.” Council programs provide the most comprehensive advocacy and legal services for children in the southeast U.S. They have major teams committed to children’s legal representation and defense (effectively functioning as the public defenders for youth in Charlotte’s home county, Mecklenburg), individual advocacy (typically in the context of education, child welfare, and mental health), and custody advocacy. They also work to address systems and community issues through research and policy work as well as larger-scale collaborations with community partners. The Council’s lawyers and advocates work primarily in the areas of education, abuse and neglect, health, mental health, contested custody, domestic violence and juvenile justice. Mr. Simmons also Chairs the County’s Child Fatality Task Force and, as a representative of that group, wrote an Op-Ed piece in opposition to North Carolina’s HB2 legislation.

Donald Warne, MD, MPH

Donald Warne is chair of the Department of Public Health at North Dakota State University, associate professor and Mary J. Berg Distinguished Professor in Women’s Health, and senior policy advisor to the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board. As a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe from Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Dr. Warne has worked to address the public health needs of the American Indian population, and shed light on the impact of historical trauma and childhood adversity on the notable health disparities experienced by American Indians. Dr. Warne is expert in minority health policy, integrative care, and family practice. He has held numerous positions providing direct care, contributing to policy efforts, and conducting research and developing health education and prevention program in partnership with tribal communities. Dr. Warne’s leadership, social advocacy, health policy work, and other professional activities have led to numerous honors and recognition from diverse groups. Most recently, he received the 2015 Public Health Innovation Award from the National Indian Health Board. Dr. Warne also was a primary force in the development of the American Indian Public Health specialization at North Dakota State University, which has been described as the only Master of Public Health program in the nation specifically designed to prepare graduates to work with the American Indian population and to improve Native health.

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