2015 OPHA Award Winners

Each year, OPHA presents awards to fellow OPHA members, colleagues and community members that have contributed to public health in Oregon. All of the nominees for the 2015 OPHA Awards were exceptional in their commitment to improving the public’s health and have made a positive difference for Oregonians. Congratulations to the following recipients who received their awards at the 2015 OPHA Annual Meeting!


PHOTO: Lila Wickham, Ken Rosenberg & Robina Ingram-Rich
*Photo courtesy of Clarice Amorim

Lifetime Achievement:
Kenneth D. Rosenberg, MD, MPH
*Nominated by Lesa Dixon-Gray and Oregon’s Maternal and Child Health Section

This award is given to a person who has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to public health in Oregon.

Kenneth D. Rosenberg, MD, MPH has been a Maternal and Child Health Medical Epidemiologist for the Oregon Public Health Division for the past 18 years. Ken and his family moved to Oregon from New York City to take that position. In New York he was the director of epidemiology and research at the New York City Department of Health in their Bureau of Maternity Services and Family Planning. Ken’s experience has always had a health focus, that has ranged from Pediatric Medicine, Preventive Medicine, medical photography, health policy analysis, to Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology. Because of Ken’s commitment, influence, and advocacy for public health and specifically, Maternal and Child Health. Ken's achievements include the following:

PRAMS Director: One of Ken’s responsibilities within Oregon’s Maternal and Child Health Section has been as the Program Director for PRAMS, the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System. Ken was originally hired to put the PRAMS system together for Oregon. But more than simply pulling a statewide, continuous surveillance system together, Ken has used that data to create more change within Oregon than any other state. Oregon PRAMS has consistently been a data leader throughout the country. Of the 40 PRAMS state, Oregon has been the leader in putting data to action. No other state has had as many publications and presentations from PRAMS data as Oregon. But what’s most important is that Oregon, because of PRAMS and because of Ken, has created more Maternal and Child Health policy change from analyzing and using PRAMS data than any other state. And in some cases, it has been Ken’s analyses from Oregon PRAMS data that has led to national change on issues. Because of Ken, Oregon PRAMS has done much more than simply collect data on pregnancy. And because the PRAMS system is so integrated with publications, presentations, and policy change, Oregon PRAMS was awarded a “Data to Action” award in December 2010 by the CDC for translating the results from PRAMS into information for planning, evaluating and influencing public health programs and policy. Ken’s leadership in Oregon PRAMS has made it a Maternal and Child Health crown jewel.

Teacher: Ken is invested in education; both teaching and learning. He is currently an Affiliate Assistant Professor at OHSU’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, and a Courtesy Assistant Professor at OSU’s College of Biological and Population Health Sciences. Throughout his career he has taught courses on Healthcare at Harvard College, City College of New York, St. Joseph’s College, New York Institute of Technology, and others.

Presenter: Ken has also made numerous presentations nationally, and has become known throughout the country as a strong voice for Maternal and Child Health issues. Annually, he has represented Oregon, but funded himself to attend both the Oregon Public Health Association Conference and the American Public Health Association Conference. As a conference attendee he has regularly presented on many PRAMS and MCH topics. Over his career, he has made over 200 presentations around the country.

Student Mentorship: In 2009, Ken received an award for excellence in mentorship from OHSU’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. If Ken had done nothing else in his career but mentor students, it would have still been an illustrious career worthy of a lifetime achievement award. He has perfected the art of second authorship on peer-reviewed publications in public health and maternal and child health because of all the staff and students he has mentored in writing manuscripts and submitting publications. While he has been first author in 34 peer-reviewed publications over his career, he has participated, nurtured, and advised others in a total of 47 other peer-reviewed publications. Ken has mentored many Epidemiology students in Maternal and Child Health over the years, both at the New York City’s Department of Health’s Health Research Training Program beginning in the 1970’s to the Oregon Public Health Division since 1997. He has been a Thesis Committee Member, Chair, and Advisor for 25 students since arriving in Oregon in 1997. Ken’s legacy and influence in Maternal and ChildHealth will live on in the students he has guided. Oregon’s public health system has greatly benefited from Ken’s investment of others.

Professional Activities and Advocacy: Ken was a co-founder of the OPHA Epidemiology Section and has been an OPHA member since 1997. As a very involved member, he has served on the OPHA nominating committee, the program committee, and was on the Board of Directors from 2006 – 2012. In 2010 Ken was awarded the CDC Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Award for “Effective Practice: Improving the Health of Women, Children, and Families at the State level through the Effective Practice of Epidemiology”. But his professional activities outside of his MCH Epidemiologist position have been numerous. Ken is currently a member of the Affiliate Section on Epidemiology for the American Academy of Pediatrics, a member of the National Birth Defects Prevention Network, and has membership in the American College of Preventive Medicine, the American Public Health Association, and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. He has been a member of the Association of Maternal and Child Health Program’s Best Practices Review Panel for many years.

Over the past 20 years, Ken has also maintained very close relationships with both the Centers for Disease Control and the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau, which has allowed Oregon to be represented nationally in setting public health policy and standards.

Ken has also actively represented Oregon on the board of journals and as a reviewer of peer reviewed manuscripts. And Ken has encouraged others in Oregon to take on the reviewer role. Currently, Ken has volunteered his expertise as a reviewer for 21 peer-
reviewed journals that address public health, maternal and child health, epidemiology, and medicine.

In 2008, Ken began the national conversation and shift away from marketing infant formula through hospitals with his article in the American Journal of Public Health about the impact on breastfeeding of commercial hospital discharge packs that used to be provided to new mothers. The data came from Ken’s work with PRAMS, and since that time, more and more hospitals across the country have set policies against the marketing of infant formula to new mothers at hospital discharge. The “data-to-action” publication in the American Journal of Public Health has prompted policy changes around the country to increase initial initiation of breastfeeding in hospitals. Ken’s work on this again allowed Oregon to be credited as a public health leader.

Ken has volunteered his time around many public health issues over the years outside of his job as Medical Epidemiologist and PRAMS Director, including working on fluoridation and single-payer healthcare issues, among others. Sometimes Ken’s advocacy has bumped into the bureaucratic, politically-correct world of state service – but within all of the restrictions that State service has imposed, it’s always been Ken that’s been correct. Hopefully, his volunteer work will continue, and he will be able to continue in his effectiveness at making Oregon a healthier state.

Policy Champions:
Representatives Jennifer Williamson and Shemia Fagan
*Nominated by Sami Jarrah, Deputy Director for Integrated Clinical Services, Multnomah County Health Dept.

This award will be given to a person or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to advancing public health policy in Oregon.  

Instead of finding one person most deserving, this award was given to two people in recognition of their work on Oregon Senate Bill 839 which was signed into law and is effective January 1, 2016. The new law provides individuals with immunity for certain crimes when they call 911 in an overdose emergency. Like many other states, those crimes include unlawful possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, and violation of supervision (probation, parole, pretrial release, and post-prison).

Oregon’s law goes one step further than most states and also provides immunity from certain warrants if the person’s location was discovered after calling 911. 

Heroin overdose deaths in Oregon increased 46% from 2002 to 2012 (101 to 147 deaths). Prescription opioid overdose deaths increased by more than 200% from 2000 to 2012 (48 to 164 deaths). Oregon had the highest rate in the nation for illicit prescription opiate use from 2010-11.

Overdose deaths are preventable. If emergency medical services are accessed in time, overdoses can be reversed. When illegal drug use is involved, it is common for people to not call 911 out of fear of arrest and criminal charges. 911 Good Samaritan laws provide some protection from arrest and prosecution to people who call 911. The intent is to save lives and improve the public’s health, and Representatives Jennifer Williamson and Shemia Fagan were instrumental in this legislation’s success.

Representatives Jennifer Williamson and Shemia Fagan were chief sponsors of Senate Bill 839. They testified passionately and with strong public health knowledge and principles on behalf of the bill in committee and carried it to the House floor.

Representative Williamson was also a sponsor of Senate Bill 384 in 2014, which enabled greater access for lay people to naloxone, a prescription drug that reverses opioid overdose. In the first year after this law was enacted, heroin deaths dropped by 29% in Multnomah County – at a time when heroin deaths are generally increasing across the country.

Representatives Williamson and Fagan are going far in ensuring all Oregonians benefit from the important work of the public health community. It is important to protect the families and children in our community. It is also important to protect people affected by drug addiction and those with criminal histories, many of whom are also families and children. All members of our communities have value, and these two representatives demonstrated that with excellence and strong public health values. We are proud of our policy champions, and Oregon is better because of their service.

PHOTO: Lila Wickham, Phiilip Mason & Robina Ingram-Rich
*Photo courtesy of Clarice Amorim

Emerging Leader:
Phillip R. Mason, MPH
*Nominated by Marti Franc, former CCCHD Director

This award is given to a person who has demonstrated leadership, innovation, and creativity in the beginning of his/her public health career.

In his work as a Policy Analyst at Clackamas County Community Health Division (CCCHD), Phillip coordinated the agency’s preparation for public health accreditation, resulting in a successful site visit and full accreditation in 2014.

With his colleagues, he has brought performance management tools and trainings to all of the county’s public health managers and their teams. In 2015 they have completed a Big Page performance snapshot for each public health program.

Phillip has taken on a leadership role in public health preparedness and is convening a group to develop a broader department-wide disaster response team, while strengthening the public health coordination with the county’s emergency planning and response operation.

Phillip continues to accept new leadership challenges and opportunities to enhance his knowledge, while supporting an increased public health presence within the county organizational structure and the community.





Outstanding Student Poster Awards:

Students were judged on the following criteria:

  • Background and importance of the subject
  • Relevance to emerging public health research/practice issues in Oregon
  • Implications for policies, programs and practice related to public health
  • Originality or innovativeness of work
  • Overall clarity of abstract


Congratulations to Oregon MPH Candidate, Lisa Miller

Lisa received the Outstanding Student Poster Award for her poster entitled, Tracking Social Determinants of Health in a Patient-Centered Primary Care Home.


Congratulations to OSU MPH Candidate, Callie Walsh-Bailey

Callie received the Outstanding Student Poster Award for her poster entitled, Services for the Aged in Rural Oregon.