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Hunter College Announces Winners of Fourth Annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize for Excellence in Urban Public Health

Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab today announced the winners of the prestigious Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize at a ceremony at the College's Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute.

Left to right:  Jonathan Fanton, Interim Director of Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College; Laurie Tisch, President of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund; Thomas Farley, 2014 Joan H. Tisch Distinguished Fellow in Public Health at Hunter College; Jay Laudato,  Executive Director of Callen-Lorde Community Health; Sandra Hagan, Senior Advisor at The Child Center of NY; Jennifer J. Raab, President of Hunter College; and Rick Luftglass, Executive Director of the Tisch Illumination Fund

The 2014 recipients are Sandra Hagan, former executive director and current senior advisor at The Child Center of NY in the Woodside section of Queens, and Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. The prize, which was presented at a reception hosted by President Raab at Roosevelt House, is administered by Hunter College and awarded to individuals and not-for-profit organizations for distinguished accomplishment in the field of urban public health.

The winners, chosen by a committee composed of Hunter College faculty and representatives from the health policy and advocacy communities and led by Roosevelt House Interim Director Jonathan Fanton, will each receive a prize of $10,000.

"This year's Tisch award recipients have worked for many years to provide mental health and medical care to at-risk children and youth, the LGBT community and others who historically have had difficulty getting it," said President Raab. "Part of our mission at Hunter is to improve access to health services to those who need it the most. We're grateful to the Tisch family for underwriting this important award, which shines a much-deserved spotlight on dedicated community health workers and organizations."

The Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize is part of the Joan H. Tisch Legacy Project, which is based at Hunter College and generously funded by a $1 million grant from her children, Steve Tisch, Laurie M. Tisch, and Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch. The project also supports the Joan H. Tisch Distinguished Fellowship in Public Health and the Joan H. Tisch Public Health Forum.

"My mother has long dedicated herself to improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers, and these honorees embody her values, dedication and passion," said Laurie Tisch, President of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. "Callen-Lorde Community Health Center and Sandra Hagan have assisted thousands of New Yorkers and I know they will continue to do amazing work for New Yorkers in need."

Sandra Hagan, who received her MSW from Hunter in 1977, was executive director of The Child Center of NY for nearly 28 years. She recently stepped down to take on a new role as senior advisor to the organization.

Under Hagan's leadership, The Child Center of NY's scope expanded from providing child mental health services, to offering a continuum of services. The number of families served each year grew from 850 to 18,000, and the budget increased from $3 million to $36 million. Today, The Child Center of NY is a multi-service organization annually helping 18,000 at-risk children, youth, and their families to overcome challenges related to poverty, emotional difficulties, school failure and other issues that stand in the way of their achievement. Services include individual and family counseling, child abuse prevention, early childhood education and youth development.

Hagan also improved the agency's ability to respond to the increasing diversity in Queens by tripling the bilingual and bicultural staff, which collectively speaks 25 languages. Hagan has had a tremendous impact on the mental and physical health and welfare of thousands of New York City children by building an effective safety net to break the cycles of violence, abuse and neglect.

"My entire professional career has been devoted to improving the lives of our city's children-especially those who are the most impoverished, the most traumatized and abused, the most abandoned and therefore those in greatest need," said Hagan. "I am so very grateful to the Tisch Family for this award because it focuses public attention on these invisible children and also the fact that we can all make a difference." 

The Callen-Lorde Community Health Center provides quality, sensitive medical and related services to LGBT communities, regardless of ability to pay. Over the years, it has successfully helped to reduce health disparities and improve access to health care for the underserved and high-need LGBT community. The center provides care in all five boroughs and each year serves more than 15,000 people who are among the highest-need and highest-risk New Yorkers: 41% have incomes at or below the federal poverty level, 36% are uninsured and 8% are homeless or unstably housed.

Callen-Lorde also runs the Health Outreach to Teens (HOTT) program, which targets underserved and disenfranchised LGBT homeless and runaway youth. A clinical suite on site as well as HOTT's mobile medical unit last year provided an array of medical, mental health and educational services to some 1,200 vulnerable youth. Callen-Lorde also provides culturally sensitive, comprehensive care for 3,700 people living with HIV/AIDS, of whom almost 200 are between the ages of 13 and 24.

"Callen-Lorde Community Health Center is truly honored to receive the Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize," said Jay Laudato, the organization's executive director. "For over 30 years Callen-Lorde has strived to create a safe and supportive environment for New York City's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities to receive quality care, regardless of ability to pay. During that time we have seen the negative effects of fear, discrimination and the lack of health coverage on the physical and emotional health of our patients. This prestigious prize highlights the work we have done so far, but it is also a reminder of the work still to be done to address the health needs of the communities we serve. We gratefully accept it on behalf of our patients."   

For more information about the Joan H. Tisch Legacy Project, click here.

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