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Winners of the Annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize for Excellence in Urban Public Health Announced by Hunter College

Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab has announced this year's recipients of the seventh annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize.  These prestigious awards are given to individuals and nonprofit organizations in the New York metropolitan area for distinguished accomplishment in urban public health.  The 2017 recipients are the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center in the Bronx, which champions food assistance and access to nutritious meals in the Crotona neighborhood  through a robust health initiative with its Teen Council; and Diane Arneth, Executive Director of Community Health Action of Staten Island and Chief Community Services Officer of Brightpoint Health, who has demonstrated a unique ability to tackle the most demanding public health challenges, including the HIV/AIDS and opioid epidemics.

Both recipients were honored at a ceremony and reception on Thursday, October 12, at The Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College.

"We are enormously pleased to announce this year's Tisch Prize recipients who do an incredible job of addressing the needs of New Yorkers," said President Raab. "And we are particularly proud that the 2017 awards honor practitioners from the outer boroughs of Staten Island and the Bronx, whose populations deeply need attention but where great work too often goes unrecognized. The Hunter community is greatly appreciative of the Tisch family and these annual awards that continue to shine a light on persistent urban public health problems and the innovative ways in which they are being addressed by both creative individuals and community-based organizations."

"The Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center and Diane Arneth of the Community Health Action of Staten Island and Brightpoint Health have each exhibited their unwavering dedication to providing vital services to New Yorkers in need," said Laurie Tisch, President of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. "They share the mission of the Illumination Fund and my mother Joan's Legacy Project and we are proud to present them with this honor."

The Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize honors not-for-profit organizations and individuals for distinguished accomplishment in the field of urban public health. Made possible by support from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, the Prize is part of the Joan H. Tisch Legacy Project, which is based at Hunter College, and is a tribute to Joan H. Tisch in recognition of her humanitarian activism in health care and social services in New York City. The winners each received a prize of $10,000.

The nominee's work should be focused upon improving urban public health in areas such as: reducing health disparities; obesity/diabetes/nutrition; chronic disease prevention and management; environmental health; HIV/AIDS; health problems associated with poverty; healthy aging; mental health; substance abuse and addiction; public health policy and advocacy; and access, financing, and quality of care.

About the Honorees:

Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center (MMFYC) serves the primarily nonwhite Crotona neighborhood of the Bronx. When its Teen Council researched the diets of children in the area in recent years, it found that fully half would likely develop diabetes in their lifetimes. Inspired to action by the results, the MMFYS empowered the Teen Council and community at large to create a health initiative to support health choices for individuals and collaboration among community leaders to ensure an environment where healthy options were available. The initiative includes a highly successful food buying club, support of a local farmers market, plus other efforts to increase access to healthy food and make systemic change. By expanding opportunities, developing leadership, and building community, it is the goal of the board, staff, and youth of the Center to change the environment of Crotona without gentrification so its residents can achieve "complete physical, mental and social wellbeing" as defined by the World Health Organization.

Harold Holzer, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Laurie Tisch (center), Maria Teresa Ocasio, Board President of MMFYC, and Jennifer J. Raab, with MMFYC Teen Council members

Diane Arneth, is the Executive Director of the Community Health Action of Staten Island (CHASI) and Chief Community Services Officer of Brightpoint Health. Arneth has consistently demonstrated her ability to address public health challenges as they emerge. As executive director for CHASI for the past twenty-six years, Arneth has overseen the growth of the organization from its earliest days, when it operated with a budget of only $150,000, to the multi-site, multi-service agency it is today, with a budget of $11.2 million. She has been a passionate and committed advocate for the residents of State Island, 20,000 of whom are served annually by the comprehensive range of services her organization provides, including case management, comprehensive substance use disorder services, emergency food and benefits assistance, HIV, HCV, and diabetes testing and prevention services for 20,000 Staten Islanders annually.

Harold Holzer, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Laurie Tisch, Diane Arneth, Jennifer J. Raab

Selection Committee for the Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize:

Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, (Co-Chair) Senior Advisor to President of Hunter College and the Former NYC Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services; Harold Holzer, (Co-Chair) Jonathan F. Fanton Director, Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, Hunter College; Judith Aponte, Associate Professor, Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing; Pam Brier, Senior Adviser to the President of Hunter College; Joan Grabe, Chair, Hunter College Foundation Board of Trustees and Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing Advisory Board; David Himmelstein, Professor, Hunter College School of Urban Health; ; Sue A. Kaplan, Research Associate Professor, Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine; Ram Raju, MD, Senior Vice President, Community Health Investment Officer, Northwell Health; Dennis Rivera, Public Health Advisor, Hunter College; and Gregory Shufro, Senior Managing Director, Shufro, Rose & Co., LLC.

About Hunter College:

Hunter College, located in the heart of Manhattan, is the largest college in the City University of New York (CUNY) system. Founded in 1870, it is also one of the oldest public colleges in the country and famous for the diversity of its student body, which is as diverse as New York City itself. Most Hunter students are the first in their families to attend college and many go on to top professional and graduate programs, winning Fulbright scholarships, Mellon fellowships, National Institutes of Health grants, and other competitive honors. More than 23,000 students currently attend Hunter, pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 170 areas of study.  The 1,700 full- and part-time members of Hunter's faculty are unparalleled. They receive prestigious national grants, contribute to the world's leading academic journals, and play major roles in cutting-edge research. They are fighting cancer, formulating public policy, expanding our culture, enhancing technology, and more.

About the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund: 

The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund (LMTIF) is a New York City-based foundation that strives to improve access and opportunity for all New Yorkers. Founded in 2007 by philanthropist Laurie M. Tisch, the Illumination Fund plays an active role in supporting innovative approaches to the arts, healthy food, civic service and education in order to illuminate strategies that transform our urban landscape. For more information about the Illumination Fund, visit


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