Path Award recipients making an impact in public health arena

By Joel Delgado ’12 MS ’17

Whether it’s introducing children to strawberries and kiwis for the first time or helping the elderly maintain healthy nutritional habits, Brenda Marty-Jimenez has a passion for helping those in the South Florida community.

As a licensed dietician and director of the Broward County Extension and Family Nutrition Program, Marty-Jimenez has been helping improve the lives of Floridians for more than two decades. Her program helps teach nutrition to audiences of all ages in order to help them reach healthy living.

For her tireless efforts, she was one of eight community partners and health professionals recognized during the 2014 FIU Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work’s Path Awards, held March 26 at Jungle Island’s Treetop Ballroom.

“This award just gives me the impetus to move forward and keep trying to make a difference in the community that I live in,” said Marty-Jimenez, who received the Disease Prevention Award. “If I can help save anyone’s life, this has motivated me to keep doing what I’m doing.”

The 2014 Path Awards recipients stand with President Mark B. Rosenberg (far left) and Dean Michele Ciccazo (second from left).

The 2014 Path Awards recipients stand together on stage at the 8th annual Path Awards Luncheon. From left to right: President Mark B. Rosenberg, Dean Michele Ciccazo, Brian E. Keeley, Lisa Schejola Akin, H. Daniel Vincent, Scott Pridgen, Brenda Marty-Jimenez, Asit Sarkar, Berta Blecke, Olga A. Connor.

The annual Path Awards have celebrated the work of those who have made a difference in various fields and levels of public health since 2006.

“The Path Awards really signify the wealth this community has of people who are really involved in promoting the health and well-being of individuals and populations,” said Michele Ciccazzo, dean of Stempel. “We want to recognize those who work in the trenches and the front lines, those who work in leadership to make sure it all happens, and those who volunteer.”

The Stempel Award, presented to an outstanding individual or organization for the life-changing contributions they have made to benefit the health and social welfare of the South Florida community, was awarded to Baptist Health South Florida President and CEO Brian E. Keeley.

Baptist Health South Florida and FIU have had a growing relationship through the years to help meet the health needs of the local community. In 2009, FIU’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine signed an affiliation agreement with Baptist Health South Florida and together developed an accredited family practice residency program at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, which opened in 2011.

“When you look at our mission and the mission of the school, it’s exactly the same – to improve the health and well-being of the individuals and communities we serve,” Keeley said. “We’re both trying to do what’s best for the community and we are very aligned in that.”

Collaboration between FIU and community partners was a major theme at the Path Awards. In his remarks, FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg cited the creation of the Robert Walker Scholarship – created in conjunction with AIDS Help (A. H.) of Monroe County, Inc. and the Monroe County Health Department. The scholarship will allow an FIU student to go to Monroe County for an internship to look at the trends of chronic illnesses, including HIV/AIDS, in the county.

“Those of us in public health realize the need to collaborate with each other, with universities like FIU, as well as with local community programs within each community,” said Scott Pridgen, executive director of  A. H. of Monroe County, Inc. and this year’s Pathfinder Award winner. “I think it’s time that we step out of our box and out of our comfort zone to really collaborate with each other in order to promote public health.”

Here are this year’s Path Award Winners:

Robert Stempel Award: Brian E. Keeley — President and CEO, Baptist Health South Florida

Community Leadership Award: Berta Blecke — Board of Trustees, Our Kids

Pathfinder Award: Scott Pridgen — Executive Director, A.H. of Monroe County, Inc.

Advocacy Award: Olga A. Connor, BA — Director of Communication and Legislative Affairs, Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County

Disease Prevention Award: Brenda Marty-Jimenez, MHM, RDN, LD/N — County Extension Director & Family Nutrition Program, University of Florida – IFAS, Broward County Extension

Environmental Health Award: Asit Sarkar, PhD — Program Manager – Lead & Healthy Homes Program, Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County

Innovation: Chapman Partnership — H. Daniel Vincent, President & CEO

Social Wellbeing Award: Lisa Schejola Akin — Carlo & Micol Schejola Foundation, Director