Russell E. Teague Award

Russell E. Teague Meritorious Award

To honor and recognize exceptional and meritorious achievement in the field of public health. Dr. Teague was Kentucky Health Commissioner from 1956-1970.

Guidelines: Well-recognized contribution to the improvement of public health; must reflect innovative and creative approaches with an impact on continued growth.

2024 Recipient: Dia Obonyo, DrPH

2023 Recipient: Kim Yazell

2021 Recipient: Steven Stack, MD, MBA, FAECP
Kentucky Department for Public Health

Sincere, empathetic, supportive, compassionate, and humble are a just few descriptors of this year’s recipient. His appointment was only a few weeks before our state had to respond to the threats of the COVID19 pandemic. He had to navigate department for public health staff, most of whom he had never met but entrusted to organize a response of epic proportion to protect the lives of Kentuckians. His calm, reassuring leadership has shown great determination and resolve in meeting the exhaustive list of everyday challenges of COVID19; from sending staff on a bus to pick up potentially infected Kentuckians in Texas who had been stranded on a cruise ship, to the oversight of the million moving parts of the vaccine roll-out, and a whole lot in between. Throughout, he has remained thoughtful in his decision-making, humbled by those he relies on for knowledge and expertise, compassionate toward the unique needs of every Kentuckian, and deeply invested in tapping into every skillset and resource available to see Kentucky through this seemingly unending pandemic.

For most public health staff, the COVID-19 response effort is the single priority that consumes our time and resources. Staff are battling long hours and weekends to continuously react to the daily challenges of the pandemic. Even in the midst of such a tremendous and pressing burden, he recognized there is so much more to public health than the ever-present pandemic response. For this reason, he re-launched Public Health Transformation and committed resources to enhance the movement, update and integration of KDPH’s strategic plan. Such foresight for the future of public health coupled with the lessons learned through COVID-19 will create a cultural movement for change and ultimately, improve the health and safety of the people of Kentucky.

Our recipient typifies the service of Dr. Russell E. Teague, who served as Kentucky’s Commissioner of Health for 15 years (1956-1970). He demonstrates the leadership quality of Dr. Teague, who became President of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers and is the elected Secretary-Treasurer of the Association. Throughout his career, he has served in numerous leadership roles, including serving as the youngest President of the American Medical Association. He has extensive experience in healthcare policy at the federal, state, and local levels. He also has significant engagements in health information technology as well as physician licensure, regulation, and assessment.

Regarding working with Dr. Stack throughout this pandemic, Secretary Friedlander said, “Dr. Stack is someone who gets things done in a collaborative way, in a way that builds all of us up. I can’t imagine where we would be without his leadership.” Jan Chamness, Director of Women’s Health at KDPH summed it up best in her letter of support for his nomination, saying, “It could be said ALL public health practitioners are deserving of recognition for their unwavering commitment during the past year. However, there needed to be a leader, and there is no individual more deserving of this meritorious achievement award. His leadership continually provides the motivation to fight the good fight and make us proud to work in public health.”

Before serving as a Public Health Official, Dr. Steven J. Stack has had 20 years of experience in emergency medicine clinical practice and emergency department management. Born and raised in Cleveland, Dr. Stack graduated magna cum laude in classical studies from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He completed his medical education and emergency medicine residency at the Ohio State University and his MBA at the University of Tennessee Haslam College of Business.

2020 Recipient: Brittany Parker, MPH
Deputy Director
Franklin County Health Department

In the words of a colleague, “she has inspired many to improve public health and all who have worked with her call it an honor, joy and even a blessing. Her innovative approaches, meritorious achievement and far reaching contributions to public health improvement make her deserving of the recognition of this award.”

This individual has been an asset across many Kentucky communities due in part to her expertise in the concentrations of quality improvement, performance management, strategic planning, accreditation, community health assessment and community health improvement planning and facilitation. It is said that her commitment to Kentucky’s health is unparalleled.

Our awardee has also been a light for others when working through accreditation. As an active leader in the Kentucky Accreditation Coordinators Workgroup, she has been able to guide peers through the process and make what can be a tedious job a fun and exciting new challenge. She also became one of the first accreditation coordinators to lead her health department to national reaccreditation.

“She never settles for the status quo and her brain is always in QI mode, looking for ways to continually improve the way that public health operates…She truly is an asset to our Kentucky Public Health Workforce”.

This year’s 2020 Russell E. Teague Award goes to Brittany Parker, Deputy Director at the Franklin Co HD.

Past Winners

2019: Dr. Richard Miles
2018: Robert Slaton, Ed.D
2017: Bonita Bobo
2016: Dr. Rice Leach
2015: Alan Kalos
2014: April Harris
2013: James “Steve” Davis
2012: Paula Alexander
2011: Roger Trent
2010: Doug Thoroughman
2009: Georgia Heise
2008: Shawn D. Crabtree
2007: Anita Simmons
2006: Linda Sims
2005: Jack Morris
2004: Sharon Stumbo
2003: John Poundstone, M.D.
2002: Edmond “Ned” Fitzgibbons
2001: Gail Timperio
2000: Dr. Thomas S. Wallace
1999: Judge Mike Miller
1998: Rondall H. Leslie, MD
1997: H. Mac Vandiviere, MD
1996: Kenneth B. Fiser
1995: Larry Davis, MS
1994: Rhenda K. Mills, RN
1993: Ova D. Pittman, Jr. MS RS
1992: W. E. Becknell, MD
1991: Viola D. Brown ARNP
1990: Ted Hanekamp, MPH
1989: Bedford Walker
1988: E. Austin Jr, MPH
1987: Phillip R. Spangler, MPH
1986: Pete Campassi, Jr.
1985: Tim Lee Carter, MD
1984: Charles L. Goodin
1983: Harvey Heinemann
1982: Charles E. Hume
1981: M. A. Shepherd, MD
1980: Vesper Jones
1979: Steve Sandlin
1978: William Pickett
1977: Irving Bell
1976: W. E. Davis, MD
1975: Carlos Hernandez, MD MPH
1974: Shelby Johnson
1973: Ray Biggerstaff, Jr., EdD
1972: William R. Willard, MD
1971: Mildred Gabbard, MD