Sara C. Stice Award

Sara C. Stice Health Education Award

To honor an individual who has made an outstanding contribution in the field of health education in Kentucky. Sara C. Stice was state Director of Health Education from 1950 until her retirement in 1973.
Guidelines: Active in the field of health, and has made an exceptional contribution in health education.

2023 Recipient: Jennifer Robinson, MA

2022 Recipients: Sherrie Stidham
Health Educator, Kentucky River District Health Department

Tara Vostad
Health Promotion Specialist, Kentucky River District Health Department

The Kentucky River District Health Department, which is comprised of seven counties, has the highest smoking rate in the State of Kentucky, resulting in poor health outcomes, primarily associated with smoking. This area is also a region where the "right to smoke" is seen as a personal freedom that people are resistant to give up.

We all know that the passage of smoke free policies can result in improved health outcomes for our communities. In fact, the only comprehensive smoke free policies in the state that have been passed in the past two years have been passed in KY River District and that is attributed to the hard work and dedication of two individuals.

The 2022 award duo formed the Tobacco Cessation Team at the KY River District Health Department and work tirelessly to promote tobacco cessation efforts in the counties in which they serve. They have not let long held beliefs and attitudes discourage them from their work.

Their work in the school system has raised awareness and educated students. They have worked diligently to educate the community about the dangers of smoking, vaping, and other tobacco products. They have educated retailers on the Trust ID program, offering Tobacco Cessation-Freedom From Smoking, and focusing on efforts to get smoke free policies passed.

They have been successful in getting smoke free policies passed in Hazard, Perry County, Knott County, Owsley County, and the city of Beattyville. Being a Health Educator is more than a job for this duo, they go above and beyond every day.

2021 Recipient: Leanne Kommer
Health Education Director
Oldham Co Health Department

In “The Hill We Climb”, the nation’s first youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, spoke “while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us”. This year’s recipient of the Sara C. Stice award embodies this statement with each contribution she makes to her community.

Over her 19 years of service, she has left many colleagues amazed by her dedication to health education and policy development. A few of her accomplishments include the establishment of smoke and tobacco-free initiatives within the county/school district, the development of safe recreational parks and walkways within urban areas, creating linkages to food, shelter and housing for vulnerable populations and bringing mental health awareness and action to children through Sources of Strength. Additionally, she serves her community as the preparedness coordinator, ensuring plans are in place to ensure resiliency in the event of an emergency.

Throughout the COVID pandemic, she has also assumed many other vital roles. At the height of contact tracing, she accepted the role of director of health education as well as overseeing the COVID response team. In this role, she onboarded 20 new contact tracers and educated each individual on the nuanced details associated with every COVID-19 case. As many experienced over the course of the year, guidance changed regularly, but she never faltered and continued to lead and educate her team.

Letters of support describe her as trusted, instrumental, an advocate, a great partner and this statement was made, “Her steadfast dedication to her organization’s mission, along with genuine compassion for our citizens, sets her apart from other people.”

2020 Recipient: Tracy Aaron, CHES
Director of Health Policy and Promotion
Lake Cumberland District Health Department

Nearly 26 years ago this year’s awardee began working at her local health department as an intern, was hired as a health educator following that internship and has been with her local health department for over 25 years now. Early in her career she was promoted to the Health Education Director (now Health Policy and Promotion).

During her career, a few of her accomplishments include the establishment of smoking cessation programs in all the district’s counties, leading 69% of the district’s schools to become tobacco-free campuses (work prior to HB11 in 2019), establishing and/or expanding health coalitions in every county in the district; procuring over 2.5 million grant dollars for innovative ideas around teen health issues. Additionally, she established a partnership with the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and the Bounce Coalition to provide training and education district-wide on Adverse Childhood Experiences and trauma-informed approaches. She also has the desire to improve health education beyond her district and serves on the Kentucky Preventive Health Block Grant Committee and serves on the KPHA Board of Directors.

These accomplishments, and many others, were recorded in numerous letters of support, which came not only from public health colleagues, but also from others she has worked on various initiatives with…..a mayor, school superintendent, the Kentucky Department of Education, and a licensed psychologist. In her current capacity she is responsible for direct and indirect reports and nearly $700,000 of the annual budget. Her director stated, “she excels at capacity development….is composed under pressure and welcomes new opportunities to improve health.” She is often heard saying, ‘Change is good.’

When asked her greatest career achievement, she responds that she thrives on changing community norms through coalition work. She has created multiple opportunities for community partners to work together on environmental and policy changes.

This year’s Sara C. Stice award recipient is Tracy Aaron, Director of Health Education, Lake Cumberland District HD.

Past Winners

2019: Phyllis Bryden
2018: Shana M. Peterson, MS
2017: Greg Corby-Lee
2016: Andrea Brown
2015: Stephanie Vogel
2014: Grace Lartey
2013: Judy Mattingly
2012: Michelyn Bhandari
2011: Dr. Cecilia Watkins
2010: Sheri Erwin
2009: Elizabeth Crigler
2008: Carolyn Jane Bond
2007: Peggy Seither
2006: Sister Leanne Herder
2005: Not Awarded
2004: Ova Pittman, MS, RS
2003: Richard Wilson
2002: Cynthia Brown
2001: Rebecca “Becky” Bruce
2000: Phyllis A. Skonicki
1999: Kathy Garvin
1998: Ellen J. Hahn, PhD
1997: Viola Keys
1996: Rosemary Weathers
1995: Lucille Harris, RN
1994: J. David Dunn, DSc
1993: Claude Tiller, MPH
1992: Grace Eddison, MD
1991: Rebecca Bruce, MS, CHES
1990: Pat Petot, RN, ARNP
1989: Carol Bryant, PhD
1988: Karen Thompson
1987: Alma Jones, RN
1986: Sue Garmon
1985: Martha Blair RN
1984: Don Calitri, Ed D
1983: Ellen Van Nagell
1982: Ray P. Biggerstaff, Jr. EdD
1981: John Stoner
1980: Loma Taylor
1979: Joe F. Sills, PhD *
1978: Helen Hunt, MPH *
1977: Mildred Rucker