Jill Guernsey de Zapien, Arizona College of Public Health Associate Dean, Receives Two Prestigious Achievement Awards

Jill Guernsey de Zapien Receives 2 Prestigious Achievement Awards

Jill Guernsey de Zapien, Arizona College of Public Health Associate Dean, Receives Two Prestigious Achievement Awards

Jill Guernsey de Zapien, associate dean for Community Programs at the Arizona College of Public Health, recently received the Border Health Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Mexico Border Health Council and the Henry and Phyllis Koffler Prize from the University of Arizona.

Ms. de Zapien received the Border Health Lifetime Achievement award for her "exceptional work in the development of the premier promotores programs on the border; for her personal commitment to improving the lives of the migrant farm worker family; and, for her exemplary leadership in the many critical issues and actions impacting the entire border region."

She received the Henry and Phyllis Koffler Award, named after the former UA president and his wife, for outstanding accomplishments in public service and outreach. Three prizes, established through the generosity of the Kofflers in October 2001, are awarded annually for outstanding accomplishment in the areas of teaching; research, scholarship and creative activity; and public service and outreach. Each prize consists of a one-time stipend of $10,000, a medallion and certificate. Ms. de Zapien is the first recipient of the Koffler Prize in the area of public service and outreach.

"We were delighted that Jill has received these awards," says G. Marie Swanson, PhD, MPH, dean of the Arizona College of Public Health. "She epitomizes our common mission - to improve people's health and lives, and to help communities achieve these goals. She believes strongly in equitable partnering with communities, with trust and mutual understanding, in all our joint efforts."

Ms. de Zapien has been involved in community-based public health interventions and research along the border for more than 15 years. She is fluent in Spanish and lived and worked in Mexico for more than 20 years. She and other colleagues established, Health Start, the first promotora outreach program in Arizona focusing on prenatal care for farmworker women.

"I am extremely honored to receive both awards," Ms. de Zapien says. "These awards really speak to the incredible collaboration among all the health workers in our state. All of these efforts have been team efforts with many other individuals working extremely hard to improve the quality of life in our underserved communities throughout the state and along the U.S.-Mexico border. It is wonderful to work with so many committed individuals!"

Her research includes conducting the Primary Health Care Review and the Ambos Nogales Primary Health Care Project, which were collaborative initiatives with five U.S. and Mexican research institutions, as well as with the Pan American Health Organization. Other research has focused on the implementation of community-based studies looking at prevalence and risk factors for a variety of public health concerns (such as substance abuse, cancer, lupus and diabetes). Ms. de Zapien has served as the facilitator for two large binational research initiatives on diabetes and cancer involving participants from academic institutions, public health organizations and private providers. As co-investigator of the Southwest Center for Community Health Promotion, the Border Health Strategic Initiative, and the Reach 2010 Project, she works directly with border communities to develop strategies for prevention and control of chronic disease.

Ms. de Zapien has extensive experience with community-based public health interventions. Most of these projects have utilized a promotora model for both behavior changes and system changes. She has received state and national recognition for her public health work and is in her third year of an appointment to the National Advisory Council on Migrant Health.