Annual Awards

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2023 Awardees 

awardees headshots

awardees headshots

TPHA recognizes outstanding efforts and leadership in its members and partners each year through the awards listed below.  Awardees (pictured above and below) were recognized at a luncheon on Thursday September 21 during the 2023 Annual Conference.  

awardees headshots

 R. H. Hutcheson, Sr. MD Award

This award is named in honor of Dr. R. H. Hutcheson, Sr., Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Public Health for many years. The award is to be presented to that person in the field of public health who has made outstanding contributions to public health over a period of several years.  The nominee must have been a member of TPHA for a minimum of five (5) years and an Active or Life Member of the Association in the year the award is given. 

This year's winner is Paul E. Petersen, PharmDDirector of the Tennessee Department of Health’s Emergency Preparedness Program and the Interim Director for the Vaccine-Preventable Diseases and Immunization Program.  Dr. Petersen serves as lead in Tennessee’s response to all public health and medical emergencies. 

Alex B. Shipley, MD, Award

This award is named in honor of Dr. Alex B. Shipley, Health Director of the East Tennessee Grand Division for a number of years. An outspoken advocate of public health, Dr. Shipley’s work contributed greatly to building local health department infrastructure in Tennessee. This award is to be presented to an employee of a regional or local health department who has made outstanding contributions in the field of public health over a period of several years. The nominee must be a member of TPHA for five (5) years, including the year upon which the award is based. 

This year's winner is Suzanne Hayes, DDS, Director of Oral Health Services for the Upper Cumberland Regional Health Office, Tennessee Department of Health.

Public Health Worker Award

This award is presented to that person in the field of public health who, during the past three years, has provided outstanding service to the field. The person must be in full-time employment in the field and must hold active or life membership in the Association.  

This year's winner is Chelsea White, Regional Tobacco Coordinator and Assistant Health Promotion Director for the Tennessee Department of Health in the West Region.

Public Health Work Group Award

This award is presented to a local, regional, or state public health group, unit, or department that has made an outstanding contribution to public health. At least a portion of the team must be a current member of TPHA during the year in which the award is given.

This year's winner is the Cocke County Health Department.  For more information about the Cocke County Health Department including services offered and location, Click Here

Partner and Leadership Award (Individual and Group)

This award is presented to a non-public health professional, group, or organization that has made a significant contribution on behalf of public health, which is extraordinary and would set an example for others. At the discretion of the Awards Committee, two separate categories of PAL Awards (group/organization and individual) may be presented in a given year.  

This year's Individual PAL Award recipient is Austin Fesmire who recently retired as Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Athens, Tennessee.  Mr. Fesmire is recognized for more than 36 years of service promoting active use of city parks to increase physical activity while fostering a sense of community among the residents of Athens.   

This year's PAL Group Award recipient is Sevier United, a nonprofit community agency established by the Sevier County Health Department in 2017.  The 501c3 organization is dedicated to helping families/individuals in need and assimilating immigrants that live or work in Sevier County.  Sevier United’s goal is to help create and foster a spirit of understanding and cooperation among all the residents of Sevier County. To learn more about Sevier United, Click Here

The Doris Spain Award for Distinguished Service

The Doris Spain Award for Distinguished Service award recipient is recommended based on their significant contributions made to the Association and approved by the TPHA Board of Directors.  

Emily Rushing, MPH, is this year's recipient of the Doris Spain Award for Distinguished Service in recognition for her major contributions to the mission of the Tennessee Public Health Association. Ms. Rushing is the Director for Henderson County, Chester County and Carroll County Health Departments.

Member of the Year

This award recognizes the TPHA member who demonstrates commitment to the Association in 3 areas – volunteerism, leadership and representation of the organization.  

2023 Member of the Year is Alisa Haushalter, DNP, RN, PHNA-BC, who is recognized for her work over the past two years establishing the advocacy function for the Association. Dr. Haushalter is Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center's College of Nursing.

William Schaffner, MD, Public Health Hero Award

The William Schaffner, MD, Public Health Hero Award is a joint award from the Tennessee Medical Association and the Tennessee Public Health Association that is presented on a biennial basis to a person who has made significant contributions to advancing public health in Tennessee.  This could be someone who has made a career of public health with work that spans a number of years or someone who was instrumental in working on a critical public health issue of a shorter nature.  Dr. Schaffner, a true public health hero, exemplifies the characteristics of the individual to whom the award will be presented. For more information about Dr. Schaffner, Click Here

This year's winner is Dr. Mary-Margaret Fill, Deputy State Epidemiologist with the Tennessee Department of Health, for her work leading the Tennessee One Health Committee, which promotes and supports the health of humans, animals, and the environment through cooperation and collaboration across disciplines, including local, state and federal agencies, academic institutions and outside partners. 

Award Criteria
Award Nomination Form
Previous Award Winners