Press Room

ASTHO Awards Public Health Leaders for Outstanding Service

ARLINGTON, VA (Sept. 21, 2017)—The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) honored public health leaders with several awards this week at its 2017 Annual Meeting in recognition of their outstanding service and dedication to improving state and territorial public health. 

“On behalf of ASTHO, I am truly honored to present this year’s awards to a group of individuals who bring transformative leadership to the field of public health and embody a genuine desire to improve our nation’s health. Their accomplishments have made a difference in the lives of others, and we are inspired by their commitment to lead with compassion, integrity, and perseverance,” says ASTHO Executive Director Michael Fraser.

The 2017 ASTHO awardees include: 

  • Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association
    Ed Thompson 2017 Lifetime Achievement Medal
    With over 35 years of experience in public health as a physician, state health official, and executive director of the American Public Health Association, Benjamin has inspired countless public health leaders and has been named among the 100 most influential people in healthcare.
  • Michael Botticelli, executive director of the Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine at Boston Medical Center
    ASTHO 2017 Presidential Meritorious Service Award
    Botticelli, former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, was the first person to hold this position while also in long-term recovery from a substance use disorder.
  • Vivek Murthy, MD, 19th Surgeon General of the United States
    ASTHO 2017 Presidential Meritorious Service Award
    As surgeon general, Murthy created initiatives to tackle our country’s most urgent public health issues, including the first-ever Surgeon General’s report issuing a call to action on addiction as a chronic illness. 
  • Tom Frieden, MD, former director of CDC
    National Excellence Award
    On the national level, Frieden, who served as director of CDC from 2009-2017, led work to end the Ebola epidemic and control the largest outbreak of drug-resistant tuberculosis in the United States, among other initiatives.
  • J. Patrick O’Neal, MD, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health
    State Excellence Award
    On the state level, O’Neal brings a great deal of medical and military experience to the public health community, greatly enriching ASTHO’s mission and the health of all Georgians.
  • Paul Jarris, MD, chief medical officer for the March of Dimes
    ASTHO Alumni 2017 Award
    As a nationally recognized expert in healthcare policy, clinical quality initiatives, public health, and disease prevention and wellness, Jarris used his expertise to serve as commissioner of health at the Vermont Department of Health from 2003-2006 and ASTHO executive director from 2006-2016.
  • Rep. Tom Cole, chair, House Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations Subcommittee
    2017 ASTHO Legislative Champion Award
    Cole was elected to Congress in 2002 and is currently serving in his eighth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Cole has been supportive of important public health initiatives, such as the CDC’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness program.
  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro, ranking member, House Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee
    2017 ASTHO Legislative Champion Award
    DeLauro is the Congresswoman from Connecticut’s Third Congressional District. DeLauro spearheaded bipartisan legislation to raise awareness of gynecologic cancers and the WISEWOMAN program, and has supported food safety measures, youth tobacco use prevention, and mental health and substance abuse prevention.
  • Edward Ehlinger, MD, commissioner of health for the Minnesota Department of Health
    Arthur T. McCormack 2017 Award
    In addition to directing the work of the Minnesota Department of Health, Ehlinger formerly served as ASTHO president, where he exemplified his dedication to advancing the important work of public health and improving health for all.
  • Keith Yamamoto, MPA, deputy director of the Hawaii Department of Health
    Noble J. Swearingen 2017 Award
    Yamamoto, a key member of ASTHO’s Senior Deputies Committee, has provided critical guidance and expertise in state and territorial public health leadership. 

In addition, ASTHO presented its 2017 Vision Awards and the de Beaumont Foundation PH WINS: Research to Action Model Policies and Practices Challenge Awards

ASTHO congratulates the 2017 award winners for demonstrating excellence in public health leadership and working tirelessly to protect and promote our nation’s health.


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in state-based public health practice.