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On May 15, NYAM held its 19th Annual Gala and continued its tradition of honoring outstanding individuals that have made significant contributions to the quality of life and health of New York City and cities worldwide. More than 300 guests enjoyed an elegant evening of dinner and dancing at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel hosted by Cheryl Wills, award-winning news reporter and anchor for NY1 News.
This year NYAM was pleased to honor John J. Connolly, Ed.D., President and CEO of Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., for his commitment to quality health care. Dr. Connolly, a longtime NYAM Fellow and past President of New York Medical College, is considered one of the nation’s foremost experts on identifying top physicians in their respective fields of practice.
“John’s unwavering support of NYAM is as strong today as it ever was and we are indeed fortunate to count John as one of NYAM’s dearest friends,” said Thomas Q. Morris, MD, Chair of the NYAM Board of Trustees, who presented the award. “I can think of no greater or fitting tribute to a man who has given much to NYAM and to whom we are deeply indebted.”
“Accepting an honor such as this is not something one does readily,” Dr. Connolly said. “You know it means imposing on your friends and business associates to raise money. Yet, in the case of a very special organization - one accepts that responsibility and burden. And in this case, The New York Academy of Medicine is one such very special organization. I encourage you and your colleagues to become involved in, and support, The New York Academy of Medicine. It deserves your full and unlimited commitment.”
NYAM’s fourth annual Urban Health Champion Award was presented to Ray E. López, Director of the Environmental Health Services Program of Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Service, Inc., for his significant contributions and work in community health for thousands of residents in East Harlem. Mr. López and LSA are currently collaborating with NYAM on a HUD-funded landmark study to measure the impact of his Environmental Health asthma program on the health of East Harlem families.
“We have had the pleasure of working with Ray in his efforts to combat asthma in public housing right here in our community,” said Dr. Jo Ivey Boufford, NYAM President, who presented the award. “This is just one of the many efforts with which Ray is intimately involved as he works to improve the health of our community.”
“As a child with asthma, it never occurred to me that I would someday engage in a mission to help New Yorkers reduce and even prevent asthma symptoms by mitigating triggers in their home environments,” Mr. Lopez said. “But, one day I realized there were tens of thousands of families in disadvantaged neighborhoods like East Harlem whose lives are compromised every day by this disease. No one was fighting alongside them. I realized that if I didn't, who would? I'm honored to be named Urban Health Champion by The New York Academy of Medicine.”
Ms. Wills was a charismatic and gracious host who conveyed her passion for NYAM’s work. Ms. Wills is a member of NYAM's Office of School Health Programs Advisory Committee and has been a speaker and role model for the minority middle school girls who participate in NYAM’s G.I.R.L.S. (Getting into Real Life Science) and the Health Professions program.
“What is most inspirational to me is the hunger for knowledge these young people possess and their desire, drive, and determination to improve the health of their families and their communities,” Ms. Wills said. “They are the future of health care and urban health and we must do all we can to help lead the way for them to accomplish these noble goals.”
The event also featured a new video about NYAM’s Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health. The Center was established in 2012 to assure that NYAM’s world-class historical collections and unique conservation laboratory can serve as the global resources they should be to preserve our holdings and make them more available to scholars and the public for generations to come.