New York (June 14, 2018) – The New York Academy of Medicine honored Freda C. Lewis-Hall, MD, DFAPA, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Pfizer, Ruth Watson Lubic, RN, CNM, EdD, Founder and President Emeritus of the D.C. Developing Families Center, Nina Martin of ProPublica and Renée Montagne of NPR at its annual Gala on June 12, 2018 at Cipriani 25 Broadway. The Gala, Access: Health, honored major contributions to health equity in business, health care and journalism. View photos from the event. 

“The theme of tonight’s Gala is Access: Health because we wish to shine a light on the issues of access and opportunity, which are not equitable and can lead to poor health outcomes,” said Academy President Judith A. Salerno, MD, MS. “We are also here to honor and celebrate the visionary leadership and remarkable contributions of four exceptional women.”

The Academy welcomed 320 guests to the event, including a number of dignitaries from the health and social services sector and leaders of health systems: Dr. Oxiris Barbot, First Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH); Dr. Sonia Angell, Deputy Commissioner of the DOHMH; Dr. Herminia Placido, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services; Dr. Ann Marie T. Sullivan, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health; Dr. Steven Sayfer, President & CEO Montefiore Medical Center; Dr. Wayne Riley, President of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center; Dr. Ramanathan Raju, Senior Vice President and Community Health Investment Officer at Northwell Health; Mark L. Wagar, President of Heritage Medical Systems; and Dr. Richard Merkin, CEO and founder of the Heritage Group.

The Academy honored Dr. Lewis-Hall for her visionary leadership and partnership in the journey to health equity. A champion for empowering patients through access to research-based medical information, she defines what it means to be a voice for change in today’s rapidly changing health care industry.

“On behalf of Pfizer and the patients we strive to serve, I am humbled by this recognition by The New York Academy of Medicine and grateful to them for the vital work they do to advance health equity,” Dr. Lewis-Hall said. “Pfizer shares the Academy’s view that achieving health equity calls for advocacy, support and active engagement to help communities realize better health outcomes.”

The Academy honored Dr. Lubic as the 2018 Urban Health Equity Champion for her work as a champion of personalized care and during labor and childbirth for all women. She is a visionary and trendsetter who developed and successfully instituted the birthing center as a means to improve the lives of women of childbearing age and their families.

“I am deeply honored to receive the Academy’s Urban Health Equity Champion Award,” Dr. Lubic said. “It is my experience with underserved and economically distressed families that patient and thoughtful care can also collaterally impact families, by enhancing relationships and bestowing a personal sense of empowerment. I share and applaud the commitment of The New York Academy of Medicine to health equity and eliminating disparities.”

At the event, the Academy also awarded the inaugural Health Equity Journalism Prize to ProPublica and NPR for their unique collaboration on “Lost Mothers,” a series examining maternal mortality and life-threatening complications in the United States. The award was accepted by Nina Martin of ProPublica and Rénee Montagne of NPR.

“We've been humbled and deeply gratified by the impact this project has had over the past year among medical providers, researchers and lawmakers. Thank you for this recognition of our work,” Martin said.

“What an honor to be the inaugural recipients of this important new prize! It also honors those who shared their stories of lost loved ones and allowed us to make public a private tragedy, in hopes of sparing other mothers and families unspeakable pain. Thank you,” Montagne said.

The Gala featured a moving performance by IMPACT Repertory Theatre, a youth performance company based in Harlem (view video), as well as artwork from the grassroots public art initiative 100 Gates. The Academy recently participated in the 100 Gates project by commissioning a painting by Alice Mizrachi on the roll-down security gate of a local bike shop. Gala guests were treated to a live demonstration of Ms. Mizrachi’s creative process as she painted live during the cocktail hour.

Cheryl Wills, Emmy-winning anchor for Spectrum News NY1, acted as Master of Ceremonies. The Gala Chairs were Jim and Kerianne Flynn, Julie Louise Gerberding, and George and Barbara Thibault.

The Gala was generously sponsored by Jim and Kerianne Flynn, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Pfizer Inc., The Heritage Provider Network and The Healthcare Parents of IPA of New York, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Merck, IBM, The Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, NYU College of Dentistry, Paul and Kimberley Tanico, Columbia University School of Nursing, Montefiore Health System, Northwell Health, and WPP Health & Wellness.

About The New York Academy of Medicine

Established in 1847, The New York Academy of Medicine is dedicated to ensuring everyone has the opportunity to live a healthy life. Through our original research and policy and program initiatives we provide the evidence base to address the structural and cultural barriers to good health and drive progress toward health equity. This work and our one-of-a-kind public programming is supported by our world class historical medical library and our Fellows program, a unique network of more than 2,000 experts elected by their peers from across the professions affecting health. For more information, visit