Honoring Excellence: Our Volunteer and Staff Awards | American Lung Association

Honoring Excellence: Our Volunteer and Staff Awards

(July 17, 2015)

The lifesaving work of the American Lung Association is driven by an exceptional team of volunteers and staff across the country. Each year, we recognize their excellence with our annual Volunteer and Staff Awards.


Chairman's Award - Arthur A. Cerullo, JD

Photo of Arthur A. Cerullo posing with a smile

The Chairman's Award is given when the Chair wants to recognize an individual's service that has gone above and beyond the incredible work done every day by Lung Association volunteers and staff. This year, the Chairman's Award was presented to Arthur A. Cerullo for leadership in Advocacy. A long-time, dedicated volunteer, Cerullo first volunteered for the American lung Association as a biker in the Trek Across Maine, 26 years ago. He has since served on the National Board, as Speaker of the Nationwide Assembly, and as Maine Board President. He's served on the Northeast Charter Board, and currently he chairs the Advocacy Work Team. A committed mission advocate, Cerullo has testified at EPA public hearings and helped increase volunteer engagement in Advocacy Day. He led the call for the American Lung Association to advocate for "HEALTHY" air to highlight the importance of air quality to public health. Using that message, our Healthy Air Campaign has successfully advocated to clean up power plants, cars and gasoline, wood burning devices and to set more protective pollution standards. The air is healthier, lung health is better and the American Lung Association is stronger, thanks to Art Cerullo.

Volunteer Excellence Award - Mike Carr, American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic

Photo of Mike Carr posing in front of gray background in a suit

Mike Carr has been active with the American Lung Association since 2011. He lost a friend to COPD in 2010 and started a stair climb team for the 2011 Philadelphia Fight for Air Climb. Over the past four years, through registrations and fundraising his Stair Climb team, Team Stab Plus, raised over $100,000. In 2014, Carr had the second largest stair climb team in the country with 124 members. He was the 2014 Philadelphia Fight for Air Climb Event Chair and is serving a two-year term as the Philadelphia Leadership Board Chair. Carr feels that his most impactful volunteer experience was educating kids about the dangers of smoking at a local Philadelphia Charter School. His first thought is always around how he can continue to expand our reach and help us achieve our mission.

Volunteer Excellence Award - Wendy L. Sparks, American Lung Association of the Southwest

Photo of Wendy L. Sparks smiling in a hotel lobby

Wendy Sparks joined the American Lung Association in 2013 after she lost her sister Nikki, who was only 38, to lung cancer. She started Team Nikki in honor of her sister. Team Nikki has led the Oklahoma Fight For Air Climb to success in fundraising two years in a row, raising over $30,000. After the 2014 Climb, Wendy expanded her volunteer efforts by becoming the chair of the LUNG FORCE committee and joined the board of her local Lung Association as the LUNG FORCE representative. LUNG FORCE, launched in May of 2014, is the American Lung Association's growing initiative that unites women across the country against lung cancer and for lung health. In both roles, Wendy has been exceptional - sharing ideas, giving financially, fundraising and recruiting new committee members. From speaking events, social media campaigns, news interviews, wearing turquoise, countless fundraising events and talk shows to educating and raising awareness in the community, Wendy Sparks has taken the mission of the American Lung Association and made it her own.

Staff Excellence Award - Rebecca L. Ryan, M.Ed., Sr. Director, Health Education and Public Policy, American Lung Association of the Northeast

Photo of Rebecca L. Ryan posing in front of camping tables proudly wearing a medal

Rebecca Ryan began working for the American Lung Association in Florida in 2000. While there she initiated the first annual fundraising walk, developed and implemented a marketing plan for the Vehicle Donation Program, managed eight Better Breathers Clubs and worked with schools to implement the Open Airways for Schools program. Ryan joined the Northeast staff in 2003 as the Manager of Government Relations and Tobacco Control Programs, handling clean air initiatives such as Low Emission Vehicles, Smokefree Housing and Idle-Free Fleets. She also covers air quality and healthcare policy work and has been in a leadership role in virtually every tobacco bill considered by the Vermont legislature since 2003. Vermont passed 100% smokefree workplace legislation in 2005 in large part due to Rebecca's tireless efforts, then extended this legislation in 2014 to protect children from smoke exposure in cars. Rebecca has fought to get Vermont's tobacco taxes to the 8th highest in the country, with comparable taxes on other tobacco products. Rebecca Ryan truly lives and breathes the mission of the American Lung Association.

C. Everett Koop Unsung Heroes Award - Maggie Mahoney, JD, Deputy Director of the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium in St. Paul, Minnesota

Photo of Maggie Mahoney posing in front of fenced wall

The American Lung Association and the C. Everett Koop Foundation present the annual Unsung Heroes' Award to an advocate for tobacco control who has made significant, but frequently unrecognized, contributions to reduce the burden of tobacco use. Maggie Mahoney joined the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium as a staff attorney in 2006 and was soon promoted to Deputy Director. As such, she oversees a team of tobacco control attorneys that provide direct legal technical assistance to public health professionals and organizations, advocates and attorneys across the U.S. Through her leadership, the Consortium has become the nation's leading network of tobacco control lawyers, strengthening our direct advocacy efforts in numerous ways in many state and local jurisdictions. Maggie Mahoney is not only one of the country's most respected public health leaders, but also one of the tobacco control movement's most effective advocates and a true unsung hero.

Bernard V. Gregory Award for Diversity - Edward H. Fluker, RRT, MBA/HCM, American Lung Association of the Southeast

Photo of Edward H. Fluker smiling

The Bernard Gregory Award for Diversity is given in recognition of the creation or promotion of more effective diversity practices within the Lung Association family. The award honors the memory of Mr. Gregory, a Lung Association volunteer who understood that in order for the Lung Association to achieve its mission, it must reflect the diverse communities it serves. Edward Fluker, a respiratory therapist, came to the Lung Association in 1990 as a volunteer through the Open Airways for Schools program. Fluker has engaged hundreds of volunteers over the years through asthma awareness programs, volunteerism, participation in special events and the LUNG FORCE Expo. Most recently, he launched on a project to serve Apopka Florida, a community facing major obstacles in access to healthcare, where the hospital had seen an exponentially high number of repeat emergency room visits from patients dealing with lung health issues, especially COPD and asthma. He worked to obtain funding to open the Apopka Lung Clinic, a free clinic to serve adults with no health insurance. Patients can be seen by a doctor and receive medication free of charge. In opening his clinic, Ed partnered with the Lung Association to ensure that these patients were receiving our educational literature and to deliver some of our programs. He opened a second clinic in East Orlando and is also in the works of a third clinic in Kissimmee. All of these areas target underserved populations. Edward Fluker shows passion towards achieving our mission and goals for all communities.

William J. Pfeifer Rising Star Award - Gail R. Schiemann, MPH, Alaska Program Director, American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific

Photo of Gail R. Schiemann posing in front of fish tank in an office, smiling

The William J. Pfeifer Rising Star Award is presented to a staff member who has made significant contributions towards the American Lung Association mission early in his/her career and demonstrates considerable potential for continuing outstanding achievement. The award honors the memory of William J. Pfeifer, a former longtime executive director who was known as a role model for aspiring young staff members. Gail Schiemann was hired to direct lung health and asthma programs in Alaska, including resurrecting the Alaska Asthma Coalition and funding for its work. Like a true rising star, she was able to secure half a million dollars in the form of a legislative grant to restart implementation of the Alaska Asthma Plan. With her persistence, the American Lung Association was once again able to take the lead in asthma public health work in Alaska. In 2013, the Alaska Tobacco Prevention and Control program reformulated how they administer community grants and Schiemann used this opportunity to expand the Lung Association's state tobacco work reach beyond the Anchorage area and provide some base funding for an office in Fairbanks and a MatSu Valley office. Not only are these two communities the next largest population centers in the state, but MatSu is also the fastest growing senior population in the state, ans in need of COPD support and outreach. She also led a team approach to grant writing which was successful in bringing in nearly $1 million in state tobacco funding. Gail Schiemann's energy, enthusiasm and commitment have made her an invaluable asset to the Lung Association.

Hoyt E. Dearholt Distinguished Professional Service Award - June Deen, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Health Promotions, American Lung Association of the Southeast

Photo of June Deen smiling while wearing a red coat in front of a white background

The Hoyt E. Dearholt Distinguished Professional Service Award is the highest honor a staff member can receive from the Lung Association, awarded to a staff member who has made significant and lasting contributions throughout his/her career. The award honors the memory of Hoyt E. Dearholt, MD, who was a pioneer of the anti-tuberculosis crusade of the early 1900's. June Deen began her career with the Lung Association in 1981 as a Branch Director, and was quickly was tapped for many leadership positions and developed many skills, most notably in the area of work that is flamed by her passion, public policy. She is a seasoned communicator and public relations expert. She is also an expert in community relations including coalition building, public speaking and participation in community based activities. In 1986 she was instrumental in passing the first local clean indoor air ordinance in Georgia. June led efforts to pass nearly 30 ordinances around the state of Georgia. In a span of 11 years, she led efforts to defeat six tobacco industry preemption bills in the state legislature. June Deen's passion and vision for the American Lung Association is felt throughout the organization.

Will Ross Medal - Albert A. Rizzo, MD, Hockessin, Delaware

Photo of Albert A. Rizzo smiling

The Will Ross Medal is the highest honor bestowed on a volunteer from the American Lung Association who has made a significant contribution to the prevention and control of lung disease. The award is given in memory of Will Ross, a Wisconsin industrialist, a former tuberculosis patient, and one of the American Lung Association's most dedicated volunteers who served as the first non-medical President of the Association. Dr. Rizzo has selflessly, confidently and skillfully served the American Lung Association at the local, regional and national levels for over 30 years, extending his reach to legislators, professionals, patients and the public alike. He has held many leadership positions at the national level, serving most recently as Chair of the National Board (2011-12) and now Senior Medical Advisor to the national office. He oversaw the Organizational Effectiveness Assessment (OEA), a comprehensive initiative designed to transform the American Lung Association in terms of efficiencies and effectiveness. Dr. Rizzo keeps the Lung Association informed on best practices and cutting edge research within the pulmonary care industry. Compassion, professional expertise and dedication are three qualities that we seek in our leadership. The American Lung Association is fortunate to have found such qualities in abundance with Dr. Rizzo.

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