BROOKFIELD, WI | October 30, 2020
The American Lung Association has selected Wisconsin’s Lorraine Lathen as the recipient of the national 2020 C. Everett Koop Unsung Hero Award.
Lathen is the Director of the City of Milwaukee Tobacco Free Alliance, Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network (WAATPN) and Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Poverty Network (WTPPN). She is president and founder of Jump at the Sun Consulting, LLC, an African American, woman–owned firm established in 2007 to address health disparities.
The C. Everett Koop Award recognizes a tobacco control advocate who has made significant, but frequently unrecognized contributions to reduce the burden of tobacco use.
Lathen received the award at the October virtual meeting of the American Lung Association’s National Board of Directors. Among her many accomplishments earning her the recognition, she has:
- Partnered with the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee over a 12-year period to provide impactful programs such as the Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking cessation program on site to Milwaukee Public Housing residents.
- Developed and implemented a resident-led study on the impact of the US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) smokefree public housing rule. The study involved the collection of 600 resident surveys; findings have been presented at national, state and local conferences. Plans are underway for the replication of this model in other public housing authorities.
- Implemented “No Menthol Sunday,” an event that calls attention to the deliberate and intentional marketing of menthol tobacco products to the Black community. Lathen leads “No Menthol Sunday” in the state of Wisconsin and serves on the national planning committee for this CDC-funded effort. Thousands in the faith community and communities of color have been reached with tobacco advocacy, tobacco prevention and smoking cessation messages.
- Been responsible for engaging in strategic partnerships with community leaders, elected officials, grassroots organizations and tobacco retailers. She successfully collaborated with tobacco retailers and community residents to create the No Singles No Loosies Campaign to end the illegal sale of single cigarettes and restrict youth access to tobacco products.
- Served as an adult mentor to WAATPN FACT, a youth-led tobacco control movement whose members are widely recognized as state and national leaders in youth tobacco prevention. Under her tenure these middle and high school leaders have presented to U.S. Surgeon Generals (current and past), Wisconsin Governor and Lieutenant Governor and many more.
- Participated as 2019 co-chair of the core planning group responsible for creating the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Control Movement 2020-2025 State Plan.
In accepting the award, Lathen said, “The award I ’m graciously accepting today recognizes me as an Unsung Hero for my work to address tobacco related health disparities. But I ’d like to tell you who my true heroes are. My heroes are the individuals who live and work, and whose children go to school and play in the communities I serve. They are individuals who, all too often are excluded from the ‘room where it happens’ yet live in communities that are most impacted by tobacco related and other health disparities” (a reference to the Broadway musical Hamilton, the ‘room’ referencing where decisions on public health policy and advocacy are made). “I accept the award on behalf of them.”
Lathen also thanked the Lung Association for its 12 years of support and for “helping us to create these authentic and impactful relationships. I commend the Lung Association for its continued efforts to address health disparities and to save lives,” she added.
Harold Wimmer, CEO of the Lung Association stated, “The American Lung Association is proud to recognize Ms. Lathen, a leader in minority tobacco prevention efforts. She has demonstrated a passion and drive to address racial and ethnic health disparities and social injustice in low-income and Black communities which is a key component of the mission of the American Lung Association.”
Lathen earned a BA in Political Science and French from Marquette University and a MA in International Affairs from American University. She is a resident of Brown Deer and a member of St. Mark AME Church, supportive of its community outreach efforts through the Lovell Johnson Quality of Life Center in Milwaukee.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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