The Charles Stewart Mott Department of Public Health Awards Committee is proud to announce the recipients of the inaugural Difference Makers awards. These awards recognize the hard work of faculty members, staff members, and community partners. 

(Left to Right) Jim Ananich, Dick Sadler, Tiffany Ceja, Wayne McCullough, Jim Milanowski, Amy Saxe-Custack, Robey Shah


Early Research AwardDick Sadler  
During his early career, Dick published over 50 papers, procured numerous grants, oversaw a team of people as director of the Methodology Core as part of his work in the Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions, and gained tenure & promotion to associate professor. His work on the water crisis with Dr. Mona was foundational in bringing attention to Flint. In contrast, his subsequent work on discriminatory housing practices has developed him into a content expert in structural racism in the built environment. Dick, “the map guy,” is a “methodologist” who conducts GIS-based analysis with collaborators from various disciplines. He completed his Master's in Public Health degree as a Bloomberg Fellow from Johns Hopkins.

Community-Engaged Scholarship AwardAmy Saxe-Custack  
Amy started the fruit and vegetable prescription program in 2016. She designed and implemented qualitative research to better understand the impact and barriers of the program. Then she expanded the program to include mobile delivery and other locations to address food insecurity. Amy is a research rockstar. Her very first NIH R01 was funded! She has brought in millions of dollars in grant support, published her work broadly, and has been featured in local and national media. The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program was the basis for such prescriptions included in the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill. Her work with this program exemplifies research impacting our community in Flint and beyond.

Community Public Health Champion Award, Individual: Jim Milanowski 
Jim serves as the President and CEO of the Genesee Health Plan. He has served on the boards of multiple foundations in the county and as an active community investigator of the Partnership Consortium Core of the Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions. Jim is irrefutably duty-bound to help community residents obtain affordable, quality health insurance coverage. Genesee Health Plan helped numerous families in Flint and Genesee County acquire low or no-cost healthcare, removing one of the most important barriers to obtaining quality medical treatment. These efforts make him a deserving candidate for the Community Public Health Champion Award.

Community Public Health Champion Award, Agency: The Greater Flint Health Coalition
Before MSU Public Health came to Flint, many individuals and organizations worked in the public health space. Most notably, the Greater Flint Health Coalition has served as a neutral multi-sector convener for decades to improve health outcomes and reduce inequities. The Greater Flint Health Coalition is a partner to many of the Pediatric Public Health Initiatives efforts, including the Flint Registry and the State of Flint Kids. Their long-standing programs include Commit To Fit, racial disparities, medical home access, access, blood lead case management, health insurance coverage, nutrition programming, and most recently, joining MSU as a partner in Rx Kids, the first citywide effort to eliminate infant poverty in the U.S. Accepting the award on behalf of the Greater Flint Health Coalition is CEO, Jim Ananich    

Teacher-Scholar AwardRobey Shah 
Robey is among the highest-rated instructors in the MPH program for the core courses in which she is the principal instructor. These courses account for almost one-quarter of the Council on Education for Public Health competencies required to assess our students for accreditation. Robey produced an external facing free course on Promoting Public Health in Michigan in The Face of COVID-19 – with hundreds of enrollees. She even secured external funding to evaluate the effectiveness of the course. As a scholar, Robey has an extensive record of scholarly publications and presentations stemming from her community-based research on trauma-informed practice. This work has included many MSU student co-authors. She serves as the Co-Chair of the Student and Early Career Council and as a Governing Council Representative with the Society for Research in Child Development.

Difference Maker Staff Award: Tiffany Ceja 
Imagine this: You learn about a grant that would be perfect to provide gap funding for a critical program. The only hiccup is that the grant would be due to MSU in just 5 days, and there is a lot of work that would need to be done before then if the grant is going to be submitted. She is there every step of the way so the grant will be submitted on time and correctly. Tiffany shows this level of commitment to the many things she is involved with. Tiffany has an amazing ability to juggle, balance, and prioritize, and she does all this in a friendly manner that makes her someone people enjoy working with.


June 29, 2023