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What is a Health Equity Award?

Awardees support community-led, place-based initiatives and shift the impact of social determinants of health tied to the root causes of infant mortality: poverty, racism, health access, food insecurity, housing, and having a good education and a good job, all of which affect mothers and children. This award is given annually to an individual and an organization.


Help us say thanks!

Any community member can nominate someone for a Health Equity Award. Nominations and award submissions are completely free, and open once a year.

Kitty Esterly, MD, Health Equity Champion Award

The deadline for award nomination submissions is March 15.

Each year at the Delaware Healthy Mother & Infant Consortium Annual Summit, DHMIC honors an individual or organization that works hard for the well-being of mothers, children, and families in Delaware, in a way that advances health equity. And this year, equity gaps have been significantly magnified, so this work is especially vital. Do you know an individual or organization that has pivoted during this time to go that extra mile to put better health within reach for Delawareans, regardless of race, income, or social status?

Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing obstacles to health, such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The award is named in honor of Delaware’s first neonatologist, Dr. Kitty Esterly, whose work has undoubtedly improved the health of women and children in the First State. Dr. Esterly was an active voice, a champion, and an advocate on behalf of women, infants, and children. With her “can do” spirit, she worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone had a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. It was the cornerstone of her amazing practice and her commitment to Delaware’s community for nearly six decades. Dr. Esterly served on the boards of several organizations, including DHMIC’s executive committee. She also served as chair of the Delaware Perinatal Board. The recipient of this prestigious award will model the same commitment and dedication to promoting health equity that Dr. Esterly steadfastly displayed throughout her career.

DHMIC is committed to making sure that every mother and every child — and the men in their lives — has a fair chance for good health. The 2024 Kitty Esterly, MD, Health Equity Champion Award competition is now open!

Nominate a Deserving Community Organization or Individual

Nominate an individual or organization that really makes a difference in your community by promoting health equity. Your nomination is the first step in recognizing those individuals and organizations that give back to the community and stand for fairness and health equity.

All nominees and the winner will be honored during the Delaware Healthy Mother & Infant Consortium Annual Summit on April 17, 2024. Winners receive a recognition award from the governor at the summit.

Eligibility Requirements:

Anyone can submit a nomination. It’s easy. Just fill out the entire form and answer all questions. No blank spaces please! If you have questions, please contact us. However, before nominating an individual or organization, please note the following:

  • To be eligible, the individual/organization must provide a service that is related to improving maternal and infant health.
  • State agencies are not eligible for this award.
  • State employees may be nominated but not for the work they do for the state.
  • Members of DHMIC can be nominated but not for the work they do for DHMIC.
  • Previous winners (individuals and organizations) can be nominated again.
  • Eligible candidates will be judged solely on the information on the application submitted. While it’s possible that members of the judging panel may know or recognize individuals or organizations that have been nominated, all judging will be based exclusively on the merits of the application.
  • Ad hoc groups and committees are not eligible for nomination.

Tips for Completing Your Application:

Priority is given to individuals and organizations serving the Healthy Women, Healthy Babies (HWHB) high-risk zones in Delaware. If those areas are being served, please be sure to include that in your application.

Past Award Winners

Individual Recipient

Mona Liza Hamlin, MSN, RN, Christiana Care

As a nurse, Mona Liza Hamlin is a health care champion who works tirelessly to improve the lives of her patients. Where she sees a need, she works to fill it. To help Delaware moms and babies thrive, Mona has forged partnerships to develop the Birth Companion Doula program as well as a diverse lactation staff and a pump closet. She has also helped with Christiana Cribs for Kids distribution and breastfeeding longevity improvement.

Organization Recipient

Black Mothers in Power

This grassroots organization works to eradicate racial health disparities for Black birthing people and Black babies throughout Delaware. Led by its members, Black Mothers in Power holds diaper drives and other community events, does advocacy work, and seeks to improve practices like doula training and reimbursement so that women and children in need are connected with direct support.

© 2024. Delaware Division of Public Health.