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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.


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

The nominations are now closed for 2024. Be on the look-out for who is selected this year at this year’s annual summit!

Kitty Esterly, MD, Health Equity Champion Award

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 are now closed for 2024!

Past Award Winners

Individual Recipient

Erica Allen

Erica Allen, founder of the Do Care Doula Foundation and the Central Delaware Community Doula and Perinatal Educator Program, seeks to level the playing field for Black birthing families. Not only does Erica provide free doula training and an avenue for Black women to find a meaningful career in their local community, but her doulas also provide free pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care to their clients — thanks to grants, fundraising, and other money-generating efforts that allow these doulas to get paid while they provide free services.

Organization Recipient

Hispanic American Association of Delaware (HAAD)

HAAD’s commitment to promoting health equity extends beyond providing basic services. The organization actively addresses the underlying social, economic, and environmental factors that contribute to health disparities. Through tailored programs, collaborative partnerships, data-driven approaches, and community engagement, HAAD demonstrates their dedication to eliminating disparities and creating a more equitable health care system for the Hispanic community in Delaware.

© 2024. Delaware Division of Public Health.