Each year, the National Community-Based Organization Network (NCBON) hosts a reception highlighting the individuals who worked diligently for the greater good of the community and deserve to be recognized and celebrated. The NCBON 18th Anniversary Celebration Community Reception took place at the start of the 2023 American Public Health Association’s (APHA) Annual Meeting and Expo. NCBON was sponsored by Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) and the Morehouse School of Medicine Prevention Research Center.

These awards aim to recognize local groups and organizations in the host city of APHA’s Annual Meeting whose mission includes health equity and justice. “It is important to highlight the outstanding work that is occurring throughout the United States that is often overlooked,” said Al Richmond, Executive Director of Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.

“It is important to highlight the outstanding work that is occurring throughout the United States that is often overlooked.” 


– Al Richmond, Executive Director of Community-Campus Partnerships for Health

The Unsung Hero Awards were presented to:

  • The late Bertha Darden, Community Leader of Peoplestown
  • Reverend Terry Hightower, Antioch Urban Ministries
  • Dr. Howard W. Grant, Fulton Atlanta Community Action Authority
  • Brandy Brown, Motivational Speaker and Dedicated Community Activist
  • Pastor Constance Abbott, Macedonia Baptist Church Conyers
  • Dr. LaWanda Folami, 7 Pillar Career Academy & MTS Sickle Cell Foundation, Inc.
  • Dr. Mike Weaver, See and Serve America, Inc.
  • Kera Drame, Kera’s Helping Hands
  • Patricia Yates-Rand, Balm in Gilead, Inc.
  • Dr. Paula Moreland, ECAB Board Member
  • Natalie Y. Beavers, Angels of Epilepsy
  • Deborah Nicholson, People-to-People Enterprises
  • Erika Stokes, Alone No More
  • Felicia Drummond, Ditch, Inc. 
  • Michelle Brown, The Pink Bridge
  • Gloria Hawkins-Wynn, City of Atlanta NPU-Y
  • Monique Shaw, Virtual Properties Realty, Inc.
  • Natasha Pierre McCarthy, National Vitiligo Bond, Inc.
  • Shara Kennedy, Just Schooling, Inc.
  • Leroy Tre’ Hutchins, Cobb County School District
  • Pastor Jessie Starr, Youth ‘N’ FOCUS, Inc.

In addition to highlighting the unsung heroes, awards are given to individuals who are champions for the cause of health equity. Many have been directly impacted by chronic disease or have a compelling experience that undergirds their work. Others have provided support and leadership to the National Community-Based Organization Network. We honor and showcase those doing great work in the community and mark this milestone by lifting up the many individuals who have made change possible in our community. 

The 2023 Lucille Webb Award is presented annually to an individual who exemplifies community leadership in Community-Based Public Health. The award honored the work of Dr. Tabia Henry Akintobi. Dr. Akintobi serves as Morehouse School of Medicine’s (MSM) Associate Dean of Community Engagement, Chair of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, Professor, and Principal Investigator of the MSM Prevention Research Center. CCPH also recognized Dr. Tabia Henry Akintobi’s leadership and dedication to forging and sustaining community-engaged partnerships.

Dr. Tonya Roberson, the President of NCBON presented the 2023 President’s Award to Alfred Lacks-Carter Jr. Alfred is the grandson of the legendary Henrietta Lacks*. The award recognized his unwavering work as he traveled the world educating and sharing his grandmother’s incredible story of unknowingly creating the HeLa cells, the first immortalized human cell line. Alfred works diligently to ensure that Henrietta Lacks’ legacy is secured with all due respect, honor, and dignity because we all are recipients of her contribution to medicine, research, and science. Alfred Lacks-Carter, Jr. promotes access to quality health care, clinical trials, advocacy, and literacy. He is the perfect person to accept this award in honor of his grandmother and is proud of her legacy and works to keep it alive to encourage others.

The 2023 Morehouse School of Medicine Award is meant to recognize individuals who have dedicated their work to servicing the community by securing and nurturing community partnerships while amplifying health equity by dismantling barriers to equitable health services. The award honored the work of Mrs. Sabrina Mobley-Frazier for her work as a veteran Community Health Worker, serving the state of Georgia for over 14 years. Mrs. Mobley-Frazier’s interdisciplinary skill set enhances health outcomes related to community health work and offers relevant and innovative methods for addressing health disparities.

Congratulations to all of those who were recognized at this event. Although we cannot honor each of these individuals enough for the fantastic work that they have done and continue to do for the community, we thank them for their passion and dedication and for being in community with us.
About Henrietta Lacks

*Henrietta was the uninformed source of the HeLa cell line, the first immortalized human cell line, and continues to be the hot topic of conversation as her cells served as an invaluable source of medical data and simultaneously continue to bring to the forefront the concerns of privacy and patients’ rights.

Special thanks to Dr. Tonya Roberson, President of NCBON and to the team at Morehouse School of Medicine; Dr. Tabia Akintobi & Dr. Charity Mitchell for their facilitation and contributions to this piece.