Con Alma Health Foundation (Santa Fe, NM)
Con Alma Health Foundation announced Melissa McCue, Executive Director of Mandy’s Farm as this year’s Hero of Health. Mandy’s Farm serves 170 individuals with developmental disabilities each month. In honor of Con Alma’s 20th anniversary this year, it is honoring five additional leaders: Tina Cordova, Pastor John Graydanus, Guadalupe Lugo, Shelley Mann-Lev, and Duane Chili Yazzie.
Once the pandemic started, Ms. McCue ensured coverage of staff’s healthcare premiums for several months, and provided retention wages for furloughed employees and temporary $4/hour pay raises for essential employees working in the homes of adults who have disabilities. In addition, she advocated for higher wages with funders, community members and the board of directors, resulting in permanent wage increases for staff.
Ms. McCue believes bringing awareness to the value of direct support professionals is essential in her role as executive director for almost 10 years.
Con Alma will donate $1,000 to Mandy’s Farm on Ms. McCue’s behalf as well as $100 each to nonprofits that Ms. Cordova, Pastor Greydanus, Ms. Lugo, Ms. Mann-Lev, and Mr. Yazzie choose.
Ms. Cordova, Co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, volunteers her time to advocate for the federal government to recognize and provide restitution to New Mexicans who have suffered negative health effects due to radiation exposure from the first atomic bomb test in south central New Mexico. Restitution and health care coverage could lift people out of poverty.
Pastor Greydanus, a pastor in Shiprock, expanded his partnerships with the local grocery store and food bank during the COVID-19 pandemic to increase outreach to isolated families who needed food. Also, he contributes his homegrown produce to address food insecurity through farm-to-school initiatives and by feeding the homeless.
Ms. Lugo, a promotora at La Mesilla Food Center, juggles multiple community projects involving nutritional health, farmworker rights and environmental health to improve the wellbeing and quality of life for people who are disenfranchised in southern New Mexico. She is a volunteer and an advocate for Latino people.
Ms. Mann-Lev, President of New Mexico Public Health Association, is an important contributor to systems change toward health equity and racial justice in New Mexico as she advocates for equity in vaccine distribution, collaborates with organizations to support state policy changes, empowers diverse board members, and improves public health systems through workforce development projects.
Mr. Yazzie, President of the Shiprock Chapter of the Navajo Nation, is a lifetime advocate for justice and equality for indigenous people with issues involving education, environmental and economic justice, and sacred site and cultural resource protection. Among his many contributions, he spearheaded efforts to engage young people and elders in a community farm as a way to transfer cultural knowledge and support the health of indigenous people.
Marguerite Casey Foundation and Group Health Foundation
Marguerite Casey Foundation and Group Health Foundation announced the newest cohort of Freedom Scholar award recipients.
The Marguerite Casey Foundation, in partnership with the Group Health Foundation, created the Freedom Scholar awards in 2020. This award provides unrestricted financial support to scholars whose academic research provides critical insights to racial, economic, and social justice movements on the frontlines of our collective future.
Each Scholar receives an unrestricted award of $250,000 to further their work focused on issues ranging from housing segregation, racial capitalism, the failures of policing, and movements for Black liberation—critical fields of research that are often underfunded.
The award represents a commitment to scholarship relevant to movements led by Black and Indigenous people, migrants and queer people, people living in poverty and people of color. This research helps shift the balance of power to those people who have been historically excluded from the resources and benefits of our society. It helps cultivate and nurture movements for tangible justice and freedom.
The 2021 Freedom Scholars are six progressive academics from across the country who are creating the catalytic ideas needed for transformative change. They are:
- Amna Akbar, JD The Ohio State University
- Cathy J. Cohen, PhD University of Chicago
- Lorgia García Peña, PhD Tufts University
- Orisanmi Burton, PhD American University
- Angélica Cházaro, JD University of Washington
- Robin D. G. Kelley, PhD University of California, Los Angeles