Genesee Health Plan honors community healthcare leaders and champions during awards ceremony

FLINT, Michigan -- The Genesee Health Plan (GHP) honored local healthcare champions, community partners and leaders for their commitment to increasing access to health care coverage in Genesee County during the 2021 Health Care Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony on September 17. The event also marked GHP’s 20th anniversary.

This year, two community leaders were inducted into the 2021 Health Care Hall of Fame for their dedication, advocacy and leadership that helped improve the health of the community: Joseph Leonard, a community pharmacist for 50 years and a former member of the Genesee Health Plan Board of Directors, and Kathryn Boles, former president and CEO of Valley Area Agency on Aging and a former member of the Genesee Health Plan Board of Directors.
 
Joseph “Joe” Leonard has spent decades improving the lives of Genesee County residents by advocating for quality health care for all. As a founding board member of the Genesee Health Plan (GHP), Leonard provided vision and leadership that were critical to GHP’s ability to help members over the past 20 years. Leonard’s immense compassion and reverence for those who have experienced roadblocks to health care has greatly contributed to the mission and success of GHP.
 
"I am incredibly proud of the work and unequivocal impact GHP has made in Genesee County as an essential community resource," Leonard said in a news release. "GHP’s capacity to help those who are struggling to get back on their feet is something that I am grateful to have been a part of."
 
Kathryn “Kathy” Boles has dedicated her distinguished 30-year career to recognizing needs in the Genesee County community and advocating to improve the lives and health of seniors. As former president and CEO of the Valley Area Agency on Aging (VAAA), Boles developed innovative programming for seniors in Genesee, Lapeer, and Shiawassee counties. Before retiring in 2018, after serving 13 years as president and CEO, she introduced countless initiatives that have vastly improved the lives, healthcare, and community involvement of senior citizens.
 
“GHP is a jewel because of its continuous, positive impact on people’s lives in the community with the health care coverage and resources it has provided for 20 years,” said Boles. “It was a blessing and an honor to be acknowledged by the health plan for the work we have done together and continue to do for our community.”
 
Other award recipients include:
 
The Community Partnership Award honors an individual or organization that joined GHP in an enduring partnership, worked hand-in-hand to improve wellness and health education, or supported quality, affordable health care for GHP members. Multiple community organizations received the 2021 Community Partnership Award.
  • Mass Transportation Authority (MTA): Since 1972, MTA has provided public mass transportation, bus services and more to the City of Flint and Genesee County community. MTA and GHP partnered to provide a variety of transportation options for GHP members to get to and from their medical appointments not only to stay healthy, but because other transportation options are not available. Through MTA’s variety of transportation options, including Your Ride and Rides to Wellness, GHP members have an affordable and efficient option to travel to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor’s office, and other medically related locations throughout Genesee County.
  • emPOWER Genesee Program: Launched in 2019, emPOWER Genesee is a strategic initiative that works to address factors that adversely influence the health outcomes of vulnerable residents of Genesee County. Ascension Genesys, Consumers Energy and Huntington National Bank, came together to leverage their shared resources and commitment to the community, engaging Genesee Health Plan to connect Genesee County residents with essential services. 
The Visionary Leadership Award honors local people and organizations that have provided leadership for creative solutions to accessible, quality, and affordable health care. Dr. Donna Fry, dean of the College of Health Sciences at the University of Michigan-Flint, is the recipient of the 2021 Visionary Leadership Award.
 
Fry has launched new programs in occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, physician assistant, and healthcare management to better serve our community. Dr. Fry works with the faculty in her college to address social determinants of health, implicit bias, and structural oppression in health fields. In 2006, Fry, the University of Michigan-Flint and Genesee Health Plan partnered to create the Urban Health and Wellness Center (now closed), to provide care to GHP and community members. Fry serves on the Genesee Health Plan Board of Directors and is a member of the Genesee Health Plan Grants and Local Funds Committee.
 
Another highlight of the ceremony was listening to the 2021 Health Career Scholarship Contest award winners read impactful excerpts from each of their essays. GHP has partnered with Sovita Credit Union for the past two years to award two Genesee County high school seniors, pursuing a degree in the health care or health related science field, with a $1,500 scholarship. Students were asked to write an essay explaining what they have learned from their exploration of their family’s health history, health career field chosen, how learning about their family health heritage impacted their chosen field and if the coronavirus pandemic impacted their field of study. Below are the winners:
  • Anne-Marie Atanga graduated this year from Genesee Early College and is attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for a dual degree in neuroscience and voice performance. In her essay, she discussed the diseases and conditions present in her family. As a neuroscientist, Atanga wants to be invested in patient welfare.
  • Emily Rose graduated from Davison High School this year and finished with three associates degrees in sciences, arts, and general studies via the early college program. She is attending Wayne State University and majoring in psychology, with plans to attend medical school for psychiatry. Her essay focused on mental health and eliminating the stigma around it.

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