MPA alum receives national award for health center advocacy
Mike Wurtsmith, consumer representative on the NACHC Board, presents the 2010 Betsey K. Cooke Advocacy MVP Award to Westside Family Healthcare’s Sarah Noonan. Photo courtesy of NACHC


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8:42 a.m., March 17, 2010----Sarah K. Noonan, deputy director of Westside Family Healthcare in Wilmington, Del., who received a master of public administration (MPA) degree from the University of Delaware in 2006, was one of 15 nationwide recipients of the 2010 Betsey K. Cooke Advocacy MVP Award given by the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC).

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The honorees gathered from as far away as Alaska on Feb. 25 in Washington, D.C., for the presentation ceremony at a Congressional awards breakfast, which took place in conjunction with an NACHC Policy and Issues Forum.

This award is given each year in honor of the late Elizabeth K. (Betsey) Cooke, whose advocacy for America's health centers and health center patients set an example for all health center advocates.

In citing the winners, NACHC advocacy director Marc Wetherhorn said, “The 2010 honorees all went above and beyond in their efforts [either] to insure that their members of Congress actively supported health centers or to establish and expand grassroots advocacy efforts at their health center or in their state last year.”

In a personal letter to Noonan, Wetherhorn cited her for her “hard work and dedication to building health center advocacy power and furthering the health center policy agenda in Congress last year. This is really just a small way to demonstrate how much all of us at NACHC appreciate your efforts.”

Noonan's major responsibilities at Westside are health center advocacy, fund development, marketing, communications and community outreach.

Since joining Westside's executive management team in August 2006, Noonan has exemplified the role of an emerging leader. As health center advocate and staff to the Advocacy Committee of Westside's board of directors, she has championed its advocacy objectives by organizing staff and board to respond to important local and national issues that affect health centers and their patients. These efforts were recognized by NACHC in September 2008 when she was named Health Center Advocate of the Month.

Lolita Lopez, president and CEO of Westside, proudly says of Noonan, “Sarah personifies the culture of our organization, which is to instill quality at all levels and [push] excellence to the next level. In such a short time with the organization, she has made herself indispensable and is viewed by others as a valued member of the team.”

Westside Family Healthcare, Delaware's largest nonprofit community health center, provides family medical, dental, and mental health care to more than 20,000 patients annually. More than half of its patients are uninsured, and more than 90 percent have low incomes.

Eric Jacobson, associate professor of urban affairs and public policy and Noonan's MPA adviser, says, “Sarah's work truly has improved the lives of real people and their communities.

“In addition, by developing Westside's summer internship program [in cooperation with UD] and serving as an outstanding mentor, Sarah has also made a very important contribution to the education of graduate students in the University's master of public administration program.”

While at UD, Noonan worked as an Institute for Public Administration (IPA) research assistant on the Delaware Senior Center Grant-in-Aid Project and served as a League Fellow with the Delaware League of Local Governments. She was also a Legislative Fellow during the last semester of her graduate program.

Article by Mark Deshon