Charles B. Wang Community Health Center and Leading Adult Behavioral Health Expert Ann-Marie Louison Honored for Their Work to Enhance Public Health

New York, NY (June 9, 2014)Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab today announced the winners of the fifth annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize at a reception at Hunter’s Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, citing their contributions to improving behavioral health in the criminal justice system and Hepatitis B prevention and care.

The winners are the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center (CBWCHC) and Ann-Marie Louison, the Co-Director of Adult Behavioral Health at the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES).

“This year’s recipients have done an extraordinary job of meeting the needs of New Yorkers who suffer from physical and mental illness,” said Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab. “Hunter proudly shares their commitment to improving access to high-quality healthcare services, and is deeply grateful to the Tisch family for recognizing New York City’s dedicated community health workers and organizations that have gone above and beyond for those who need their help.”

The 2015 Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize recognizes CBWCHC’s mission and work, and its dedication to addressing urban public health challenges and disparities in the Asian-American community.

“We are so grateful to Hunter College and the Tisch family for recognizing the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center’s contributions to improving the health of Asian Americans and other medically underserved populations in the New York City metropolitan are.  The award will help us to increase awareness of hepatitis B, which is one of the most serious but frequently neglected racial and ethnic health disparities in the United States,” said Jane Eng, CBWCHC’s chief executive officer.

The 2015 Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize recognizes the tremendous impact Ann-Marie Louison has had on the health and welfare of thousands of high-risk and vulnerable people with behavioral health needs in New York City.

“I am so honored to receive the Tisch Award in recognition of my work to help men and women who have serious mental illness and who have become involved in the criminal justice system,” Ms. Louison said. “Too often these individuals have faced repeat incarceration in part due to a lack of accessible and effective treatment services. I am thrilled that the Tisch Award will bring increased attention to opportunities to help these men and women break the cycle of criminal involvement and begin to live safe, healthy lives in the community.”

Chosen by a committee composed of Hunter College faculty and experts from the health policy and advocacy communities and co-chaired by former New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Thomas A. Farley, MD, and Roosevelt House Interim Director Jack Rosenthal, the winners will each receive a prize of $10,000.

The Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize is part of the Joan H. Tisch Legacy Project, which is based at Hunter College and funded by her daughter, Laurie Tisch, and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. The project also includes the Joan H. Tisch Distinguished Fellowship in Public Health and the Joan H. Tisch Public Health Forum.

“My mother has long dedicated herself to improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers, and these honorees embody her values, dedication and passion,” said Laurie Tisch, President of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. “The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center and Ann-Marie Louison have assisted thousands of New Yorkers and I know they will continue to do amazing work for New Yorkers in need.”

Click here for more information, images, and video of the award ceremony.

About the 2015 Tisch Prize Individual Recipient

Ann-Marie Louison, a social worker by training, is a leader in New York City working at the intersection of behavioral health and criminal justice. She joined CASES in 1999 and is the co-founder of the Nathaniel Project, the first alternative-to-incarceration program in Manhattan Supreme Court for adults with severe and persistent mental illness convicted of felony offenses. Over the past 15 years, the project has offered hundreds of high-risk and vulnerable mentally ill people the chance to receive treatment and remain safely in the community, while avoiding prison and future arrest. She subsequently launched other innovative initiatives, including an alternative to jail program for individuals with repeat misdemeanor convictions who have behavioral health problems, and now oversees a range of programs at CASES to meet New Yorkers’ needs. More recently, she has helped CASES establish an outpatient mental health clinic in Central Harlem targeting youth and adults with criminal justice involvement.

Louison is sought out both locally and nationally for advice and technical assistance on program and staff development, best practices, and policy, which has broadened her impact. She is credited with identifying a serious problem—the overuse and ineffectiveness of incarceration and repeated hospital use of individuals with serious behavioral health needs—and developing and implementing innovative and effective interventions that address both public health and public safety.

About the 2015 Tisch Prize Organization Recipient

Located in Chinatown and Flushing, The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center (CBWCHC), works to eliminate health disparities, improve health status and expand access to underserved New Yorkers, with a focus on Asian Americans. It provides quality, culturally effective primary healthcare, regardless of ability to pay.

The selection committee cited the organization for its comprehensive Hepatitis B Program, considered a model of outreach, prevention and care for the rest of the nation. Although Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs) make up less than 5% of the total U.S. population, they account for more than 50% of Americans living with chronic Hepatitis B.

CBWCHC began developing interventions in the 1980s to address this disparity. Today, its Hepatitis B Program offers a comprehensive array of prevention and care services including culturally appropriate education campaigns in Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese; free community screenings; affordable, accessible treatment; training of primary care providers; dissemination of best practices; and policy advocacy.

Through numerous partnerships and collaborative efforts, CBWCHC continuously promotes awareness and action, and has successfully reduced the risk of Hepatitis B and related liver disease in New York City and beyond.

About Hunter College

Hunter College, located in the heart of Manhattan, is the largest college in the City University of New York (CUNY) system. Founded in 1870, it is also one of the oldest public colleges in the country and famous for the diversity of its student body, which is as diverse as New York City itself.

Most Hunter students are the first in their families to attend college and many go on to top professional and graduate programs, winning Fulbright scholarships, Mellon fellowships, National Institutes of Health grants, and other competitive honors.

The 1,700 full- and part-time members of Hunter’s faculty are unparalleled. They receive prestigious national grants, contribute to the world’s leading academic journals, and play major roles in cutting-edge research. They are fighting cancer, formulating public policy, expanding our culture, enhancing technology, and more.