(from left to right): Laurie Tisch, Claudia Aristy, and Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab

(from left to right): Laurie Tisch, SPOP Board President Patricia Caldwell, SPOP CEO Nancy Harvey, and Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab


(New York, NY – November 14, 2018) – Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab and Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund Founder and President Laurie Tisch have announced this year’s recipients of the eighth annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize.  These prestigious awards honor individuals and nonprofit organizations in the New York metropolitan area for distinguished accomplishment in urban public health.  The 2018 recipients are Claudia Aristy (Hunter College ’07), who serves as Director of Children of Bellevue’s Reach Out and Read (ROR) Program a well as the Health Education and Literacy for Parents (HELP) Project; and the Service Program for Older People, Inc. (SPOP), which was one of the first agencies in the U.S. to focus on meeting the mental health needs of senior citizens aging in place in their communities.

Both recipients were honored at a ceremony and reception on Tuesday, November 13 at The Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College.

“We are proud indeed to recognize these urban health heroes,” said President Raab.  “They are perfect examples of the Tisch Family’s extraordinary effort to identify and acknowledge people and organizations that make a major impact on their communities—and who will benefit enormously from these generous $10,000 prizes.  Our thanks again and always go to Laurie Tisch for her innovative spirit and extraordinary generosity—with a special debt of gratitude and affection for Laurie’s mother, the late Joan Tisch, an activist and philanthropist who made healthy living for all New Yorkers both a priority and a passion.”

Said Laurie M. Tisch: “The Service Program for Older People, Inc. and Claudia Aristy have both exhibited their unwavering commitment to serving those in need in our communities. [,” said Laurie Tisch,.  “] My mother dedicated her life to improving the lives of all New Yorkers, and these honorees truly embody her values, dedication, and passion.”

The Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize honors not-for-profit organizations and individuals for distinguished accomplishment in the field of urban public health. Made possible by support from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, the Prize is part of the Joan H. Tisch Legacy Project, which is based at Hunter College, and is a tribute to Joan H. Tisch in recognition of her humanitarian activism in health care and social services in New York City.

Future nominees’ work should focus on improving urban public health in areas such as: reducing health disparities; obesity/diabetes/nutrition; chronic disease prevention and management; environmental health; HIV/AIDS; health problems associated with poverty; healthy aging; mental health; substance abuse and addiction; public health policy and advocacy; and access, financing, and quality of care.


About the Honorees:

Claudia Aristy (Hunter College ’07), Individual Honoree, is the Director of Children of Bellevue’s Reach Out and Read (ROR) Program and the Health Education and Literacy for Parents (HELP) Project at NYC Health + Hospitals/ Bellevue where she is responsible for program administration and training. Claudia also serves as a parent educator in both programs. Her passion for her work inspires staff and volunteers as well as the many professionals and media representatives who visit the programs.

Claudia’s career at Bellevue Hospital began in 2000 as a bilingual Parent Educator in both programs. She has developed all aspects of the HELP Project curricula and was responsible for training bilingual HELP Project volunteers as well as translating and field-testing Spanish language materials. Claudia currently serves on the National Board of Directors of ROR and on the Advisory Board of Leyendo Juntos, a National ROR initiative, and ROR of Greater NY. Claudia has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Hunter College.


The Service Program for Older People, Inc., Organizational Honoree, was one of the first agencies in the U.S. to focus on meeting the mental health needs of older adults living in the community.  Over the five decades since its founding, SPOP has grown from a neighborhood agency serving aging and homebound Holocaust survivors to a city-wide resource and a model for other organizations throughout the country.  SPOP is the only agency of its kind in New York City and serves over 2,000 older adults each year, many of whom are financially disadvantaged and managing age-related or medical conditions.

SPOP is defined by a holistic approach to aging and community-based mental health care. While our primary focus is on patient-centered psychotherapy, our larger goals are to improve overall health and quality of life, address social isolation, and reduce unnecessary emergency room usage.  We connect clients to age-appropriate supports for housing and meals, and our partnerships with hospitals, medical providers, senior centers, and other aging service providers ensure that those working in the field understand the basics of mental health and know how to connect older adults to those services. SPOP’s largest program is a behavioral health clinic for adults age 55 and older, which will provide over 17,000 professional appointments this year.  We make home visits to those clients who are unable to travel and offer appointments at 15 clinic sites in Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn.  The clinic provides comprehensive psychotherapy and psychiatric services in Spanish, Cantonese, French and other languages.

SPOP is also home to New York State’s only all-geriatric Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) program for adults with severe mental illness.  PROS provides rehabilitation services and life skills training and has been successful in reducing hospitalizations and teaching adults how to shop, cook, obtain a library card, use a cell phone or computer, and live on their own. Other programs include Bereavement Support, offered free of charge for adults of all ages; Training and Education; and Information and Referral services for older adults, family members, and caregivers.


Selection Committee for the Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize:

Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, (Co-Chair) Senior Advisor to President of Hunter College and the Former NYC Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services; Harold Holzer, (Co-Chair) Jonathan F. Fanton Director, Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, Hunter College; Pamela Brier, Senior Adviser to the President of Hunter College and visiting Senior fellow at the NY Academy of Medicine; Elizabeth Cohn, Rudin Professor of Community Health at Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing; Joan Grabe, Chair, Hunter College Foundation Board of Trustees and Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing Advisory Board; David Himmelstein, Professor, Hunter College School of Urban Health; Sue A. Kaplan, Research Associate Professor, Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine; Dennis Rivera, Public Health Advisor, Hunter College; Gregory Shufro, Senior Managing Director of the Shufro-Glass Group and Roosevelt House Advisory Board member; Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation; and Willie Tolliver, Associate Professor at the Silberman School of Social Work, Hunter College.


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. More than 23,000 students currently attend Hunter, pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 170 areas of study.  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.


About the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund 

The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund (LMTIF) is a New York City-based foundation that strives to improve access and opportunity for all New Yorkers. Founded in 2007 by philanthropist Laurie M. Tisch, the Illumination Fund plays an active role in supporting innovative approaches to the arts, healthy food, civic service and education in order to illuminate strategies that transform our urban landscape. For more information about the Illumination Fund, visit lmtilluminationfund.org.