From left are Greer West, Black Women For Wellness; Adjoa Jones, AAIMM; Rhonda Smith, California Black Health Network; Arnedra Jordan, health advocate; and Deborah Cooper, Black Women For Wellness. (Courtesy photo)

More than 150 people converged at the top of Hotel Indigo on Dec. 7, to enjoy the 40th anniversary celebration of the California Black Health Network (CBHN), the only Black-led statewide organization that advocates for the health of Black Californians.

Health professionals and advocates had an opportunity to meet, network, and learn more about the programs and activities of CHBN. The highlight of the evening was the Health Equity Awards presented to several outstanding Southern California individuals and organizations

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Randal Henry received the Black Health Network Member of the Year and Health Equity Leadership Award.  Henry is the founding CEO of Community Intelligence, an Afrocentric research and health policy consulting firm; and executive director of the Center for Healthy Neighborhoods, a non-profit working to improve health and wellbeing in under-resourced communities.

Rhonda Smith and Adai Lamar of KJLH Radio. (Courtesy photo)

Dr. Jerry Abraham, Supervisor Holly Mitchell, and Ernesta Wright were recipients of the Health Equity Champion Award. Abraham, MD, MPH, CMQ, is a longtime advocate for equitable access to public health and healthcare delivery for all people across Los Angeles County. Earlier this year, he was elected president of the L.A. County Medical Association.

Mitchell has a long history of working for health equity in underserved communities. As a county supervisor and previously as state senator, she championed legislation to improve health outcomes for people of color.

Wright is the executive director of The GREEN Foundation. She has 29 years of experience working in the African American community and over a decade of experience providing breast health education. 

Six organizations were recognized with the Health Equity Leadership for Community Impact Award. The honorees were LA County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality (AAIMM), Black Women Rally for Action, California Black Women’s Health Project, Black Women for Wellness, Los Angeles County Perinatal Equity Initiative, and Riverside University Health System MCAH Perinatal Equity Initiative.

Denise Adams Simms received the Legacy Award and Rhonda M. Smith, executive director of California Black Health Network, accepted the Leader of the Year Award.

The event also served as the Southern California kickoff to the Campaign for Black Health Equity, a multi-year initiative to tackle health disparities—or unfair differences in health outcomes.

“The life expectancy at birth for Black Californians is 76.2 years of age, which is about five years shorter than the state average and is the lowest life expectancy of all racial and ethnic groups in California. This makes our work to ensure access to quality, equitable healthcare, address social determinants of health, and dismantle structural racism at the system levels of care so vitally important to correct this wrong for all Black Californians,” said Smith.