In 1957 in Montgomery, Alabama, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed an audience and stated that “life's most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?’" Today his legacy is one of service and community impact. To honor that legacy, The School of Public Health participates in the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute sponsored by UW Health Sciences Schools, UW Health Sciences Administration and UW Medicine. 

Given the Department of Global Health’s sustained focus on improving the human condition through numerous efforts and programs, it comes as no surprise to that the past five SPH MLK Jr. Community Service Award winners have all been associated with the Department of Global Health.  

SPH is now accepting nominations for the 2024 honoree who exemplifies Martin Luther King Jr.’s principles through:  

  • Commitment to addressing community needs, particularly communities of color and low income  
  • Development and implementation of significant programs to improve the human condition 
  • Outstanding efforts to protect and empower all individuals 

Please consider nominating a colleague or student who exemplifies these qualities.

2023 Recipient, Pamela Collins  

Former: UW professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Global Health, executive director of the International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH), director of the UW Consortium for Global Mental Health, and associate director of the UW Behavioral Research Center for HIV (BIRCH).  

For over 25 years, Pamela has “been a mental health advocate for communities around the globe through her research, science policy leadership, and global health practice. Her research has focused on social stigma related to mental illness and its relationship to HIV risk among women of color with severe mental illness; the intersections of mental health services with HIV prevention, care and treatment; and the mental health needs of urban adolescents in low-resource settings.” Pamela’s massive efforts on community mental health impact led her to being recognized as the 2023 SPH MLK Jr. Community Service Award winner. 

2022 Recipient, Ahoua Koné 

Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Global Health 

Ahoua Koné’s commitment to the betterment of black and brown community members and aiding them in improving their health and wellness is deeply rooted in the expressions of her time, talent, and treasures. 

“Koné's longstanding commitment to addressing the needs of communities of color includes her co-creating and leading the African Communities Network, being the principal support of the Somali Family Safety Task Force and the Somali Health Board in multiple projects to improve the conditions of Somali families in the region. 

As a Black woman, a community activist and a lawyer, Koné is actively involved in social justice and community development projects working with like-minded individuals and organizations to challenge racism and inequality.”  

Kone’s drive to continuously develop communities of color led to her winning the 2022 SPH MLK Jr. Community Service Award. 

2021 Recipient, Students of Color for Public Health  

SCPH, a registered student organization within the Public Health-Global Health major, is dedicated to providing a space for students of color interested in public health. The organization exists to create an inclusive space where one can feel validated, motivated, and inspired in the field through professional, academic, and social support. SCPH strives to promote health within marginalized communities through education and service. 

A core commitment to supporting and inspiring students of color helped them to be recognized with the 2021 SPH MLK Jr. Community Service Award. 

2020 Recipient, Marie-Claire Gwayi-Chore 

PhD graduate in Implementation Science in the Department of Global Health  

Gwayi-Chore has traveled the globe “examining what public health interventions work, for whom and under what circumstances, and how they can be adapted and scaled up in ways that are accessible and equitable.” It is this focus on driving equitable and scalable public health interventions that helped lead her to winning the 2020 SPH MLK Jr. Community Service Award.  

She is proud of “pursuing social justice through empathy, advocacy and representation.” Gwayi-Chore’s knowledge, skills, and accolades are vast and her impact is felt widely and so it should be of no surprise that she was once again recognized for work in driving change and community impact. 

2019 Recipient, Michele Andrasik  

Affiliate Associate Professor of Global Health and of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences 

Andrasik is a founder of the UW’s Student of Color Affinity Group (SOCAG), a student organization that offers graduate students of color a network linked by shared experiences. She has been recognized for “offering her space, time, ideas, mentorship and resources to uplift and advance the vision of graduate students of color and other diverse students for both the School of Public Health and the broader Seattle community.” Her mentorship runs deep as she offers both “instrumental and psychosocial mentorship for students” while also sharing strategies for how underrepresented students can navigate predominantly white spaces. 

Outside of work, Andrasik co-leads a local girl scout troop and has organized a purse and toiletry bag drive every holiday season for multiple years. 

Through this work, we see that anytime is a good time to inspire even the youngest community members to do good for others while growing their own abilities.  

These five previous MLK Jr. Service Award winners freely showcase a profound and deeply-rooted background in doing more for others.  


Do you know someone who also has made meaningful and lasting community impact? Nominate them for the 2024 SPH MLK Jr. Community Service Award, accepting submissions now through Friday, November 10 at 5 p.m. PT.