Three long-time community activists were honored for their work at the 11th Speak Life! Health Equity Conference.

Dr. Linda Clark, CEO and president of Jordan Health; Marlene Cortés, Empire Justice’s Senior Manager of the Language Justice program, and Jackie Dozier, Common Ground Health’s Director of Community Health and Wellbeing, were honored as community health equity champions. The awards presentation took place at the 2024 Speak Life! Health Equity Conference Thursday, April 25, at Asbury First United Methodist Church and online.

Dr. Clark won the Rev. Dr. Weldon Thomas Faith and Medicine Award, which honors a health professional who has improved the health of marginalized racial and ethnic groups in the nine-county Finger Lakes region. Named Jordan Health’s CEO and president in September, Dr. Clark previously served as chief medical office for Jordan and in the same role prior to that at Common Ground Health. A leader in organizing community efforts to fight COVID-19, Dr. Clark also was the founder of the Speak Life! Conference, which previously was known as the Faith and Medicine Conference. Dr. Clark is a practicing physician specializing in occupational and preventive medicine and a long-time advocate for health equity and population health and has been involved with numerous community groups.

“Linda has dedicated her whole life to fighting discrimination in the Health Care field,” her nomination form said. “When it comes to getting the word out about health issues and initiatives, the local church community looks to Dr. Clark’s leadership for direction.”

Dozier won the Dr. Constantino Fernandez Community Leadership and Advocacy Award. She supervises Common Ground Health’s community health & well-being team and leads the development and execution of work plans based on research, data and best practices. She also ensures that the team’s work is connected and responsive to community priorities. She has more than 20 years of experience in providing programs for vulnerable populations and in eliminating barriers to positive health and outcomes. Prior to joining Common Ground, Dozier served as supervisor of the Women’s Prevention Program at Trillium Health and served as a community health educator at Black Men Latino Men Health Crisis Inc. Dozier has volunteered with The Black Agenda Group, Black Girls Matter, A Call to Women of Color (ACTWOC), Black Women’s Leadership Forum, Bring on Your Dreams, Inc., and Interdenominational Health Ministry Coalition (IHMC). She is a graduate of the United Way’s African American Leadership Development Program.

“Jackie is a committed selfless community advocate and leader and can be counted on in a moment’s notice to support community needs and emergency responses,” the nomination form said. “She has a remarkable ability for engaging diverse audiences and she is know to many as a true community organizer and steward.”

Cortés won the Edgar Santa Cruz Outstanding Coalition Member Award. She is focused on language justice as a foundational civil rights issue. She offer training, technical assistance, outreach and by providing “Know Your Rights” information to those facing language-related inequities. She co-founded the Monroe County Language Access Coalition, and she participates on the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Language Access Working Group, Americans for Financial Reform Task Force for Language Access and is a graduate of the Latino Leadership Program of the United Way. Cortés is a member of the Latinx Leaders Roundtable, Deaf Friendly Roc, Latino Health Coalition, and New Americans Health Advisory Group.

“Marlene is a wonderful example of how a coalition member can put into action the mission of the Health Coalitions,” her nomination form said. “Her tireless efforts to make sure no one is overlooked in our plans to improve the health conditions of the community, are always appreciated.”

The conference’s theme was “The Environmental Impact on Health: How Racism and Discrimination Shape Our Region’s Environment to Create Health Inequity.” Speakers were public health professor Dr. Jennifer D. Roberts and environmental activist Vic Barrett. Panelists Dorian Hall, Katrina Korfmacher, Linda Logan and Tonya Noel spoke to how area residents can take action to end environmental racism. Change coach John Rodríguez emceed the event. The African American Health Coalition, the Latino Health Coalition, the Indigenous Health Coalition and the New Americans Health Advisory Group led the event planning.

The presenting sponsor of the event was the University of Rochester Medical Center Institute for Human Health and the Environment and the Department of Public Health Sciences. The sponsor of the keynote speaker was Rochester Regional Health. The health equity speaker sponsor was Genentech. The vision sponsor was Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.