MUSCATINE, Iowa–Charla Schafer, executive director of the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine, was honored recently as an Iowa Public Health Hero for her commitment and dedication to building stronger, healthier, more livable communities in Iowa.
The Iowa Public Health Hero Awards, presented annually by the University of Iowa College of Public Health, honor local leaders for outstanding efforts to promote better health, prevent disease, and build stronger communities throughout the state. The awards were presented Tuesday, May 3, during a reception and awards ceremony at the Public Health Conference of Iowa in Ames.
“The health of all Iowans is enhanced through the leadership and service of so many dedicated professionals working in the public health sector and in related fields that support community health,” says Edith Parker, dean of the College of Public Health. “We are proud to honor Charla and to recognize her outstanding work serving people and communities in Muscatine and our state.”
Charla’s experience from Muscatine Center Social Action and now the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine, influences initiatives in areas such as affordable housing, mental health, and equity to improve the community she is passionate about.
In her time steering the foundation, Schafer has supported education and organizations working to improve mental health and substance use, two community health focus areas identified in the Muscatine County Health Improvement Plan. In 2020, the foundation also created a new Racial Justice Fund to promote racial justice through charitable organizations to strengthen the community and ensure equitable opportunities. They were recognized by the Iowa Council of Foundations for the impact of their work with the fund awarding over $160,000 since its inception to various Muscatine County organizations.
Schafer is an active partner and collaborator, working with other community leaders on public health initiatives such as the Fueling the Future program designed to alleviate food insecurity.
In addition to Schafer, the Iowa Public Health Heroes Awards were presented to Tai Burkhart, Director of Buchanan County Public Health in Independence and Kathy Leinenkugel, program director for the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Occupational Health & Safety Surveillance Program in Des Moines.
Since 2012, the Iowa Public Health Heroes Award program has recognized exceptional efforts by individuals from diverse career paths whose work improves health and wellness throughout Iowa. Award recipients are nominated by their peers in the Iowa public health practice community.
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