Heroes of the Obesity Action Coalition
On the closing evening of the OAC YWM2016 convention in Washington, an impressive group of our heroes won well-deserved recognition.
The highest honor went to Nikki Massie, who earned recognition as the OAC Member of the Year. Famous as the Bariatric Foodie, she has built an amazing following through her blog, her books, and most of all through her openness and concern for people affected by obesity. Single-handedly this year, she recruited hundreds of new OAC members through her own membership drive.
Michelle Vicari, winner of OAC Chairman’s Award, brings a spark to the OAC like no one else on the OAC Board of Directors. Author of the World According to Eggface blog, she has a unique talent for connecting with everyone in the OAC community. As Chair of the YWM2016 planning committee, she worked endlessly to be sure that every person’s experience at the meeting could be a positive one. Among her many accomplishments, her development of the OAC Respect Pledge says everything about her character.
Ava Zebrick won the Barbara Thompson Award for Advocacy quite naturally for devoting her career to bringing change to dysfunctional policies related to obesity. She is pursuing a master’s degree in healthcare management. Despite the scarcity of time and money that any full-time graduate student knows, Ava makes the time to advocate with OAC on Capitol Hill and to represent the obesity patient community in the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute.
OAC’s Community Leader of the Year, Natalie Heidrich, has been active with the OAC since before it even existed. Working in health economics and market access with Ethicon for more than a decade, she endlessly fights for patient rights. She has helped millions of individuals gain access to care. She is a natural organizer working at the local, state, and national levels. She even recruited Jaime Fivecoat, who became OAC’s first board chairman, to join the fight.
The New Life Center for Bariatric Surgery won the Robin Blackstone Award for Outstanding Membership Recruitment by a Physician through outstanding recruitment of new members for the OAC. This award recognizes New Life’s tireless work in helping people affected with obesity every day while growing OAC membership through the Sponsored Membership Program. New Life recruited more new OAC members in the 12 months prior to YWM2016 than any other healthcare practice in the nation.
OAC honored Deborah Bade Horn as the Healthcare Provider Advocate of the Year because of her tireless work in support of people affected by obesity. She frequently advocates for better obesity-related policies with OAC on Capitol Hill. She currently serves as President of the Obesity Medicine Association and represents the OMA as an ex-officio member of the OAC Board of Directors. Deborah has made sure that OMA and OAC have a strong working partnership.
Reeger Cortell, named Bia Buster of the Year, earned this award through efforts over many years with her remarkable Weight Loss Surgery Podcast. Most recently she organized a group of OAC activists to produce a compelling video giving voice to people with obesity. Not only did her video win the top prize in an ASMBS competition, but the Partnership for a Healthier America opened its 2016 summit with it.
Beyond these top awards, OAC added something new this year. YWM2016 participants voted for a number of their peers to receive awards based on their participation at the meeting. The Convention Helping Hand award went to Catrina Johnson. Elena Kibasova earned recognition for keeping the tweets flowing with the Most Retweets. The award for the Most Photo Shares went to Linda Lombardo. The OAC Pride award went to Pandora Williams. And last, but certainly not least, the Most Inspiring Attendee award went to Jeff Newell.
If you don’t know all of these people, make the effort to get to know them. Rubbing elbows with a little bit of greatness helps everyone.
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August 31, 2016