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Charles R. Hatcher Award honors Kathy Miner

By Sylvia Wrobel

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In presenting Dr. Kathleen Miner the 2018 Charles R. Hatcher, Jr. Award for Excellence in Public Health last April, Dean James Curran described her as having been “an integral part of the Rollins School of Public Health for more than 40 years, one of the principal builders of our school, and beloved around the world by generations of students and practitioners.” He then asked how many people in the crowded room considered her a mentor. Hands shot up. Some belonged to self-proclaimed “Kathy’s Kids,” successful former students who have given and collected multiple gifts from faculty, staff, alumni, and friends to fund public health scholarships in Miner’s name.

Miner’s roles are changing this year, but Richard Levinson, senior associate dean for academic affairs, says her influence is unlikely to do so. “Kathy has been tireless in linking Rollins to the world of public health practice, giving the school national visibility in this area,” he says. “She also has been a leader in the creation of health education and the professionalization of public health in general, through her extensive work with development of competencies, accreditation, and quality assurance. Her DNA is everywhere.”

In February, Miner made the decision to go part time. She continues as professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education (a department she helped shape) but steps away as associate dean for applied public health, a position she’s held since 1997.

When Curran created the new position, designed to build and strengthen relationships between the then-young school and local, state, and federal public health agencies and programs, Miner was his obvious choice. She already had designed the school’s first public health practice curriculum, building in part on her front-line experiences working for the Georgia Division of Public Health. She already had far-reaching contacts with public health practitioners in Georgia and the Southeast. And she already was winning state, federal, and foundation grants for practice-related programs.

Miner recognized the hunger among public health professionals working in the field for training, educational, and preparedness programs. She developed and headed the Southeastern Institute for Training and Evaluation, which has trained myriad CDC professionals. She also developed the Certificate in Public Health and Career MPH, one of the first distance-based workforce training programs offered by a school of public health. Career MPH has since become the Executive MPH program.

Throughout her career, Miner has been the principal investigator on grants including the Southeast Education and Training Center for AIDS, which trains health care workers and was established early in the AIDS epidemic when the disease was not well understood, and the Tobacco Technical Assistance Consortium, which made Emory the prime source of training and technical assistance for a number of states engaged in smoking prevention/cessation and tobacco policy. Thanks to Miner, the Emory Center for Public Health Preparedness has trained thousands of professionals throughout the Southeast in the application of public health in emergency situations.

What’s next? Miner wants to spend more time on the road with her husband of 50 years, in their well-traveled, 17-foot camper “Born Free.” They will add to their already long list of national parks and unusual monuments and museums. But Miner remains involved with the school and, not surprisingly, finds it hard to stay away too long from her new office or resist the knocks on the door from Rollins colleagues and advice-seeking emails from professionals across the country, many of them former students. And that’s ok, she says. After all, public health—and Rollins—are in her DNA.

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