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Department of Health Promotion Sciences Alumna Receives Young Alumni Professional Award

Department of Health Promotion Sciences Alumna Receives Young Alumni Professional Award


Published: Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Department of Health Promotion Sciences and Office of Alumni Affairs awarded the 2021 Young Alumni Professional Award to Ms. Sara King, a 2015 MPH alumna. Recipients of these prestigious awards are recognized for achieving professional and personal successes, and demonstrating exemplary service to their community and/or the University.

In her local county health department district, King leads a team that focuses on local health promotion efforts by assessing, planning, implementing, and evaluating initiatives and programs relevant to the communities within her jurisdiction. This team emphasizes community engagement and data-driven information accumulation and evaluation so that each initiative and program is tailored to the specific communities they are intended to serve. King has shown tremendous ability to develop innovative ideas in community-focused programs that promote equity. A prime example of such a program is Birth Partners, a pilot research program providing childbirth education and doula services to pregnant women experiencing significant maternal stress. This program was built under Sara's leadership and includes research components to evaluate the outcomes of the services. The efforts to make this program research-based can impact this program's expansion and increase benefits across Oklahoma.

King's current position is new to the county health department structure and does not have precedence from which to lean or learn. Notwithstanding the challenges associated with creating and developing an entire division and team, King has persevered to establish a framework and leadership structure for this new division, building trust and initiative with her team along the way. King's leadership has been nothing short of phenomenal during the pandemic. Often unseen in the news, she is one of many hidden heroes that has saved lives. Despite other frontline duties in the county health department, King coordinated mitigation strategies and served as the public information officer for her county health department. She supervised and guided her team of 10 persons at multiple locations to deploy resources to aid in the ongoing COVID-19 response. King's health promotion messages were human-centered, were widely followed on social media, and fostered public trust. Her drive and initiative demonstrate King's leadership abilities, resourcefulness, and creative problem-solving skills.

King has demonstrated her passion for consistently pushing against systemic barriers on both a personal and professional level. The programs she has already developed and the programs currently in development evidence King's deep empathy, passion, and determination to improve the lives of everyday Oklahomans, especially those who are marginalized by the current socio-political structures and programs. Her problem-solving abilities are only enhanced by her concrete understanding of how social policies and structures impact communities. More than almost anything, we believe King is advancing health equity in Oklahoma. Congratulations!