Lila Wickham received the Multnomah County Citizen Involvement Committee's (CIC) 6th Annual Sy Award at its annual celebration dinner on June 13th. The Sy Award honors Sy Kornbrodt whose passion and voice on behalf of underserved and under-represented citizens in Multnomah County is legendary. For the past 14 years, Ms. Wickham has managed Multnomah County Environmental Health Services, Oregon’s largest environmental health program. Throughout her career, she has positively impacted people’s lives and health by ensuring that public health practices are substantially guided by equity and environmental justice principles.
In 1999, Ms. Wickham led a community-based needs assessment using an environmental justice lens to identify local health inequities. She has since worked tirelessly to address its findings through community-focused projects and core public health services alleviating food dangers; vector borne disease; and mold, lead and trash in rental housing. Her approach of consistently partnering with advocates and organizations from the targeted communities has enhanced program success. Additionally, Ms. Wickham exhibits her commitment to social justice in leadership roles with national public interest organizations, such as serving as the chair of the Conference of Local Health Officials. This has allowed her to shape public health programs, such as community health nursing and participatory governance, throughout the country.
CIC Chair Steven Joiner said, “[s]imilar to Sy, Ms. Wickham exhibits a lifelong commitment to increasing equality and justice that has improved Multnomah County’s environment and the health of its residents. She is as an excellent example of how an individual’s dedicated public service can improve lives for our entire community and how leaders can give a voice to those often thought of as voiceless.”
As a Sy Award winner, Ms. Wickham joins an exceptional group of citizen empowerment advocates. Past winners include citizen involvement activist Moshe Lenske, Multnomah County Office of Citizen Involvement Director Kathleen Todd, former Board President of the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization Thach Nguyen, assisted living innovator Dr. Keren Brown Wilson, and former Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Shrunk.