2022 RIPHA Awardees


Senator Lou DiPalma received the 2022 Public Health Champion Award. Lou has served in the RI Senate since 2009.  He currently serves as the Chair of the Committee on Rules, Government Ethics and Oversight, 1st Vice-Chair of the Committee on Finance and a Member of the Committee on Education.  His continues to ensure Rhode Island's most vulnerable, our seniors, disabled and children support by our child welfare remain a state priority. 

Linda Hurley received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Linda Hurley has been in the behavioral health and substance use treatment field for over 35 years. Ms. Hurley’s vision for effective, efficient patient centered care has made CODAC a leader in introducing new best practice and evidence-based programs in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and nationally. CODAC has been a leader in adopting and creating programming which reflects emergent needs in opioid treatment and recovery and integrates evidence-based and best practice standards into service delivery. 

Janet Spinelli received the John E Fogarty Award. Janet Spinelli, PhD, APRN, PMHCNS-BC started as a psychiatric nurse at the Rhode Island Institute of Mental Health (IMH) and later became a public health nurse consultant focusing on community behavioral health and PASRR program development. After 33 years of state service, she retired from the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH).  She then completed her PhD in Nursing and served on multiple boards and committees including Governor’s Council on Behavioral Health, National Association of PASRR Professionals (NAPP), RI Coalition for the Homeless, Long Term Care Coordinating Council and Co-Chair of the RI Elder Mental Health and Addiction Coalition (RIEMHAC).  She continues this dedication by advocating and volunteering to improve behavioral health for all Rhode Islanders; with an emphasis on reducing disparities impacting older adults, adults with disabilities and their families.

Shelby Perry is this year’s recipient of the Owen Manahan Student Award. Shelby Perry is a student in the MPH program at the New England Institute of Technology. She is a graduate student researcher working under the supervision of Professor Henry “Hank” Johnson. Shelby completed her undergraduate degree in 2019 in public health at Johnson & Wales University.  While completing a project for a class, Shelby learned that most human trafficking victims’ first contact outside their captivity is with a medical provider or first responder. Unfortunately, most providers are not trained to identify these victims. In response, Shelby started a nonprofit organization, Operation LifeLines, whose mission is to create practice-based training for providers and conduct annual surveys of provider training. Shelby’s groundbreaking research has been presented at the last two American Public Health Association conferences and the Northeastern Education Research Association conferences. Shelby also presented her work at the Society for Advancement of Management conference where she was named National Outstanding Student, the organization’s highest honor for a nonprofessional member.  

Paige Sonida is this year’s recipient of the Owen Manahan Student Award. Paige Sonido is a first generation undergraduate student in the Department of Health Science at Johnson & Wales University. She is a dedicated healthcare worker and public health researcher focused on accessibility to equitable care. Through both lines of work, she hopes to help individuals and communities alike. Her current endeavors include traumatic brain injury research and applying to Physician Assistant programs, with aspirations to be a PA, MPH.

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