Several faculty members of Loma Linda University (LLU), a Seventh-day Adventist school in Loma Linda, California, United States, are recipients of the Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches (IECAAC) Dorothy Inghram Trailblazer award. They recently received the award for their efforts to ensure COVID-19 vaccine equity in the local community. A special award ceremony recognized a group of faculty members from across five LLU schools on January 17, 2022.
The awardees include Richard H. Hart, LLU president; Ricardo Peverini, president of the Faculty Medical Group; and Juan Carlos Belliard, from the School of Public Health. They also include Jacinda Abdul-Mutakabbir and Michael Hogue, both from the School of Pharmacy; Bridgette Peteet, from the School of Behavioral Health; and Jennifer Veltman, from the School of Medicine. Kiema Jones, process improvement specialist from the Faculty Medical Group, also received an award.
Loma Linda University Health has led COVID-19 vaccine efforts in San Bernardino County, and LLU faculty organized student-based mobile vaccine clinics in vulnerable communities throughout Southern California.
“The Dorothy Inghram Trailblazer award is presented to those whose tenacity in the face of opposition allowed them to blaze new paths in areas that impact the community in a positive matter,” Bishop Kelvin Simmons, president of IECACC, said. “We selected this brilliant team of Loma Linda University great minds because their efforts to ensure vaccination equity was a ‘Trailblazing’ move for our community, with gratitude from the bottom of our hearts!”
The IECAAC was formed in 2000 by a group of 22 local pastors from churches in the Inland Empire as a first step to addressing systematic patterns of abuse and violence in the community. The organization has been in demand by many groups as the voice of the African American community. Local politicians continue to seek an audience with the organization for presentations and support.
Dorothy Inghram was a school teacher and principal, and she became the first African American superintendent of a school district in California in 1953. Inghram was a trailblazer who exemplified excellence in the community at a time of significant racial inequity. She lived to be 106 years old, and her passion was to mentor students and teachers in the Inland Empire, according to the IECAAC.
Abdul-Mutakabbir, assistant professor at LLU School of Pharmacy, said the award was immensely significant to her. “It has been an honor to work with our faith leaders to show the balance between faith and science,” she said.