For Immediate Release Contact: Carol Ann Campbell
Mayors Wellness Campaign ‘Champion of Health Award’ Goes To Deerfield Township Administrator
Quality Institute Program Recognizes People Who Work to Strengthen The Health of Their Communities
PRINCETON — January 17, 2022 — The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute Mayors Wellness Campaign (MWC) has awarded the 2021 Champion of Health award to Dawn Bascelli, Deerfield Township Administrator. Bascelli brought the MWC program to Deerfield when she began in her new position six months ago after previously working on a MWC in another community. Her far-reaching efforts during the pandemic supported residents with innovative wellness programming and continuous vaccination efforts.
“Dawn’s persistence and dedication ensured continuous wellness programming throughout a critical time for our community, and we are grateful for all her efforts,” said Deerfield Mayor Abigail Perlstein O’Brien, who nominated Bascelli for the award.
Bascelli’s work focused on multiple areas:
- Programming across a broad spectrum of health areas
- An active social media presence to encourage healthy eating and lifestyles
- Prevention efforts in conjunction with Inspira Health for cancer and other illnesses
- Encouraging use of municipal outdoor facilities
- Continuous vaccine
The MWC relies on the dedication of township and city employees and local residents who come together to promote community health and wellness.
“We are recognizing Dawn Bascelli because she went above and beyond during a stressful time,” said Julie DeSimone, LSW, program officer for the MWC. “We are excited to highlight her commitment to strengthening the health and wellness of her community.”
Bascelli, contacted after news of her award was announced, said she was surprised and happy to be recognized.
“I’m so proud of my mayor, my Mayors Wellness Committee, and my town for letting me run with these projects in times when budgets are tight, participation is down, and stress is up,” she said. She expressed her thanks for the guidance and resources provided by the MWC. “This recognition was hugely motivational for us all, and proof that we are stronger together,” she said.
The MWC’s Champion of Health award enables mayors to recognize the people who are critical drivers of health and wellness in their communities. Mayors throughout the state nominated community leaders who are passionate about improving the lives of residents. Honorable mentions are:
City of Paterson: Mayor Sayegh nominated Dr. Paul Persaud, Public Health Officer. Dr. Persaud’s COVID-19 response was instrumental to protecting Paterson residents during the pandemic and resulted in a 92% city vaccination rate, which continues to grow.
Evesham Township: Mayor Veasy nominated Joana Takacs, Assistant to the Township Manager and MWC Coordinator. Joana focused on providing high quality health and wellness MWC programs that were crucial during the pandemic.
Jersey City: Mayor Fulop nominated Stacey Flanagan, Director of Health and Human Services. Stacey’s collaborative work during the pandemic led to the distribution of vital resources, access to testing, and contact tracing for Jersey City residents. Under her leadership, 91 percent of COVID- 19 cases were successfully traced, leading to life-saving prevention.
Keyport: Mayor Kennedy nominated Janet Gallo Markowski, owner of the of the first yoga studio in the Borough of Keyport. In addition to supporting community wellness events such as yoga classes and the annual 5K, Janet supports other local businesses in their efforts to promote health and wellness.
Vernon Township: Mayor Burrell nominated Mishelle Downtain, Recreation Director. She was key in ensuring that seniors continued to receive vital services such as the meal programs and outdoor socialization opportunities at a time when social isolation was a major concern.
The 2021 Champion of Health Award comes as hospital staff, first responders, public health officers, and many others are working diligently to combat the pandemic. The MWC municipal partners have worked to transform their MWC programs to respond to the pandemic as social distancing has forced the cancellation of many community events.
“At the MWC, we know this work would not be possible without the dedication of the individuals moving the MWC and its initiatives forward in each community,” said DeSimone.
The MWC also thanked 2021-2022 sponsors that help to make the work of the MWC possible. To get involved with the MWC, contact Program Officer, Julie DeSimone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Mayors Wellness Campaign (MWC)
The MWC is a statewide community health initiative of the Quality Institute in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. The MWC provides evidence-based tools and guidance to mayors and community leaders to help their residents achieve more active, healthier lifestyles and to improve the health and wellness of their communities. Over the past 15 years, the MWC has grown to include 421 participating communities with more joining each year.
About the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute
At the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute our mission is to improve the safety, quality, and affordability of health care for everyone. Our vision is to create a world where all people receive safe, equitable, and affordable health care and live their healthiest lives.