This month, we celebrate and honor Black leaders and wellness champions who advance health equity at school, home, and in the community—benefitting our children and families all year round.
Browse these resources for ways you can promote equitable, whole child health.
Petra M. Baker, M.Ed., Ed.S
Gateway Michael School
The Healing Power of a Healthy School
Health at Gateway Michael School is part of the school’s foundation, and Petra Baker has made sure of that. Having spent 22 years of her career serving its student population of pre-k to 8th grade students who are medically fragile – often with multiple disabilities – Petra has taken Gateway Michael from an America’s Healthiest School bronze award winner in 2016 to a two-time gold-winning school from 2018-2020. The changes she’s incorporated range from healthy celebrations and soda machine removal to an updated community garden, new exercise equipment, and a walking trail. Most recently, Gateway Michael received the Family Engagement Distinction, awarded by Healthier Generation and Kohl’s to schools who are strengthening partnership between families and educators.
Petra’s incredible efforts have earned Gateway Michael national attention. She’s a tireless champion of health and her students, and hopes to continue her school’s health journey alongside Healthier Generation for years to come.
Los Angeles Unified School District
Leading Wellness in California’s Largest School District
William Celestine helps the sprawling district of Los Angeles Unified implement forward-thinking wellness policy. Since partnering with Healthier Generation in 2017, William has helped raise close to $125K in grant funds to support schools in creating healthy environments.
In his role as Director of Wellness Programs, William oversees the Student and Family Wellness Hotline, which supports families’ access to basic need resources including health insurance coverage, food insecurity, lack of shelter, clothes, employment, and social-emotional supports.
Donna Crawford, M.A.
Healthier Generation’s Own Tennessee Titan
Since 2007, Donna has guided nearly 500 schools through the process of creating and sustaining a healthier environment with over half a million children impacted by her work.
She is a member of both the Tennessee and Louisiana State School Health Advisory Councils as well as local school health coalitions. Donna is a Co-Leader of the internal volunteer Culture Workgroup and a liaison for Healthier Generation’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion efforts. Her health equity and service dedication derive from her family principles, prior tenure at the American Heart Association, and active membership in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority – Memphis Alumnae Chapter.
Career Changemaker in South Carolina
Vince served on the Richland School District One Board of School Commissioners for 24 years, where he advocated for the passage of the landmark Healthy and Nutritious School Environment policy. He was instrumental in establishing the district’s strong wellness foundation, which has had more America's Healthiest School awardees than any other district in South Carolina.
In Vince’s current role, he delivers much-needed cancer, dental, maternal-child health, teen health, and vision services to thousands of people in the Midlands of South Carolina.
Colorado Health Foundation
National Champion for Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
Karen embodies fearlessness and has a profound belief in the power of inclusion. Raised in small town North Carolina, she learned the effects of racism and non-inclusiveness early in life, and uses that insight as a Black leader and mother. She has a long history leading diverse organizations undertaking innovative, community-level approaches to build healthier, inclusive systems. Karen began as a special education teacher and head of the Piedmont School serving children who learn differently. She later served 16 years at the Center for Creative Leadership, solidifying her dedication to develop individuals working for social good. Mid-career, Karen shifted from education to the philanthropy field. In her 10 years as president, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust earned a national presence on issues from rural health to access to care.
In 2015, she became president and CEO of The Colorado Health Foundation. Driven by her belief that health is a human right, and an unyielding commitment to community voice, Karen shows up for Coloradans of color living on low income, and for her staff, who work smarter thanks to her uncanny ability to cut through the latest philanthropy trends and name the real, gritty work necessary to achieve health equity. Karen is active within the nonprofit community and national and regional philanthropic and rural health organizations, serving on the Boards of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Denver Academy, and Healthier Generation.
H. Melvin Ming
Sesame Workshop Veteran Leads the Way
As the former President and CEO of Sesame Workshop, Mel Ming has rooted his work in creating innovative, engaging content that maximizes the educational power of media to help children reach their highest potential. Mel worked at Sesame Workshop for many years in several leadership roles. He directed the Workshop’s efforts around Sesame Street’s global presence as well as initiatives that address a wide range of issues for children and families including literacy, health, and military deployment. In that role, he also coordinated and alignment of the Workshop’s efforts with its stated strategic direction and short-term goals.
Mel recently said, “Having worked for 45 years, it is now time for me to invest all of my experience, learning, and energy into the development of children, their causes, and the systems and communities that will optimally grow them.” Today, Mel serves on Healthier Generation’s Board of Directors alongside a cohort of leaders in health, medicine, business, education and entertainment who spearhead Healthier Generation’s mission to empower kids to develop lifelong healthy habits by ensuring the environments that surround them provide and promote good health.
Ashlyn Pinkins, MPH
Louisiana Department of Health
Youth Advocate Takes on the Pandemic
Ashlyn Pinkins, once a Healthier Generation youth advisor, turned her passion for public health into a career in epidemiology. Facing a global pandemic means Ashlyn’s work is more critical than ever.
Ashlyn is dedicated to fighting childhood obesity and advocating for healthy lifestyle choices. She hopes her work will change her Louisiana community and beyond.
Delta Rural Network Center at Baptist Health Madisonville, Inc.
Instilling a Culture of Wellness in Rural Kentucky
Kelcey directs the Baptist Health School Wellness Initiative, funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to serve all 131 schools in the 20 rural Mississippi Delta region counties in far western Kentucky. Kelcey and his staff involve school administration, staff, students, parents, and community organizations to establish sustainable school wellness leadership infrastructure while providing classroom physical activity programming, healthy lifestyle presentations, and wellness policy review.
Kelcey has dedicated his career to improving community health, including nineteen years working with the Delta Rural Network Center at Baptist Health Madisonville, Inc. – part of the Louisville, KY-headquartered Baptist Health Systems, Inc. – where the mission is to demonstrate the love of Christ by providing and coordinating care and improving health in the communities it serves.
Shauvon Simmons-Wright, M.Ed.
Advocating for a Healthier North Carolina and Beyond
Since 2007, Shauvon has focused on building the capacity of districts and schools to make sustainable policy, systems, and environmental changes. Her work to broker national collaborative partnerships that support schools and communities has benefited 500,000 children and counting.
Shauvon serves on the board of directors for American School Health Association, is an active member of Eat Smart Move More North Carolina, the North Carolina Alliance for Health, and the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), and volunteers with local community organizations to promote children’s health. She also serves as an active member for the community service organization Order of the Eastern Star, Prince Hall Affiliation—Odessa Chapter #676.
Who is making a difference in your community?
Let us know on Twitter at @HealthierGen for a chance to be featured!
Supporting the Health & Well-being of Your Family
In partnership with schools and community organizations nationwide, Kohl’s Healthy at Home provides proven tips, activities, and resources to help families prioritize healthy living.
Check out more celebrations
Browse the complete Kohl’s Healthy at Home library for more nutrition, physical activity, and social-emotional health resources.