'The Best of Who We Are'

Dean’s Community Service Awards recognize extraordinary service in communities all over the globe

Recipients of the 2019 Dean's Community Service Awards. Image:  Jeff Thiebauth
Back row, left to right:
Katherine Ratzan Peeler, Michael W. Seward, Logan Briggs, Derek Soled, Chase Marso, Joan Reede, Charles Rickert and George Daley
Front row, left to right:
Jennifer K. Tan, Miles G. Cunningham, Jeremy A. Goss, Ellen Levine and Philip Trevvett

Excellence in service and leadership is central to the missions of Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.

Embodying humility, commitment to community and selfless advocacy for underserved and vulnerable populations, 14 Harvard Medical School faculty, staff, trainees and students were honored at the 2019 Dean’s Community Service Award ceremony on June 5.

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HMS Dean George Q. Daley, the event's first speaker, recognized the “impressive and life-changing efforts” of the honorees gathered for a celebratory breakfast in the Waterhouse Room at Gordon Hall.

“Thank you for being creative and tireless leaders who are advancing our mission of outreach and service to the needy, to the suffering, to those who may have been forgotten and to many diverse populations,” Daley said, “and for serving as activists and ambassadors … campaigning for better health—and better life—here in Boston and around the world.”

Whether promoting awareness of those with a rare disease, evaluating and documenting evidence of trauma for asylum seekers, integrating health, wellness and philanthropy to fund cancer research or leveraging technology to connect diaspora physicians to patients in rural Libya and the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, this year’s recipients exemplify the School’s core values, according to Joan Reede, dean for diversity and community partnership at HMS, in remarks prior to presenting the awards.

“In these trying times, it sometimes feels like ... we may be slipping back as opposed to moving forward,” said Reede. “It’s important to recognize that good work is still being done, that there is still a commitment to forward progression, and to justice, and to equity and to health care for everyone. It is part of who we are at Harvard. It is part of our mission. It is part of our values. It is part of who we are, and you are examples of the best of who we are.”

Charles Rickert, clinical fellow in surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital and leader of the Community Health Team in the Mass General Department of Surgery, was recognized for his work to raise awareness within his department to improve patient care for underserved populations and at-risk youth. Expressing optimism for the future of health care for all, Rickert said, “When I think about health care in the United States and the medical community, there’s never been a group of people with greater potential to do good.”

Jennifer K. Tan, instructor in dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital, is a co-founder of the Harvard Dermatology-Boston Health Care for the Homeless collaboration. Accepting her award, she said that taking care of the homeless individuals and families in this program has been “the most meaningful piece of my career in medicine."

Miles G. Cunningham, assistant professor of psychiatry at McLean Hospital, was presented with this year's lifetime achievement award for his 24 years of service as founder and board member of Asniya, Inc. Established in 1995 when Cunningham was a fourth-year student at HMS, Asniya serves as an outreach program to expose Native American children to careers in health care, while expanding the cultural awareness of future physicians.

In accepting his award, Cunningham noted that despite the accolade of lifetime achievement, he has no plans to wind down. “We have so much more to do,” he said.

Like many of his fellow honorees, Cunningham shared his award with his many collaborators and colleagues, noting that he is just one member of a larger community of health care providers and advocates bound by a common call to change the world for the better.

"It is said that the strength of the pack is the wolf, but to me, truly,” Cunningham said, “the strength of the wolf is the pack.”

The Dean’s Community Service Awards, established in 1999, recognize individuals whose dedication and commitment to improving the lives of others have made a positive impact on local, national or international communities. The Lifetime Achievement Award was added in 2004.

There have been 142 awardees to date, including 54 faculty members (12 of whom have also earned Lifetime Achievement Awards), 30 trainees, 36 students and 22 staff members.

As part of the award program, HMS donates $1,000 to each community organization represented by the awardees, with 130 donations to date.

Image: Jeff Thiebauth

2019 HMS Dean’s Community Service Award Recipients

Lifetime Achievement

Miles G. Cunningham, assistant professor of psychiatry, McLean Hospital
Asniya, Inc.


Katherine Peeler, instructor in pediatrics, Boston Children’s Hospital
Physicians for Human Rights

Jennifer K. Tan, instructor in dermatology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program


Mohamed M. Aburawi, research fellow in surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital

Jeremy A. Goss, research fellow in surgery, Boston Children’s Hospital
The Link Market

Charles G. Rickert, clinical fellow in surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital
Community Health Team, Mass General Department of Surgery


Jonathon Florance, HMS 2020
Brookline American Legion

Abra Shen, HMS 2020
Longwood Chorus

Logan Briggs, Chase Marso, Michael W. Seward and Derek Soled, HMS 2021
Medicine in Motion


Ellen Levine, administrative coordinator, Armenise-Harvard Foundation
International Pemphigus and Pemphigoid Foundation

Philip Trevvett, content curator, Harvard Catalyst | Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center
Urban Greens Food Co-op