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AIC Welcomes Springfield Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris to Desmond Tutu Public Health Awareness Lecture Series

AIC is pleased to present the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Lecture in Public Health featuring Helen R. Caulton-Harris, Commissioner of the Division of Health and Human Services for the city of Springfield. Caulton-Harris will speak about the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing efforts to address social determinants of health including racism, poverty, food insecurity, and homelessness, and how AIC students can become involved in those efforts. Her lecture will take place from 11:30 to 12:30 on Wednesday, April 5, in the Schwartz Campus Center Auditorium.


“The School of Health Sciences at AIC is thrilled to have Commissioner Caulton-Harris as our keynote speaker this year,” said Dean of the School of Health Sciences Karen Rousseau, PhD, RN. “Commissioner Caulton Harris is a champion for public health in our region and has worked tirelessly to meet the needs of our diverse community.”


Caulton-Harris is the first Black woman to hold the title of Commissioner of the Division of Health and Human Services. In that capacity, she is responsible for administrative oversight of four city departments, Veterans, Elder Affairs, the Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control Shelter, and the city’s libraries. She is also responsible for the direct supervision of the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services and Health Services for the Homeless. She has played a prominent role in developing policy for the health and human services needs of underserved populations on the local and national levels.


As a testament to her Public Policy work, Caulton-Harris has received numerous awards including the AIDS Action Award from the Action Committee and the Rebecca Lee Award from the Harvard School of Public Health. She was named Women of the Year by the Springfield Postal Service and received the Paul Revere Award from the Massachusetts Public Health Association. In 2015 she was named a member of the inaugural class of 100 Outstanding of Color from Western Mass and Conn. In 2016 the African Hall Steering Committee of the Springfield Museum Association bestowed on her the prestigious Ubora Award. In 2020 she was saluted as a Woman of Impact by Business West.


Caulton-Harris was appointed to the board of Holyoke Community College (HCC) by former Governor Mitt Romney and reappointed by former Governor Deval Patrick and is the immediate past chair of HCC. She is also the immediate past chair of AAA of Pioneer Valley, becoming the first Black Woman to chair the boards of AAA and HCC.


Caulton-Harris has been appointed to the Public Health and Food Policy Councils for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She has also been appointed by the Secretary of Minority Health in Washington DC as a member of the Region 1 Health Council and appointed by former Governor Charlie Baker to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Advisory Board.


AIC established the Desmond Tutu Public Health Lecture Series in 2010 to bring awareness to the issue of public health. Its namesake, Archbishop Tutu served as the inaugural speaker. The event is free and open to the public.

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