Mahoning County Health Commissioner Sweeney Named 2017 ATHENA Award Recipient

May 19, 2017
Among a crowd of more than 400 at Mr. Anthony's this evening, Patricia Sweeney, health commissioner of the Mahoning County District Board of Health, was named the recipient of the 2017 ATHENA Award, presented by the Regional Chamber and The Vindicator/Vindy.com.
Patricia SweeneyAmong a crowd of more than 400 at Mr. Anthony's this evening, Patricia Sweeney, health commissioner of the Mahoning County District Board of Health, was named the recipient of the 2017 ATHENA Award, presented by the Regional Chamber and The Vindicator/Vindy.com.

The ATHENA Award is given annually to recognize area business and professional women who have demonstrated excellence in their chosen career, provided leadership in the community and mentored or contributed to the growth of other professional women.

Sweeney’s accomplishments in the community are tremendous (see her background below). Joining the District Board of Health in 2012, the first female to serve as health commissioner in Mahoning County increased her staff from 48 to 69, grew minority representation on her staff by 18% and also grew her budget from $4.5 to $7.4 million without additional local tax support.

Sweeney convened a team of more than 30 community organizations to conduct a community health assessment and developed an improvement plan, using grant funds she sought, to institute innovative evidence-based programs to address significant health problems, including infant mortality, women’s and children’s nutritional needs, drug abuse and more.

Helen Paes, community development coordinator at the Alzheimer’s Association and the very first recipient of the ATHENA Award, in 1990, reflected on the program and the significance of the honor. In addition, the 10th annual ATHENA Scholarship—a $1,500, one-time award created in partnership with the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley—was presented to Campbell Memorial High School senior Samantha Koullias. Koullias, who will study pre-medicine at Youngstown State University this fall, has a 4.0 GPA and participated in the Health Professions Affinity Community through NEOMED for the past five years to complete a service project that focused on abuse and neglect of children and the elderly.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield also presented for the fifth year two additional scholarships in the amount of $1,250 each to Youngstown State University junior Megan Factor and South Range High School senior Jillian Maynard.

For more information on the 25th Annual ATHENA Award Dinner, call (330) 744-2131, ext. 1235.

 

2017 ATHENA Award Recipient

Patricia Sweeney, Health Commissioner

Mahoning County District Board of Health

After working for many years as a staff nurse, Patricia Sweeney went on to pursue, concurrently, Master of Health and Juris Doctor degrees, which would ultimately lead to her becoming the health commissioner of the Mahoning County District Board of Health in 2012.

The first female to serve in this capacity in Mahoning County, Patricia has increased her staff from 48 to 69, grown minority representation on her staff by 18% and also grown her budget from $4.5 to $7.4 million without additional local tax support.

She convened a team of more than 30 community organizations to conduct a community health assessment and developed an improvement plan, using grant funds she sought, to institute innovative evidence-based programs to address significant health problems, including infant mortality, women’s and children’s nutritional needs, drug abuse and more.

Prior to joining the Board of Health, Patricia taught public health law and ethics at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and also served as the associate director for Law and Policy at its Center for Public Health Practice.

She is currently a member of the graduate faculty at Northeast Ohio Medical University; a local champion for the Governor’s Commission for Infant Mortality Prevention; a member of the Community Health Partnership – Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley Steering Committee; co-director of the Ohio Equity Institute, Mahoning/Youngstown; director of the Northeast Ohio Region of the Ohio Association of Health Commissioners, of which she is a board member, and member of the association’s Bioterrorism Preparedness Team; and member of the board of Mercy Health Youngstown.

The first in her family to graduate from college—she earned her Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees in nursing at Youngstown State University, and her Master of Public Health and Juris Doctor degrees at the University of Pittsburgh—Patricia has always believed that education is the basis for success and has spent a total of 26 years pursuing her education. Not surprisingly, she isn’t stopping there. Although retirement is not in her immediate future, Patricia plans to return to school once she does to become a family nurse practitioner so that she can work with the underserved.