In February 2001, the Board of Governors established the Ozarks Public Health Institute (OPHI), a Missouri State University state-wide institute with an aim to address public health issues in Missouri.
“Since the day we started, we have been focused on researching and addressing public health issues in Missouri,” said Dr. Dalen Duitsman, director of OPHI.
“We also help with interventions surrounding a wide range of topics including health disparities, mental health, tobacco, obesity, school wellness, workforce and emergency management.”
Often, staff members at the OPHI get hired by the state and local public health agencies to help them with projects they may be working on.
Last month, three of the staff at OPHI were recognized for their work in public health at the Annual Joint Public Conference with Missouri Public Health Association (MPHA) awards.
About the awards
Jaci McReynolds, OPHI communications, was awarded this year’s Group Merit Award. This award gives recognition to an agency or group who made a significant contribution to public health in Missouri within the past five years.
Jaci received this award for her work as the communication coordinator for the #HealthierMO initiative. This initiative advocates for long-term, systems-level change that will lead to healthier families, healthier communities and a healthier Missouri.
Cassandra Henne, project coordinator, received the Health Professional Scholarship. The $750 Health Professional Scholarship is available for MPHA members who are working on an undergraduate or graduate degrees in a public health related field that will further their careers.
“Cassandra received the Health Professional Scholarship because of the outstanding contributions she has made to OPHI over the last year,” Duitsman said. “She has made a substantial impact on its growth and success.”
Duitsman won the W. Scott Johnson Award. It is the highest honor given by the Missouri Public Health Association. It focuses on the “skill, integrity, devotion to duty and constructive leadership” of the recipient.
“I am so honored to work with the remarkable team we have at OPHI, and to see the number of graduate assistants who have passed through OPHI who now have successful public health careers, and who are contributing their talents and skills to build a healthier Missouri,” Duitsman said.