Health Leader of the Year

The COA Health Leader of the Year Award was established in 1987 to recognize individuals who have made notable contributions to the health of the Nation.  Contributions can be in research, administration, service delivery, or some other area of public health.

This award recognizes those who achieved prominence in public health.  Persons who have demonstrated leadership and excellence in making notable contributions to the health of the Nation may be nominated for this award.  Contributions can be in research, administration, service delivery or some other area of public health.

In general, persons considered will include those who have been in public health practice for more than 15 years.  Membership in COA is not a requirement for nomination; however, consideration will be given to the nominee’s knowledge and support of the USPHS Commissioned Corps.

Nominations for COA Health Leader of the YearClick here for the full call for nominations. Nominations are due by December 31. Submit nominations online via SurveyMonkey.


Rear Admiral (Ret.) Steven K. Galson, USPHS 

2018 COA Health Leader of the Year 

Steven K. Galson, MD, MPH, has continued a wide-ranging and impactful career in public health. Currently a Senior Vice President at Amgen, retired Rear Admiral Galson completed his government service as Acting Surgeon General of the United States. He also served as Acting Assistant Secretary for Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Admiral Galson launched the Healthy Youth for a Healthy Future Initiative, which brought national attention to the complex issue of childhood obesity prevention, and prompted hundred of community-based actions. He established and assumed of Chair of the DHHS Childhood Overweight and Obesity Council.

Admiral Galson convened the Surgeon General's Workshop on Pre-Term Birth to jump start activities to reduce the incidence of these births. He published two Surgeon General's Calls to Action, one on Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism and another on how to Promote Healthy Homes, which brought attention to the connection between housing and health.

Admiral Galson released the My Family Health Portrait, a web-based tool to enable individuals and families to create, store, and share their family health histories. He also highlighted the importance of preventing underage drinking by encouraging local efforts on this persistent challenge.

When the H1N1 influenza virus broke out, Admiral Galson helped to educate professionals and families on the status of the spread of the virus and how best to protect themselves through national public service announcements, media interviews, and briefing the foreign press in partnership with the Department of State.

Under his leadership, the Medical Reserve Corps continued its growth and DHHS planned for $650 million from the prevention and wellness section of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

COA congratulates Admiral Galson as the 2018 Health Leader of the Year!

Past recipients of the Health Leader of the Year Award include:




RADM Steven K. Galson, USPHS (Ret.)


RADM Clara H. Cobb, USPHS (Ret.)


CAPT Robert J. Tosatto, USPHS, Director, Medical Reserve Corps Program


RADM Boris Lushniak, USPHS, Deputy Surgeon General


Thomas Frieden, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


RADM Thomas McGinnis, USPHS, Defense Health Agency


RADM William Foege, USPHS (Ret.)


The Honorable Jeff Bingaman, U.S. Senate


The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye, U.S. Senate


RADM Susan Blumenthal, USPHS (Ret.)


RADM Charles Grim, USPHS, Director, Indian Health Services


RADM Helene Gayle, USPHS, (Ret.) President and CEO of CARE USA


Richard H. Carmona, 17th U.S. Surgeon General


VADM James A. Zimble, (Ret.), 30th Surgeon General, U.S. Navy


Julie L. Gerberding, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


RADM Kenneth Moritsugu, Deputy Surgeon General


Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services


The Honorable John Warner and Tim Hutchinson, U.S. Senate


CAPT Brian Flynn, USPHS


RADM Barry Johnson, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry


The Honorable Bill Frist, U.S. Senate




Francis S. Collins, Director, National Center for Human Genome Research




John Lewin


Ada Sue Hinshaw, NINR, National Institutes of Health


VADM Antonia Novello, USPHS, 14th U.S. Surgeon General


William Roper, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Samuel Broder, NCI, National Institutes of Health


James O. Mason, 9th Assistant Secretary for Health


Anthony Fauci, NIAID, National Institutes of Health


C.Everett Koop, 13th U.S. Surgeon General