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Public health leader honored

Health Care for All, a leading advocacy group in Massachusetts, will begin naming an annual leadership award in honor of John Auerbach, Distinguished Professor of Practice in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences and director of the university’s Institute on Urban Health Research.

Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, the CEO of Health Care for All, announced the creation of the organization’s new John Auerbach Community Leader Award during a reception at Northeastern on Monday afternoon. “Throughout his remarkable 30-year career, he has worn a number of significant hats, making our state and the world a better place in each of those positions,” she said. “He has long been a champion of healthcare consumers and underserved populations.”

Auerbach joined Northeastern in October of last year. Before his faculty appointment, he served as the com­mis­sioner of the Mass­a­chu­setts Depart­ment of Public Health from 2007 to 2012. From 1998 to 2007, he served as the exec­u­tive director of the Boston Public Health Com­mis­sion, the oldest health depart­ment in the United States.

His career has focused on developing policies and programs to promote wellness; address racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare; combat infectious and chronic diseases; and support the implementation of broad, statewide healthcare reforms. He also led the state’s response to the early stages of the HIV and AIDS outbreak.

“We are so honored to have John on our faculty, and you can imagine his impact has been immediate and immeasurable,” said Terry Fulmer, dean of Bouvé. She said Auerbach has quickly become a valuable teacher and colleague, noting that “his work transcends boundaries, touching disciplines across the university.”

State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Public Health, praised Auerbach as an official who went above and beyond the call of duty, working long hours to champion important causes that often took years to accomplish.

“John burned the candle at both ends, really serving the Commonwealth to no end,” Sanchez said.

Health Care for All will present the award bearing Auerbach’s name at its annual gala on April 10 titled “For The People: A Celebration of Health Care Leaders.”

Auerbach praised the organization for representing groups that would otherwise not have a voice in government.

“I can honestly say that I’m not sure we would have had healthcare reform in Massachusetts had it not been for Health Care for All,” he said. “They brought the perspectives of some of the most vulnerable people in our state to the table, representing the people who would benefit most from the legislation.”