The Bert Hall Award

The Bert Hall Award for Commitment to the Health of the Community is an annual recognition presented to an individual or organization that consistently exemplifies commitment to working at the systems level to improve the health and wellness of Mat-Su residents. It was created in 2013 in honor of Mat-Su resident Bert Hall.

“Solving complex community health problems doesn’t just happen with one organization, doesn’t just happen in a board room, and doesn’t just happen with talented people with extensive expertise,” said Mat-Su Health Foundation CEO Elizabeth Ripley. “It takes community partners.  Sometimes these partners are organizations; other times, they are individuals. We are honored to recognize one such individual annually with the Bert Hall Award for Commitment to the Health of the Community.”

Bert Hall has been a mentor and friend to many people in the Mat-Su.  He has committed much of his life to making improvements in health and human services and the quality of life for veterans, for Mat-Su residents and for all Alaskans. He’s a tireless advocate for the people of Mat-Su and Alaska. For these reasons, the Mat-Su Health Foundation salutes him with an award named in his honor that is presented annually to a member of the community who lives up to his example.[/vc_column_text]

Bert Hall Award Recipients

2023 – Mark Lackey

Since 2005, Mark Lackey has been the executive director of CCS Early Learning, providing Head Start, Early Head Start, and home visiting services to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. He has played a pivotal role in developing a team of highly skilled and trauma-informed staff, expanding services, and advocating for sustainable funding. Mark’s leadership has been acknowledged by receiving titles such as Alaska Journal of Commerce Top Forty Under 40 recipient in 2012 and Alaska Head Start Association Head Start Director of the Year recipient in 2017. In 2009, he helped establish the Early Childhood Partnership of Mat-Su and served as its founding chair. He also founded and chairs the R.O.C.K. Mat-Su (Raising Our Children with Kindness) collective, which was established in 2014. Additionally, Mark is a valuable member of several committees, including the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development’s Early Childhood Advisory Committee and the National Head Start Board of Directors, where he provides leadership to enhance the early childhood experience both statewide and nationwide. Listen to Mark’s moving speech on the never-ending commitment to make a difference in the lives of children and families.

2022 – John Weaver

John Weaver serves as CEO of Valley Residential Services (VRS). The goal of VRS is to provide safe, quality and affordable housing. John’s responsibilities include planning, developing, implementing, controlling and evaluating VRS housing and maintenance programs and operations. Under John’s leadership, VRS has grown considerably, allowing it to serve more people and families by giving them a place to call home. The organization has gone from five to more than 20 employees and the number of housing units under management has grown from 113 units to 400, with an additional 82 currently under development. VRS has overseen the construction of 310 housing units plus 40 more recently opened on the Wasilla Area Seniors (WASI) campus. This growth has led to an estimated 2,000 Alaskans having the opportunity to settle into safe, stable housing.

2021 – MSBSD Health Advisory Team

The Mat-Su Borough School District Health Advisory Team, comprised of district administrators, community health members, a local physician and a public health nurse liaison, established operational zones and created pandemic-necessary protocols such as conducting classroom investigations, providing transportation, creating indoor foot traffic routes, disinfectant processes and the handling of extra-curricular activities. The team also set up contact trace training for school nurses to help alleviate a bottleneck of investigations delaying family notifications and school re-openings. Because of their tireless collaborative efforts, all 46 schools in the MSBSD were able to stay functional most of the year.

2020 – Kimberly Schlosser

Kimberly Schlosser has been an active participant in the Mat-Su Central Dispatch pilot project with an interest in not only increasing efficiency, but also providing the best possible experience for riders. Routes are now aligned so that Upper Su residents can seamlessly use public transportation to access services in Mat-Su’s core area and Anchorage, and the transit is a certified Medicaid route provider. Kimberly has also led Sunshine Transit to assist nonprofits with safe shuttle options during vital fundraisers, accommodate delivery of groceries and supplies to residents sheltering in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, and temporarily re-purpose its fleet of vehicles to transport first responder hotshot crews to wildfires.

2019 – Lt. Tom Dunn

Lt. Dunn was recognized for his work with the Mat-Su Crisis Intervention Team Coalition and Mental Health First Aid training. These programs stress appropriate intervention to ensure safe and effective interactions between first responders and citizens experiencing a behavioral health crisis. Lt. Dunn became a member of the Mat-Su Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Coalition in 2015 along with Captain Hans Brinke and completed the 40-hour Mat-Su CIT Academy in 2018. After completing the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course, Dunn was certified as an instructor for the program and has since trained and co-trained with local emergency medical services (EMS) instructors more than 100 first and secondary responders in Mat-Su. His reach in this effort has expanded to the DPS training academy in Sitka and the prison system in Seward.

2018 – Rachel Greenberg

While working at Mat-Su Senior Services, Rachel led the organization to add housing, care coordination services, adult day care and multiple facilities. She also shared her expertise with the other senior centers in Mat-Su and collaborated with them to form the Mat-Su Council on Aging. In 2012, Rachel took up the charge laid out in the Mat-Su Health Foundation’s 2011 Regional Plan for the Delivery of Senior Services and began a yearlong advocacy effort to establish an Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) in Mat-Su. She has served on the Alaska Commission on Aging since 2012 and on AgeNet, Alaska’s advocacy group for older residents.

2017 – Bill Hogan

Bill Hogan served as the Dean of the College of Health at the University of Alaska Anchorage and prior to that spent over 35 years in the mental health, substance abuse, developmental disabilities and social work fields, with experience as a clinician, supervisor and administrator. He has worked with the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority as a senior fellow served as the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. He was also CEO of Life Quest and director of the Division of Behavioral Health. Hogan has served as chair of the Alaska Mental Health Board, board member of the Alaska Community Mental Health Services Association, Executive Director of the New York State chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and on the boards of the Mat-Su Health Foundation and Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from State University of New York at Buffalo and a Master of Science degree in Social Work from West Virginia University.

2016 – Herman Thompson

Herman has long been a leader in the Borough’s Senior Services systems, including the Regional Senior Services Oversight Committee. He sits on the board of Upper Susitna Seniors, Inc. (USSI), where he and his colleagues on the USSI board have found a host of ways to serve seniors. For example, USSI partners with eleven local restaurants to provide meals on wheels by buying meals from local businesses and delivering them to seniors in their homes. In addition, Herman and his team negotiated a range of discounts from local vendors for USSI members. He also works with Sunshine Transit Advisory Board and sits on the Mat-Su Borough’s Health and Human Services Board.

2015 – Margaret Volz

Marg co-founded the Children’s Place, Mat-Su’s child advocacy center. While working another full time job, she spent her time off planning the programming and financing for this agency, which changed the way multiple systems across Mat-Su interfaced and cared for children who experienced trauma and neglect. These systems included the medical community, law enforcement, district attorney’s office and child advocate agencies. Marg also began a shaken baby prevention project in collaboration with Wasilla Rotary Club that targets middle-school children who are starting to babysit and who will eventually be parents.  This program is still in existence today. She initiated and provided training for Abusive Head Trauma Prevention Programs at both Mat-Su Regional and Providence Hospitals, and she has helped coordinate a number of child abuse-related conferences in Alaska.

2014 – Craig Thorn

2014 award recipient Craig Thorn was a board member and later board chair of Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, and he served in that role until he recently resigned to pursue other interests. He previously served on the Mat-Su Health Foundation board of directors, where he also was elected chair. Craig is a lifelong Alaskan with a long history of community service, including as past president of the Palmer Chamber of Commerce and the Palmer Rotary Club, and as a board member of United Way of Mat-Su. “Craig has given extensively of his time and expertise to our community,” said MSHF Executive Director Elizabeth Ripley. “His leadership on the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center and Mat-Su Health Foundation boards has had a direct, positive impact on the health of Mat-Su residents.”

2013 – Bert Hall

Bert Hall has made remarkable contributions to the health of Alaskans. He has served Alaska in many capacities—as associate director of the US Department of Veterans Affairs, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services, director of health and social services for the Municipality of Anchorage for more than 10 years, and as the Alaska liaison to the US Department of Health and Human Services.  Bert also served as a president of the Alaska Public Health Association, represented Alaska on the Governing Council of the American Public Health Association, and served on the Alaska Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.  He helped put together the Valley Hospital Foundation Board of Directors and he served as a Mat-Su Regional Medical Center Trustee. For these reasons, the Bert Hall Award was created and is given annually by the Mat-Su Health Foundation.