Outstanding Prevention Professional Award

Murray L. Vincent Outstanding Prevention Professional Award

The Murray L. Vincent Outstanding Prevention Professional Award is the highest and most distinguished award given by the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. In memory of Dr. Murray Vincent, the award recognizes an individual who has significantly impacted the prevention of adolescent pregnancy in South Carolina while exemplifying the characteristics of the award’s namesake. Recipients of the award receive a $500 stipend to continue their prevention work and a lifetime scholarship to the Summer Institute.

We are now accepting nominations for the 2019 Murray L. Vincent Outstanding Prevention Professional Award. Nominations are due on Friday, May 10, 2019. To review award requirements, click the nomination form below.

nomination form 

Past Award Winners

2018 | Melanie Dees

Melanie Dees has been working in Sumter County for over 15 years and has made great strides in decreasing the rate of teen pregnancy. Since the Diamond's inception in 2000 there has been a 56% decline in teenage pregnancy in Sumter County. Melanie has been in integral part of United Way Diamond's success in our community.

Melanie has committed her life to helping others and bringing out the best of people through work, volunteer endeavors, and church. She should be honored for her persistent efforts to make our community a better place. Melanie understands what it means to serve, although retired from the United States Air Force, she continues to serve in other ways. She is devoted to making our community better by focusing on our youth. She gives countless hours to ensure our youth strive to be the best, to reduce teen pregnancy rates in our area, and to be a faithful servant to God. She truly cares for our community with a servant’s heart.

Melanie embodies all of Dr. Vincent’s Characteristics. She truly has a passion for the prevention of teen pregnancy in our community. She is always innovative and finds new ways to reach not only young female students, but male students as well. She has numerous students that continue to visit her to thank her for making a difference in their lives. She has a history of making a difference in the lives of young people through health education. Melanie cares for each student and wants each student to strive to be the best person they can be. Like Dr. Vincent, Melanie has a true passion for the prevention of teen pregnancy and is a role model for others.

2017 | Joan Johnakin

Joan Johnakin, founding Director of the Coalition for Family Enrichment (and former SC Campaign board member) was honored with the 2017 Murray L. Vincent Outstanding Professional Award. An ardent advocate for children and families, Joan's influence and work span from her local community in Marlboro County, to the state of South Carolina, to the southeast region. Joan has been and continues to be a trailblazer in the field of social work, especially in the area of teen pregnancy prevention. Her outstanding career as an educator and an employee of the Department of Social Services as a social worker, regional trainer, and county director extends over 50 years. 

During her career, she worked tirelessly advocating for the establishment and funding for the Marlboro County Interagency Council, Marlboro County’s First Steps Board, and the Disabilities and Special Needs Board for Marlboro County. Joan has provided leadership in acquiring over $1 million in grants and funding for special projects, and has initiated a number of high quality programs. As the Director of the Marlboro County Child Protective Services division, she enacted and supervised the first Teen Companion Program. This curriculum-based teen prevention program met weekly after school, serving at-risk youth ages 10-18 years old in Marlboro County. Joan has a true passion for the prevention of teen pregnancy and is a role model. 

In her retirement, Joan works over 40 hours a week developing, coordinating, and providing leadership for programs and organizations in Marlboro County including the Tea Time with Teens Program where she mentors its directors to ensure the delivery of the high-quality program. Joan’s passion for families ultimately led her to found the Coalition for Family Enrichment which she views as an organization that pulls together all county services to support families. This coalition is made up of former and current social workers, community advocates, volunteers, and caring people from all aspects of the community.

2016 | Suzan Alexander

Suzan Alexander, Advanced Practice RN at Upstate DHEC, received the 2016 Murray L. Vincent Outstanding Professional Award in recognition of 20 years of health-related services including her work to promote teen-friendly health services and increased use of long-acting reversible contraception among teens in Spartanburg County. Suzan led the core management group through the planning and implementation of an evidence-based intervention with adolescent female clients titled 17 Days and was instrumental in promoting teen-friendly services, spearheading renovations and staffing at the Tobias Teen Health Center.  She was influential in promoting the use of long acting reversible contraceptives also known as LARCs, which led to an impressive increase in the percent of teens who chose a LARC method from 5% in 2011 to 26% in 2015. 

In her current role as the DHEC Upstate Region Lead APRN, she mentors, coaches and encourages staff within an eleven county region to promote LARCs and effective counseling techniques and strategies. Today, many from around the country come to tour the Tobias Teen Health Center in Spartanburg County to learn more about how successful this community’s work has been in addressing teen pregnancy. In addition to her clinical work, she serves on several boards and is well known within the Spartanburg Community.  Ms. Alexander embodies a true passion for the prevention of teen pregnancy and is a superb role model and champion for the cause.

2015 | Darnell McPherson

Executive Director of Darlington County First Steps, Darnell was  honored as the 2015 recipient of the Murray L. Vincent Outstanding Prevention Professional Award during Summer Institute 2015. During her tenure, Darnell has expanded both the scope of services and number of families served by Darlington County First Steps. This work now includes the implementation of teen pregnancy prevention evidence-based programs and comprehensive support for expectant and parenting teen mothers and fathers in Darlington County. A community volunteer, child advocate, and social worker, she has been employed in the non-profit sector for over 30 years. Darnell is widely respected across the community as a distinguished leader and visionary. She works tirelessly to build awareness of the realities of life and conditions faced by families and their children living in poverty in Darlington County.

2014 | Sarah Brown

CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Sarah was recognized for her contribution to teen pregnancy prevention during the 2014 Summer Institute. Over the past 20 years, Sarah’s vision and leadership at the national level has helped countless state and local efforts find momentum, and the personal attention she has afforded those in South Carolina has helped guide the SC Campaign’s work. Her leadership on women’s health issues has included her role as senior study director at the Institute of Medicine and authoring the book, The Best Intentions: Unintended Pregnancy and the Well-being of Children and Families.  Sarah has served on advisory boards for several public health organizations including the Guttmacher Institute, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation among others. As an authority on pregnancy prevention, Sarah has received many awards such as the Institute of Medicine’s Cecil Award for Excellence in Research and the Martha May Elliot Award of the American Public Health Association. Sarah holds a Masters in Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina.

2013 | Shedron Williams

Director of Education and Prevention for ACCESS Network, Shedron has been a champion for young people by serving on local, state and national boards that advocate for healthy living through prevention and health care services for nearly two decades. Emory University has named him one of the top 30 advocates for teen pregnancy prevention in the nation.

Shedron currently serves as chairman of the Hampton County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Council, executive board member for the I AM Responsible, Reliable, and Respectful program, and is the newest member of the Hampton County Council where he fights for adequate health care and age-appropriate sexuality education. In 1992, he founded the Save Our Children Foundation of Hampton County. Today, Shedron continues to inspire people as a motivational speaker for youth in Hampton and surrounding counties. He goes above and beyond the call of duty to enhance the lives of youth and is well-respected by his colleagues who say he “serves as a role model to our young men” and “has a great history of service, leadership and high quality program delivery.”

2012 | Stacey McPhail

Director of Community Services at Palmetto Health, Stacey holds a Bachelors of Social Work from Benedict College, a Masters of Social Work from the University of South Carolina, and a Certificate in Public Health Management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked tirelessly to provide education, counseling, and community support for vulnerable populations over her career, including case management services at Tuomey Hospital in Sumter, SC and Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services of South Carolina, Inc. For more than a decade, Stacey has directed the largest teen pregnancy prevention program in the state where she has lead efforts to support health education and youth development services to Columbia and other communities in the Midlands. Signature Palmetto Health efforts like Teen Talk, the annual Teen Summit and Women at Heart are projects that highlight the effectiveness of her program. Stacey also recognized early on the need to serve the 18-19 year old population and subsequently was instrumental in initiating Freshman Focus, a 55-minute program focusing on healthy relationships, sexually transmitted diseases and contraception. This program has been implemented at USC, Benedict College and Columbia College since its inception in 2008.

2011 | Carol Singletary

A graduate of Claflin University, Carol began her career as a case manager for the Department of Social Services (DSS) in 1973. She worked as an investigator for Child Protective Services, and after many years protecting South Carolina’s most venerable children, was appointed as the State Director of Youth Programs where she developed the first state-recognized youth development and teen pregnancy prevention program—Teen Companion. Carol served in a directorship role at state level DSS for over 20 years where she designed a program for parenting teens, another first of its kind in our state. Her commitment to this issue is evident as she continues to serve the young people of South Carolina through her work with the SC Campaign.

"The 2011 Summer Institute was fun, exciting and informative as always, but for me, receiving the Murray L. Vincent Award adds a different dimension of joy,” said Singletary. “Having known Murray in a professional capacity, then as a friend, I believe he would rejoice and say that I am worthy of this award. Thanks, Murray, for inspiring me."

2010 | Dr. Janice Key

Like Dr. Vincent, Dr. Key is a teacher who shares her knowledge with others – both in the classroom, in the clinic and in the community. Currently working at the Medical University of South Carolina, Dr. Key has managed several projects in the Charleston area which have not only served as research for others in the teen pregnancy field, they have made a difference in the lives of children. As a professor she has shared her passion for children and adolescents with her students, exposing them to ways in which their profession can make a greater impact on their communities. Dr. Key has served as a member of the board of the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, as well as serving as a member of the Charleston County School District Health Advisory Committee. She also played a crucial role in founding the Charleston County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Council.

2010 | Aimee Lassor

Since 2002, Aimee has spent her professional career working with Communities in Schools of the Charleston Area. She has been promoted from Student Support Specialist to SAFE Initiative Coordinator and has demonstrated significant leadership skills. For the past eight years Aimee has been providing comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education to over 400 youth and adults in Charleston County, particularly on Johns Island. She was instrumental in opening a Teen Health Clinic on Johns Island, allowing youth in this rural community easy access to reproductive health services for the first time. Aimee is dedicated to teen pregnancy prevention and since taking over as coordinator of SAFE, only one pregnancy has occurred among her case-managed students.

2009 | Rev. Dr. Don Flowers Jr.

From 1994-1996, Rev. Flowers served as the first-ever Board Chair of the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, which was formed in 1994 to address the issue of teen pregnancy in South Carolina through education, technical assistance, public awareness, advocacy and research. He served a second term as Board Chair from 2007-2009. Rev. Flowers is currently the pastor of Providence Baptist Church on Daniel Island where he has served for the past 10 years. Prior to serving at Providence Baptist, he was the Minister of Youth and Activities at First Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C. He received his BA in Religion from Wake Forest University in 1980, a Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1985 and a Doctor of Ministry from Candler School of Theology, Emory University in 2000. While a student at Emory, he focused his work on sexual ethics for parents, which ultimately was the topic of his dissertation.

2008 | Michelle Nimmons

Having made a significant impact on the youth of South Carolina in Bamberg County, Michelle Thomas Nimmons, director of the Bamberg County School/Community Sexual Risk Reduction Project for Teens (Denmark-Olar Teen Life Center), was honored as the first recipient of the award. The Denmark-Olar Teen Life Center is a nationally recognized school based program that was established in 1982 as a collaborative effort between USC School of Public Health and the citizens of Bamberg County. The comprehensive abstinence-based program provides age appropriate sexuality education to youth ages 8-19, includes a community awareness campaign, quarterly newsletter, monthly parent and child education sessions and trains peer educators. Michelle is a Winthrop College graduate with a degree in Family/Child Development and Social Work. She also serves as Senior Program Consultant for the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

About Murray L. Vincent
Among his accomplishments, Dr. Vincent is credited with creating the first undergraduate health education degree in South Carolina as well as all of the health education master's and doctoral degrees at the University of South Carolina. He was a founder of the South Carolina Association for Health Education in 1972, serving as its president in 1981. Dr. Vincent was an American Association of Health Education Scholar and was inducted into the Health Education Hall of Fame in 2002. The success of his work in teen pregnancy prevention has been widely published. His signature effort was started in Bamberg County in 1982 and 26 years later has resulted in one the most successful school-community teen pregnancy prevention programs ever created. In the early 1990s, Dr. Vincent worked to help create the SC Council on Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, now known as the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. He also encouraged the creation of Community Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention programs in all 46 counties of South Carolina.