Northwestern program director honored with Dennis Clark Solas Award

José Ramón Fernández-Peña, the director of health professions advising at Northwestern University and the president of the American Public Health Association (APHA), has been honored by The Welcoming Center as the 2021 recipient of the Dennis Clark Solas Award. The award is given annually to an individual whose vision, voice and life illuminate the positive impact immigrants have on our region.

Fernández-Peña is the 17th recipient of the Solas Award and will be honored on March 3 as the center marks its 18th anniversary.

“I am deeply honored by this distinction,” Fernández-Peña said. “I have tremendous respect for the work of the Welcoming Center and for its founder, Anne O’Callaghan. I share this award with all the friends and colleagues who, over the past 20 years, have helped to turn the dream of the Welcome Back Initiative into a reality.”

In a statement released by the center, Fernández-Peña was called a “visionary leader” because he “built his career around making sure immigrants are protected, valued, respected and included in meaningful ways to improve the quality and accessibility of healthcare for everyone.”

Fernández-Peña’s esteem in immigrant inclusion spans decades. Today, he serves as the president of the APHA, the founder of the Welcome Back Initiative (WBI), which assists immigrant health professionals in reentering the workforce, a founding member to IMPRINT, which raises awareness about immigrant success, and supporter of The Welcoming Center’s International Professionals Program

Fernández-Peña’s work at WBI has gained global accolades from the Maytree Foundation and the Migration Policy Institute. 

He has advised the White House Domestic Policy Council on the economic integration of foreign-trained professionals and has served as an expert panelist at national and international forums. He received the “Champion of Change” award in 2011 from the Obama White House for his work, in addition to the “Champion of Health Professions Diversity” from the California Wellness Foundation.

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Fernández-Peña earned his medical degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and his masters’ degree in public administration from New York University.

The event will take place from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Attendees can register for the virtual event online.


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