Health Champion Awards

As part of National Nutrition Month® in March, we recognize this year’s Health Champion Award recipients for their work and achievements in the following focus areas: Healthy Youth and Schools, Healthy Communities, and Healthy Workforce.

The Partnership thanks the County of Ventura Board of Supervisors for their commitment to support the mission to promote healthy eating and active living to reduce obesity and related chronic disease such heart disease and diabetes in our County.



Ms. Elvira Zavala

  • Receiving the award: Ms. Elvira Zavala
  • Community Liason, Oxnard Police Department 

Food Share, Ventura County

  • Receiving the award: Monica White
  • President & CEO, Food Share Ventura County


Oxnard Union High School District (OUHSD), Wellness Centers

  • Receiving the award: Dr. Freda Rossi
  • Director of Wellness & Inclusion, OUHSD


La Escuelita Catalyst Kids, Inc. Child Care Center

  • Receiving the award: Teresa Martinez (Site Supervisor) & Maria Martinez (Master Teacher)
  • La Escuelita Catalyst Kids Child Care Center



Child Nutrition Directors & Staff in Ventura County

  • Receiving the award: Suzanne Lugotoff, R.D., SFNS
  • Director, Child Nutrition Services Oxnard School District


Oxnard REC Outdoors (City of Oxnard Recreation & Community Services, Covid-19 Response)

  • Receiving the award: Terrel Harrison (Director, Cultural & Community Services Department,) & Renee Rakestraw (Community Services Manager)
  • City of Oxnard

New Season Church of Ventura

  • Receiving the award: Rafael Robles (Pastor Rafael)
  • New Season Church of Ventura

The Partnership’s 2020 Health Champion Award recipients are recognized for their efforts toward achieving the vision of the Partnership: “that Ventura County be recognized as the healthiest county in California.” Each of the three committees selects one organization to highlight achievements in their specific focus area.

The 2020 Health Champion Award recipients:

Healthy Youth and Schools

Ms. Kristen Linton, MSW, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Health Science Program at California State University Channel Islands for her instrumental role in providing students opportunities to engage in hands-on experience in the field as part of the Center for Community Engagement’s Service Learning Program. Because of her leadership and vision, through collaboration with the Oxnard Union High School District Wellness Program, university students completed public health service learning research projects, inspiring thousands of high school age students, reaching 7,500 with information about mental health, nutrition and physical fitness, while also enlightening their youth peers on the many important academic opportunities in the field of health.

Pictured (left to right): Anna Jackson,
Chair, Healthy Youth and Schools committee;
Ms. Kristen Linton, MSW, Ph.D.,
and Jessica Silon, Regional Coordinator at HealthCorps, Inc.

Healthy Communities

Mr. Robert Mancuso, selected for his commitment in strengthening the spirit of volunteerism through shared knowledge and skills to grow fresh vegetables and fruit to feed and nourish thousands of low-income seniors in communities throughout Ventura County. Under his management and care, the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging’s Senior Nutrition Garden provides thousands of pounds of locally grown fresh produce used to supplement meals for older adults in need who would otherwise not have access to sufficient fresh, healthy food.

Pictured (left to right):
Victoria Jump, Director,
Health Champion Awardee, Robert Mancuso, Senior Nutrition Garden Manager, and
Brian Murphy, Manager at
Ventura County Area Agency on Aging.

Healthy Workforce

Conejo Cares Healthy Living Program of the Conejo Valley Unified School District’s Conejo Cares Healthy Living Program is this year’s award recipient. The Conejo Cares Healthy Living Program emphasizes education, prevention, early detection and better access to comprehensive health resources. Through encouraging and accessible programs that promote individual and family wellness among all its employees. Programs such as Passport to Health and Wellness, Healthy Wage and Finding Balance are newly launched activities that inspire and empower staff and their families to manage healthy lifestyles, create a wellness culture and lead to enhanced total well-being.

Pictured (left to right):
Sara Rivera, Steering Committee Member,
Health Champion Awardee, Elizabeth Grigsby, Conejo Unified School District, and,
Eddie Munizich, Partnership Chair.

Thank you Health Champions!

Pictured (left to right):
Rigoberto Vargas, Ventura County Public Health Director;
Chair of the Board of Supervisors, Kelly Long; and
Health Champion Awardees and Partnership committee chairs.

Please join us in commending these recipients in their exemplary work in response to the obesity crisis and contributing towards the goal of Ventura County being named the healthiest county in California.

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