Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Hispanic Officer Advisory Committee

Antonia C. Novello Award

VADM (ret) Antonia C. Novello distinguished herself after joining the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. VADM Novello made exceptional contributions to the advancement of public health, knowledge, practice, and health improvement. VADM (ret) Novello completed her studies in medicine and became the Deputy Director at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health. In 1990, she was appointed by President George H.W. Bush as the first female and Hispanic U.S. Surgeon General. VADM Novello's agenda as the Surgeon General focused on AIDS prevention, illegal underage drinking, smoking and women's health, among other issues. After serving as Surgeon General and being a career PHS officer, she was assigned to UNICEF and then Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. To honor the exemplary qualities of leadership, loyalty and service to the USPHS, the HOAC mission and the community, HOAC presents the VADM Antonia C. Novello Award to HOAC voting, non-voting members, reserve, or retired junior officers, O-4 and below, who have shown outstanding leadership progression in their careers as USPHS officers, HOAC members and community advocates.


VADM Antonia Novello was born in Fajardo, Puerto Rico on August 23, 1944. She was conferred her Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Puerto Rico in 1965 and her doctor of medicine (MD) degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine in 1970. She performed her pediatric internship and residency at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She held fellowships in pediatric nephrology at the University of Michigan and Georgetown University in Washington DC. Thereafter, she obtained a masters degree in public health and a doctorate in public health from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

In 1978, VADM Novello joined the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps as a project officer for the National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism and Digestive Diseases at National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. While at the NIH, VADM Novello was assigned to the United States Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, working with the staff of committee chairman Orrin Hatch where she made major contributions to the drafting and enactment of the Organ Transplantation Procurement Act of 1984 and the surgeon general labeling on cigarette packages. Over the next twelve years, she rose from project officer, grant officer at the Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism and Digestive Diseases to become Executive Secretary of General Medicine B to Deputy Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. At the NIH, her special interest in pediatric AIDS and women's health caught the attention of the White House and the Office of the HHS Secretary. In 1990, President George Bush appointed Dr. Novello as the fourteenth Surgeon General of the United States. She was both the first woman and the first Hispanic American to be appointed and confirmed to this post following the footsteps of Dr. C. Everett Koop.

VADM Novello focused her attention on the health of women, children and minorities, as well as on underage drinking, smoking, increasing the vaccination rate of the United States and AIDS. She played an important role in launching the Healthy Children Ready to Learn Initiative. She was actively involved in working with other organizations to promote immunization of children and childhood injury prevention efforts. She strongly spoke against illegal underage drinking, and called upon the United States Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General to issue a series of reports on the subject. She also worked to discourage illegal tobacco use by young people, and repeatedly criticized the tobacco industry for appealing to the youth market through the use of cartoon characters such as Joe Camel, which was eventually removed from the market after her initiative. Most importantly during her tenure, the first ever and currently the only National Hispanic/Latino Health Initiative (TODOS) was conceived.

VADM Novello left the post of Surgeon General on June 30, 1993, during the administration of President Clinton, who upon her departure praised her for her "vigor and talent." After leaving the position of Surgeon General as a career officer, VADM Novello remained in the regular corps of the Public Health Service. She was assigned the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Special Representative for Health and Nutrition where she served from 1993 to 1996. Thereafter in 1996, she was assigned as Visiting Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. After 26 years of service, she retired from the Public Health Service and the USPHS with the grade of permanent two-star rank of rear admiral.

In 1999, Governor of New York George Pataki appointed VADM Novello as the Commissioner of Health for the State of New York. She served in this post until 2006 in charge of an agency with a budget of $49 billion and was instrumental in the September 11, 2001 aftermath during which time the National Governors Association's Distinguished Service Award to State Government was awarded to her for her leadership.

In 2008, VADM (ret) Novello became vice president of Women and Children Health and Policy Affairs at the Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital in Orlando, Florida. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Public Health Policy and Implementation at Florida Hospital.


  1. Nominee must be an active duty, reserves or retired USPHS Commissioned Corps officer at the rank of O-4 or below.
  2. If on active duty or reserves, nominee must meet basic readiness standards and have no adverse actions in their electronic personnel records
  3. May qualify as voting or non-voting HOAC member. If non-voting member, the nominee must be actively participating in HOAC supporting activities.


Each nomination shall describe the specific accomplishments of the candidate who has performed in one or more of the following areas:

  1. Describe the nominee's contributions and accomplishments as a junior officer, in the USPHS.
  2. Describe the specific contributions the nominee provided as a junior officer to the HOAC mission.
  3. Describe how the nominee has impacted the community through personal and/or HOAC directed community service activities.

Nomination Package and Process

  1. Complete the Nomination Form [DOCX-15KB]
  2. Write a narrative statement, describing the nominee's accomplishments & impact as outlined above (500 words or less); use 12 pt. Times New Roman font, 1 inch margins and double space.
  3. Self-nominations will be accepted.
  4. Nominations may be endorsed by the nominee's first-line supervisor. Other endorsements are encouraged as appropriate.
  5. Nominations package must consist of an endorsement form and narrative. Packages are to be submitted electronically as Adobe PDF file. If a nomination cannot be submitted electronically, contact the Award Subcommittee Chair for further instructions.
  6. Narratives not submitted in the correct format will be returned to the nominator for reformatting. The nominator will have no more than 2 business days to reformat and resubmit.
  7. Submit Nominations to: CDR Lorena Crowley at

For Questions, Additional Assistance, or Information contact:

CDR Lorena Crowley
Chair, HOAC Awards Subcommittee
Medical Coordinator - Denver Field Office
12445 E. Caley Avenue
Centennial, CO 80111
720-873-28-24 (Office)
866-311-0973 (Secure Fax)

VADM Antonia C. Novello Award Recipients

Year Recipient Name
2020 LCDR Matthew J. Lozier
2018 LCDR Adriana Restrepo
2017 LCDR Cesar Perez
2016 LCDR Yvonne Santiago
2015 LCDR Michelle Sandoval

Page Last Modified on 5/21/2020

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