This year, the HVTN External Relations team is adding a new award to the list of honors bestowed by the HVTN. The Wakefield Outstanding Dedication Award honors an individual, group, or organizational community partner for their years of exceptional contributions and extraordinary, committed service to HIV vaccine research. This award is one of a kind in the HVTN since researchers, site staff, and CAB/CAG members are not eligible.
Named in honor of longtime HVTN External Relations Director Steve Wakefield for his decades of exemplary service, this award recognizes the recipient’s steadfast passion for HIV research. The award recipient’s passion is demonstrated through their years of contributing to community and stakeholder engagement, education, research awareness, and facilitating inclusivity and belonging in the research environment. This award acknowledges those stakeholder partners whose tireless efforts help shape HIV vaccine education and research efforts in their local community, at a local research site, nationwide, or globally.
Three Wakefield Outstanding Dedication Award winners will be selected each year. Each awardee will be recognized for their work in one of the regions where the HVTN has a consistent presence: North America, Latin America, and Southern Africa. The North American and Latin American winners will be presented with their awards at the HVTN Full Group Meeting regularly held in Washington, DC. The Southern African awardee will be presented with their award at the annual HVTN Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Meeting. Individual awardees (single persons) will receive a $500 stipend, while group/organizational winners will receive a $5,000 stipend. Additionally, all award winners will be recognized in HVTN Community Compass and on the homepage of the HVTN website.
It brings us immense pride to announce the inaugural 2023 North American Wakefield Outstanding Dedication Award winner is the incomparable Rev. Edwin Sanders of Nashville, TN. We are also proud to announce the inaugural 2023 Latin American Wakefield Outstanding Dedication Award winner is the remarkable Epicentro, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Lima, Peru. Congratulations to both of our stellar award winners.
Be on the lookout for the announcement of the inaugural 2024 Southern African Wakefield Outstanding Dedication Award winner next year. On behalf of the HVTN External Relations team, thank you to all the community partners, stakeholders, and advocates who champion the HVTN globally. We look forward to utilizing this award to honor you and your work in the future.
North American Winner – Rev. Edwin Sanders; Nashville, Tennessee
Reverend Edwin Sanders is the Senior Servant and Founder of Metropolitan Interdenominational Church in Nashville, Tennessee. A staunch advocate for faith communities, health equity, and diversity in clinical trials, Rev. Sanders led the HVTN’s Faith Initiative from its inception to 2022, and the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN) Faith Initiative from 2020-2021. Rev. Sanders also served as one of the first Chairs of the Legacy Project under the HVTN and the Office of HIV/AIDS Network Coordination (HANC). The HVTN’s consistent prioritization of faith community engagement is the legacy of Rev. Sanders’ decades of tireless work.
Latin American Winner – Epicentro; Lima, Peru
Epicentro is a community-based organization serving the LGBTQIA+ community in Lima, Peru. Led by esteemed community leader Hugo Sanchez (Executive Director), Epicentro works to advance universal healthcare access with an emphasis on improving sexual health, and offers various sexual and mental health services. Since its founding in 2008, Epicentro has supported HVTN trials, educating communities about HIV research and vaccines as prevention tools. Epicentro also plays an active role in HVTN/CoVPN social media engagement in Peru, creating content that empowers and informs Latin communities.