LMSA National Mentor of the Year

Nominations are now closed and winners for 2023 and 2022 will be announced at the LMSA National Conference 2023 in Atlanta, GA.

Each year, LMSA National presents the Dr. Phil DeChavez Mentor of the Year Award to honor a physician, faculty member, or other professional who has provided exceptional mentorship and support to members of the organization. Nominations for this award are requested prior to the annual LMSA National Conference.

While nominees are not required to be mentors on a national scale, they must exhibit the qualities exemplified by Dr. DeChavez, including compassion, dedication, selflessness, a commitment to reducing health disparities in U.S. Latina/Latino/Latinx, Hispanic, or individuals of Spanish origin (e.g., Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, etc.) [LHS+] communities, increasing the representation of LHS+-identified individuals in medicine, and a passion for shaping the next generation of medical leaders.

About The Namesake: Dr. Philip DeChavez

Philip M. DeChavez M.D. M.P.H. was born of humble beginnings. His experience growing up on the west side of San Antonio, Texas, was a driving factor in his life, as he both experienced and bore witness to the hardships Latinos face in education and the everyday. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Army and served as a combat medic in Operation Desert Storm. The first in his family to attend college, he received his Bachelor’s of Science degree from Morgan State University, graduating Summa Cum Laude as valedictorian. Dr. DeChavez then went on to pursue his medical degree and complete his internship at the University of Pennsylvania. After completing his residency in Family Medicine, he received his Masters of Public Health at Harvard University as a Commonwealth Fund Fellow in Minority Health Policy.

Throughout his career, Dr. DeChavez maintained a dedication to helping Latinos in both higher education and the world at large. His commitment to social justice drove him to research and develop educational programs aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in higher education and grants such as an National Institute of Health study of minority drug use. During his time at Penn, he was influential in the development of the Center for Hispanic Excellence: La Casa Latina, and for his service to the minority community he was awarded the Helen O. Dickens prize. At Harvard, he acted as an Executive Committee Member and Graduate Student Advisor for Concilio Latino, an umbrella organization for Latino associations at the university that provided a forum for these groups to come together and discuss issues critical to Latino students. Dr. DeChavez also worked at the Boston Public Health Commission, focusing on the Mayor’s effort to reduce racial and ethnic disparities throughout the city. While serving as Medical Director at MCI-Framingham, a medium-security correctional facility for female offenders, he volunteered his time as the primary medical care doctor at the Justice Resource Institute Swansea Wood School, a specialized school serving adolescents who have struggled with significant medical and mental illnesses.

Dr. DeChavez is remembered as a champion of the underdog, always rooting for the successes of those who had the world against them and advocating for the voiceless. For more than a decade, he played an active role in NNLAMS and LMSA, joining as a medical student and serving as its National Executive Director from 2003 until his death in 2012. His legacy lives on in those he mentored throughout his life, including middle schoolers, high school students, undergraduates, medical students, and his own brothers and sister.

History of the Award

This award was first given at the 2013 LMSA National Conference in Miami, Florida. Dr DeChavez received the first award posthumously in recognition of his commitment to the growth and advancement of this organization. His family was able to accept this on his behalf.

Award recipients since 2013 are as follows:

2013Philip DeChavez, MD, MPH
2014Ruben Font Jr., MD
2015Fernando Mendoza, MD
2017Rebeccah R. Rodriguez Regner D.O.
2018Maria L. Soto-Greene, MD, MS-HPEd, FACP – Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
2019Monica B. Vela, MD – University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine
2020Sunny Nakae, PhD, MSW – University of California, Riverside
2021Denise Martinez, MD – University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

Nomination & Award Procedures

The nomination process for the Mentor of the Year will open in Autumn preceding the LMSA National Conference. All LMSA stakeholders, including health professions and pre-health students, are asked to complete a nomination form to recommend medical field affiliated faculty, staff, or other professionals (MD or DO not required) based on their demonstrated commitment to and excellence in mentoring and fostering leaders working towards the LMSA mission.

Once the nomination period closes, the LMSA National Board of Directors will vote to select one award recipient and will disseminate a public announcement of the award ahead of the LMSA National Conference. The awardee is asked to attend the annual Gala & Closing Ceremony to receive recognition on behalf of the organization.