This May, the University of Maryland School of Public Health recognized four outstanding members of the SPH community with the Distinguished Terrapin Award, the school's highest honor. The awardees were recognized at the Dean's Recognition Ceremony on May 5, 2023 which was attended by members of the SPH Dean's Council, supporters and friends of the school, along with faculty, staff and students. Dr. Robin Mockenhaupt PhD '99, chair of the SPH Dean's Council, emceed the event. Dean Boris D. Lushniak presented awards to the recipients and shared updates on the state of the school.
The 2023 Distinguished Terrapins are:
- Dr. Olivia Carter-Pokras
- Mr. Cory Easton '85
- Mrs. Gloria Friedgen, MA '73
- Dr. Joseph L. Wright
We are proud to recognize our 2023 awardees and look forward to their continued contributions as they connect with our community through speaking engagements and mentoring opportunities.
Dr. Olivia Carter-Pokras
Professor Emerita, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Maryland School of Public Health
- Nationally recognized leader in health disparities research
- American College of Epidemiology Fellow and former board member
- Education: B.S. (Tulane University), M.H.S. and Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins University)
A health disparities researcher for four decades, Olivia Carter-Pokras has dedicated her career to improving racial and ethnic data, developing health policy and improving health care quality for Latinos.
At the School of Public Health, Olivia served as Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion for 3 years, and laid the groundwork for what is now the SPH Happiness and Wellness Initiative. She taught chronic disease and infectious disease epidemiology to public health students and led a short-term study abroad course on global health lessons in the Bolivian Amazon.
Outside the classroom, Olivia’s research and passion for epidemiology led to multiple accomplishments, including 77 peer-reviewed journal articles, NIH-funded research to develop cultural competency and health literacy curricula and a European Commission-funded project to develop cultural diversity training for health professional educators. She is also an elected fellow and former board member for the American College of Epidemiology, a former board member for the American Public Health Association, a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Care and Education and part of the population research workgroup for the NIH National Pain Strategy - a comprehensive, population health-level strategy for pain prevention, treatment, management, education, reimbursement and research.
In recent years, Olivia has supported a website detailing the environmental, social and health implications of planned mega-dams and other environmental threats in the Bolivian Amazon. She also serves as co-chair of the Latino Health Steering Committee of Montgomery County and board member for Care for Your Health.
Mr. Cory Easton '85
Co-Founder & Chief Sales Officer at Confidio, LLC
- Leader in pharmacy benefit management industry
- Founder of Lisa M. & Cory E. Easton Pharmacy Benefit Management Certificate Program at the University of Maryland School of Public Health (launching Fall 2023)
- Education: BS, Therapeutic Recreation (University of Maryland), MBA (University of Maryland Global Campus)
Cory Easton co-founded Confidio, one of the nation’s largest technology-enabled pharmacy benefits solutions companies, in March 2013. Under his direction, the company quickly became known for its ability to successfully guide self-funded health plan sponsors through pharmacy benefit challenges and optimize their clients’ pharmacy benefits, earning Confidio a place on the prestigious Inc. 1000 list for three consecutive years.
In 2021, Confidio was acquired by RxBenefits, Inc - the first and largest Pharmacy Benefits Optimization (PBO) company in the United States. Today, the combined company serves the pharmacy benefit management needs of over three million Americans representing more than $3B in annual drug spend.
While Cory retired in 2022, he continues to share his expertise through a range of service and educational initiatives. He is a CEO Advisory Board Member for the Inc. CEO Project - a group for experienced CEOs and business leaders seeking challenge and collaboration from their peers.
He is also a member of the School of Public Health Dean's Council, where he advises and advocates for the school.
Passionate about expanding the national understanding of today’s pharmacy benefit landscape, Cory recently created the Lisa M. & Cory E. Easton Pharmacy Benefit Management Certificate Program at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. The program, which is the first of its kind at the university level, will help close the educational gap in this critical area of health care while creating meaningful, collaborative opportunities for students and organizations working in this ever-evolving field.
Gloria Spina Friedgen, M.A. '73
Former Coordinator of Alumni Affairs and Outreach, University of Maryland School of Public Health
- Retired science and physical education teacher, coach
- Long-time booster and donor to the School of Public Health
- Education: B.S. (SUNY Cortland), M.A., Kinesiology (University of Maryland)
A native New Yorker, Gloria Spina Friedgen is an advocate for education, physical activity and public health.
After earning her master’s degree from the University of Maryland, Gloria moved to South Carolina with her husband Ralph Friedgen, fellow Terp and then football coach for the Citadel. In South Carolina, she taught high school physical education and coached volleyball, basketball and track.
Over the years, the couple’s careers took them to Virginia, Kentucky, Georgia and California. Gloria, who also taught science classes, received multiple accolades for her leadership in the classroom and on the sports field, including being named “Partner of the Year” by the Science Alliance for promoting DNA Technology for teachers and students in San Diego.
In 2001, Gloria and Ralph returned to the University of Maryland: she as an adjunct professor in the College of Education and he as the university’s head football coach. Soon after, Professor Robert Gold (and founding dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Health) asked Gloria to join the Board of Visitors and help shape what is now the School of Public Health.
Gloria continued her support of the school as its coordinator of alumni affairs and outreach. In this role, she oversaw several programs and activities designed to engage public health students and alumni, including the Jerry P. Wrenn Scholarship Golf Tournament, Breakfast with Mrs. Fridge and the Dean’s Scholars Dinner.
The Friedgens are among the School of Public Health’s most loyal donors. The Friedgen Seminar Room is named in their honor.
Joseph L. Wright, M.D., MPH
Chief Health Equity Officer, University of Maryland Medical System; Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Adjunct Professor of Health Policy and Management, University of Maryland School of Public Health
- Inaugural Chief Health Equity Officer for University of Maryland Medical System and American Academy of Pediatrics
- One of the country’s first board-certified pediatric emergency physicians with scholarly interests in injury prevention and needs of underserved communities.
- Education: BA (Wesleyan University), MD (Rutgers University), MPH (George Washington University)
For more than four decades, Joseph L. Wright has advanced public health for children and underserved communities across the nation.
Joseph began his career in emergency medicine, caring for pediatric patients in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. His medical and leadership skills soon led to administrative roles, including senior vice president of community affairs and founder of the Child Health Advocacy Institute within the Children’s National Health System, vice chair of pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine, and chair of pediatrics at the Howard University College of Medicine.
In 2021, he became the inaugural Chief Health Equity Officer for the 12-campus University of Maryland Medical System.
Joseph has also contributed over 120 publications to the scientific literature, served more than 30 visiting professorships and was principal investigator of the NIH-funded DC-Baltimore Research Center on Child Health Disparities. He is also an elected member of the Alpha Omega Alpha (medicine) and Delta Omega (public health) honor societies.
A voluntary member of the University of Maryland School of Public Health faculty, he maintains appointments as adjunct professor in the Departments of Family Science and Health Policy and Management. He also serves on the School of Public Health’s Community Advisory Council.
Joseph received the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2022 Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award, and he was recently appointed to the National Academy of Sciences’ study committee on Addressing the Long-Term Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Children and Families.
- Department of Kinesiology
- Department of Health Policy and Management
- Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics