Michele Mercer, Millennium Chief Clinical Integration Officer and Al Hammonds, Millennium Executive Director congratulate  Rita Hubbard-Robinson.

Rita Hubbard-Robinson, Millennium Patient Activation Measure Director/Consultant and host of “Millennium Health Matters”, has been honored with the “Community Achievement Award” presented by Population Health Collaborative at the 2018 Spotlight on Population Health Awards (SOPHi) held Fri., Oct. 5 at Buffalo RiverWorks.

Hubbard-Robinson is the fourth recipient of the prestigious honor that recognizes exemplary career and life time achievement and innovative contributions to the advancement of healthy communities in Western New York. Previous awardees include Sharon Mathe (2015). Ann Monroe (2016), and Phil Haberstro (2017).

John Craik, JD, Executive Director, Population Health Collaborative announced Rita Hubbard-Robinson as the 2018 honoree, citing her exemplary commitment and determination in the advancement of population health.

“Rita is a true force of nature,” said John, who leads the regional population health collaborative dedicated to connecting diverse groups of people to align resources and expertise….and actively work towards improving population health in Western New York.

The 2018 SOPHi’s featured local motivational speaker, Adam Page, co-founder of the Sled Hockey Foundation, who was joined by his dad Norm who serves as USA National Sled Hockey Representative.  At the age of 15, Adam was the youngest member of the 2007-08 U.S. National Sled Hockey team. Now 26 years old, Adam is a three-time gold medalist for the Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014, and PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games.

According to Population Health Collaborative, “SOPHi is a celebration of organizations across the eight counties of Western New York that focuses on Population Health. Through this award ceremony, we hope to educate the WNY community on all the great work being done around the region, and create new collaborations!”

Nominations are made by community members, with final votes by the Voting Committee comprised of Population Health Collaborative staff and prior Community Achievement awardees.

2018 SOPHi Winners included:
• Buffalo Prenatal-Perinatal Network
• Creating a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative
• Evergreen Health
• Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network (GBUAHN)
• Help Me Grow WNY
• Mental Health Association of Chautauqua County
• Patient Voices Network

US Sled Hockey Olympic champion Adam Page inspires the SOPHi audience with his words of determination,
thanksgiving and boundless courage and optimism. “Life consists not in holding good cards,” he said,  ” but playing those you hold well.”

Adam’s dad Norm Page, USA National Sled Hockey Representative and Rita. Hubbard-Robinson.


Kelly Showard, ECMC Director of Community Relations; Dee Johnson, Director, National Witness Project; Rita Hubbard Robinson; Priti Bangia, Millennium Population Health Performance Manager and Sandra Lauer, BSN, RN, Director, Continuum of Care, Supportive Care and Palliative Medicine, ECMC.

Community Achievement Award

A highlight of the annual program is the presentation of the “Community Achievement Award.”

Prior to inviting Rita Hubbard-Robinson to the podium, Michele Mercer, Millennium Chief Clinical Integration Officer, offered brief congratulatory remarks, including spotlighting Rita’s career highlights.

“I would like to begin by sharing a quote with you by the great Maya Angelou,” began Michele. “’Determine to live life with flair and laughter.’ This quote reminds me of Rita Hubbard Robinson.

“Just like Maya Angelou, Rita is an activist,” she continued. “And just like Maya Angelou did, Rita devotes her life to being a tireless voice for women and African Americans. Lucky for us, Rita is in our community, tirelessly advocating for the poor and disenfranchised.”

“Rita’s track record of commitment, dedication, service and outstanding community leadership over a career spanning over 30 years to the Western New York community is truly remarkable,” added Michele Mercer.

Robinson leads Millennium’s patient activation initiatives by working with community-based organizations in Western New York to connect individuals to healthcare and wellness serves and also hosts Millennium’s weekly “Health Matters” radio show.

She also serves as Chief Executive Officer of NeuWater & Associates , a company focused on improving population health with expertise in social determinants of health and community development.

Robinson is the Former Director of Institutional Advancement at Erie County Medical Center Foundation, and former Director of Community Health Education and Outreach at ECMC.
She launched ECMC’s Farmer’s Market at Grider, a project making fresh produce available to the Delavan-Grider community… and also served as ECMC’s lead with the Great Lakes Health System of Western New York, coordinating community outreach; including being the host of Great Lakes Health Radio Show.

“Passionate about access to health and healthcare; Rita pioneered the establishment of the Mobile Mammography Coach which in its first two years, provided screenings for 4,000 women and saved eight lives,” said Mercer.

Robinson also instituted the first of its kind at ECMC, annual summer youth internship program exposing over 550 Buffalo high school youth to the fundamentals of being successful in a workplace.

Overall, Robinson’s NeuWater projects are numerous and include:

Teen Pregnancy Prevention: Using best practices and collaboration, Rita has worked to reduce teen pregnancy in Buffalo, NY.


Healthy Corner Stores Initiative: Rita has joined forces with Oshei’s Mobile Safety Net Team, Population Health Collaborative, and other community-based organizations, government, community stakeholders and businesses, to transform healthy corner stores by providing refrigeration and education to store owners, and a healthy behaviors curricula and food demonstrations for block clubs and community groups.

African American Health Disparities Task Force: Rita is a leadership member of the African American Health Disparities Task Force which is a grassroots initiative launched by Reverend George F. Nicholas, Pastor at Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church, that has brought together community and academic individuals to address and improve health disparities in the African American population in Buffalo.

Project Rainfall: Rita has dedicated her considerable energy and focus to an initiative called “Project Rainfall”… a food system social enterprise in Buffalo’s Northland Corridor that currently lacks a supermarket or a place to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

Endorsed by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, and in collaboration with the Population Health Collaborative of WNY, Project Rainfall is being created in a new building at 541 East Delavan Ave. in Buffalo’s East Side. Robinson has been credited with laying the foundation for Project Rainfall’s vision in 2009… and is on an aggressive timetable to complete the transformation into an indoor grow area for produce and an affordable farmer’s market.

“Thanks to Rita’s leadership, Buffalo residents in an East side neighborhood dubbed a ‘food desert’ will soon have healthier and affordable options to choose from,” said Mercer.

“Buffalo’s East Side has been considered underdeveloped so it’s exciting to be a part of a project to bring life and hope to it,” said Hubbard Robinson.
“Health outcomes have had an adverse impact on our workforce, family stability and social norms. Creating a project that will help turn the tide is timely.”


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