Communicator of the Year Award

The Communicator of the Year award is the highest honor given each year in recognition of outstanding and successful health care professionals. Eligible nominees are individuals who consistently demonstrate excellence in health care communications through service to their organization and/or the health care industry as a whole. The COTY award is open to all professionals at any level, working in a marketing/communication capacity in health care or other health-related field in San Diego and Imperial Counties. This includes professionals from public relations, marketing, advertising, health care or media professions. The COTY award is given each year at the Finest Awards event.

2016/17 COTY Award Recipient

Aaron Byzak, Chief Strategist
Galvanized Strategies

Aaron is a highly successful designer and leader of numerous national and regional best practices programs in the fields of public health and health care. His leadership approach is built around personal connections with community stakeholders, creatively developing a vision for meeting community needs and building a passionate and talented team to pursue that vision. He has designed and executed a wide array of award-winning programs including:

  • The Health + Education + Research = Empowerment (HERE) Initiative at UC San Diego Health (2010-2017) heralded as the best public outreach program among academic health systems because of its demonstrated outcomes.
  • Hazel’s Army (2014 to present) advocacy helped pass seventeen state and county laws to protect seniors in assisted living facilities and continues to be a leader in the field.
  • The creation of Urban Corps of San Diego County’s first Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training program (2017)

His approach blends advocacy, public policy, community relations, media affairs, marketing and more into a comprehensive and compelling package that not only informs the general public about priority health issues, but also brings together unique partnerships to maximize impact and sustain results at minimal cost. His ability to translate life’s adversities into positive change comes from a lifetime of focus on accomplishing goals with limited resources. A mentor for dozens of people both in and out of health care, helping to guide them towards excellence in their professional, educational and personal endeavors.


Past COTY Award Recipients


2016/17 - Dawn Anderson, AMN Healthcare

2014/15 - Mary Ball, Alzheimer's Association of San Diego & Imperial Counties

2013 - Mike Godfrey, Scripps Health

2012 - Jennifer Decker Arevalo, UC San Diego Health System

2011 - Kim Kennedy, UC San Diego Health System

2010 - Todd Miller, Sharp Healthcare

2009 - Carol Burke, AMN Healthcare

2008 - Jean Hitchcock, Scripps Health

2007 - Cheryl Moder, San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative

2006 - Don Stanziano, Scripps Health

2005 - Carol LeBeau, KGTV News Anchor and Health Care Reporter

2004 - Debra Kelley, American Lung Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties

2003 - Gustavo Friederichsen, Palomar Pomerado Health

2002 - Judith Yates, Health Care Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties

2001 - Michael Bardin, Scripps Health

2000 - David Owens, Palomar Pomerado Health

1999 - CeCe Wilkens, Wilkens Communications

1998 - Maureen Wisener, Paradise Valley Hospital

1997 - Mark Morelli, Children’s Hospital

1996 - Jim McBride, Kaiser Permanente

1995 - Sharon Ross, Palomar Pomerado Health

1994 - Diane Gage, Sharp HealthCare

1993 - Micki Stockalper, Stock/Alper & Associates

Health Care Communicators of San Diego County
3830 Valley Centre Drive, Suite 705-936, San Diego, CA 92130

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software