Jon Parker, executive director of AVOL Kentucky, which works to end HIV, wins 2020 Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero award

John Parker (Photo from LFCHD via Twitter)

Jon Parker, executive director of AVOL Kentucky, which works to end HIV in the state, has been named the 2020 Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero by the Lexington-Fayette County Board of Health.

The award is given to individuals who have demonstrated their dedication to improving the health of Lexington residents. The winner is announced each April as part of National Public Health Week.

Parker has led HIV prevention teams across the state for more than three decades, including during the peak of the HIV epidemic in the 1990s. He served on the original steering committee for AVOL Kentucky’s Solomon House, a long-term community residence for people with AIDS.

Parker joined AVOL Kentucky in 2015 and has organized strategic planning efforts; created quality, low-income accessible housing for the medically vulnerable; expanded prevention services, and enhanced outreach and empowerment for at-risk populations in Lexington, a health-board news release said. He has also led events including the AIDS 5K Walk/Run and “Dining Out for Life,” the organization’s largest annual fundraiser.

Parker is to be recognized at a health-board meeting, and an Urban County Council meeting; both have been postponed due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Previously known as the Public Health Hero Award, the health board renamed the award in 2016 in memory of the late Dr. Rice C. Leach, who was Lexington’s and Kentucky’s commissioner of health during his 50 years as a public-health physician. He died April 1, 2016.

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