The CAHME/Judy Baar Topinka Scholarship

Judy Baar Topinka began her career in journalism and went on to blaze a pioneering path as a public servant in Illinois. First elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1980, Judy later became a state senator and was elected as the first woman to serve as the state’s Treasurer. As a legislator and civic leader, Judy was an advocate for the health and welfare of the residents of Illinois. Many of her legislative achievements focus on improving healthcare quality and access. Her expertise in health policy led her to chair the Health and Welfare Committee of the Illinois Senate. She believed in public service and was tireless in her advocacy of those in need. She believed in passion, hard work, ethical leadership, and persistence. The successful applicant will share these qualities and characteristics.


Judy Baar Topinka’s legacy is one of good government, ethics, compromise, and love of heritage. Her life demonstrates how anyone with passion, drive, and hard work can succeed in face of great odds. Judy took on the establishment and the status quo and succeeded. She never gave up in life, whether as a child, mother, student, newspaper reporter, legislator, or state level leader. Her life has solid lessons for future generations; she is a true role model in any environment. We need more people like Judy making things better for us all. This year, the award recognizes a student who served the community around COVID-19.

The 2022 CAHME/Judy Bar Topinka Scholarship Honorees

Brittany Morrison is the recipient of the 2022 Recipient of the CAHME/Judy Baar Topinka Foundation Scholarship. Brittany is inspired to give back in her community and joined the Washington State Department of Health where she led a team in responding to COVID-19 outbreaks. She worked with the most vulnerable populations in the community to help mitigate and prevent the spread. She also helped to implement mobile vaccination clinics around the community. She is invested in improving the community while also maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

Brittany as nominated by Karen Charron, MPH, Assistant MHA Director at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Master of Health Administration Program. 

The 2022 CAHME/Judy Bar Topinka Scholarship Honorees

Yazmyne Melgoza is a 2022 Recipient of the CAHME/Judy Baar Topinka Foundation Scholarship. Yazmyne is a Process Excellence Specialist at Torrance Memorial Medical Center. When COVID became a risk for staff, Yazmyne and her team were able to create a streamlined process for staff members who volunteered making face shields. By creating an environment with standard operating procedures, visuals, and collaboration, they were able to meet their goal of 5,000 face shields in 3 days. She was also a part of a vaccine leadership team and helped build a rapid COVID-19 vaccine clinic.

Yazmyne was nominated by Nathan Gerard, PhD, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director at California State University, Long Beach.

Past Winners

The 2021 CAHME/Judy Baar Topinka Scholarship Honoree

Meaghan Hart is the recipient of the 2021CAHME/Judy Baar Topinka Foundation Scholarship. Prior to joining JHU’s MHA program, Meaghan served as the healthcare, education, and small business policy staffer for an Indiana Congressperson in the House of Representatives. In March 2020, she took on high-profile crisis management responsibilities when the governor shut down the state to slow the spread of COVID-19. She worked tirelessly to answer questions around stimulus packages, funding opportunities, and how to provide PPE for hospitals. 

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She exhibited calm leadership during unprecedented times, serving as the contact person to help constituents navigate federal responses. She chaired a daily briefing to update hospital CEOs, and personally returned dozens of calls to those suffering from COVID-19. She took the time to listen to everyone’s story; learning the powerful lesson that listening can have as “much or more of impact an impact as doing”.  

Meaghan invoked her skills of empathy and humility, bringing comfort to thousands during this difficult time. She embodies the spirit of public service and advocacy, and desires to make a difference as a compassionate healthcare executive. 

Meaghan Hart was nominated by Mark J. Bittle, MHA Program Director at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Master of Health Administration Program. Meaghan is pursuing an MHA degree.  

Meet The Blue Ribbon Panel >

The 2020 CAHME/Judy Baar Topinka Scholarship Honoree

Kashay Webb. Growing up in Baltimore, MD, Webb saw how health disparities can keep people from thriving and dedicated her time to improving the health status for underserved, disadvantaged and vulnerable populations. Webb served as the Special Projects Administrator of St. Mary’s Outreach Center, a local Baltimore organization supporting hundreds of economically vulnerable older adults. She also led the deployment of a customized software program which improved the efficiency of operations and client services at the Center.

As the Co-Vice President of Public Policy for the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Webb has tailored her coalition relationships and legislative priorities to focus on health policy issues. She recently championed the passage of a Maryland Hospital Patient Bill of Rights to ensure that all patients receive a list of their 24 legal rights to provide additional protection for vulnerable hospital patients.

A graduate of Notre Dame of Maryland University, Webb interned at the University of Maryland Medical Center where she conducted an institution-wide diversity and inclusion assessment to evaluate the extent to which UMMC meets national cultural and linguistic standards. Her findings serve as the basis for diversity initiatives in the FY20 strategic plan.

She is currently pursuing her MHA at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The 2019 CAHME/Judy Baar Topinka Scholarship Honoree

Kelly Page is a Master’s student in the department of Health Policy and Management at the UNC Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. Kelly’s lifelong interest and passion for health and wellness began in her youth and it led her to UNC Charlotte where she earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Health and Human Services. Upon her graduation, Kelly was awarded the Distinguished Leaders Medal by the university and began her healthcare career in an outpatient physical therapy clinic. Kelly gained direct patient care experience which exposed her to the significant impact that health systems have on the lives of patients and families. This served as the foundation for her decision to pursue a career in healthcare leadership.

After two years of clinical experience, Kelly began the Master of Healthcare Administration program at UNC Chapel Hill to gain the skills necessary to help communities achieve better health outcomes at the system level. At UNC Chapel Hill, Kelly was elected and serves as Health Policy and Management Senator for the Graduate and Professional Student Federation. She is also an executive board member of the Health Policy and Management Student Council, member of the UNC Healthcare Executives Student Organization and member of the UNC Institute for Healthcare Improvement Open School Chapter. Kelly is a member of the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) and the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). Kelly is a volunteer Troop Co-Leader for Girl Scouts of the USA among her involvement in several other community service organizations and has a special interest in planning and developing social action and public health programs. Kelly hopes to help improve healthcare access, quality and safety for all people through advocacy and leadership in her future career and through her life work.

Meet the 2019 Blue Ribbon Panel

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( original publish date 1/8/2019 | last revised 1/21/2021 )