UCLA Medal Presentation to Loretta Jones


Good afternoon, everyone. I am very pleased to be with you today to award the UCLA Medal to Loretta Jones.

Along with “research” and “education” the third core commitment of UCLA’s mission is “service.”

Loretta Jones is an exceptional example of that commitment to service.

So stellar is her work that today’s ceremony is a result of a rare joint nomination by both the School of Nursing and the David Geffen School of Medicine who came together to recommend she receive the UCLA Medal.

Her leadership in health, social justice and community service has improved people’s quality of life not only locally, but throughout the nation. And her advocacy for partnerships between community organizations and universities has provided a model for how UCLA and other institutions can — and should — engage with the larger community.

Many of her friends and colleagues are here to tell you more about her accomplishments, but I also want to express my admiration and respect for all she has done.

As a researcher, I know how challenging it can be to transfer our work in the lab out into the general public where it can meaningfully help people and improve their lives. Helping to create pathways and relationships that better connect UCLA to our broader community — as Loretta Jones has done— is a vital public service.

We are all benefitted by the leadership of visionaries like Dr. Jones for catalyzing those connections.

By addressing health disparities insisting that good health should be a right for all — not just a privilege for the lucky few — she has raised the public profile of health care access as an essential social justice issue.

Her work on health concerns ranging from depression to heart disease, from cancer to substance abuse, has saved lives and inspired others to follow her lead.

As founder and CEO of Healthy African American Families, Dr. Jones works tirelessly to improve the health and well-being of underserved residents in South Los Angeles. Under her leadership, the organization has advanced health education and facilitated collaboration among community organizations, academia and government to improve the health of the African American, Latino and Korean communities in our city.

She has helped elevate and empower community members, always insisting that they be respected as partners, not treated as faceless statistics.

Her model of community engagement and planning has not only helped shape UCLA health curricula, it has also set best practices at the local, state and national levels. She has helped train hundreds of UCLA students, fellows and faculty. For them, Loretta Jones is, and will remain, a role model for deep commitment and broad engagement.

At our core, our mission at UCLA is to make lives better. Loretta Jones embodies that mission. Every day. In multiple ways. She is an inspiration to us all.

And, when you are doing something right, sometimes people take notice. In recent years, venerable institutions such as the NAACP, NIH, the CDC and the United Nations have all honored Loretta Jones. I am proud that today we are joining their ranks by awarding Loretta Jones UCLA’s highest honor.

But before we bestow the medal, there are distinguished colleagues of Dr. Jones who also want to share a few words. Please welcome the dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine, Dr. Kelsey Martin, who will share more about Dr. Jones’ excellent work.

…Now I have the privilege of awarding the UCLA Medal to Loretta Jones. Please join me in welcoming her to the stage. I’d like to read this citation, which says:


As a civil rights activist and policy advocate, you have dedicated your life to advancing the hope of communities and society at large. As founder and CEO of Healthy African American Families, you have led successful initiatives to improve the health of underserved communities in Los Angeles by furthering social progress through education, training, and collaboration. The community-partnered participatory research model developed under your leadership has provided a framework for regional, state, and national approaches to health and social issues, as well as the basis for community engagement curricula at UCLA. For your unfailing commitment to stand up for those whose voice is seldom heard, we proudly bestow upon you the UCLA Medal.