Trustees honor Lolita Lopez and Michelle Schwandt for distinguished service and esteemed leadership

The Trustees of Christiana Care honored two members for distinguished service and esteemed leadership at the biannual meeting in November.

Lolita A. Lopez, FACHE, president and chief executive officer of Westside Family Healthcare, received the 2018 Charles J. Harrington Award for Distinguished Service and Leadership. In presenting the award, Chair of Trustees Penny Saridakis spoke of Lopez’s longstanding history in serving Christiana Care, as well as her unwavering commitment in dedicating her entire career in service to the community.

“Our 2017 awardee’s tenacious, thoughtful and transformative leadership truly exemplifies The Christiana Way, and the impact of her achievements on our community is truly immeasurable,” said Saridakis.

Under Lopez’s 28-year tenure as president and CEO, Westside has grown from a small, one-provider center with just a handful of employees to an influential organization recognized as a Joint Commission accredited primary care medical home with five comprehensive health center locations, a mobile medical unit providing services statewide, and a workforce of nearly 250 professionals. Last year alone, Westside served more than 30,000 low-income individuals, including migrant and seasonal agricultural workers.

“It is especially timely and meaningful for me to receive this coveted honor as Westside Family Healthcare celebrates 30 years of caring for our community,” Lopez said. “The successes we have achieved — and the impact Westside has had on our community — are largely due to our partnership with Christiana Care. Together, we have created many, many opportunities to help families live vibrant, healthy lives.”

In addition to serving as a Christiana Care Trustee, Lopez was elected to the health system’s Board of Directors in 2016, where her service includes membership on the Audit and Compliance, Nominating and Governance committees. She also serves on Christiana Care’s Home Health & Community Services Board. She is a recent recipient of the City of Wilmington Community Legends Award, the Delaware Association of Public Administration Public Service Award, and the Health Advocacy Award from the Wilmington, Delaware branch of the NAACP, and is an inductee in the National Association of Community Health Centers Grassroots Advocacy Hall of Fame.

The Harrington Award was first presented in 1996 to its namesake, the late director emeritus of the Christiana Care Board of Directors and former Christiana Care trustee, who was a strong proponent of service and the importance of philanthropy.

Michelle Schwandt honored with the 2018 Carroll M. Carpenter Impact Award

Also honored at the Nov. 14 meeting for extraordinary leadership and service to our community was Christiana Care Trustee Michelle Schwandt, who received the prestigious 2018 Carroll M. Carpenter Impact Award.

“Michelle Schwandt is a devoted leader and volunteer who always has the best interest of Christiana Care and our community in heart and mind,” said Trustee Vice Chair Phil Reese, in recognizing the chair of the Heart & Vascular Leadership Council.

Under her leadership, the Council has raised more than $4.2 million for heart and vascular programs and facilities, and supported the Blood Pressure Ambassadors in exceeding 12,000 encounters with at-risk individuals in our community. As co-founder and director of Christina River Exchange, a national procurement company, and as a former senior executive vice president of MBNA, this community-minded business leader also led the Heart & Vascular Leadership Council in launching a lunch-and-learn initiative that takes the discussion of heart health into the workplace.

“Service to others is woven into the core of her character,” Reese said of the 2018 honoree, who also is a rated UH-1H helicopter pilot and Gulf War veteran. “She has been and continues to be instrumental in identifying new partnerships for Christiana Care in the community, providing advocacy opportunities and increasing awareness to champion healthy heart initiatives for the Center for Heart & Vascular Health. She is a model of what Dr. Nevin means when she says, ‘We serve together.’”

Schwandt described receiving this prestigious award that honors Carroll Carpenter’s continued leadership and legacy of service as “truly one of the greatest moments of my life.”

“Everyone at Christiana Care is immensely passionate about creating positive change within our community and serving with love and respect,” said Schwandt. “I feel incredibly privileged to be part of this great organization.”

The Carroll M. Carpenter Impact Award was established in 2016 to commemorate Mrs. Carpenter’s distinguished service as chair of Trustees from 2010 to 2016. It is bestowed annually to a trustee who closely emulates her vision, leadership and commitment to Christiana Care.