In recognition of her outstanding contributions and significant achievements addressing the health promotion needs of underserved populations, Luvenia Cowart, E.D., R.N., has been named the 2011 Robert F. Allen Symbol of H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Through Empowerment) Award.

A professor of practice in the Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition,  Cowart is a passionate advocate for the health needs of underserved populations. She is executive director and co-founder of the Genesis Health Project Network. This initiative reduces health disparities in minority populations by collaborating with community organizations to identify and address health needs in greater Syracuse and Central New York. Focused on black families in low-income areas of Syracuse, this community-designed, culturally sensitive initiative promotes healthy lifestyles across the lifespan among African Americans who have the highest rates of obesity in the U.S. by empowering them to improve their diets, food preparation techniques, and exercise habits.

Under Cowart’s leadership, the Genesis Project has accomplished numerous milestones in addressing health disparities in African Americans in collaboration with the Syracuse community, including health seminars, fitness programs, educational programs at barber shops, and healthy lifestyle activities with churches and universities. Her work and the Genesis Health Project were recognized with the prestigious National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities Director’s Award in 2008 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health.

The Robert F. Allen Symbol of H.O.P.E. Award recognizes those who have devoted their careers to serving underserved populations and promoting cross-cultural harmony; to share innovative and effective strategies and; to increase the attention directed toward these efforts within the health promotion community. This annual award presented by the American Journal of Health Promotion. is made in recognition of Dr. Robert F. Allen’s work in helping people live harmoniously and achieve their greatest potential by learning how to create cultural norms that support these goals.