Megan Wessel awarded the 2021 Florida Outstanding Woman in Public Health

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The University of South Florida (USF) College of Public Health has named Megan Wessel, MPH, of Tampa, Fla., the 2021 Florida Outstanding Woman in Public Health.

The college bestows the award each year to a woman whose career accomplishments and leadership contribute significantly to the field of public health in Florida. Wessel received the award at the USF COPH National Public Health Week Virtual Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, April 7.

Megan Wessel, MPH (Photo courtesy of Wessel)

Wessel is the vice president of regional cancer control for the American Cancer Society’s Southeast Region, which serves Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. In this role, she serves on the senior leadership team for the region and the enterprise cancer control leadership team.

Along with her team, Wessel works with priority health systems and communities to increase utilization of cancer prevention strategies and cancer screening tests. These efforts help to reduce barriers to care for cancer patients and engage partners in fighting cancer through the society’s advocacy initiatives. They strategically engage over 360 priority health systems, implementing quality improvement and evidence-based interventions.

“Megan Wessel is a consummate advocate for the needs of cancer patients and their families and caregivers,” said Dr. Celeste Phillip, a previous recipient of the award and deputy director for Non-Infectious Diseases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “She’s a strategic partner who understands and values a systems approach to the continuum of cancer prevention and care, and that the system is strengthened by meaningful collaboration on common goals, rather than the benefits to one organization.”

Prior to joining the American Cancer Society, Wessel worked for CIGNA HealthCare of Florida, managing statewide disease management programs.

Wessel also worked for two other nonprofit organizations. At Gulf Coast South Area Health Education Center, she developed and coordinated collaborative efforts with health care providers, community organizations and academic institutions to increase access to primary health care for underserved populations. During her time at Best Start Social Marketing, she conducted qualitative and quantitative research on statewide and national social marketing projects.

Earning a master’s degree in public health from USF, focusing primarily on community and family health, Wessel has also completed two leadership programs, one at the Columbia Business School and the other at the University of California Berkeley Center for Executive Education.

She also serves on multiple public health leadership councils including: the Florida Cancer Control and Research Advisory Council, the Florida Tobacco Advisory Council, the Florida Prostate Cancer Advisory Council and the Florida Palliative Care Coalition Steering Committee.

“Megan Wessel is a wealth of knowledge and collaboration. She has shaped the state’s cancer plan and continues to impact our statewide cancer effort by shaping our cancer plan implementation,” said Drs. Clement K. Gwede, chair of the Florida Cancer Control and Research Advisory Council (CCRAB), and Bobbie McKee, executive director of the CCRAB.

Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health