Naomi Billups, Public Health Nutrition Manager for the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), received recognition for her dedication and action to improve community access to nutritious foods and physical activity, address social and emotional wellness, increase lactation supportive environments, and create healthy, safe physical environments.


At the 2021 Inclusive Leadership in Action (ILIA) Awards ceremony on October 11, Naomi received well-deserved acknowledgement for her leadership and collaborative spirit that has led to many sustainable policy and systems changes. 


In speaking about her nomination of Naomi, Blanca Melendrez, Executive Director of the UC San Diego Center for Community Health at the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute said, “This was a perfect opportunity to acknowledge and thank Naomi for what she has done for our communities over the last 20 years, as well as her continued commitment to efforts such as the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative.”


One example highlighting Naomi’s innovative approach to community empowerment and her determination to be a changemaker is her work to increase supports for breastfeeding mothers in underserved communities. Upon learning immigrant and refugee communities needed peer to peer lactation educators who could communicate in their own languages and cultural practices, Naomi mobilized HHSA resources to ensure members of diverse and under-resourced communities were provided resources to become Certified Lactation Educators and go back to their communities to provide this needed support.  Naomi’s collaboration with community partners resulted in breastfeeding trainings to home visiting and community health clinic staff to provide culturally appropriate support for breastfeeding mothers in Southeastern and Mid-City San Diego, improving health outcomes for both mothers and babies.


Naomi is a person who looks at the big picture and sees the possibilities, asking the “what if” questions that can lead to real change in systems and policies. She is a connector who understands the human element in all the work that we do, never losing sight of the realities faced by people in our community who are struggling to find ways to survive and thrive. Naomi believes there is always enough credit to go around and makes sure to recognize and spotlight the accomplishments of all who contribute. Naomi Billups truly embodies the definition of a community change agent.

Blanca Melendrez (UCSD ACTRI Community Health) and Naomi Billups (County of San Diego HHSA)

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