Dr. Greta Strong, an assistant professor of community outreach teaching in the Department of Neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine, received the U.S. Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of thousands of hours of volunteer service in the health care education arena.
The distinction is part of the President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA), which was established by President George W. Bush to honor civilians who volunteer to serve people in need. The Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award represents the highest level of the PVSA, given to individuals who contribute more than 4,000 hours of service in their lifetime.
“I had so many conflicting emotions when I learned about this award – I was both humbled and proud,” said Dr. Strong, who joined Weill Cornell Medicine in 1996. “It is one of the highlights of my life professionally and personally to be singled out and recognized by our administration.”
Dr. Strong’s professional and volunteer service spans many areas of health education, engagement and advocacy. At Weill Cornell Medicine, she collaborates with multiple departments to foster community health through outreach and serves on the Dean’s Community Advisory Board, where she maintains relationships with community leaders of numerous civic organizations, with an emphasis on social justice.
Dr. Strong volunteers with numerous organizations, including Making the Impossible Possible, a non-profit that works to improve the quality of life of immigrant youth and their families in the New York Metropolitan area and abroad, and that provides professional development training for educators in Haiti and scholarships to graduating high school immigrants. She also works with the National Vitiligo Bond Foundation, Inc., which supplies resources to people coping with the skin disorder vitiligo, and Ajalon Int’l Charity, Inc., an international charity providing philanthropic assistance to college students in Nigeria completing four-year college degrees. During the COVID pandemic, Dr. Strong was instrumental in organizing speakers to disseminate information around vaccine hesitancy and other aspects of public health at New York City schools.
She attributes her desire to make an impact on her family’s long tradition of providing distinguished service to the communities “where they place their feet.”
“I believe in transformational leadership as opposed to transactional leadership,” Dr. Strong said. “For me, working with pro bono or non-profits is easy because they are the foundation of our society.”
In a signed letter to Dr. Strong, President Joe Biden said, “We are living in a moment that calls for hope and light and love: Hope for our futures, light to see our way forward, and love for one another. Through your service, you are providing all three.”
“I could not agree more about what this moment needs,” Dr. Strong said, adding that she plans on centering upcoming volunteer efforts on Black maternal health—with a focus on mental health in particular, among other missions. “I view this award as a further clarion call to do what I have always done.”
Dr. Strong was honored with fellow awardees by Worldwide Global Medical Missions, led by Bishop Dr. Ebony Kirkland, on April 29 at a dinner reception in Queens, New York.