Meet 2016 Texas Health Champion, Michelle Smith

Published: September 6, 2016

Michelle Rising StarFor more than 15 years, Michelle Smith, State Coordinator for Texas Action for Healthy Kids (TAHK) and Director for the Southern Obesity Summit, has been involved in many local and statewide organizations working to reduce the burden of obesity. To say Michelle “wears many hats” would be an understatement—she makes the hats, dons them, and inspires others to put on their own headgear. Her peers recognize her dedication in her multiple efforts to create healthier schools and communities in Texas and beyond. “She works tirelessly to be sure her community is informed and engaged, and serves as an important liaison between students, schools, policymakers, advocates, and researchers,” says Carrie Kroll of the Texas Hospital Association.

Michelle helped to create the obesity advocacy coalition Partnership for a Healthy Texas whose efforts have borne fruit in the form of numerous local and state policies including, expanding the responsibilities of School Health Advisory Councils (SHACs), providing students access to daily physical activity opportunities at school, universal coordinated school health implementation, and regular student fitness testing and reporting. And we’re just getting started, people. 

As State Coordinator for TAHK, Michelle travels throughout Texas connecting schools with organizations in the community to improve the physical activity and nutrition environments. She also coordinates the TAHK Summit, which celebrates schools in Texas that are creating safe and healthy learning environments. In addition to recognizing schools, the TAHK Summit brings together educators, public health experts, and community members and organizations. Speaking of summits…

As Director for the Southern Obesity Summit, Michelle has helped manage the largest regional prevention event in the country, the Southern Obesity Summit (SOS). A 16-state working conference, SOS is a gathering of health professionals who share their expertise, experiences, and perspectives, and offer best practices to help identify strategies to address obesity prevention. “We are now receiving national attention and feel strongly that Michelle’s dedication and mission-oriented attitude is an obvious correlation,” says Camille Miller, CEO of the Texas Health Institute. The 10th SOS will be held this November in Houston.

Put simply: when it comes to creating healthy change, Michelle Smith gets things done. “Michelle works behind the scenes to influence these changes,” says Peter Cribb of CATCH Global Foundation, “sacrificing her own time and resources to ensure the health of our state and our children.” 

Michelle will be recognized at the Texas Health Champion Award Ceremony on September 15 in Austin, Texas.

About the Texas Health Champion Award

As part of the Annual Texas Obesity Awareness Week, the Texas Health Champion Award is presented to public health leaders who have demonstrated exemplary achievement in reducing the burden and/or raising awareness of the obesity epidemic in Texas. Nominees considered for the award may be individuals, organizations, or project teams from community organizations, educational agencies, non-profit organizations, or government offices. The 2016 awardees were recognized at the 9th Annual Texas Health Champion Award Ceremony on September 15 in Austin.

Click here to read about the other 2016 Texas Health Champion, Brighter Bites!