My good friend and truly outstanding village clerk emeritus, Terri Powell, proposed the Fauci Awards on Facebook. She gave rise to a letter I have long planned to write but never got around to until her little nudge.

Hands down, Mike Charley would win this award with his ability to run a health department on fumes and then gear up to challenge a pandemic in the face of too few resources and the opposition of those who choose convenience over science. Every day he faced the pandemic with knowledge and courage. And he even appreciated the citizens who called for information and reassurance about not just COVID-19 but the other myriad public health issues in our village.

But honestly, we have a tie.

His predecessor, Margaret Provost-Fyfe, RN. Margaret took over a busy, overworked health department even while she continued as a supervisory public health nurse. She served as the primary staff liaison and professional consultant to the Oak Park Board of Health and its chair. She was a valuable teacher, advocate and support for the board. There was never an ask by the board that she did not provide.

How Oak Park will ever find a new health director with the same knowledge, motivation, commitment, endless energy and commitment to the health of Oak Park, I do not know. It is clear to me that Mike and Margaret are public health heroes of the highest order.

Frank Vozak

Former chair, Oak Park Board of Health

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