Dr. David Scrase, secretary of the state Human Services Department, and Karissa Culbreath, an infectious disease specialist with TriCore Reference Laboratories, are the 2020 recipients of the 13th annual New Mexico Humanitarian Awards.
They are being honored for their support of underserved populations, and their leadership and inspiration in dealing with COVID-19, according to the Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque, which has presented the yearly awards since 2007.
In addition, educator George Skadron and his wife, community activist Vivian Skadron, are recipients of this year’s Harold B. Albert Award for outstanding service to the Jewish community in Albuquerque.
The Humanitarian Awards dinner this year is being replaced with a virtual program to be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 14 via Facebook Live.
Before heading up the state HSD, Scrase spent 12 years in medical education and health care positions in Michigan and New Mexico. For more than 20 years, he served on public policy committees and in community organizations.
Culbreath is a board-certified clinical microbiologist, assistant professor of pathology at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, and medical director and Infectious Disease Division chief at TriCore Reference Laboratories. Her postdoctoral experience working in Malawi underscored the need for supporting underserved communities and brought her back to her hometown of Albuquerque.
George Skadron concluded his career as an educator as emeritus professor and chair of the Department of Physics at Illinois State University from 1986-98. After relocating to New Mexico, and even though he had retired, he continued to teach as an adjunct professor of physics at UNM through 2018. He served on the board of directors of the Albuquerque JCC and on the Jewish Community Foundation of New Mexico.
Vivian Skadron holds a 60-year membership in the League of Women Voters. She is a former executive director of the Fort Wayne, Indiana, Jewish Federation, where she worked to help settle Russian Jewish refugees. She and husband George are the founders of the Contemporary Jewish Studies Lecture Series at UNM.