Celebrating Excellence in Immunization Program Management

AIM recognizes that immunization program managers are central to the success of our nation’s immunization efforts. AIM members ensure vaccines reach the thousands of providers who provide COVID-19 vaccination and the 44,000+ providers and physicians enrolled in the Vaccines for Children program. Members do the hard and necessary work to lead the nation’s network of immunization programs—supporting information systems that track vaccinations, monitoring vaccination progress, containing outbreaks, and informing and educating consumers. They work year-round to develop and implement strategies to ensure that immunization coverage rates remain high, and that babies, adolescents, and adults are protected from vaccine-preventable disease.

AIM is proud to celebrate the hard work, innovation, and commitment to excellence shown by program managers throughout the nation.

Natalie Smith, MD

The Natalie J. Smith, MD Award is presented in memory of AIM member Natalie J. Smith’s outstanding management and leadership skills. It was established to recognize the contributions of an immunization program manager who has demonstrated the high ideals, innovation, and commitment to excellence in immunization practices that characterized Dr. Smith’s career. The award recognizes accomplishments and visionary leadership that have had a significant impact on achieving city, state, territory, and/or national vaccine-preventable disease goals and is the highest form of recognition for immunization program managers.

Previous Natalie J. Smith, MD Award Recipients

  • 2004 – Lorraine Duncan (OR)
  • 2005 – Alice Gray (PA)
  • 2006 – Beth Rowe-West (NC)
  • 2007 – Laurel Wood (AK)
  • 2008 – Mike Chaney (GA)
  • 2009 – Greg Reed (MD)
  • 2010 – Janna Bardi (WA)
  • 2011 – Susan Lett (MA)
  • 2012 – Kelly Moore (TN)
  • 2013 – Vincent Sacco (CT)
  • 2015 – Jane Zucker (NYC)
  • 2016 – Bob Swanson (MI)
  • 2017 – Pejman Talebian (MA)
  • 2018 – Annette Aguon (GU)
  • 2019 – Christine Finley (VT)
  • 2022 – Molly Howell (ND)

2023 Winner: Michele Roberts

This year’s winner is a demonstrated leader in the AIM community, having previously won the AIM Rising Star Award and the AIM Impact Award. Michele served the longest term as AIM Chair in the history of AIM. She showed character and grit at a time when AIM and program managers needed strong leadership – as we faced the challenge of planning and executing the COVID-19 vaccine campaign. This program manager was instrumental in building a seamless universal vaccine program, and successfully worked to have RSV nirsevimab added to the program. Michele has done groundbreaking work to engage communities and acknowledge public comment.

The AIM Rising Star Award recognizes a new program manager who demonstrates effective leadership and potential for growth within AIM. Awardees are engaged with peers and partners across the country and demonstrate a desire to impact the broader immunization community.

Previous AIM Rising Star Award Recipients

  • 2019- Tom McCleaf (PA)
  • 2018 – Shannon Bennett (NV)
  • 2017 – Dr. Sarah Royce (CA)
  • 2016 – Michele Roberts (WA)
  • 2022 – Emily Messerli (KY)

2023 Winner: Heather Burris (DC)

Heather Burris from Washington, DC, is a member of the AIM Executive Committee and the AIM Adult Immunization Committee. She is a regular on AIM Member Meetup and has shared the programmatic lessons she learned through the AIM Knowledge Hub series and at the Vaccine Access Cooperative.

The AIM Partnership Award recognizes an AIM partner who has worked with AIM to address an issue important to AIM members. Award winners’ work must involve collaboration and shared responsibility with AIM to implement a project that delivers a valuable resource or service to AIM members. Past award winners have been from academic institutions, nonprofits, government, academic institutions, the public health community, and the private sector.

Previous Partnership Award Recipients

  • 2022 – Chris Duggar, Senior Public Health Advisor and COVID Unit Lead, Immunization Services Division, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

2023 Winner: Nathan Crawford, Awardee Coordination and Support Team Lead, Immunization Operations and Services Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The winner of this year’s partnership award has been a valuable asset to awardees for his entire career. He has held many positions within the CDC Immunization Services Division, Program Operations Branch, and now serves as Awardee Coordination and Support Team Lead, Immunization Operations and Services Branch. Throughout his tenure at CDC, he has valued partnership with program managers and AIM – whether planning the Vaccines for Children boot camp, convening awardee calls and webinars, or supporting project officer and field staff engagement with program managers. He now leads a team of project officers and continues to work for the success of CDC and awardees in reaching and maintaining high vaccine coverage goals.

The Bull’s-Eye Award for Innovation and Excellence in Immunization recognizes programs whose immunization strategies have “hit their mark,” achieving goals and increasing awareness by encouraging replication in other programs.

2023 Winners: North Dakota and Washington immunization programs immunization programs

North Dakota Department of Health & Human Services Immunization Unit

Nomination NarrativeAward Presentation (PDF)

Washington State Department of Health’s Power of Providers (POP) Initiative

Nomination NarrativeAward Presentation (PDF)

Washington State Department of Health’s initiative WeConsider & Here for Us

Nomination NarrativeAward Presentation (PDF)

Honorable mentions: Pennsylvania Immunization Program for their initiative Need-based Criteria for Non-traditional VFC Provider Enrollment; Vermont Department of Health, Immunization Program for their initiative on Adult Immunization QI; and the Washington State Department of Health for their initiative WAIIS Change: HPV at Nine.

The AIM Impact Award recognizes a program manager who has dedicated significant time, expertise, and experience toward achieving AIM’s organizational goals—such as fostering member connection and contributing to sound immunization policy.

Previous AIM Impact Award Recipients

  • 2016  – Ronald Balajadia (HI)
  • 2017 –  Dave McCormick (IN)
  • 2018 –  Michele Roberts (WA)
  • 2019 –  Molly Howell (ND)
  • 2022 – Michele Roberts (WA)

2023 Winner: Amber Tirmal (Phila)

The 2023 Impact Award recipient is no stranger to AIM. She stepped up to run for chair-elect during the pandemic and has served in a leadership capacity at AIM for the last two years as Chair-elect and then Chair. She mentors new members, attended the September CDC-AIM new program manager orientation, and served as a group mentor. She provides guidance and mentoring to AIM staff. She speaks collectively as a voice for program managers with wisdom and clarity. And she is a leader and convener for program managers in her region.

The AIM Leading Through Adversity Award recognizes program managers who have shown fearlessness and perseverance under pressure and have risen to the challenge of managing an immunization program through difficult circumstances.

Previous AIM Leading Through Adversity Award Recipients

  • 2022 – All AIM Members Working During the COVID-19 Pandemic

2023 Winners: All AIM Members

This year, AIM awards all immunization program managers and thanks them for their extraordinary efforts.

AIM’s new Hall of Fame Award recognizes an individual’s leadership, commitment, and outstanding contributions to the immunization program manager community and the vision of a nation free of vaccine-preventable disease.

Previous AIM Hall of Fame Inductees

  • Brock Lamont, Retired CDC Chief, Immunization Services Division, Program Operations Branch

2023 Inductee: Dan Hopfensperger


This year, the second year of the AIM Hall of Fame, Dan Hopfensperger is the lone inductee. Dan served as the Wisconsin immunization program manager for over 15 years, retiring in 2015, and was an AIM consultant until his death in October 2023. Dan’s contributions to the AIM community are immeasurable and will live on through the success of current program managers and the AIM organization. Dan served as AIM Chair-elect, Chair, and Past Chair from 2005-2007. He was a longstanding elected member of the AIM Executive Committee. He served as an AIM mentor and Chair of the AIM Registry Committee. Dan was the godfather of IIS, developing the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR) and sharing it with programs nationwide.

Although we are profoundly saddened by the passing of one of our own, we are proud to bestow this award and know he would appreciate this honor.

2022 marked the inaugural reinstatement of the previously titled CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Award. Now hosted by AIM, the newly expanded and streamlined Immunization Champion Awards honor up to one Champion from each of the 50 states, six major cities, and eight territories and federated states.

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