MFH Honors Dr. Sarah Garwood with 2021 Walentik Leadership in Health Award



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Courtney Stewart
Missouri Foundation for Health
(314) 345-5505

MFH Honors Dr. Sarah Garwood with 2021 Walentik Leadership in Health Award

ST. LOUIS, MO (December 7, 2021) – Missouri Foundation for Health has named Dr. Sarah Garwood, medical director at school-based health center the SPOT at Jennings High School, as the 2021 Dr. Corinne Walentik Leadership in Health award honoree. In addition to her work at the SPOT, Garwood is co-director of the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and associate professor of pediatrics, adolescent medicine, at Washington University. She will be recognized on December 16, at the Foundation’s (virtual) annual event.

In 2008, she joined Washington University’s division of adolescent medicine and the leadership team for the pediatric residency program. In her work with residents, she directs a rotation on advocacy and community pediatrics and spearheaded the development of a statewide collaborative group for advocacy and resident education called MOCARE.

Garwood is also on staff at the original location of the SPOT (supporting positive opportunities with teens) in the city of St. Louis. The SPOT offers young people ages 13-24 a safe place to receive free health care, counseling, STI screenings, social support, and more. All these services are provided under one roof in a cost-free, accessible, and youth-friendly atmosphere.

In 2015, working in partnership with the community and school leadership, she helped establish the SPOT at Jennings, a spinoff of the SPOT. The center, the first of its kind in St. Louis County, offers comprehensive health services and linkage to social services for young people, serving hundreds of patients each year who attend Jennings High School. During its development, Garwood ensured that behavioral health screenings and trauma-informed care principles were holistically integrated into the work. She currently serves as the center’s medical director.

“Simply put, Jennings Senior High School has had 100% graduation, career, or college placement for over four school years since the creation of this partnership, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Sarah Garwood,” said Art McCoy, superintendent emeritus of Jennings School District, in his letter of support for Garwood’s nomination.

In August 2017, Garwood co-founded the Washington University Transgender Center at St Louis Children’s Hospital in order to support comprehensive medical and mental health services for transgender children and young adults. She is now the co-director of the only clinic of its kind in the region.

“So much of Dr. Garwood’s work is ahead of the curve,” said MFH President and CEO Dwayne Proctor. “Her work to improve the health of young LGBTQ patients is groundbreaking, and this is what Dr. Walentik’s legacy speaks to – enhancing the lives of youth. Dr. Garwood is truly leading the way, and we at MFH appreciate the work she’s doing to advance health equity.”

The Walentik award was created to honor the late Dr. Walentik’s commitment to serving vulnerable groups, especially children. Each year the award is presented to a health leader in Missouri who exemplifies the passion, dedication, and energy that she brought to her work. Garwood will receive a $2,500 individual award and, per her direction, $25,000 will go to the SPOT at Jennings.

Garwood joins an impressive group of honorees, including Katie Plax, Anne Francioni, Jason Purnell, DiAnne Mueller, Brittany “Tru” Kellman, Nick Holekamp, and Kathy Fenger. “I have to say I’m incredibly humbled to receive an award like this and to see the work of the others who have received it,” said Garwood. “As a pediatrician in Missouri, this is one of the greatest recognitions you can get because Dr. Walentik was such an incredible advocate.”


Missouri Foundation for Health is building a more equitable future through collaboration, convening, knowledge sharing, and strategic investment. Working in partnership with communities and nonprofits, MFH is transforming systems to eliminate inequities within all aspects of health and addressing the social and economic factors that shape health outcomes.