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2018 Member Awards

2018 Educator of the Year Award

Burton W. Lee, MD
Award Presentation Video

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, ESV).

The Educator of the Year Award is presented to Christian healthcare professionals who are exceptionally dedicated to using healthcare education to change the world. These devoted individuals strive to provide the best education to their students, taking time to share their knowledge, integrity and compassion. Undeniably, they are committed to God and living out their faith. It is due to their dedication to educating and inspiring others that the Christian Medical & Dental Associations is proud to present the 2018 Educator of the Year Award to Burton W. Lee, MD.

Burt was born in Seoul, Korea but immigrated as a young child with his parents, who left behind everything they knew to provide better opportunities for their three sons. Burt went to church throughout his childhood, but it was not until his freshman year at UCLA that he became a committed follower of Christ through friends at a Christian fraternity. Burt met Sandy at Korean American Christian Fellowship, a group which Burt co-founded that now has chapters in several university campuses. They married after Burt’s second year at Harvard Medical School and while Sandy completed her masters of education at UCLA. During Burt’s residency and fellowship training at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Sandy worked as a Research Assistant at the Harvard School of Public Health and later taught as an English teacher at the Boston Latin Academy.

During his years in Boston, Burt was actively involved with CMDA where several members met monthly to explore the possibility of using medicine to serve the poor in the inner city and abroad. A highlight for Burt and Sandy during this time was serving for three months at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya. In 1998, Burt joined Southwestern Medical Clinic in Michigan, a Christian group co-founded by Dr. Robert Schindler, a former CMDA President.

Starting in 2001, Burt worked as a medical educator and a pulmonary intensivist at Medstar Washington Hospital Center and eventually rose to the position of Associate Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Among his various roles in medical education, Burt particularly enjoyed being the course director for the fourth year medical student MICU rotation and also educating the internal medicine residents. He developed an ICU curriculum that transformed the educational experience for the students and residents for which he received the J. H. Gaskin Excellence in Teaching Award for four consecutive years.

Burt and Sandy returned to Kijabe in 2010 with their two children. From 2010 to 2016, Burt helped implement a relevant ICU curriculum for African physician trainees. He co-founded the Emergency Critical Care Clinical Officer (ECCCO) program to help bridge the high burden of illness in Sub Saharan Africa with the shortage of well-trained clinicians. During those years, Sandy taught English and later served as a college counselor at Rift Valley Academy.

Since the beginning of his medical education career, Burt has been strongly interested in evidence-based medicine. In 2012, he returned to this passion area by designing and teaching the Scientific Literacy & Numeracy Course for fourth year medical students at Georgetown. Burt now teaches this course at University of Pittsburgh and since 2015, he has been teaching biostatistics at Kabarak University in Kenya. In addition to his various roles in the U.S., Burt has been passionate about global health and supporting medical education, especially in resource-limited countries. From 2002 to 2005, he volunteered through CMDA’s Medical Education International to teach at University of Pristina in Kosovo helping their anesthesiologists’ efforts to rebuild after the civil war. Since 2006, Burt has been teaching at CMDA’s annual Continuing Medical and Dental Education Conference, which provides accredited continuing education for overseas healthcare workers. He has been a member of the planning commission, has previously served as the Dean of Medicine and, as of 2018, is now the Academic Dean for this conference.

Burt and Sandy moved back to the U.S. in 2016, and they are very thankful for their life journey so far and for the opportunity to live their lives according to their faith and what they truly value following in the footsteps of many in the CMDA community who have traveled before them. In recognition of a life of godly service and academic achievement, CMDA proudly presents the 2018 Educator of the Year Award to Dr. Burton Lee.


2018 President’s Heritage Award

Shepherd Smith
Award Presentation Video

“...he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10, NIV 1984).​​​​​​​

The Christian Medical & Dental Associations is honored to present the 2018 President’s Heritage Award to Shepherd Smith. This award is given to individuals whose lives and work support the mission of CMDA. 

Shepherd has spent more than 30 years working on the issues of HIV/AIDS, global health and youth development, and he has been a consistent champion of the role of faith organizations and leaders in all of these arenas. Throughout this time, he has worked in the United States with policy makers at all levels, including the White House, Senate, House of Representatives, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of State, USAID and the Office of Management and Budget. He has testified on Capitol Hill more than 10 times and before a dozen state legislatures on HIV/AIDS issues. Shepherd has included CMDA’s Washington Office in many meetings he has arranged with high-ranking government officials. This has allowed CMDA to be a voice for our values on international health issues, in particular issues of conscience and religious freedom. CMDA’s input in these meetings Shepherd arranged has resulted in policy changes to accommodate the conscience convictions of faith-based organizations in international health projects and has encouraged new programs and strategies to make federal international health grants programs more faith-friendly.

As the founder of both the Institute for Youth Development (IYD) and the Children’s AIDS Fund, Shepherd has dedicated his career to showing Christ’s love by limiting the total suffering from AIDS/HIV. Shepherd and his wife Anita first traveled to Africa in 1995 and have returned more than 60 times to work on AIDS prevention, treatment and care, as well as youth development and global health issues. Both IYD and the Children’s AIDS Fund have become important sources of information for the faith community, both in the United States and globally. Through these programs, he’s worked with leaders and policy makers in Africa, including Uganda’s President and Mrs. Museveni; Zambia’s President Banda and First Lady Mwanawasa; various ministers of health, youth and education; and members of Parliament. As President of the Children’s AIDS Fund, Anita has actively managed and implemented HIV/AIDS programs in the U.S. and globally throughout the last 25 years. 

In 2003, Shepherd brought unity to the faith community and organized its support of PEPFAR before the program was even announced by former President George W. Bush. PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) is the largest global health initiative, and he traveled to all PEPFAR-focused countries to discuss the new program with staff, country leadership and local media. In 2008, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Washington Office Director credited Shepherd as one of three individuals most responsible for PEPFAR’s reauthorization five years after it was initiated. Since its inception, PEPFAR has been allocated more than $59 billion, and as a result, nearly eight million people worldwide have HIV treatment.

Shepherd is also active in fieldwork throughout Africa. In rural Zambia, he met with local leaders to dedicate a plot of land for a youth center; helped distribute motorcycles, chickens and goats to grandparents caring for HIV orphaned children; delivered soccer balls containing HIV prevention messages; spoke to large and small audiences about HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care; helped build capacity of local organization leaders and key staff on governance, grant compliance and program implementation; and more. 

In addition, he regularly collaborates with global health leaders at the World Health Organization and UNAIDS. In 2017, Shepherd effectively impacted UNAIDS to be more faith inclusive and focus on men and boys as targets in HIV/AIDS education and prevention. In addition to his work with PEPFAR and UNAIDS, he is a consultant to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Georgetown University. 

Shepherd has appeared on CNN, Fox, NBC, ABC Evening News, CBS Evening News among other TV networks and programs, as well as been interviewed by the Washington Post, the Washington Times, Christianity Today and numerous local papers, evangelical publications and radio programs across the country. Shepherd and Anita currently live in Northern Virginia, and they have three children. In recognition of his ministry focused on bringing healthcare to the world and improving the lives of millions of people, we are pleased to present the 2018 President’s Heritage Award to Shepherd Smith.


2018 Servant of Christ Award

Rick Donlon, MD​​​​​​​
Award Presentation Video

“…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28, NIV 1984).​​​​​​​

Established in 1972, the Servant of Christ Award honors those whose careers exemplify commitment to medical excellence along with a stalwart faith in Jesus Christ. The Christian Medical & Dental Associations is honored to present the 2018 Servant of Christ Award to Dr. Rick Donlon.

Rick’s journey as a servant of Christ has carried him to countless locations around the world, from Texas to Tennessee and from Ethiopia to India, as well as other far-reaching locations around the world. As this year’s recipient, his career in healthcare practice and ministry has been blended with a commitment to serving others through a deep commitment to God’s call on his life.

He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Texas Christian University in 1986. He then attended Louisiana State University School of Medicine and graduated with his medical degree in 1990. While he was in medical school, he became a member of CMDA and even served as his student chapter president from 1987 to 1988. After graduating, Rick then moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he completed a combined internship and residency in internal medicine and pediatrics with the University of Tennessee College of Health Sciences in 1994. Upon finishing residency, he spent a year working as a clinical instructor and physician at the Regional Medical Center in Memphis.

In 1995, Rick’s service to God’s call on his life led him to join with three other doctors in Memphis—David Pepperman, Karen Miller and Steven Besh—to found Christ Community Health Services, a faith-based, federally qualified health center serving the medically underserved in Memphis. Since opening the first health center in 1995, their mission has been to provide high quality healthcare to the underserved in the context of distinctively Christian service. They strategically enter Memphis communities that, over time, have become deficient in resources and services. Residents of these communities lack access to quality healthcare, and manageable health issues often go untreated or undiagnosed. Christ Community grew from one clinic in 1995 to seven free standing medical centers, three dental centers and a mobile van for the homeless across 10 low-income neighborhoods in Memphis. These health centers have provided over two million primary care visits for low-income Memphians.

From 1995 to 2014, Dr. Donlon held a variety of positions with Christ Community, including Medical Director for Operations, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Executive Officer. During this time, he also assisted in the creation of new Christian health centers in Augusta, Georgia; Kansas City, Missouri; Birmingham, Alabama; Clarkston, Georgia; and New Orleans, Louisiana. Through the clinics, they hosted hundreds of visiting medical students from across the U.S. who were able to see their model of Christian healthcare among the poor. In addition, Rick established a health center-based family medicine residency program with the University of Tennessee College of Medicine and Methodist University Hospital for residents training specifically to practice among low-income, underserved populations. This residency program that has trained scores of committed disciple-physicians, nearly all of whom are serving the poor, either in the U.S. or among unreached people groups overseas. He has also recruited, prepared and sent long-term healthcare missionaries to Afghanistan, India, Ethiopia/Somalia, Chad, Jordan and Iraq.

In 2014, Dr. Donlon and Dr. Pepperman joined forces again to launch Resurrection Health, a similar faith-based clinic system to serve low-income residents of Memphis communities who lack primary care access. In addition to primary care, they also provided general surgery services, inpatient hospital care and more.

As a member of CMDA for more than 30 years, he has been a CMDA student retreat speaker multiple times in the Southern, Midwest and Northeast regions. He has also spoken at dozens of medical and dental school campuses. Today, Rick, his wife Laurie and their seven children live in the Binghampton neighborhood of Memphis, where he works and serves as an elder in their house church network.

In recognition of a life focused on serving God no matter where His call leads, CMDA proudly presents the 2018 Servant of Christ Award to Dr. Rick Donlon.