Global Health Nexus, Winter 2004

Dr. Esther Colchamiro Honored with John W. Knutson Distinguished Service Award

Award Honors 60 Years of Educational and Public Health Service

Dr. Esther K. Colchamiro, a public health icon for six decades, has received the prestigious John W. Knutson Distinguished Service Award in Dental Public Health. Presented by the American Association of Public Health Dentistry, the Knutson Distinguished Service Award recognizes a distinguished career in dental public health, leadership in the profession, and significant accomplishments in the field of public health.

A Clinical Professor of Pediatric Dentistry at NYU for the past 21 years, Dr. Colchamiro had earlier devoted 25 years to working with needy city children at the Guggenheim Dental Clinic at NYU, followed by 14 years with the New York City Department of Health as part of the New York City Evaluation Unit in the Office of Professional Standards and Review, where she rose to become administrator of the New York City Medicaid program covering all health care.

One of only two women to graduate from Tufts University’s dental school during World War II, Dr. Colchamiro went on to earn an MPH degree from Columbia University. Dr. Colchamiro is a fellow of the American College of Dentists, a fellow of the American Society for Geriatric Dentistry, a former trustee of the American Fund for Dental Health, and a recipient of the Columbia University Distinguished Service Award, the Lucy Hobbs Taylor Award presented by the American Association of Women Dentists, the Humanitarian Award of the Academy of General Dentistry, and the Tufts University Meritorious Service Award.

In accepting the award on her behalf, Dr. Stephen Colchamiro, a nephew, spoke admiringly of his aunt’s ability to “do things quietly, efficiently, and with enormous results.” He noted that if Esther had been present, she would have responded with a brief, modest, “thank-you,” and then invited everyone to enjoy her home-baked cookies.