The COTY award is given each year at the Finest Awards event.

Communicator of the Year Award

The Communicator of the Year award is the highest honor given each year in recognition of outstanding and successful health care professionals. Eligible nominees are individuals who consistently demonstrate excellence in health care communications through service to their organization and/or the health care industry as a whole. The COTY award is open to all professionals at any level, working in a marketing/communication capacity in health care or other health-related field in southern California. This includes professionals from public relations, marketing, advertising, health care or media professions.

2021 COTY Award Recipient


Keith Darce and Stephen Carpowich
Public Relations Managers at Scripps Health

The 2021 Communicator of the Year Award was to Keith Darce and Steve Carpowich, Public Relations Managers for Scripps Health

Throughout the pandemic, these two unsung heroes have been the “frontline workers” of the Marketing Communications Department.

• They creatively managed the media by setting up Zoom interviews between reporters and physicians so everyone could remain isolated and safe.

• They also worked with all seven local television broadcasters to develop a pool coverage system that allowed for one TV station to shoot shared interviews

• This mighty PR team has responded to more than 1,000 media queries that resulted in 4,330 impressions and potentially reached almost 3 billion people.

• While each has their own individual traits that make them successful – one for being tech-savvy and protective of patients, and the other for being tenacious and extremely thorough – they are both known for their humility, out-of-the-box thinking and attention to detail.

• They are the heroes that work quietly behind the scenes to make others shine

Past COTY Award Recipients

2020 - Heather Valentine, Loma Linda University Health

2019 - no event due to COVID

2018 - Jacqueline Carr, UC San Diego

2017 - Aaron Byzak, Galvanized Strategies

2016 - Dawn Anderson, AMN Healthcare

2014/15 - Mary Ball, Alzheimer's Association of San Diego & Imperial Counties

2013 - Mike Godfrey, Scripps Health

2012 - Jennifer Decker Arevalo, UC San Diego Health System

2011 - Kim Kennedy, UC San Diego Health System

2010 - Todd Miller, Sharp Healthcare

2009 - Carol Burke, AMN Healthcare

2008 - Jean Hitchcock, Scripps Health

2007 - Cheryl Moder, San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative

2006 - Don Stanziano, Scripps Health

2005 - Carol LeBeau, KGTV News Anchor and Health Care Reporter

2004 - Debra Kelley, American Lung Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties

2003 - Gustavo Friederichsen, Palomar Pomerado Health

2002 - Judith Yates, Health Care Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties

2001 - Michael Bardin, Scripps Health

2000 - David Owens, Palomar Pomerado Health

1999 - CeCe Wilkens, Wilkens Communications

1998 - Maureen Wisener, Paradise Valley Hospital

1997 - Mark Morelli, Children’s Hospital

1996 - Jim McBride, Kaiser Permanente

1995 - Sharon Ross, Palomar Pomerado Health

1994 - Diane Gage, Sharp HealthCare

1993 - Micki Stockalper, Stock/Alper & Associates

Health Care Communicators of Southern California
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