Vanguard Communications has long been inspired by courageous individuals of all backgrounds who have worked to make our world more equal, inclusive and just. Annually, our Communicator of the Month series showcases many individuals whose voices have made a lasting impact on our country.
In 2022, we recognized 11 of humanity’s heroes who helped — oftentimes unknowingly — identify, treat, teach others and spread awareness about COVID-19.
In case you missed one, below is a recap of all the blog posts that highlighted these inspiring people.
We kicked off the new year by remembering Dr. Andrew Brooks. Dr. Brooks was the designer and developer of the first approved coronavirus saliva test. His vision and perseverance upended the testing process, radically increasing its speed and safety and saving countless lives by preventing the spread of COVID-19 from infected individuals. Learn more about the importance of this test and Brooks’ contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In February, we spotlighted Dr. Li Wenliang. On December 30, 2019, he discovered a strange new virus — what we know now as COVID-19 — in one of his patients. In the weeks that followed, he would come to be regarded across the world as a courageous whistleblower. Learn more about the life of Wenliang and his many accomplishments.
In March, we showcased Kious Kelly. Kelly was an assistant nurse manager at Mount Sinai West hospital in Manhattan and is believed to be the first nurse in New York City to die from COVID-19. Learn why his death incited a national outcry for safer working conditions for health care workers on the frontlines and raised a flag about the significant shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).
In April, we recognized Dr. Rajendra Kapila. Described by his colleagues as a doctor, teacher, professor and genius, Kapila worked tirelessly in the field of global infectious diseases making major medical contributions, including some of the first observations about the AIDS epidemic. When the COVID-19 pandemic began to emerge as a dominant threat, Kapila’s expertise was highly sought. Learn about all of his major medical contributions up until his death at 81 years old in 2021.
In May, we spotlighted the remarkable work of Edward Jenner, who is credited with creating the world’s first vaccine. For centuries, smallpox devastated mankind. But today, it’s no longer a threat thanks to Jenner and his success in the late 18th century. Learn more about Jenner’s developments and endeavors in creating the world’s first vaccine.
In June, we spotlighted Dr. Susan Moore. After she passed away due to complications from COVID-19, her story became a shocking example of the shortcomings of the U.S. health care system in response to the pandemic, particularly for communities of color. Learn more about Moore’s fierce fight for treatment every step of the way during her battle with COVID-19 and how her death sparked national outrage.
In July, we honored Mexican-born Lorena Borjas who was known as the mother of the transgender Latinx community in Queens, New York. She fought tirelessly for transgender women, undocumented immigrants, sex workers and those living with HIV/AIDS, despite facing numerous challenges and traumas in her personal life. Learn how she worried about her transgender family, specifically how they were going to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, right up until her death.
In August, we showcased June Almeida. Almeida is credited with discovering the first human coronavirus in 1964. She was an internationally renowned virologist who pioneered new methods for viral imaging and diagnosis. Almeida retired from virology in 1985 but remained active and curious. Before her death in 2007 at the age of 77, she helped publish some of the first high-quality images of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Learn more about her groundbreaking scientific discoveries today.
In September, we celebrated Sara Little Turnbull, a trailblazing designer who operated at the nexus of design, culture, commerce and education during the second half of the 20th century. Turnbull led a life of innovation, influence and inspiration, eventually leading her to design what we now know as the N95 mask — one of the most powerful measures against COVID-19 transmission. Learn more about her life, legacy and many accomplishments.
In October, we honored Navajo nurse and combat veteran Raymond Joe. Joe spent his career on “the front lines”: first in defending his country, and second in healing his community during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a nurse in the Navajo Nation in New Mexico during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was one of the first health professionals serving this population to draw attention to the disparities and lack of support in their hospitals. Learn more about his life and legacy today.
In November, we spotlighted Iris Meda, who at 70 years old and an already retired nurse returned to her teaching role in suburban Dallas to help train young students who might someday battle viruses that threaten humanity, like the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Meda knew that returning to work at her age in the middle of the pandemic was risky, but she felt that she had no choice; there was an increasing nursing shortage and young nursing students needed her. Learn why she was such an essential educator during this challenging time.
In December, we took the month to reflect on those who made headlines as well as the many others who didn’t during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the heroes showcased above, there are millions more in our families and communities who are no longer with us and whose absence will be forever felt. We pay respect to what they brought to their communities in large and small ways, which will never be forgotten. Please join us in taking a moment to reflect on these losses and focus on healing and hope.
We hope that you enjoyed learning about these inspiring and brave individuals. To learn about additional individuals who have been featured in our previous calendars, be sure to check out our Communicator of the Month series right here on the blog!
In 2023, we will recognize 12 Proponents of Peace who were dedicated to resolving conflict and envisioned a world without violence. Whether they advocated for civil education classes or found the common link between the civil rights and peace movements, the efforts of these activists mitigated hostile conditions in many of the world’s most divided countries — including our own. Their cooperative processes led to negotiation, reconciliation and growth — and are still teaching us how to connect back to our shared humanity, even in times of strife.
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