The 2015 Victor Sidel and Barry Levy Award for Peace is being presented to Billie P. Weiss, MPH, founder of Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles and now- retired associate director of the Southern California Injury Prevention Research Program at the University of California-Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health.
The award draws attention to the profound health consequences of war and what public health workers can do to help prevent war and promote international peace and was endowed by two past presidents of APHA, Victor W. Sidel, MD, and Barry S. Levy, MD, MPH, who have edited books, written papers and spoken widely on war and public health.
For more than two decades, Weiss has led public health research aimed at helping community-based organizations in effectively preventing violence. In framing violence as a public health issue, Weiss has focused on the epidemiology of gang-related homicides and assaults, intimate partner violence, the evaluation of programs to reduce teen relationship violence, and parenting strategies for violence prevention. She led grassroots efforts to build coalitions and partnerships to reduce community violence in Los Angeles and throughout California, eventually bringing her public health approach to violence prevention to metropolitan areas of Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Tennessee.
Before taking on her role at the Southern California Injury Prevention Research Program, Weiss directed the Injury and Violence Prevention Program at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. She also authored and co-authored several papers and books, such as the “Advancement Project Report on Reducing Gang and Youth Violence in Los Angeles.”
She is executive director emeritus and founder of the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, which was launched in 1991 to address the rising epidemic of fatal violence in Los Angeles County and has since become a model for similar coalitions around the world, such as those in Scotland, Brazil and New Zealand. The Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles has been involved in changing policies regarding easy access to firearms and ammunitions, engaged hospitals in collecting evidence toward the prosecution of sexual violence and much more. Weiss is also co- chair of Urban Networks to Increase Thriving Youth, or UNITY, a national initiative designed to strengthen and support local efforts to prevent violence in the nation’s biggest cities.
Globally, Weiss has been involved in efforts to address domestic violence and violence against women in Scotland and the United Kingdom. She also participated in drafting the World Health Organization’s Melbourne declaration, which calls on nations and organizations to reduce preventable injury rates. Weiss also served as a representative of the International Action Network on Small Arms, which is a global movement against gun violence, as well as worked to include the issue of violence against women in the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.
Among her many awards and honors, Weiss was recognized as a Regional Public Health Hero by the University of California-Berkeley School of Public Health in 2001 and has received a Public Service Award from APHA’s Injury Control and Emergency Health Services Section. She has also been honored by the Southern California Public Health Association, California Police Chiefs Association, the Brady Center to Prevent Handgun Violence and the Black Probation Officers Association of Los Angeles.