Aysha Akhtar Winner of the Belton Mouras Grassroots Leadership Award
At its annual membership meeting, the National Council for Animal Protection (NCAP) presented Aysha Akhtar, MD, MPH with the Belton Mouras Grassroots Leadership Award for her work demonstrating the link between human health and animal protection. The award reception took place on March 29, 2015 in New Orleans.
As a double board-certified neurologist and preventive medicine and public health specialist, Dr. Akhtar has made it her personal mission to demonstrate the link between human health and animal protection. She explored this link in her book Animals and Public Health: Why treating animals better is critical to human welfare and has spoken about this link in her TED talk, which garnered over 35,000 views. She has been published in distinguished peer-reviewed journals, and writes about animal research and other ways in which treating animals poorly results in negative human health outcomes as a blogger for the Huffington Post. She also works for the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats of the Food and Drug Administration and serves as Lieutenant Commander in the Public Health Service. Her accomplishments as a medical doctor, public health specialist, and a fellow at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics have lent her message a legitimacy that few can claim.
“What we are forging is not a revolutionary change, but an evolutionary change. We are changing the very way we define ourselves and the world around us. I am extremely proud to stand among the hundreds of thousands of remarkable people selflessly working for this change and to do my part in showing that quite simply, what’s good for animals is also good for humans,” said Dr. Akhtar.
NCAP developed the Distinguished Grassroots Leadership Award as a way to recognize and celebrate exceptional contributions to the animal protection movement. Recipients of the award demonstrate leadership, advance respect, compassion and justice for animals, and exemplify the Code of Ethics of NCAP in their actions. Past awards have recognized Laura Bonar, Program Director of Animal Protection of New Mexico and Marc Johnson, Founder and CEO of Foster Parrots, Inc. The Grassroots Leadership Award is presented at NCAP’s annual Summit for the Animals, and the 2015 award was renamed in honor of Belton Mouras, founder of the Summit, who passed away in 2014.
“It is an honor to present this award, named after animal protection pioneer and war hero Belton Mouras, to such a distinguished recipient. The award is a positive recognition for those who selflessly dedicate their time and talent to protect our fellow creatures,” said NCAP president Wim DeKok.
NCAP has its roots in the Summit for the Animals, pioneered by Belton Mouras in 1985. Since 1985 the Summit for the Animals has been held annually and brings together leaders of animal protection organizations across the U.S. NCAP is a professional association which works to support the work of its members through public opinion research, a guiding code of ethics, networking events and collaborative opportunities.
Dr. Akhtar contributed to this article in her personal capacity. The views expressed are her own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Food and Drug Administration, Public Health Service, or the United States Government.