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Altha Stewart Receives 2023 Burlingame Award

October 27, 2023

Altha Stewart’s career in community psychiatry was recognized on Oct. 18, 2023, with the distinguished 2023 C. Charles Burlingame, MD, Award at the Marriott Hartford Downtown.

Dr. Stewart is senior associate dean for community health engagement, director of the division of public psychiatry, and director of the center for youth advocacy and well-being at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. She describes herself as “a child of the ’60s born and raised in the Jim Crow South, in a multi-generational two-parent household, who has had a great career in community psychiatry.”

The Burlingame Award was established in 1988 and has been presented annually since in recognition of outstanding leadership and lifetime achievement in psychiatric research and education.

Dr. Stewart is a graduate of Temple University Medical School and she completed residency at Drexel University. She has led large public mental health systems in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan. Dr. Stewart is president of the American Association for Community Psychiatry and was the first African American elected president of the 175-year old American Psychiatric Association.

A past president of the Black Psychiatrists of America, Association of Women Psychiatrists and American Psychiatric Foundation, she has served as visiting professor at UCSF, UC Davis, University of Maryland and Massachusetts General Hospital, received honorary degrees from her alma mater, Christian Brothers University, as well as Regis College in Massachusetts, and is an honorary member of the South African Society of Psychiatrists.

A native of Memphis, she currently serves on the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth and the boards of Urban Child Institute, East Tennessee State University Center for Rural Health Research, the University of Tennessee College of Social Work, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, JED Foundation, and Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.

The award is named for C. Charles Burlingame, MD, who came to The Hartford Retreat in 1931 as superintendent. During the course of his career, he transformed the care and treatment of the mentally ill and, just as importantly, reframed the education of those who provide care to those patients.

Dr. Burlingame’s mark on the Institute of Living remains clearly visible to this day. The IOL sponsors residency programs in adult psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine, internships and postdoctoral programs in psychology in addition to training for nurses, social workers and occupational therapists.