Reynolds Honored for Strengthening Ties Between Yale and New Haven

Heather Reynolds, Yale President Peter Salovey, and New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker. Photo by Dan Renzetti.
April 19, 2023

President Peter Salovey and New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker presented Yale School of Nursing (YSN) Lecturer in Nursing Heather Reynolds ’80 MSN, CNM, FACNM with an Ivy Award on April 4, honoring her decades of work strengthening ties between the university and the city.

The annual Seton Elm-Ivy Awards were established in 1979 through an established endowment by Fenmore Seton ’38 and Phyllis Seton, and the first Elm and Ivy recipients were named the following year. Ivy Awards salute the efforts of Yale community members, and Elm Awards recognize members of the broader New Haven community. This year, the awards honored eight contributors.

Reynolds was nominated by longtime colleague Associate Professor of Nursing Gina Novick ’83 MSN, ’09 PhD, CNM, FACNM, FAAN. Her nomination reads, in part:

“Heather Reynolds is a Yale nurse-midwife who has cared for generations of patients in the New Haven community and has educated generations of Yale students who have become clinicians and leaders. Beyond her history of caring for New Haven families and teaching for over 30 years, Heather has demonstrated a deep commitment to social justice in her work to address health inequities in New Haven, improve maternal and child health, and reduce maternal morbidity and mortality.”

Dean Holly Powell Kennedy, PhD, CNM, FACNM, FAAN attended the ceremony, which was held in the Schwarzman Center.

“We are delighted to see Heather recognized in this way,” Dean Kennedy said. “She is an outstanding clinician, educator, collaborator, and mentor, and an active citizen in every community of which she is a member. Heather demonstrates the kind of impact nurses and midwives can make when they are fully engaged in understanding every barrier to care their patients might face and working to lower and eliminate those obstacles. You could not ask for a better role model for the next generation of Yale nurses and midwives.”

Reynolds arrived at YSN as a student in the 1970s and has served in myriad capacities during her time at the school. She currently serves as the and Minority Student Coordinator in the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging.

‘A vision that extends beyond the boundaries of clinics and hospitals’

Professor Reynolds’ citation was read aloud during the ceremony:

“Midwifery has its origins in community health nursing. Nevertheless, owing to the realities of clinical practice, work often is confined within the walls of healthcare settings. For many decades, however, Heather Reynolds has had a vision that extends beyond the boundaries of clinics and hospitals, as she has engaged directly with the New Haven community to address health inequities and provide care for those in need.

“Heather is a Yale nurse-midwife who, for over 30 years, has cared for generations of patients in the New Haven community and has educated generations of Yale students who have become clinicians and leaders. Everyone seems to know Heather Reynolds: she is widely respected and deeply trusted by patients, by colleagues, and by the New Haven community for her work as well as the passion and integrity which infuse it.

“While teaching full time and being in full-scope clinical practice, Heather also finds time to volunteer on quite a few local boards. She served as commissioner of the Board of Health for the City of New Haven and as a member of several New Haven Board of Health committees and panels related to reducing infant mortality. She has partnered in many different capacities with the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and served as an advisor to the Fair Haven Community Health Center’s pediatric project, Parents and Children together. Heather has actively engaged in a variety of other local health innovations, such as providing prenatal education to teens at the former Polly McCabe Center and introducing the group prenatal care model for pregnant adolescents at Yale New Haven Hospital. 

“For her commitment to community, public health, and equity, and for establishing a legacy of volunteering tirelessly to build coalitions to improve the health of parents and children in the New Haven community, Mayor Justin Elicker and President Peter Salovey present Heather Dawn Reynolds with an Ivy Award.”

A Long and Dedicated Career

Throughout her long career, Reynolds has been saluted many times for her efforts, including by YSN as a Distinguished Alumna Award winner in 1996. 

In 2021, YSN introduced the Heather Dawn Reynolds Equity Award as a prize at Commencement, and Reynolds was the first recipient. The award honors a faculty member, student, or staff member who is committed to recognizing, acknowledging, and combatting structural racism.

More Seton Elm-Ivy Winners

Elm Award winners include the East Rock Afterschool Program, an effort that trains Yale students in the math intervention program; Gladys Mwilelo for her tireless efforts at the Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services (IRIS) Afterschool Program; the Ulysses S. Grant Foundation, for its six-week summer program for New Haven students; and Yale faculty member in Chemistry and Pharmacology Dr. Craig Crews for his local entrepreneurial efforts.

The other Ivy Award winners are: Public Humanities at Yale, which provides venues for non-academic expertise; Josephine Steuer Ingall ’24 for her passionate work to improve food insecurity through the Dwight Community Fridge; and Open Labs, a graduate and professional student mission to inspire the next generation of scientists. 

For more on the 2023 Seton Elm-Ivy winners and the ceremony at the Schwarzman Center, visit Yale News.