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The legacy continues

Written by Nancy Kelly

Left: Judith Canfield-Henry  Right: Dr. Martin Hobdell

This is the second installment of two blogs that reflect on previous Golden Apple Award honorees, who are no longer with us, but have left quite a legacy of knowledge. 

What makes an HVO Golden Apple Award honoree so special?  “The award recognizes work in curriculum development, mentoring of faculty, students, clinicians or fellow volunteers, didactic or clinical training, development of educational resources, leadership and/or extraordinary contribution to the sustainability and effectiveness of HVO.” 

All of these criteria were more than met by Martin Hobdell, BDS, PhD, MA.  Indeed, his accomplishments were such that he was honored with the Golden Apple Award in 2007 and 2012.  In addition to serving on 74 volunteer assignments, Martin shared his leadership as project director and as a member of the Oral Health Steering Committee.  An internationally-known expert in oral health, he dedicated more than three decades to improving oral health care in resource-scarce countries.  Working with local faculty at HVO project sites, he developed a dental public health curriculum that was taught over a two-year period, primarily by visiting faculty.  His leadership in creating and implementing graduate-level certificate and masters training programs in dental public health in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam increased the capacity of the health infrastructure of these countries. In Vietnam, 64 students completed the course and 22 of those went on to complete a Master’s of Specialist degree. In Cambodia, 36 students were trained, many of whom went on to occupy senior positions in Cambodia and provide primary oral health care services to many disadvantaged adults and children through the outreach of the Cambodian Dental Association. In Laos, 10 students participated in the Master’s degree course.    

Martin’s capacity for teaching, his enthusiasm for improving oral health care, and his warm, caring personality instilled confidence in his students and encouraged them to pursue leadership opportunities in their field.  The oral public health program continues today in all three countries, thanks to his  extraordinary commitment. 

Another beloved teacher was Judith Canfield-Henry, PT, MSEd, EdD, who shared her enthusiasm for physical therapy education with so many students and faculty around the world.  Upon retiring, she wished to continue sharing her skills and knowledge and began volunteering with HVO.  She made repeated visits to Vietnam, Suriname, Tanzania, Haiti, and spent nearly six months in Bhutan.  She taught and mentored faculty, developed curricula, and taught physical therapy technicians.  She worked on curriculum development for the Rehabilitation Technician Training Program in Haiti where, previously, no rehabilitation training had existed.  Her work with the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer was instrumental in training rehabilitation technicians to work in their local communities, a situation that was more crucial than ever after the devastating earthquake in January 2010. 

In addition to her teaching and development of curricula, Judy served as a project director for Tanzania and was on the Physical Therapy Steering Committee for six years.  She frequently spoke at national and international conferences about her work with HVO, and was an enthusiastic mentor for physical therapists with limited experience in teaching or curriculum development.  Her work assisting these volunteers was another way she exemplified HVO’s mission of educating health care providers for the future.  Her commitment to caring for others was honored in 2006 with the President’s Call To Service Award and, in 2010, with HVO’s Golden Apple Award.   

Her dedication to educating physical therapists was acknowledged when her husband, Paul, helped HVO establish the Judith Canfield-Henry Memorial Fund to provide professional development opportunities for physical therapists from resource-scarce countries.  These funds have helped numerous therapists from HVO sites attend the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) meetings.   

Judy had such an engaging smile and demeanor, and she has left a legacy of improved physical therapy training around the world, but my favorite story of her impact is one we shared a few years ago: 

Judith Canfield-Henry, a retired educator and professor of physical therapy, worked in Bhutan for nearly six months. While there, she noticed a young child, a burn patient, on the ward. The process of changing her dressing was a difficult and painful event for the little girl. Judy suggested to the nursing staff that they try a different technique – putting the child in a tub of warm water to ease the removal of the bandages. The effect of this suggestion was immediate. Not only was the little girl much happier, but the impact of such an adjustment was so apparent that this new technique was immediately put into place by the nurses on the adult ward as well. 

This technique resulted in quicker healing of the burns and significantly reduced pain for the patients – a small change in behavior that had enormous impact for all future burn patients! 

Another key volunteer who helped to change lives was Diana Davidson, CRNA. In her seven years of volunteering with HVO, Diana went on eight volunteer assignments and served in numerous leadership positions, including project co-director for HVO’s nurse anesthesia projects in Ethiopia and Rwanda, as well as being a member of the HVO Nurse Anesthesia Steering Committee. She was appointed chair of the steering committee and traveled to Rwanda in November 2016, just a month before her untimely death. 

In 2013, Diana was honored with HVO’s Golden Apple Award for her educational contributions to HVO’s anesthesia project in Ethiopia. As project co-director, she was a driving force behind establishing the master’s program in nurse anesthesia program at Addis Ababa University. Diana had such contagious enthusiasm and commitment to the project that, in her role as project director, she was able to recruit outstanding volunteers and build a strong, quality project.  A key result of the project was the Ethiopian Association of Anesthetists being admitted to the International Federation of Nurse Anesthetists. 

In addition to being a strong advocate for the nurse anesthesia program, Diana advocated for better health care in Ethiopia. She regularly met with the dean of the Addis Ababa University Medical School and with officials at the Ministry of Health to advocate for better nursing school standards and safer post-anesthesia care standards.    

She also began working with HVO’s anesthesia project in Rwanda in 2013, where she assisted in the development and implementation of a bachelor’s program for nurse anesthesia at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences in Kigali.  

Diana never hesitated to contribute her time and expertise to improve global care. Her commitment and generosity has left a legacy that will be felt for years to come through the many students and staff that she trained, and with whom she shared her enthusiasm for teaching and learning. Her contribution will have a lasting impact on the quality of anesthesia care available to patients in the countries where she served.   


All of these Golden Apple Award honorees are well-remembered for their passion for their chosen field, and their dedication to teaching future generations of health professionals.  Their legacy lives on in the students and faculty mentored, the curricula developed, and in the professional development they nurtured.   

I look forward to seeing the nominations for the 2022 Golden Apple Award; HVO truly has many wonderful volunteers to celebrate.