Giraffes and the Creation of “Stick Your Neck Out for Prevention” Award

This August, Prevention Action Alliance (PAA) hosted our first fundraiser, Your Role in Prevention, and named Dr. Amy Acton as the inaugural recipient of the Stick Your Neck Out for Prevention Award. With this award, we are excited to honor those in our community who embody PAA’s mission – helping to prevent substance misuse and promote mental health wellness.

The Inaugural Award Winner

The idea to give an award to someone within our community originated while planning the Your Role in Prevention Fundraiser. Thinking about everyone’s role in prevention, we realized that there are members in our communities that not only influence but create awareness and resources through promoting prevention and mental health wellness. While these influencers champion prevention and mental health wellness, they are often faced with obstacles and difficult paths as they push for data-driven change. These are the people we want to uplift and recognize; those who have been sticking their neck out for prevention. As we began brainstorming, one name kept rising to the top – Dr. Amy Acton.

Dr. Amy Acton is a licensed physician in Preventive Medicine and Public Health. While best known for her role as the former Director of The Ohio Department of Health, her lifelong commitment has been to help create positive conditions in which all citizens can lead flourishing lives and contribute to their fullest potential. During the pandemic alone, Dr. Acton passed Tobacco-21 and addressed the vaping epidemic, negotiated a national environmental crisis, prevented a deadly local pneumonia outbreak in a newly constructed hospital, and championed the creation of the OneOhio Recovery Foundation an endowment as part of the state opiate settlement, ensuring the ability to address addiction in perpetuity in Ohio. As a staunch advocate of substance misuse prevention and mental health wellness, we were excited to name Dr. Amy Acton as our inaugural “Stick Your Neck Out for Prevention” awardee.

The Story of the Giraffe

The “Stick Your Neck Out for Prevention” Award features a giraffe front and center. Giraffes have always been symbolic within PAA. When Hope Taft first created our organization, she used her love of giraffes as an analogy – describing those passionate and active in the work of prevention as “sticking their neck out”. This imagery has followed PAA these 35+ years, serving as a reminder that prevention is challenging work, and the outcomes of our labor make a difference.

Internally, PAA has a tradition of celebrating our staff members with our own giraffe statue. This giraffe, lovingly referred to as Nigel, rotates through the office, being delivered to a staff member who goes above and beyond the deliverables of their job description to stick their neck out for prevention. So, when the we began envisioning what the “Stick Your Neck Out for Prevention” Award would look like, we knew it had to incorporate a giraffe.

The Artistry

Executive Director, Fran Gerbig, commissioned Larry Tuber, Glass Studio Director at The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology to create the award.

“I knew I wanted to include a giraffe in the award, but I also wanted to highlight Ohio artistry. The Works is in Newark and has a focus in glassblowing and glass fusion within their hands-on discovery classes,” said Gerbig.

As luck would have it, Larry was personally familiar with the Acton Family, his children having been taught by Dr. Acton’s husband, Eric, in school.

“Knowing Dr. Acton and her accomplishments gave me a purpose behind the challenge of this piece,” said Tuber.

When Fran approached Larry about the award, they decided against a “figurine-like” style, thinking it would too closely resemble a cartoon. They wanted the piece to portray a creative elegance while still incorporating a giraffe. With that in mind, Tuber opted to use the Swedish Graal technique of glassblowing. This method gathers layers of colored glass and glass powder. Then, after the glass is cooled, a specialized vinyl stencil is applied, and a sandblaster is used to recess parts of the glass to reveal the design. Tuber utilized the sandblaster at The Ohio State University Sherman Studio Art Center, angling the nozzle to expose all layers of the glass. Typically, in the Graal technique, the artist encases the piece in clear glass, however Tuber opted against this last step. “After I sandblasted the award, it looked so good with the exposed layers that I thought a clear layer of glass on top would take away from the natural look I wanted to create,” said Tuber.

After six months of researching, sketching, refining, and ten practice pieces, the result was beautiful.

“I turned on all of my resources to make something I am truly proud of.” – Larry Tuber

The award expressed everything PAA desired – a true celebration of someone sticking their neck out for prevention.

Interested in The Works?

The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art & Technology is a Stem-based Smithsonian affiliate institution. The interactive museum has hands-on activities for all ages. You can also meet Larry by taking one of his glassblowing classes or attending a fused-glass workshop. Visit to discover all they have to offer!

Find Your Role In Prevention

Prevention saves lives. Help us expand prevention services to reach the youngest and oldest members of our community. PAA’s mission is to educate families, empower communities, and advocate for healthy mental health and substance use policies. Find your role in prevention by visiting