What was my biggest obstacle?
Honestly, I didn't have any obstacles. My father told me that I could do anything that I wanted to do if I remained properly focused and that is exactly what happened. You don't have to be brilliant; all you have to be is a good student who is highly motivated.
How do I make a difference?
I followed our longstanding family traditions of community activism and volunteerism. Through involvement in various projects, I worked to find solutions to the many medical and socio-economic issues in my community.
For example, I organized the Black Women's Medical Society in 1974. In 1976, I organized the Medical Women of the National Medical Association. I have been involved with many governing boards, committees, and organizations devoted to improving the health and well-being of the community.
Most recently, I have served on boards of directors of several organizations who are actively involved in improving access to health care and access to health insurance. I am also active in organizations whose missions are to improve housing availability and affordability in our community. Several of these organizations are faith-based, including the Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, which is composed of ninety congregations in the Upper Manhattan area. The primary mission of this organization is to develop affordable housing for low, moderate, and high-income Harlem residents.
I serve of the board of directors of another faith-based organization, the Community Health Alliance. The primary mission of the Alliance is to make health insurance affordable for Harlem residents. We also train outreach workers, who work through the churches to educate people about illness, prevention, and treatment.
As a member of the board of directors of the Greater Harlem Nursing Home, the only black-owned and operated nursing home in Manhattan, I guide this five-star nursing home to continue its tradition of excellence.
As chair and president of the Friends of Harlem Hospital Center, I have helped to raise over one million dollars for an endowment fund to support the Hospital's programs and services.
All of these activities have made a significant difference in the health of this community. I have been told that my work will affect the Harlem community for many generations to come.
Who was my mentor?
My father was my mentor and role model. There have been many other mentors and role models in my life, but my father was the one who made me feel that I could do anything that I wanted to.
How has my career evolved over time?
During the course of my career, I have traveled widely and been exposed to the practice of medicine in a variety of settings, including academic medical centers, private practice, and community-based health care organizations.
Throughout the course of my career, I was able to identify areas where our community was being inadequately served. In many instances, I was able to step in and provide support and encouragement. It is through serving the needs of the community that my career evolved to include social activism and health care advocacy.
My ability to deal with a variety of people from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and economic levels gave me a healthy respect for personal and cultural differences. As a result, people respond well to me and I have been able to get things done in a variety of arenaseducational, political, and economic. By doing these projects, I have served as a role model and inspired others to get involved in the community.
I have demonstrated that change can happen when you are motivated and committed.