Health Advocate Blog

Celebrating the achievements of Black healthcare leaders

Black History Month is celebrated annually in February to acknowledge the achievements, contributions and struggles of Black and African Americans in the United States. For Black History Month 2024, we are highlighting the recent achievements of six Black American leaders in the healthcare field. We hope you will learn and be inspired by the impactful contributions of these experts.

Georges Benjamin, M.D., is the Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, in the role since 2002. He is one of the country’s most influential physician leaders, passionate about publicizing best practices and disseminating public health information and research. Dr. Benjamin has appeared before Congress numerous times to provide expert insight on public health matters, most recently in 2023 regarding how America can prepare for future mass disease events. Learn more about Dr. Benjamin here and here.

Chiquita Brooks LaSure is a former policy official who has advanced health equity, playing a key role in helping to pass and implement the Affordable Care Act. She now serves as the Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, overseeing the Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs, as well as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance Marketplaces. Learn more about her here and here.

Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS, is the current President and CEO of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is an internationally recognized pancreatic cancer surgeon, pancreatic cancer researcher, and pioneer in health disparities research. He was instrumental in the development of an injectable cancer drug, Minnelide, which is licensed and entered phase 2 trials for the treatment of pancreatic and gastrointestinal cancer in 2019. Learn more about Dr. Vickers here and here.

Nakela L. Cook, M.D., is the Executive Director of Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). She is a cardiologist and health services researcher. Under her leadership, PCORI established a strategic vision to address the challenges, such as social determinants of health, facing patients and communities in our nation’s complex, fast-changing health system. Learn more about Dr. Cook here and here.

James E. K. Hildreth, Ph.D., M.D., is the President and CEO of Meharry Medical College. He is an infectious disease expert who was named to President Biden’s health equity task force during the COVID-19 pandemic. While at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, his research on HIV resulted in several key discoveries including identifying a critical role of cholesterol in HIV infection, which led to 11 patents and a technology licensed by Genentech which resulted in an FDA-approved drug, Raptiva. Learn more about Dr. Hildreth here and here.

Beverly Malone is the President and CEO of the National League for Nursing (NLN) who is passionate about taking action against climate change and its adverse effects on health. She serves as vice chair at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Board of Directors, co-leads the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Health Professional Education and Communication Working Group, and serves on NAM’s Steering Committee. Learn more about her here and here.

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