Caring for Our Community

Caring for our community is our North Star, the beacon for everything we do at Whitman-Walker. Today it lights our path forward during this age of COVID and continued racial inequity–just as it did during the dark days of the AIDS crisis.

As I write you, we are experiencing COVID’s second spike in the region. A public health firestorm rages, disproportionately hurting Black and Brown people, individuals living with chronic conditions, and seniors. All are important members of our community–beloved family members, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and here at Whitman-Walker, co-workers, patients, and clients. Amidst the barrage of daily COVID reporting, we may become numb to the pandemic’s human toll on our community at the very moment when we need more self-awareness, empathy, and collective action.

Our work in 2021 begins with the utmost urgency. Simply put, Whitman-Walker Health System is confronting its greatest challenge since its incorporation in 2018. That challenge—addressing the human cost that COVID and systemic racism inflict on our community–will be felt for many years. Our response to this challenge must be fueled by research and knowledge, innovation and partnership, and community engagement and philanthropy.

Fighting this pandemic and the impact of racial inequity on our community will take far more resources. That is why your financial support of Whitman-Walker is vital in 2021. Raising mission-critical funds is an integral part of our work because it provides necessary support for existing programs and new initiatives. It is even more important during times like these.

Our strategic response will also require new thinking, bold vision, different leadership, and a compelling call to action. All these elements are well-represented in our planned health care expansion at Saint Elizabeths. This expansion, scheduled to open in 2023, is a tangible expression of how Whitman-Walker will combat racial disparities in health. The new facility will serve more Black and Brown people through expanded health care, research and education, and youth services programming. It is our big dream and worthy of your financial support.

In my heart, I am a pragmatic optimist about the future of Whitman-Walker. My optimism comes from you and thousands of other supporters who make our work possible every day. My pragmatism is informed by the adage that there is a time and place for every leader. Leadership change is an essential ingredient to how nonprofits like Whitman-Walker remain relevant and responsive to those we serve. This consideration combined with my interest to explore new paths in my life are the reasons why I have decided to leave Whitman-Walker Health System at the end of 2021. My decision, while bittersweet, has been in the works for a few years now and coincides with the beginning of our next chapter of work.

I am humbled and grateful to be a member of Whitman-Walker’s family. I found this family by choice nearly 15 years ago at a time when I needed more love, compassion, and understanding in my life. Since then, this family has given me far more than I have them. There are many among you that I wish to thank in person, and I hope to do so later this year. For now, I am energized by our impactful work ahead in 2021. And I am so appreciative of our Board of Directors and our amazing team here at Whitman-Walker. They are a source of true inspiration and strength for me every day.

May our North Star—caring for our community—shine bright for many years to come.

Yours in Service,



Don Blanchon
CEO, Whitman-Walker Health System