Whitman-Walker Announces New Leaders to Advance Its Next Phase of Community Service and Growth

Dr. Kellan Baker and Dr. Jonathon Rendina join Whitman-Walker Institute and Abby Paige Fenton appointed to Whitman-Walker Foundation

Washington, DC – Whitman-Walker is thrilled to announce three new leadership appointments to advance our mission-driven work in community for many years to come.

Kellan Baker serves as the Executive Director for Whitman-Walker Institute and is responsible for leading Whitman-Walker’s research, education, and policy advocacy efforts.

Jonathon Rendina serves as the Senior Director of Research for the Institute and oversees Whitman-Walker’s research efforts including numerous collaborations with academic partners.

Abby Paige Fenton serves as Executive Director of Whitman-Walker Foundation and leads Whitman-Walker’s fundraising and other philanthropic initiatives.

“On behalf of the entire Whitman-Walker family, I am excited to welcome such talented individuals as we prepare for our Saint Elizabeths expansion and beyond” said Don Blanchon CEO of Whitman-Walker Health System. “All three leaders bring energy, enthusiasm and expertise to our work and will promote Whitman-Walker’s vision of advancing social justice and equity through health.”

Dr. Kellan Baker is the new Executive Director of the Whitman-Walker Institute. The Institute is one of the country’s premiere organizations focused on advancing the health and wellbeing of people facing barriers to quality care — particularly LGBTQ people and people living with HIV. Through this strategic integration of clinical expertise, research acumen, quality education and policy change – Whitman-Walker Institute works to ensure equitable health and wellness practices and procedures.

Baker was previously a Centennial Scholar and a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Research Scholar in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where his research focused on transgender population health. Prior to that role, he was a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC, where he worked on health and data collection policy at the federal and state levels and co-founded the Out2Enroll campaign, which has helped the Affordable Care Act halve the number of low-income LGBTQ people without insurance coverage. Additionally, he serves as a consultant for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and in advisory roles for entities such as the National Human Genome Research Institute, the US Transgender Survey, and AcademyHealth, and he is the board co-chair of Equality Federation, a nationwide organization that supports advocates fighting for LGBTQ+ equality nationwide.

“As we continue to address the twin epidemics of COVID-19 and racism in DC and across the country, I am honored to have the opportunity to lead a team of researchers, educators, and advocates in advancing the health and wellbeing of DC’s diverse communities and fighting for all people to have the right to health, safety, and justice,” said Dr. Kellan E. Baker.

Joining Dr. Kellan E. Baker at the Whitman-Walker Institute will be Dr. Jonathon Rendina as Senior Director of Research. Dr. Rendina will also be on faculty at the George Washington University serving as Associate Research Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Milken Institute School of Public Health.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the team at Whitman-Walker Institute, which will provide me new opportunities to collaboratively build a community-centered research agenda around LGBTQ and HIV-related health and take a stronger role in supporting the development of diverse, early career scientists interested in these areas,” said Rendina.  “The joint position with George Washington University was a particularly exciting aspect of the position’s structure and I am eager to leverage both roles to strengthen the partnership between these stellar organizations, create a pipeline for students to be trained within Whitman-Walker’s community-based research settings, and leverage the DC Center for AIDS Research (DC CFAR) to bring more investigators across the DC area to partner in growing the research program at Whitman-Walker.”

Prior to joining Whitman-Walker, Dr. Rendina was an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) and Acting Director of the PRIDE Health Research Consortium. Dr. Rendina received a two-year NIMH F31 predoctoral training fellowship to support his dissertation research and subsequently received a NIDA K01 career development award to support his post-doctoral research training. Since then, Dr. Rendina has received several NIH-funded grants as Principal Investigator that broadly focus on multilevel investigations of intersectional minority stress and health outcomes for sexual and gender minorities and people living with HIV. He is also heavily involved in research mentorship and currently serves as Primary Mentor on several NIH research training grants and diversity supplements. Dr. Rendina received the Psychology & AIDS Emerging Leader Award from the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Psychology and AIDS in 2018 and the World AIDS Day Commissioner’s Special Recognition Award for LGBTQ Health from the New York State Department of Health in 2020; he has been a Fellow of the NIH-funded HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute at Fordham University.

Abby Paige Fenton, Whitman-Walker’s Chief External Affairs Officer for the past 6 years has been promoted to Executive Director of the Whitman-Walker Foundation and Chief External Affairs Officer. The Whitman-Walker Foundation uses community-based philanthropy to ensure sustainability and supports the continued growth of Whitman-Walker.

“I am thrilled to expand my role at Whitman-Waller to include fundraising and philanthropy,” said Fenton. “Leading our efforts to raise the funds needed to expand our care and services in southeast Washington, DC and to ensure affirming, judgement-free care for the community is truly an honor.”

Prior to joining Whitman-Walker, Fenton served as the Director of Community Relations at ABC7/WJLA-TV and News Channel 8 where she oversaw the stations corporate social responsibility initiatives and public relations strategies. She also has extensive experience in fundraising and development including major event planning and fundraising for the DC Chamber of Commerce and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company as well as in Baltimore at Center Stage. While at Woolly, Fenton helped to raise $9 million for “BREAKING NEW GROUND: The Campaign for Woolly Mammoth.” At Center Stage, she helped to raise over $14 million for their $12 million capital campaign. She has been named one of the YWCA of the National Capital Region’s Women of Achievement and was included in Washington Life Magazine’s list of the most influential people in Washington for four years in a row.

Dr. Rendina joined Whitman-Walker Institute on June 1, 2021, while Dr. Baker started with the Institute on August 2, 2021.  Fenton began her new leadership role with Whitman-Walker Foundation on July 1, 2021.


Press Contact:  Jewel Addy – 301.379.0637, jaddy@whitman-walker.org

About Whitman-Walker Health System: Whitman-Walker Health System is a community-centered enterprise committed to advancing social justice and equality through health. The System is driven to position the organization as the nation’s leader in LGBTQ-inclusive care, advocacy, research, and education. Whitman-Walker Health System exists to support the operations of Whitman-Walker Health and expand the capacities of some of our most important and crucial functions including fundraising, research and thought leadership. The entities under the System include: The Whitman-Walker Institute, The Whitman-Walker Foundation and Real Property Holdings.