Whitman-Walker Celebrates 50 Years Rooted in Community
Maurisa Turner Potts
Spotted MP (Marketing + Public Relations)
WhitmanWalker Celebrates 50 Years Rooted in Community
Healthcare Organization Marks Milestone with Year Long Activities & Events, Opening of New Max Robinson Center at Saint Elizabeths East Campus
Washington DC (January 19, 2023)- Whitman-Walker, a leader in LGBTQ health, research, education and policy with special expertise in HIV care, wil kick off its 50th year this month, launching a year long campaign through special events and initiatives that highlight the organization’s vast achievements over the past five decades responding to community need including LGBTQ healthcare, HIV prevention and treatment and research designed to impact the lives of those they serve.
Beginning in 1973 and named in 1978 after poet Walt Whitman (a former DC resident) and Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, a noted Civil-War era physician in DC and woman’s rights activist, Whitman-Walker was founded as an affirming and safe space for the gay and lesbian community and was one of the first responders to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in DC. The Whitman-Walker Clinic opened in the 1990’s in Northwest DC and later opened the Max Robinson Center allowing the organization to expand its reach and patient profile and to become a leader in HIV/AIDS education, prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Whitman-Walker’s ‘Rooted in Community’ 50th Anniversary theme pays tribute to the organization being a part of the fabric of the Washington, DC and national community as first responders and care-providers for those living with HIV, a leader in LGBTQ care and advocacy, a research center working to discover breakthroughs in HIV treatment and prevention science, and one of DC’s most trusted partners when health emergencies impact the city.
“We are so deeply honored to lead this organization at this pivotal time” says Naseema Shafi, CEO, Whitman-Walker Health and Ryan Moran, CEO, Whitman-Walker Health System, “Marking the legacy of 50-years’ worth of volunteerism, care and service to community while also looking ahead to our future with the opening of the New Max Robinson Center is thrilling. We’re looking forward to celebrating with community this year and preparing for the next 50 years.”
The 50th Anniversary year will be marked with a variety of events and activations. The organization will kick off the year with continued efforts to build and sustain a diverse workforce at all levels of the organization and cultivating a culture of equity and belonging. Through implementing actionable objectives, practices and traditions, Whitman-Walker will improve work-place culture and patient experience and outcomes through efforts such as workforce training and development, board governance, and patient health and community engagement initiatives. Whitman-Walker will expand its internal resources and infrastructure to create inclusive spaces centered around needs and experiences for all. Each unique story will be supported and celebrated.
This fall, Whitman-Walker will also mark the anniversary year with the debut of its new health care and research home on the campus of Saint Elizabeths East, already home to the Entertainment & Sports Arena and the future site of mixed income for-sale and rental housing, a new full-service hospital, new office and retail, and other neighborhood-serving amenities. The new 118,000-square-foot center to continue to be called the Max Robinson Center will build on the services and legacy provided at Whitman-Walker’s current Max Robinson Center on Martin Luther King Jr Avenue SE by providing primary, behavioral, and dental care; a pharmacy; public benefits and insurance navigation services; and research, policy advocacy, education, and training around LGBTQ health, HIV care, and other areas of Whitman-Walker’s experience and expertise. The project will allow the organization to serve an additional 10,000 patients per year beginning in 2023. Additionally, the new research space will open in 2024 and triple Whitman-Walker’s current capacity for research and the expansion will allow Whitman-Walker to provide mammography and x-ray service and expand youth care, substance use treatment and other support services.
Whitman-Walker plans to mark 50 years with other scheduled events and programs throughout the year such as volunteer and community appreciation events, street activations outside their 14th Street location, the Going the Extra Mile Spring event to support legal services, hosting special activations and events during June pride month, Silver Pride happy hours, a “Keys to St. E’s” opening celebrations during the late summer/early fall, and closing out the year with their signature Walk To End HIV, a fundraising gala, and remembrance activities for World AIDS Day.
Currently, there are more than 200 new HIV diagnoses annually in DC, and 1.8% of DC residents are living with HIV. Whitman-Walker Health diagnoses more than one-third of new HIV infections in the DC area and serves more than one-quarter of people living with HIV across the city of DC. In 2021, Whitman-Walker served approximately 16,000 patients, provided care around the DC community through more than 110,697 unique visits, and launched its first full year of telehealth care through 41,000 virtual visits. The organization also participated in training thousands of healthcare workers on how to be culturally competent medical providers and helped hundreds of other clients and community members with legal services expertise and insurance and public benefits navigation and support.
For more information about the year-long Rooted in Community 50th Anniversary celebration, Whitman-Walker’s history, and planned activities, visit WhitmanWalker50.org.
For over fifty years, Whitman-Walker has been part of the fabric of the local DC and national community as first responder and care-provider for those living with HIV; a leader in LGBTQ care and advocacy; a research center working to discover breakthroughs in HIV treatment and prevention science; and one of the DC’s most trusted partners during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Whitman-Walker envisions a society where all people are seen for who they are, treated with dignity and respect, and afforded equal opportunity to health and wellbeing.
Through care, advocacy, research, and education, the organization strives to ensure all persons can live healthily and love openly and to feel true equality and inclusion in all aspects of their lives. Whitman-Walker prioritizes the needs of community and has earned the trust of DC residents by remaining intentional in their outreach to engage and care for those we serve. At the core of the organization is a desire to create safe spaces where people are seen for who they are.
Today, Whitman-Walker is a collective of 501 (c)(3) organizations centered around delivering care to community. The organization is led by two CEO’s- Naseema Shafi and Ryan Moran. Shafi leads Whitman-Walker Health and Moran leads Whitman-Walker Health System which oversees Whitman-Walker Foundation, Whitman-Walker Institute and Whitman-Walker Real Property Holdings.