A Tribute to Dr. Gloria Johnson-Powell

Dr. Gloria Johnson-PowellThe most recent issue of the SMPH Quarterly Alumni Magazine includes honoring friends who have passed away, and this communication is intended to honor the legacy of an inimitable woman.

Gloria Johnson-Powell, MD, was an Associate Dean for faculty and the founder and director of the Center for the Study of Cultural Diversity in Healthcare in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health or CDH.  The CDH preceded CCHE.  Dr. Johnson-Powell died on October 11, 2017, in Hamburg, Germany. She was 81 years old.

Johnson-Powell graduated from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, where she majored in economics and sociology. She earned her medical degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, and eventually became a national leader in the civil rights movement. Following medical school, Johnson-Powell completed her residency at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she served on the faculty for 15 years. She next moved her career to Harvard Medical School, where she was a professor of child psychiatry. Johnson-Powell also wrote several books, including, Black Monday’s Children: A Study of the Effects of School Desegregation on Self Concepts of Southern Children.

In 2000, Johnson-Powell joined the faculty of the UW SMPH as a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics. At the SMPH, she spearheaded activities and programs aimed at addressing health disparities and promoting health equity until her retirement from UW in 2007.

“It’s an honor to continue to carry on critically important health equity programming, much of which was institutionally formalized by Dr. Vanessa Gamble with the establishment of the SMPH Center on Race and Ethnicity in Medicine in the late ’90s.  Dr. Johnson-Powell and then Dr. Alex Adams lent considerably to the efforts, focusing on establishing successful community-academic research partnerships statewide, ensuring inclusion of partners in rural and urban Wisconsin.  I’m confident our colleagues would all take great pride seeing CCHE currently utilizing this foundation to advance precision medicine via the All of Us Research program, says CCHE Director Dorothy Farrar-Edwards, PhD.

Read more about Dr. Johnson-Powell’s incredible life and career in her alma mater Mount Holyoke’s obituary piece published in October 2017.