Gertrude J. “Trudy”
Trudy Hodges had no doubts that she should become a nurse. She knew this even as a 4- year-old. But she didn’t know exactly how she would accomplish this goal.
When she overheard someone discussing Johns Hopkins, she wrote to ask if black nursing students would be considered. The admissions office encouraged her to apply.
Throughout her years of study at Johns Hopkins, Hodges remained the only black nursing student. A special counselor was assigned to provide additional support for her. She did not socialize much with the other students and did encounter racism, but having grown up in a rural town in upstate New York, she was accustomed to being in the minority.
After graduation in 1959, Hodges became a head nurse at Johns Hopkins and, after returning to New York to earn a master’s degree, she also taught at Johns Hopkins and at the St. Agnes School of Nursing. Eventually Hodges joined the faculty of the Community College of Baltimore (now Baltimore City Community College), where she taught for 30 years. She often helped students who, like her, had dreamed of becoming nurses to achieve that goal and pursue graduate degrees.
Since retiring, Hodges has contributed to two projects that are building greater trust and collaboration between Johns Hopkins and the neighboring communities. She is an active advisory board member for Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School and serves on the advisory committee for the East Baltimore Development Inc.
Force of art
Leslie King-Hammond, graduate dean emerita of Maryland Institute College of Art, stands at the center of the arts community in Baltimore and is a powerful force far beyond this city. She is chair of the board of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture and a board member of the Creative Alliance. She has served as project director for the Ford/Phillip Morris Fellowships for Artists of Color, an executive board member for the International Association of Art Critics, president of the College Art Association, a trustee of the Baltimore School for the Arts, and a trustee of the Baltimore Museum of Art. She has contributed to major exhibitions and publications for Studio Museum in Harlem, the Met Life Gallery and Columbus Museum of Art.
King-Hammond arrived in Baltimore from New York in 1969. A Horizon Fellow, she earned both her master’s and doctoral degrees from Johns Hopkins University. In 1976, she was appointed dean of graduate studies at MICA. After retirement in 2008, she was named founding director of the Center for Race and Culture at MICA, and she continues to teach art history at the school.
Superlative scholar of Latin America
When Franklin W. Knight joined the Johns Hopkins history faculty in 1973, he discovered “an intimate community” on the Homewood campus he enjoyed. “People were very serious about the work they did. It was extremely collegial. The intellectual pursuit was up front, mainstream, and focused.” He relished the diversity in his graduate seminars on Latin American history, which drew students from medicine, public health, economics, and political science, as well as aspiring historians. “I remember having very strong differences of opinion during the seminar, and afterwards we would go to the faculty club and continue the discussions in a very tranquil way.”
A native of Jamaica, Franklin Knight earned his undergraduate degree at the University College of the West Indies–London and his graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. At Johns Hopkins, he became the first black faculty member to secure academic tenure. From 1998 he directed the Latin American Studies Program and between 2011 and 2014, Knight directed JHU’s Center for Africana Studies. His research centers on social, political, and cultural aspects of Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly following the eighteenth century. A highly respected scholar, Professor Knight has held fellowships from multiple foundations and research councils, and the National Endowment for the Humanities; and served as an academic analyst for public and commercial television and radio programs. He has been president of both The Historical Society and the Latin American Studies Association, served on numerous advisory councils and editorial boards, and lectured across the Americas, Europe, Australia, and Japan. The author, editor, or translator of influential books on Latin American history and culture, Dr. Knight has also written many chapters, articles, and forewords, as well as more than a hundred book reviews for professional journals.
Still, teaching remains Knight’s passion. “I have always said that what’s useful about what I’m doing in history is not the factual information I provide, but how you can use that factual information, how you can shape it to resolve a practical problem that you might have in any sphere of endeavor,” Franklin Knight explains. “I say to my students, year in and year out, that I want them to be less complacent about everything than when they came in. I want them to raise questions. I don’t presume that my students want to do history, but I presume that they want to be responsible citizens, and therefore what I want to do is to equip them to be better citizens wherever they are, and ‘better citizens’ means that they must be better informed.” Knight assumed emeritus status and joined the Academy at Johns Hopkins in 2014.
Health care gap closer
Identifying a problem is only the first step. On the issue of health care gaps, Thomas A. LaVeist has devoted his career to the next steps: why those gaps exist and how to close them. LaVeist is the director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions and the William C. and Nancy F. Richardson Professor in Health Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The recipient of major awards from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, LaVeist focuses on the areas of U.S. health and social policy; the role of race in health research; social factors contributing to mortality, longevity and life expectancy; quantitative and demographic analysis and access; and the utilization of health services. He earned a doctorate in medical sociology from the University of Michigan and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in public health at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health.
At Johns Hopkins, he teaches courses in health policy, minority health, cultural competency and racial disparities in health. A frequent lecturer at other universities and professional conferences, he consults often with federal agencies and health care organizations. He has written five books, including two regarding minority health, Race, Ethnicity, and Health: A Public Health Reader and Minority Populations and Health: An Introduction to Health Disparities in the U.S. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and numerous national foundations.
Global Health Authority
When Freda C. Lewis-Hall speaks about healthcare which she does often-in corporate boardrooms, at conferences, on national boards and even on popular television shows, she addresses her audiences with the ease and authority of a physician who has risen to the top of her profession and who approaches medicine as a clinician, researcher, strategist, educator, executive and communicator.
After earning an undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins, Lewis-Hall trained as a psychiatrist and worked in academia, medical research and frontline patient care. Her career path has included serving as vice chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Howard University College of Medicine and leading research projects for the National Institutes of Health.
Work for major global pharmaceutical companies including Vertex, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly led Lewis-Hall to Pfizer, Inc. where she now serves as executive vice president and chief medical officer. At Pfizer, she directs worldwide regulatory and safety strategy, operations and compliance; external medical affairs and communication; clinical trials excellence; quality assurance and the Center for Medical Advancement.
Lewis-Hall is a fellow of the American Academy of Psychiatry and participates on a host of boards including Harvard School of Medicine Board of Fellows; the Institute of Medicine-s Forum on Drug Discovery, Development and Translation; New York Academy of Medicine; the Society of Women-s Health Research; Save the Children and the Foundation of the National Institutes of Health. The Obama administration appointed her to its Inaugural Board of Governors for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. Lewis-Hall has been honored in recent years as one of “Savoy” magazine-s Top Influential Women in Corporate America and the Healthcare Business Women-s Association-s Woman of the Year.
Writing about her book, a peer described Lewis-Hall as a “luminescent leader” and noted that she “has enjoyed great success throughout her career, advancing to senior-most positions within the companies where she has worked. However, these are not the achievements that define her. Rather, her passion for healing and building people is what is most outstanding.”
The year was 1970. Erich March was a freshman at Johns Hopkins. The country was nearing the end of the Vietnam War. The university had just begun to admit women. Change was all around. Still, March was struck by the lack of diversity at the college he chose to attend. Despite all the changes underway around the nation, the institution he chose to further his education seemed back then to be stuck in time.
March was accustomed to being around African Americans as a native of Baltimore. His family owns the prominent March Funeral Homes, a mainstay of the city’s black community for more than 50 years. Suddenly, he was in a “lily white” environment. As March tells it, there weren’t many black undergraduates and even fewer graduate students at JHU. He can’t recall seeing any black faculty either. But March didn’t let that hold him back. He was there to get his education, which he would use to help run his family’s business and give back to the community. When he wasn’t in class or studying, March hung out with the few black students on campus or he worked with his father in the funeral home.
After graduating from JHU in 1974 with a degree in behavioral science, March returned home to help his father run the family business. It was during this time that his civic mind kicked in. With the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. over, March wanted to help the city return to normal. One way he and his family did that was to keep the family’s anchor funeral home on East North Avenue, a section of the city that was ravaged by the riots. Other businesses had left the area or the city in general, but the March family insisted on staying and even expanding. Today, the company operates seven funeral homes – three in Baltimore, one each in the District of Columbia, Suitland and Laurel, and one in Richmond, Virginia. The family also operates King Memorial Park Cemetery in Randallstown, which March says is the largest African American cemetery on the East Coast. March is the president of the cemetery.
Several years ago, March and his then wife, Michele Speaks-March, opened Apples and Oranges Fresh Market on the corner of North Avenue and Broadway as a way of providing healthy food to underserved communities in the city. March, the vice president and chief operating officer of the family business, said through the funeral homes, he sees the toll that unhealthy diets were taking on the black community. “Potato chips and soda. I see obesity and other diseases. I see it in my embalming room.” Sadly, the store didn’t make it. Last year, it closed its doors. “We couldn’t crack the addiction to fried food and carryout. Grease and salt.”
March, who is also an accomplished artist, and his family, are still active in the community. They proudly give scholarships to the two historically black secondary schools in the city – Paul Laurence Dunbar and Frederick Douglass high schools. And they plan to keep their anchor funeral home on East North Avenue where March sees it as part of the revitalization of the historic corridor. “This is my home. How can I not be involved?”
Victor McCrary, Science and Technology Business Area executive at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, was named Scientist of the Year at the 2011 Black Engineer of the Year national conference. In nominating him for the award, Bharat Doshi, head of the Laboratory’s Milton Eisenhower Research Center, wrote, “Dr. McCrary has made outstanding technical and managerial contributions to vital programs for the government. In addition, he has been actively promoting STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] education among minorities and is a spokesman for the cause nationally.”
In 2000, McCrary received the Commerce Department’s Gold Medal for the development of global standards for electronic books, which paved the commercialization path for today’s e-book readers.
An APL staff member since 2003, McCrary oversees a $10 million internal research portfolio and evaluates research and development projects that fit APL’s strategic objectives. He also maintains relationships within the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and has fostered relationships with national and international scientific organizations, including the American Chemical Society, to increase APL’s global presence.
McCrary earned an executive master of science and engineering degree from the Wharton School of Business and the Graduate School of Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, and a doctorate in physical chemistry from Howard University.
Answer seeker in black and white
A sociologist who joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1994, Katrina Bell McDonald devotes her research to studying challenges facing black women, families and children. With colleague Caitlin Cross-Barnet, she is examining the differences of marriage among native blacks, black Africans and blacks of Caribbean descent, including the impact of religion, concepts of “traditional marriage” and the stronger earning power of many black women. Her book, Embracing Sisterhood: Class, Identity, and Contemporary Black Women, was published in 2007. Based on interviews with 88 black women of all ages, it explores how class and social background impact “black sisterhood.”
McDonald’s earlier research delved into such issues as activism among middle-class black women, barriers to kin support for urban black teen mothers and downward residential mobility among disadvantaged black women, as well as how life and educational outcomes are affected by race.
McDonald, a former associate dean of multicultural affairs, is an associate professor and an associate of the Hopkins Population Center and the Center for Africana Studies. She has been actively involved in shaping the university, through the development of new courses and initiatives, including the Center for Africana Studies.
Catalyst for campus change and social justice
Bishop Douglas Miles serves as a prominent community and civil rights leader in Baltimore. He pastors at Koinonia Baptist Church and is a co-chair of the advocacy group Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD).
Miles was a student at Hopkins in the midst of the turbulence and change of the 1960s, when black students at Johns Hopkins University sought to strengthen their unity and identity. By 1966, when Baltimore native Douglas Miles enrolled as an undergraduate student at Johns Hopkins, he had already witnessed the Montgomery bus boycott and the integration of Little Rock’s schools, and had heard the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. share his dream for racial justice at the March on Washington.
Shaped by that history, Miles, who received his degree in 1970, is a recognized fighter for social justice, particularly in Baltimore. Miles received an honorary degree from Hopkins in 2018 and over the years has been a key partner in university Baltimore-based initiatives.
Role model for future heroes
With a train ticket in hand and dreams in mind, Kelly Miller headed north from South Carolina in 1880 and into a life as a successful mathematician, college dean, author and education advocate. Along the way, he became Johns Hopkins University’s first black student. Born in 1863 to a free man and a slave woman, Miller drew inspiration from what he saw as his own “band of heroes,” northern teachers who had come south to teach black children after the Civil War. A scholarship allowed Miller to attend Howard University, which in turn led to a part-time job with prominent mathematician Simon Newcomb.
After Newcomb became a Johns Hopkins faculty member, Miller sought his assistance in pursuing graduate studies at the university. His application to graduate school in 1887 prompted the college president and trustees to consider the founder’s Quaker background and his commitment to a hospital and university open to all. Miller’s application served as a mirror, forcing university leadership to confront their values and principles, and though there would be many years between Miller and the next black student, Miller’s admission helped open the door for all students of color at Johns Hopkins.
Although financial circumstances prevented Miller from completing a JHU degree, he returned to Howard, earned a master’s degree and a law degree, and built an illustrious career. Never forgetting his “band of heroes,” Miller himself became one, a tireless supporter of quality education for blacks. He died in 1939.
Westley “Wes” W. O.
Author of his own success
At the same time that the local media were telling the story of Wes Moore, on his way to Oxford University as the first black Johns Hopkins University student to become a Rhodes Scholar, they were telling another story, too. This second story, which attracted far greater media attention, was of another Wes Moore, a young man from the same neighborhood, almost the same age, but this one was headed to prison to serve a life sentence for killing an off-duty police officer.
Struck by the difference in their destinations, Moore the Rhodes Scholar sent a letter to Moore the inmate and a relationship grew, ultimately forming the foundation of The Other Wes Moore, a New York Times best-seller published in 2010.
Even before his book catapulted him to national attention, Moore was on the path to success. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins in 2001 and studying at University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, he became a U.S. Army Reserve captain and completed a combat tour of duty in Afghanistan, helping to manage the American strategic support plan for Afghan reconciliation. Back home after his tour, he was soon appointed a White House fellow and served as a special assistant to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. A stint as a senior associate with Citi Investment Banking followed, and Moore now works as the host of Beyond Belief on the OWN network.
Moore is a member of the university’s board of trustees. He also continues to impact Johns Hopkins through an organization he founded, called STAND, which is based at Johns Hopkins and provides services and inspiration to Baltimore youth involved in the criminal justice system.
Champion of Change—Black Faculty and Staff Association Founder
The Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) came together, as so many advocacy groups do, over lunch and a conversation. Lunch was at the Polo Grill, then a restaurant across from Homewood Field, and the people who had gathered to talk were black senior staff members concerned about the lack of support for people of color at Johns Hopkins.
Toni Moore-Duggan, one of the participants, recalled how that lunch and subsequent discussions among the staff members led to their decision in 1995 to establish the BFSA.
“After graduating from Johns Hopkins and while working there, it became evident that there was no voice or forum for black people having difficulties here,” said Moore-Duggan, a certified nurse practitioner who worked at the institution for years.
At first, Moore-Duggan said, she and the other staff members were not sure if anyone would buy into efforts to create a forum for people of color, but they did. Seventeen years later, the group is not only going
strong but has expanded its mission: to help foster a culture of collaboration by promoting and enhancing the identity and professional welfare and growth of faculty, staff and students through collaborations, community service, education, research and cultural activities. The BFSA has also charged itself with being a crucial resource for the continued success of Johns Hopkins through the development and cultivation of relationships with key leaders of the institution.
Toni Moore-Duggan is a certified nurse practitioner who worked at Johns Hopkins Hospital in HIV/AIDS vaccine research. She also worked in the trauma unit of the hospital’s emergency room and at the Student Health and Wellness Center. After leaving Johns Hopkins, Moore-Duggan worked extensively with individuals in and leaving the prison system, as well as those struggling with substance abuse and living with mental illness. In her present position, she administers clinical services for Mosaic Integrated Health, a program based at Mosaic Community Services Inc., in Baltimore.
Son of Africa, pioneering neurosurgeon
When he was a freshman in college, James Nabwangu read an article in Life magazine about how difficult it was to gain entry to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Nabwangu didn’t know at the time that the school had never accepted a student of African descent. He simply viewed attending Johns Hopkins as another potential challenge in his life.
He had already overcome the challenge of moving from a rural village in West Kenya to attend college in Indiana. And he had already proved wrong a college counselor who told him that despite his outstanding high school academic record, he was not well-suited for a career in medicine or the sciences.
Nabwangu did, indeed, contradict the naysayers, and in 1967 became one of the first two blacks—and the first African—to graduate from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Although he could not get a haircut or eat in restaurants around the school, Nabwangu enjoyed his time at Hopkins. He found that many of his classmates did not know what to think about his African heritage. He , also found that the university supported him when a Kenyan ambassador attempted to prevent his study of neurosurgery because of Kenya’s need for generalists not specialists.
After Johns Hopkins, Nabwangu moved to Canada for postgraduate studies at the prestigious Montreal Neurological Institute. A fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada and a diplomate of the American Board of Neurological Surgeons, Nabwangu currently practices neurosurgery in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Medical school reformer
David G. Nichols was literally born into education – on the campus of the Hampton Institute in Virginia. He then moved to Germany at age 7 when his father, an English professor and Fulbright Scholar, accepted a position at Freie University. Nichols knew even at that young age that he wanted a career in medicine. As life would have it, his career has focused on both medicine and education.
In 1969, the social changes taking place in the United States drew Nichols back from Germany. He went to Yale University and Mt. Sinai Medical School and began looking for faculty positions. He initially left Johns Hopkins off of his list of possibilities because he had heard it was unfriendly. But on a visit to Baltimore he found that Johns Hopkins was “the most vibrant, the most exciting, the most stimulating… and most welcoming place.”
Nichols joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins in 1984 and in 2000, he was named vice dean for education at the School of Medicine. In this role he oversees undergraduate, graduate, residency, postdoctoral, and continuing medical education programs, and the Welch Medical Library. His initiatives include increasing the use of technology in teaching medicine, reforming the school’s curriculum, launching a collaboration to build an academic medical center in Malaysia, supporting the recognition of education in tenure and promotion guidelines, overseeing the design of a new $50 million Armstrong medical education building and enhancing diversity.
In addition to his administrative post, Nichols is the Mary Wallace Stanton Professor of Education and a professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine. He has been the editor-in-chief of leading textbooks in pediatric critical care medicine and has edited Rogers Textbook of Pediatric Intensive Care and Critical Heart Disease in Infants and Children.
Valiant Financial Facilitator
Lynnise Norris is not one to shy away from difficult conversations. An accounting supervisor in the university’s finance division, she relishes her job tracking all of the government funding the university takes in for research and education. When she’s not crunching numbers, Norris is thinking up ways to help improve the plight of her fellow Blue Jays. For that, her colleagues and fellow members of the Black Faculty and Student Association (BFSA) are grateful.
For two decades, Norris has been a guiding force and staunch supporter of people of color who study, teach, and work at the Johns Hopkins University. Elected in 2017 to serve a two-year term as president of BFSA, she has made countless contributions to the black experience at Johns Hopkins as well as to that of others from different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds. She’s made these contributions at the risk of the alienation that can sometimes come with sticking one’s neck out to shine a light on inequities and challenges in the workplace. “I’m not one to stand in the background and let things be,” she says. “If you care about people, you try to make a difference, and I care about people.” Norris, who earned a bachelor of science degree in accounting from the University of Baltimore, a master’s degree in science marketing from JHU’s Carey Business School, and a post-graduate certificate from the Carey School, is a lifelong Baltimore resident. She and her fellow BFSA members have worked with senior leaders to improve the university’s climate. “A lot of people just leave rather than stay and fight for what they want or need. It’s hard for people to stand up. They’re afraid they will be blackballed and won’t move up in their careers. I get it, it’s hard, Norris said. “I would love to stand in the background, but that’s not me.”
Norris’ dedication to advocacy at Johns Hopkins resulted in the implementation of the Finance Diversity Mentor Program, a 10-month initiative designed to connect employees in finance roles throughout the university with senior leaders who serve as mentors. The program, which ended in April, sought to expose emerging finance professionals to various opportunities in finance. “I wanted a way for people of color, especially young black men, to see a path forward in finance,” said Norris. “When you come in my department you don’t see black men.”
Facilitator of Success
Ronald C. Owens was only at Johns Hopkins University for four years, but in that time he did a lifetime of good. As an admissions officer for Hopkins from 1969 to 1973, Owens traveled the East Coast recruiting young African American men and women who could succeed at Hopkins. Using a strict methodology, Owens along with his fellow admissions officers, would meet with prospective students to ascertain their goals and quality of their character. He reviewed the curriculum at their high schools to determine if they were prepared to take on the rigor of a Johns Hopkins education. There weren’t many black students on the Homewood campus at the time, and Owens was pleased to have a role in diversifying the university’s student body. “I like to think that we opened the door for a number of African American students who came through Johns Hopkins,” he said. “We were able to bring them here where they could work to succeed. We were facilitators of success.”
Owens was employed at Hopkins at a time of great change. The university went co-ed while he was there and the complexion of the campus started to change. In his admissions role, he had a hand recruiting a number of African American students to the school. Owens is reluctant to take sole credit for his work. It was a collective effort among all the admissions officers, as well as the administration, faculty, staff and the students themselves, he said.
While his work focused on students of color, Owens’s approachable style made him a favorite among students of every hue, as was evident when white students on campus asked him to be the coach of their G.E. College Bowl team, the national radio and TV quiz show that aired in the 1950s and 1960s.
Owens was an early achiever. In 1952, he was awarded a Ford Foundation Scholarship to Morehouse College where, at age 16, he enrolled for two years. He earned his undergraduate degree at Arkansas AM&N. In 1959, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, and later honorably discharged.
Now retired, Owens is as proud of his time at Hopkins as he is about the career he built for himself after he left the university. While working full time at Hopkins, Owens attended the University of Baltimore Law School where he was named Notes & Comments Editor of the University of Baltimore Law Review, making him the first African American to hold the position.
After obtaining his degree, he joined the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s office as a prosecutor. He then became assistant city solicitor before serving as legislative assistant to former Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes. Around this time, he returned to Hopkins to serve as a pre-law advisor to upperclassmen considering careers in the legal field. In 1980, Owens was appointed associate general counsel of ACTION, a federal volunteer program. He retired in 1994 as associate general counsel for the Peace Corps.
Owens was the first African Americans to serve in many of the positions he held. He’s proud of the distinction, but is hesitant to dwell on it. “It’s not important that someone is the first at what he does,” he says. “It’s what a person does with that first that matters.”