Spirit of the Heart
Health Equity Champion Award


Excellence in Media Award


Distinguished Leadership Award


Walter M. Booker
Health Promotion Award

The Links, Incorporated

Rev. Dr. Gertie Loretta Hurley

Rev. Dr. Gertie Loretta Hurley is the founder and CEO of Taking Effective Action, Incorporated (TEA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization headquartered in Bowie, Maryland. TEA is dedicated to empowering community members to achieve and maintain optimal health through education and supportive services. She is an ordained minister and publisher and editor of Fruit for the Spirit, a daily devotional. Dr. Hurley also is a writer, whose works have appeared in Reunions Magazine, the Washington Post Newspaper, and many other publications. She has also been featured on TV and radio, newspapers, magazines, and on-line media.

Dr. Hurley has conducted weekly health classes, led health conferences, retreats, workshops, and seminars in the Metropolitan DC area and abroad. Her professional experience and interest in health spans over 47 years at the federal government, state, and local community level. This includes positions as an Extension Faculty member with the University of Maryland and Public Affairs Specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service. 

Dr. Hurley’s many awards include the NBC 4 TV Award for Contributions and Achievements in the Community, the Baltimore Ravens Community Quarterback Award, and the James Floyd Jenkins Pillar of Faith Award from the Howard University School of Divinity. She is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., Eta Iota Sigma Chapter, and the Association of Black Cardiologists.

Dr. Hurley holds a BS in Community Service Education from Howard University, Washington, DC, an MBA in Health Care Administration from Loyola University, Baltimore, Maryland, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio.

An avid Community Health Advocate, Dr. Hurley is dedicated to encouraging others to improve their health. Her desire is to impact, transform, and empower community members to present themselves spiritually, mentally, and physically whole in the Kingdom of God.


Josephine Bonita Isabel was blessed to be born March 7, 1940 to proud, loving parents,  George Taylor and Ethel Harris Isabel, and to proud big brother, George Jr., and proud big sister, Ethel Lois!  She was born and  grew up in Memphis, Tennessee where she was educated in the Memphis City Schools – Lester Elementary School, with middle school years at Lutheran Cooperative School, and, as the Isabel Family tradition, Booker T. Washington High School.  That she was very bright became obvious at a young age in that she bypassed fifth grade and remained at the top of her classes throughout graded school, graduating co-valedictorian of her large  high school class and winning full scholarships to LeMoyne College.  After her  third year LeMoyne she gained early admission to both Meharry Medical College and University of Tennessee Medical College.  She chose to matriculate at Meharry.   While at Meharry Medical College, she was the recipient of several scholarships and honors including election into Alpha Omega Alpha National Medical Honor Society.  Jo, as she was affectionately called, completed internship at D. C. General Hospital and returned to Memphis where she became the first African American resident at University of Tennessee Medical Center.


Dr. Isabel-Jones completed a fellowship in pediatric cardiology at UCLA, becoming the first African American woman board certified in that specialty.  She continued her entire career of more than 50 years at UCLA progressing to professor emerita of pediatrics and an assistant dean emerita of student affairs at David Geffen School of Medicine .  Her pioneering spirit became apparent as she introduced many procedures to the pediatric cardiac catheterization laboratory and started the first pediatric echocardiography laboratory at UCLA.  In addition to her faculty responsibilities, she served on advisory boards of national professional institutions and organizations including the  National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.   Throughout her career she has received numerous honors and awards including: Alumna of the Year from LeMoyne College, the Ruth Temple, M.D. Community Service Award and the first Lifetime Achievement Award from The Association of Black Women (ABWP), The Minority Health Award for Community Service, the Fair & Open Academic Environment Award by UCLA Academic Senate Committee on Diversity & Equal  Opportunity, and the UCLA Medical Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award. The UCLA Black Alumni Association honored her with the Jackie Robinson Trail Blazer Award.

“Dr. Jo”, as she was affectionately called, is cited by many graduates of UCLA School of Medicine as a role model in the development and success of their careers.  She   was the recipient of the  Sherman M. Mellinkoff Faculty Award from the UCLA School of Medicine. This very prestigious award, named for Dean Emeritus Sherman M. Mellinkoff who was dean of the school for over 25 years, is given to the faculty member “whose teaching exemplifies the individual’s dedication to the art of medicine and to the finest doctor-patient relationships”.  Dr. Isabel-Jones, selected from a faculty of over 1700 members, was the second female and the first African-American  honored with this award.   Even in her semi-retirement, she  for the past several years received the Outstanding Tutor Award for exceptional commitment to problem–based learning by the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Most of Dr.  Jo’s life she has been committed to social justice, equity, diversity,  and inclusion.  As an undergraduate student, she was one of the organizers and original participants in the students’ civil rights movement of the ‘60s whose arrest in the Memphis Public Library led to the desegregation of the library and other public facilities.  Throughout her career and even in her retirement  she has been committed to recruitment, admission, and retention of underrepresented minority students to medical school.   She continued to participate in efforts to achieve diversity, equity, inclusion, and prevention of discrimination on departmental, school, and campus-wide levels. Dr. Jo was appointed by the chancellor to serve as a  member of the Moreno Report  Committee to address diversity challenges for faculty and students at UCLA.   She founded and chaired the first faculty diversity committee at David Geffen School of Medicine and developed the Intergroup Dialogue to Enhance Action on Diversity (IDEA) with workshops to address implicit bias in mentoring women and minority faculty members.  These were pioneering efforts, and Dr. Isabel-Jones was years ahead of her time in her work on diversity and inclusion.

Dr. Isabel-Jones’ work in providing medical care to children with congenital heart disease in the underserved global community has been an inspiration to many. For several years (1970s-1980s) she volunteered her services as a pediatric cardiologist at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Hospital serving indigent children with congenital heart disease in South Central Los Angeles. She has had a long-standing interest in medical mission work, having learned of it as a child in Vacation Bible School from missionaries.  As a senior student in medical school, she volunteered for 6 weeks to help provide medical care in a poor rural area, Mt. Bayou, Mississippi.  She served as advisor to public health and medical students, recruited other physicians, and traveled with the team to the Old Mutare Mission of Zimbabwe in 1992.  In 1997 she was part of a team of pediatric cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, anesthesiologists and intensivists who provided medical services and health education in Arequipa and Lima, Peru.  Over several years she was part of the Peru Medical Mission,  Corazones con Esperanza (Hearts with Hope), to Arequipa.

Being recognized for her outstanding career as a pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Jo received the 2021 Helen Taussig Founders Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Since her second and final retirement, Dr. Jo received the UCLA  Carole E. Goldberg Emeriti Service Award which honors extraordinary service and highlights the recipient’s distinctive achievements in service to the university, their department and community through their respective fields.   She has continued community involvement having served as chairperson of an administrative committee in her church, Holman United Methodist Church, and serving as co-chair of the Health Committee of her chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Jo’s love for dance became apparent from age 8 years old when she began ballet which she enjoyed through high school.  As an adult she and husband, Earl M. Jones,  have shared the joy of dancing and can be seen on the dance floor at every opportunity!  From the prime of life and well into her senior years she has felt blessed to be a part of the liturgical dance ministry in Holman Church and the opportunity to share that experience over time with 2 of her daughters and 4 of her grandchildren!  In an effort to remain in good physical health, Dr. Jo does virtual zumba under the direction of daughter, Jessica (Dr. Jessica Jones Guthrie) and includes occasional hip hop fitness!  Over the years she and husband, Earl, have enjoyed a great life together, raising their four children, enjoying the company of 9 grandchildren,  in church work, traveling with family and the Double Ring Club (a couples group started over 50 years ago!), bicycling, bowling,  playing tennis  and softball, and as sports spectators.

Jo’s spiritual development started from a young age under the guidance of her parents.  She was mature enough in her faith to join church on her own initiative and decision at age 7 at Mt. Pisgah Church in Memphis where she held membership until relocating to Los Angeles when she and Earl joined Holman Church.  Starting as a college student she taught Sunday School for over 30 years.  She has continued her spiritual growth through participation in DISCIPLE, an intense 5 year curriculum of Bible study and her work with Hannah’s Descendants, CWIP, Inc, both of which she has looked upon as opportunities to transition from her career of healing bodies to a mission in healing souls.

Priscilla Pemu, MD

Dr Pemu is an internist whose goal is to improve the health of all patients similar to those that she encounters in her primary care practice. The complex interplay of patient, physician, practice setting, environmental and psychosocial factors in perpetuating disparities in health outcomes led to her interest and work with the Community Physicians Network. In the past 15years, we have developed a successful partnership based on a shared vision for improved care and outcomes among minority and underserved patients with Community Physicians who are part of the Morehouse Community Physicians Network (CPN). Overall focus has been on identifying gaps in treatment and outcomes and opportunities for improvement. As medical Director of the Community Physicians’ Network (CPN), she is responsible for planning and executing research and quality improvement initiatives. CPN established several disease specific registries for hypertension, Diabetes, heart failure and metabolic syndrome of 6500 individual patients. These were used to support research and quality improvement initiatives. Dr. Pemu is the Morehouse site PI for the All of Us Health Provider Organization called SEEC.

She leads the Morehouse participant and clinical interactions unit (PCI) of the Georgia Clinical And translational Science award (GA-CTSA).  In the role, she is directly involved in ensuring quality and efficiency of clinical research studies through training of staff, review and prioritization of resources for clinical projects and review of Data and Safety Monitoring reports as the chair of the institutional Scientific advisory Committee.

She is part of a team at Morehouse School of Medicine that developed a system and method for chronic illness care that empowers patients to change behaviors relevant to their health through improved knowledge, support for goal setting and accountability in sustaining behavior change. Dr. Pemu completed a residency with the TED organization in May 2019. As a participant in this highly selective incubator for breakthrough ideas, she introduced the concept of Culturally Congruent Coaching.  Her TED Talk, featured as Editor’s choice on TED.com, shared the results of 12 years of research observations about what predicts successful health behavior change. The talk brings attention to the impact of behavior on health and wellbeing among people living with chronic illnesses and the Doctors who care for them. She also discussed Culturally Congruent Coaching; a high-tech, high-touch approach to support behavior change that has produced great results among diverse patient groups.

Priscilla Pemu is a Professor of Clinical Medicine; Associate Dean for Clinical Research and Director Clinical Research Center at Morehouse School of Medicine. She is also proud mother of four; wife to Igho of 27 years, a sister, friend and daughter.

 Contributions to Science include:

  1. Patient and Consumer empowerment for improved health outcomes in chronic disease: Her work has focused on improving health outcomes by empowering the patient to be an effective consumer of healthcare. Along with colleagues, she has developed and successfully tested an eHealth application for improving self-management skills among high-risk diabetic patients.

  2. Quality Improvement in primary care: Her efforts focus on improving care and outcomes for patients with chronic disease.

  3. Translational health disparities research on obesity in African American women

  4. Education/Mentoring of next generation of Clinical and Translational Researchers

 CRECD: $2.7M

SEEC (All of Us) $11.5 M

Beacon of Hope (Clinical Trials CoE)$ 3.4M

CSH/Grady/MSM transformational approaches for health equity $13.8M (not yet funded)

NIH RECOVER (Long Covid Study)$ 3.4M

AHA SFRN on clinical trial diversity $1.44M

PhRMA Clinical Trials Diversity $1.42M

Total active Grants= $37.6M


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Phyllis Newhouse

Phyllis Newhouse is a serial entrepreneur and investor, retired military senior officer and mentor. She is CEO and Founder of ShoulderUp Technology Acquisition Corp, Founder and CEO of Xtreme Solutions, Inc. (XSI), CEO of Athena Technology Acquisition Corp. and Founder of ShoulderUp, a 501c3.

In 2021, she founded ShoulderUp Technology Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) led by industry veterans to carry out mergers, capital stock exchanges, asset acquisitions, stock purchases and reorganizations with one or more businesses in the technology and cybersecurity space. ShoulderUp Technology Acquisition Corp closed an upsized $300 million IPO in November 2021.

In 2020, she also co-founded Athena Technology Acquisition Corp. Athena closed a $250 million IPO in March 2021, making it the only SPAC listed on the NYSE with an African American female CEO. In July 2021, the company announced it was taking concentrated solar power company, Heliogen, public in a $2 billion merger.

Newhouse is also the Founder of ShoulderUp, a nonprofit she founded alongside Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis. Dedicated to connecting and supporting women on their entrepreneurial journeys, ShoulderUp introduced ShoulderUp Ventures, the first women-founded and led influencer fund providing impact and exclusive access to a diverse portfolio of media, technology companies and sports entertainment. In 2019 alone its members and affiliates have invested over $10 million in companies like Lime, Rent the Runway and Airbnb

As a pioneer in cybersecurity and business, she is the first woman to win an Ernst & Young (EY) Entrepreneur Of The Year® award in the technology category. She was admitted into the 2013 class of EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women, and in 2019 was inducted into the Enterprising Women Hall of fame. Additionally, XSI received inclusion in the Inc. 5000 list in 2013 and 2014, and has been recognized as one of Women’s Presidents’ Organization’s (WPO) 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned Companies in the U.S. consecutively for the past seven years.

Passionate about women-led businesses, Newhouse teaches aspiring entrepreneurs to recognize and capitalize on their leadership skills and empowers others to operate in greatness. She has been featured in Today, Entrepreneur, Inc., CNBC, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Cheddar News, Bloomberg and more. She received her degree from John F. Kennedy University and currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information, please visit phyllisnewhouse.com.   

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