Eliminating Heart Health Disparaties Amongst African-American Women and Women of Color

Patricia Morris, Lillie Daniels Legacy Awardee

In 2015 Ms. Morris had a major stroke.  Her husband became her caregiver.  She never thought about giving up. She believes that it is because of her relationship with God that has brought her through.  Mrs. Morris is the CEO and Founder of the “Hands of Hope Caregiver Foundation”.  Hands of Hope Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit caregiver support organization.  In her career, Ms. Morris practiced as a social worker for over thirty years before retiring as a Director of Family Services in Prince Georges County.  Mrs. Morris has served as a member of the National Board of Addiction Examiners, the Executive Committee of Envisioned Prince Georges, the Academy of Certified Social Workers, the National Association of Social Workers, Stoney Hoyer’s Women’s Network Advisory Committee, the Board of Directors of Goodwill Industries, the Chair for Woman for Men Aiming Higher, and the Vice President of the Coalition of 100 Black Women of Prince Georges County.  Most recently, she was chosen to be a member of Who’s Who of Professionals.  She works along the side of her husband Steven Morris, at Somerset Prep DC Public Charter School, where she provides Behavioral Health Services. Patricia is the mother of two sons and the grandmother of three beautiful grandchildren. Although, Mrs. Patricia has been a true public servant that has dedicated her life to helping others, she still finds time for her family.

Tish Thomas, Survivors That Thrive Awardee

Tish suffered heart attack in 2012.  She found herself stretched out across a restaurant table gasping for breath as she stared into the eyes of her (then) 9 year old daughter named Truth.  After praying a simple prayer “God don’t let me die in here. God don’t let her die in front of my child” – He heard her prayer and sustained her life.  At the time Tish was carrying a heavy burden of stress from a failing marriage.  She is very clear now that stress can be a silent killer.  Tish is a strong believer in Faith and the sustaining power of God.
Tish was called into the ministry and appointed Pastor of Adams Inspirational AME Church in Fort Washington, Maryland.  Prior to this, her initial pastoral appointment, she served for several years as an Itinerant Elder at Reid Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church in Glenn Dale, Maryland.  An accomplished and creative writer, Pastor Tish is the author of a children’s book on developing healthy friendships.  She is a proud member of Iota Gamma Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  She believes the Super Woman Syndrome is very real, but God gives us common sense to make wise decisions, and it’s up to us to make the right choices.  Tish and her husband, Rev. Dwight Cokely, reside in Bowie, Maryland, and are the very proud parents of three amazing and inspirational children: Dominic, Truth and Vic’Tor.

Candice Camille, Survivors That Thrive Awardee

Candice was in a car accident at the age of 36.  That is when she found out that she was diagnosed with throat cancer.  In 2012 she suffered a stroke and in 2013 she suffered several mini heart attacks.  She is not only a survivor, but a survivor that thrives!  She has made major changes in her lifestyle due to her previous illnesses.  Candice is known as the Wellologist, the “Gangsta Plankster” and the “Sexy Fit and Well Stratigist”.  She is a sought after international motivational speaker and currently manages WillPower Sport and Wellness Gym in Ft. Washington, MD.  In her career, she practiced as a licensed respiratory therapist pulmonary technologist.  After suffering from throat cancer and chemo therapy she decided that she did not want surgery and she decided that she wanted to go home and die instead, but God had other plans. During her experience with cancer, God gave her the spirit to fight and to live for her husband and her children.  She learned how the body works with food, movements, sleeping well, water, prayer and meditation.  She suffered a stroke in 2012 after starting her own business, and started to have several mini heart attacks in 2013.  She was diagnosed with cardiomegaly, an enlarged heart.  She worked on herself through the health practices she previously learned, which helped her get better.  Candice’s assignment is to teach women the power of healthy living and taking charge of their health the wellologist way.

Dr. Vikram Raya, Doctors Have Heart Awardee

Dr. Raya is cardiologist who specializes in Heart failure and preventive cardiology at Capitol Cardiology Associates and is the founder of Vitology Institute, a revolutionary new clinic founded on the principles of functional wellness and treating the root cause of disease. He is an international speaker and behavioral coach, and recognized leader in the fields of weight loss, metabolic syndrome, and preventive cardiology.  He conducts seminars throughout DC, Virginia, Maryland on reversing Diabetes, Heart Disease, Hypertension, and Cholesterol issues. In addition to supporting the Open My Heart Foundation, and First Baptist Church of Glenarden, he makes TV appearances and hosts live seminars partnering with local hospitals such as Medstar Southern Maryland Center and does Cooking with The Cardiologist Seminar.
Dr. Raya is committed to the idea that patients have the ability to reverse disease, foster health, and achieve ultimate wellness. Growing up, Dr. Raya was interested in medicine as a means of improving people's lives . Following his medical training and specialization in cardiology, Dr. Raya identified missing elements in the traditional treatment of patients.

Dr. Raj Shetty, Doctors Have Heart Awardee

Dr. Shetty is the President of Capitol Cardiology Associates.  He is a cardiologist that has been practicing for more than 20 years.  He is affiliated with and has privileges at multiple hospitals in the Washington, DC area, including Adventist Healthcare, Washington Adventist Hospital, Doctors Community Hospital, Washington Hospital Center, Prince Georges Hospital Center, and Medstar Southern Maryland Hospital Center.  He received his medical degree from Mahadevappa Rampure Medical College in Gulbarga, Karnataka, India.  Dr. Shetty  completed his residency program at Prince Georges Hospital Center in 2001 where he was selected as Chief Resident.
In 2010 he joined as a Partner to Capitol Cardiology Associates where he is now serving as President of Capitol Cardiology Associates. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Disease and Interventional Cardiology.  Dr. Shetty is a leader in the field of cardiology and a sought-after speaker and educator about heart disease, its symptoms, risk factors, and the importance of taking care of your heart.  Dr. Shetty's interests include photography, biking, and traveling to remote places. He is married with 2 beautiful sons.

Dr. Baruch, Community Service Awardee

Dr. Baruch Ben-Yehudah (known as Dr. Baruch) is the owner of Everlasting Life Restaurant.  It is not just another vegan restaurant, it is a place of peace, hope and inspiration.  Everlasting Life is a cafeteria-style restaurant offering fresh salads, whole plant-based entrees and side dishes, vegan desserts, juices and smoothies. Everlasting Life stands out as a beacon of hope to a community with no healthy restaurant choices. He looked around and realized there were only unhealthy restaurants serving his largely African American community. Dr. Baruch believes that one should not have to leave one’s own neighborhood to eat healthy. He believes we have to eat the cure. Not only is Everlasting Life a well known healthy food option in the community, Dr. Baruch is the Owner and Producer of ELife Media Group, where he conducts interviews on his station on community interests and events.  In addition, he also provides a service to his customers by allowing budding and seasoned entrepreneurs with vending opportunities to set up in his restaurant as an incubator for their ideas.  These are products and services that are in demand and this in turn gives the customers an additional avenue through which they can redirect their spending to their community.
Dr. Baruch is a Native Washingtonian.  He is married with children and currently resides in Maryland.

Dr. Rupa Marya, Doctors Have Heart Awardee

Dr. Rupa K. Marya is a physician, folk artist, musical storyteller, and activist.  She is known as the “singing doctor”.  She is the Associate Professor at University of California San Francisco (UCSF) within the Division of Hospital Medicine. Her interests center around the intersection of society and illness, focusing research on how social structures may predispose different disadvantaged groups to certain illnesses. She is Faculty Director of the Do No Harm Coalition, a 450+ member strong group of health workers and students dedicated to ending racism and state violence. She is the co-investigator of The Justice Study, a national effort to understand the link between police violence and health outcomes in communities most affected by that violence.

As a leader and advocate in justice and the medical field, Dr. Marya states,  “We’re working on articulating what happens when there are disparities in health because of race. How can we look at the issue not as an intrinsic quality to a person’s body? Being Black doesn’t make you somehow biologically inferior with a worse life expectancy, higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, and infant mortality. The social structure around it is what is causing these dysfunctions. Race isn’t the issue that we need to look at, it’s the racism. We’re starting to articulate a language around this. Then we use this language in the hospitals as we’re seeing patients out in the communities that we serve.”
Dr. Marya grew up in California, France and India, the daughter of Punjabi immigrants. "There were about four or five languages being spoken at the dinner table all the time," she says. "That ended up affecting my sensitivity to sounds and languages."  Dr. Marya lives in the East Bay with her three-year-old son, her newborn baby, and her husband, Benjamin Fahrer, an organic farmer.