In 1902, Justina Ford, MD, set up a medical practice in her Colorado home after being told she could not work in the local hospitals because she was an African American and a woman. However, she did not let that stop her from serving the people in her community, delivering 7,000 babies during her 50-year career.She surely got discouraged many times over the course of those 50 years, said Jehan “Gigi” El-Bayoumi, MD, RESD ’88, founding director of the Rodham Institute and professor of medicine at George Washington University’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences, at the start of the 5th Annual Rodham Institute Summit, held Nov. 3 at THEARC in southeast Washington, D.C.
That kind of fortitude, El-Bayoumi continued, is why “whenever we’re feeling bad, whenever we’re feeling discouraged, we need to remind ourselves that there are many Dr. Justina Fords who came before us.”
The theme of this year’s summit was “Building and Strengthening Resilience in Our Community.” The summit’s message was reflected by keynote speaker Hillary Rodham Clinton, former senator and secretary of state, whose mother, Dorothy Rodham, inspired the creation of the institute. GW President Thomas J. LeBlanc introduced Clinton, remarking on her four decades in public service and her longtime advocacy for human rights, democracy, and civil society. “She has been an advocate for underserved communities her entire career,” he said.
The mission of the institute is improving health equity in Washington, D.C., through community collaborations, health education, and service learning.
Clinton’s mother embodied resilience. Raised in a loveless household, Rodham fled her home at the age of 14 to work as a housekeeper and babysitter in an effort to find a better life, and in spite of her past, she grew to become a caring and thoughtful mother and friend.
“My mother told me along the way of this very difficult …