Office of the President Emeritus

Louis W. Sullivan, MD

Office Main:  678-539-6140



Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., is chairman of the Washington, D.C.-based Sullivan Alliance to Transform America’s Health Professions.  In January 2020, in order to further increase diversity and transform health professions’ education and health delivery systems, the Board of the Sullivan Alliance voted to become a central program of the Association of Academic Health Centers (AAHC). In 2022, the AAHC merged into the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).  

In 1975, Dr. Sullivan was the founding dean and president of Morehouse School of Medicine, serving for more than two decades. He is now President Emeritus.

Dr. Sullivan served as chair of the President’s Commission on Historically Black Colleges and Universities from 2002-2009 and was co-chair of the President’s Commission on HIV and AIDS from 2001-2006.


What's Current. What's In the News. What You Need to Know...

Diverse Issues in Higher Education article regarding the February 21, 2023 We’ll Fight it Out Here Webinar hosted by Rutgers University’s Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity and Justice: Rutgers Webinar Discusses Health Equity, Minority Health, and Medical Education | Diverse: Issues In Higher Education (

Statement on the Passing of Thomas W. Dortch, Jr.

February 16, 2023

On behalf of the Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions, we extend to Carole and the family of Thomas W. Dortch, Jr. our condolences on his passing.

Tommy will be missed by all of us.  I had many positive interactions with Tommy over the years as he worked to improve our world.

  1. When I was appointed founding dean at Morehouse School of Medicine in 1975, Tommy was a senior staff member for U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. Tommy supported our efforts to build a foundation for this new medical school (the only predominantly Black school of medicine to be founded in the United States in the 20th century) by helping us recruit Senator Nunn to serve on the school’s board of trustees.  Senator Nunn helped Morehouse School of Medicine secure several major federal grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  2. In 2008, as a member of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, Tommy supported the formation of a non-profit corporation for the governance of Grady Memorial Hospital, a crucial development to save this institution and improve its finances. This preserved its legacy of health services to the citizens of Fulton and Dekalb counties.  Tommy also was an active member of the board of this new, non-profit corporation, giving helpful and appropriate oversight to the trustees and senior management.
  3. Tommy sponsored an annual meeting of Fulton and Dekalb counties to enable citizens to learn about important health issues affecting our communities, such as HIV/AIDS, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, the EBOLA epidemic, the COVID-19 pandemic and others.

Tommy was also a leader of 100 Black Men of America.  He founded the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Hall of Fame and raised funds to support Black colleges and scholarships for Black students.

We salute Thomas W. Dortch, Jr.   We thank him for his service to his fellow citizens and we cherish his memory.

Louis W. Sullivan, M.D.

The Sullivan Alliance

The Struggle for Health Equity:
Dr. Louis Sullivan Stays Strong


Dr. Louis Sullivan’s leadership and advocacy for equity in the health professions have taken him from the classroom to the seats of power in Washington. He reflects on his own journey and the challenges that still exist for training people of color to become doctors and for other medical roles.

Dr. Sullivan served as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is the co-author of the new book “We’ll Fight it Out Here: A History of the Ongoing Struggle for Health Equity.”

We’re honored to have him join hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter to discuss these topics as well as the gaps COVID has exposed and the current political battles over equity.


Twitter: @chcradio

Facebook:  Conversations on Health Care

Linkedin:  Mark Masselli

In honor of Black History Month, join a fireside chat between Louis W. Sullivan and Marybeth Gasman where they will discuss his latest book, We’ll Fight It Out HerePrior to his becoming Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Louis W. Sullivan (along with Walter Bowie and Anthony Rachal) founded the Association of Minority Health Professions Schools (AMHPS). This webinar will share the need that bound together this small group of Black institutions and the hard-won influence AMHPS built in American politics and health care. This webinar will also feature a panel discussion about the book and the events it chronicles. Attendees will receive a 30% discount code for Sullivan’s latest book.

About the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, and Justice 
The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, and Justice (Proctor Institute) is a national center that focuses on issues of leadership, equity, and justice within the context of higher education. It brings together researchers, practitioners, and community members to work toward the common goals of diversifying leadership, enhancing equity, and fostering justice for all. The Proctor Institute is located at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, in the Graduate School of Education and, houses the Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI). For more information about the Proctor Institute, please visit

The January 24, 2023 edition of The St. Louis American lists the Washington Informer review of We’ll Fight it Out Here as required reading.   Black health books are required reading | Health News |





Statement on the Passing of the Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts III

By Louis W. Sullivan, M.D.

October 28, 2022


“Reverend Dr. Calvin Butts, III was an exceptional spiritual force, community activist and health leader who improved our world.

Among his many contributions were his initiatives to improve the health and wealth of African Americans and others.  This included efforts to reduce illness and deaths from tobacco use, to eliminate substance misuse, to improve efforts to prevent and to treat HIV infections, to improve infant nutrition, expand employment for low-income Americans and strengthen business development in Harlem.  At the time of his passing, Reverend Butts was the co-chair of a national group of Black ministers, working to increase COVID vaccination rates among the nation’s African American community.

Reverend Butts was a charismatic leader and an eloquent speaker, who always was in high demand in New York; Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts; Atlanta, Georgia and elsewhere around the country.

Those who were fortunate to know Calvin Butts or to work with him were inspired by the experience.

The Sullivan Alliance and its members extend sincere condolences to his wife, Patricia and family.”

–Louis W. Sullivan, M.D. Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1989 – 1993); president emeritus, Morehouse School of Medicine

Office of Louis W. Sullivan, M.D.

U.S. Secretary Health and Human Services (1989-93)


For Immediate Release

September 13, 2022

                                                                                                   Contact:  Gayle E. Converse 404.989.0534


A History of the Ongoing Struggle for Health Equity


Washington, D.C. – The story of a vital coalition movement — essentially unknown until now — changed the national understanding of health inequities in the United States.

A need that bound together a tiny group of Black institutions nearly a half-century ago has precipitated virtually all minority health care legislation since then.

Racism in the United States health care system has been undermining Black health care professionals and exacerbating health disparities among Black Americans for centuries. Health inequities only became a mainstream issue after a group of health professions schools at Historically Black Colleges and Universities came together. We’ll Fight It Out Here (October 11, 2022 Johns Hopkins University Press) tells the story of how the Association of Minority Health Professions Schools (AMHPS) was founded by this coalition and the hard-won influence it built in American politics and health care. Author David Chanoff and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Louis W. Sullivan, M.D. detail the struggle for equity — and the bias and disparities that continue to be volatile national issues.

Chanoff and Sullivan outline the history of Black health care, from pre-emancipation to today. Through extensive research, historic photos and more than 70 interviews with key policy makers, We’ll Fight It Out Here chronicles this critical fight for legislative and policy change.

Also described as a “How-to” guide to navigate the U.S. legislative process, We’ll Fight It Out Here provides a road map of practical mechanisms that can be used to advance health care access for all Americans.

About the Authors

David Chanoff (SOMERVILLE, MA) is the coauthor of more than twenty books, including Seeing Patients: Unconscious Bias in Health Care, and has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal and other publications. Louis W. Sullivan, M.D. (ATLANTA, GA) is a former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is  the founding dean and president emeritus of Morehouse School of Medicine. He is the author, with Marybeth Gasman, of The Morehouse Mystique (Hopkins Press, 2012). Chanoff and Sullivan collaborated on Sullivan’s award-winning autobiography, Breaking Ground: My Life in Medicine (University of Georgia Press, 2014).


The Association of Minority Health Professions Schools, Inc. (AMHPS) was formed to provide a means by which the need for a national minority heath agenda could be effectively addressed. It is comprised of twelve historically Black medical, dental, pharmacy, and veterinary schools.

AMHPS, established in 1976, is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit, educational, scientific, advocacy, and charitable organization. Through programs and funding, it provides support for professional education, research and prevention programs to member institutions of the Association. The work of this coalition of Black health schools continues, both in supporting the training of more doctors and health professionals from minority backgrounds and in advancing issues related to health equity. Home | Association of Minority Health Professions Schools (

Advance Acclaim

We’ll Fight It Out Here is a David and Goliath legislative story of how a small and dedicated group of health professionals battled to eliminate health disparities and push through Congress legislation that opened up first-rate medical care to African Americans. It is a historical gem of how participants in the legislative process in Washington can be persuaded to do the right thing for those in greatest need.”

Joseph A. Califano Jr., former US Secretary of Health Education and Welfare, author of America’s Health Care Revolution

“This is an essential work on American medical history and its place in the fight for racial justice. The story is dramatic and lucid. The book should be mandatory reading for college courses and for anyone interested in America’s ongoing search for racial equality. It represents a milestone in writing on medical history and should be part of the core knowledge of all those who care about equitable and human health care.”

Augustus A. White III, M.D., PhD, Harvard Medical School, author of Seeing Patients: A Surgeon’s Story of Race and Medical Bias

“An amazing story of grit, determination, and perseverance to advance Black and minority-serving health institutions. To have a more just and equitable nation, more attention and support must be given to the cherished institutions that compose the Association of Minority Health Professions Schools.”

Wayne J. Riley, M.D., MPH, president, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

We’ll Fight It Out Here

A History of the Ongoing Struggle for Health Equity

David Chanoff And Louis W. Sullivan




Thomas J. Blocker Society Foundation

May 19, 2022

 The Thomas J. Blocker Society Foundation hosts the Living Legends Satcher – Sullivan Gala

Fundraiser Gala honoring former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher and former Sec. of Health and Human Services Dr. Louis Sullivan

Atlanta, GA, The Thomas J. Blocker Society will host the Living Legends Satcher – Sullivan gala at 7:30 pm on Friday, July 29, 2022, at the Intercontinental Buckhead Atlanta. The Living Legends Gala will be an exceptional evening of elegance and celebration in honor of two of our most notable alumni in healthcare, Drs. Satcher and Sullivan, preceding the 2022 National Medical Association’s Annual Convention in Atlanta. For over 50 years, each honoree has positively impacted the nation’s healthcare landscape. This celebration will befittingly pay tribute to these distinguished African American males for their outstanding contributions in medicine, medical education and improving diversity in healthcare.

This Black-tie tribute celebrating African American achievement is one of the most anticipated affairs of the NMA convention weekend but will also serve as a successful event supporting student scholarships and programming for the Thomas J. Blocker Society Foundation. To date, thanks to the investment of alumni and corporate sponsors, our Society has grossed more than $500,000 with net proceeds benefitting the Morehouse College Office of Health Professions and undergraduates interested in the health professions.

The Thomas J. Blocker Society and its nonprofit foundation has invited the National Medical Association, the Morehouse College, the Morehouse School of Medicine, and greater Atlanta medical and scientific communities to attend this wondrous occasion. Northside Hospital, other Atlanta health care systems and several corporate sponsors like OneAmerica and Northwestern Mutual are excited to sponsor this worthwhile event.

Ticket, Table, Souvenir booklet advertisement and sponsorship opportunities are available for purchase here. Also, more event information can be found at

About The Thomas J. Blocker Society

Established in 2012, The Thomas J. Blocker Society is the health professions alumni of Morehouse College.  We are a group of physicians, dentists, pharmacists, scientists and allied health professionals located throughout the country and the globe. We are committed to assisting Morehouse College undergraduate and students of color who are interested in the health professions through academic advisement, clinical shadowing, mentoring, summer science enrichment programs and academic scholarships.



Media Contact:

Vandy Gaffney II, M.D., M.S.



Dr. Louis W. Sullivan addressed health disparities during a recent Chronic Disease Day Webinar . 
You can watch the recording here: 


In honor of this year’s #BlackHistoryMonth theme – Black Health and Wellness – United Therapeutics is  proud to highlight its Board of Directors Member, The Honorable Louis W. Sullivan, M.D.  Dr. Sullivan’s latest book, Let’s Fight it Out Here: America’s Black Health Professionals and the Legislative Battleground; Story of AMPHS will be published in September 2022.




Timely Discussion: Join a conversation with Former HHS Secretary Louis W. Sullivan, MD, Tuesday, February 22, at 4 p.m. ET, hosted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Dr. Sullivan will discuss his life and work promoting education, access to care, and the importance of diversifying health professions and medical education. The conversation is part of a series on Black individuals in science, engineering, and medicine.





Dr. Louis W. Sullivan participated in a panel February 2, 2022 in the first of Harvard University’s Center for Bioethics 2022 Black History Month series.

Statement on the Passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa

December 26, 2021

From:  Louis W. Sullivan, M.D.

President Emeritus, Morehouse School of Medicine

United States Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services (1989-1993)


“We mourn the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a great humanitarian and spiritual leader for South Africa and the world.

Archbishop Tutu was also a political force in South Africa, in the development of a new, democratic government with President Nelson Mandela. He chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission I South Africa to assure accountability for human rights abuses under the previous apartheid regime and to promote forgiveness and national unity in South Africa.

Morehouse School of Medicine was honored to have Archbishop Tutu give the commencement address to its graduating class in 1993, when he shared his wit, wisdom and life experiences. His legacy is that of a life well-lived, which inspired many people around the world.”

–Louis W. Sullivan, M.D.

President Emeritus, Morehouse School of Medicine

United States Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services (1989-1993)

Statement of Condolence on the Death of U.S. Senator Jonny Isakson

From Louis W. Sullivan, M.D.

December 19, 2021

“The State of Georgia and the Nation have lost a great leader and public servant in the passing of Senator Johnny Isakson.  I have lost a good friend and supporter.

During my tenure as president and dean of Morehouse School of Medicine, Johnny Isakson served in the Georgia Legislature and in the United States Congress.  Throughout this time, Johnny Isakson was a strong supporter of education, including Morehouse School of Medicine. He believed in equal opportunity in our society, and he practiced that in his everyday life.

Johnny believed in the mission of Morehouse School of Medicine, to increase the number of African American (and other minority) physicians to serve the citizens of Georgia and America.

We are grateful for his life of service.  We are a better state and a better country because of the contributions from Johnny Isakson.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Diane and the Isakson family.”

–Louis W. Sullivan, M.D.

U.S. Secretary, Health and Human Services (1989-1993)

President Emeritus, Morehouse School of Medicine

Statement on Passing of U.S. Senator Robert Dole

December 4, 2021

From Louis W. Sullivan, M.D.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (1989 – 1993)

“Ginger and I were saddened to learn about the passing of Bob Dole, one of our nation’s most outstanding public servants and political leaders.

When I arrived in Washington, D.C. in 1989, as George H.W. Bush’s nominee for U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Bob and his wife, Elizabeth, were very welcoming to me and Ginger, helping us to learn about the city and its political culture.

As Senate Majority Leader, Bob was supportive of me, of the Department of  Health and Human Services and the Department’s many programs.

As a military veteran, he was appreciative of the service given to our country by members of the armed services.

In 2003, ten-years after my tenure as Secretary of HHS, Bob gave his time generously to serve as co-chair (along with former U. S. Congressman from Ohio, Louis Stokes) of the Sullivan Commission, a private, non-profit organization which I chaired.  Funded by the Kellogg Foundation, the Commission issued a report, “Missing Persons,” documenting the shortage of African American physicians in the nation and urging  a variety of actions to increase their numbers.

Bob Dole was a true patriot and a committed public servant.  We have a better nation because of his many contributions.

Ginger and I extend our condolences and our support to Libby and their family.”

— Louis W. Sullivan, M.D.

   U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (1989 – 1993)

   President Emeritus, Morehouse School of Medicine

Statement from Louis W. Sullivan, MD on Death of General Colin L. Powell

October 18, 2021

From: Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., Secretary U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (1989-1993)

“America and the world have lost a great leader and humanitarian with the passing of General Colin Powell.

I was privileged to meet and work with General Powell from 1989-1993, when he served as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff of the U.S. Military Services and I was secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the administration of George H.W. Bush. Powell was an articulate spokesperson, respected military leader and valued member of the Bush 41 leadership team. His leadership was clear with the rapid success in removing the Iraqi troops from Kuwait in 1991, with minimal casualties or economic disruption. His subsequent contributions as secretary of state under George W. Bush are well known.

As President of Morehouse School of Medicine, I was pleased to welcome him as our commencement speaker in 1994, when he inspired our graduates, faculty and administration with his words and his deeds.

Ginger joins me in sending our sincere condolences to his wife, Alma Powell and other members of his family at this sad time. We thank Colin Powell for his service — which he brought to the nation with distinction.”

–Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., Secretary U.S Department of Health and Human Services (1989-1993)

President Emeritus, Morehouse School of Medicine


BU Symposium on Race & Medicine

2020 AAHC Sullivan Alliance Lecture


Opinion: Outreach key to boosting vaccination rate


The COVID-19 pandemic currently ravaging our society demonstrates starkly that our system is not working as it should. Our society needs trusted institutions and individuals in efforts to achieve the levels of vaccination needed to successfully end the pandemic.

In 2020, we saw the remarkable development of vaccines for the COVID-19 virus with strong scientific rigor and high ethical standards in record time. But the resulting vaccines have been met with a high degree of skepticism, suspicion, and mistrust by our citizens, especially people of color (Black, Latino and Native Americans). Thus, these scientific and technological developments are in danger of not achieving their purpose because of mistrust, misinformation and misunderstanding among Americans. A clear need in 2021 and beyond is better health literacy and improved health behavior of our citizens. Public health professionals have emphasized the substantial gains to be made in extending our years of healthy life, along with significant reductions in illness and injury.




Monday, January 18 | 2-3 p.m.

Please register for this Zoom meeting

All members of the BU Medical Campus community are invited to a special presentation commemorating the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A Life of Service In Healthcare, And Why It’s Important In Today’s World

Guest Speaker: Louis W. Sullivan, MD, MACP (MED’58)

A 1958 graduate of BUSM and former faculty member who currently is a member of the BUSM Dean’s Advisory Board, Dr. Sullivan is the founding dean and first president of Morehouse School of Medicine (now president emeritus). He served as Secretary of Health and Human Services during the George H. W. Bush administration. He is chair of the board of the Washington, D.C.–based Sullivan Alliance to Transform America’s Health Professions. He also is author of The Morehouse Mystique: Becoming a Doctor at the Nation’s Newest African American Medical School (with Marybeth Gasman; Johns Hopkins University Press) and “Breaking Ground: My Life in Medicine (with David Chanoff; University of Georgia Press). He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

Invocation by the Rev. Dr. Karen Coleman, University Chaplain, Marsh Chapel

Hosted by John Polk, MD, EdM (MED’74), Associate Dean for Diversity & Inclusion, BUSM

Opinion: Building A Health Culture In America

AJC Op-Ed with Louis W. Sullivan – 8/19/20


Statement from Louis W. Sullivan, M.D.
in Support of the Student Coalition for Social Equality
June 18, 2020

I commend the Student Coalition for Social Equality at Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) for its leadership in organizing the peaceful protest on June 19th to focus on improving the health of the nation’s minority and medically underserved populations.

MSM’s students today are building on the legacy of MSM’s alumni, who are providing medical services to our citizens, including those alumni who have served as Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service (Regina Benjamin, M.D.), President of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University (Wayne Riley, M.D.), Commissioner of Community Health for the State of Georgia (Rhonda Medows, M.D.), and many other alumni.

All of us must continue to provide the leadership and service needed for Georgia, our country and the world, as we work for improved health for all, for more health equity and for a better world.

Louis W. Sullivan, M.D.
President Emeritus
Morehouse School of Medicine
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 1989-1993



The Sullivan Alliance and AAHC Join Forces to Accelerate Diversity in Healthcare


Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (1989-1993)
President Emeritus, Morehouse School of Medicine

Let Us Trust Our Medical and Scientific Professionals

Confronting the pandemic resulting from the corona virus, President Trump has stated that “we are at war” with this infectious agent.

As a physician, former president of a medical school and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, I want to strongly commend the valuable scientific and professional leadership given to the nation by our men and women in the U.S. Public Health Service during this crisis.

The expertise of Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH, Dr. Deborah Birx at the White House and Dr. Robert Redfield at CDC is being utilized by our elected officials to help our nation navigate through the existential threat we are facing from this virus.

This episode shows our citizens and our elected officials – the president, members of congress, governors, state legislators, and others – the importance of investing in scientific research and health professions training so that our nation is more capable of a creative and nimble response to the threat from a new enemy, the corona virus 19.

I urge everyone, beginning with the president, the congress, all our elected leaders, our business leaders and non-profit leaders, — indeed, all of our citizens — to listen carefully to Dr. Fauci and his colleagues, and to follow their reasoned and data-informed advice.

This is a test of our society. We must succeed in this effort. We will, if we believe in – and if we trust – our health and scientific professionals.

From The Desk Of...

A collection of op-eds and blog entries from Louis W. Sullivan


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