Dr. Patrice Harris Community Foundation's Dinner

President of the American Medical Association Dr. Patrice Harris speaks at the Community Foundations of the Virginias, Inc. Annual Dinner. 

BLUEFIELD, Va. — After a long day of appearances across the two Virginias, Dr. Patrice Harris, Bluefield, W.Va. native and the first African American female President of the American Medical Association, ended her day with an appearance at The Community Foundations of the Virginias, Inc. Annual Dinner as the Honored Guest Speaker.

“It has been a wonderful day, starting of course with this morning and my induction to the Bluefield High School Hall of Fame, which was really an emotional moment for me, seeing so many of my teachers and of course I had family members there and friends of my parents so it was a wonderful honor,” Dr. Harris told The Telegraph before her speech at the Community Foundations Dinner. “Then I went to Concord University where I had a great session with students and then the full staff and faculty, and then back here tonight, so it has been a wonderful day.”


 As the honored guest speaker, Dr. Harris said she looked forward to reconnecting with many familiar faces in the room of the Fincastle on the Mountain and speaking further about partnerships and philanthropy.


 “Tonight, I am looking forward to being able to reconnect with my guidance counselors, some more principals and classmates and I am just excited to be here and really talk about a partnership between philanthropy and health care,” Dr. Harris said. “The Community Foundations of the Virginias does such good work in funding so many projects and programs that I believe serve as a model for partnerships as we all work together to improve the health and economic development of this area.”


    Dr. Harris was introduced by her fellow classmate of Bluefield High School’s graduating class of 1978 and lifelong friend, Julie Hurley, who introduced Dr. Harris by highlighting how uncommon she is.

“Now I could say how uncommon it is for the first African American Female to achieve such distinction and while that is true, it would do Dr. Harris a disservice to limit her success to those attributes,” Hurley said. “Her true distinctions are who she is on the inside, her passion, her intellect, her drive, her kindness, her continued willingness to sacrifice.”

Hurley welcomed Dr. Harris to the stage by telling her how proud she had made Bluefield and those gathered in the audience.

Throughout Harris’ speech, she spoke about her time as the Chair of the AMA’s Opioid Task Force. She spoke about the epidemic in southern W.Va. and South Western Va. and that the AMA’s focus is on making treatment accessible to everyone who needs it.

Dr. Harris’ speech focused on equality, specifically Health Equity.

“Health Equity also means addressing the social deterrents of transportation, housing, employment, that is why your work here at the community foundation is so vitally important,” Dr. Harris said. “We know that many families struggle to send their kids to college, they do not have money for tuition or other expenses and thanks to the generous donors in this room and the foundation, thank you for awarding those scholarship funds. I want to thank the donors for making the community a healthier, kinder and better place.”

After Dr. Harris’ speech, she was given a present of a print local legendary photographer, Mel Grubb most famous photo of fog rolling in over East River Mountain.

— Contact Emily Rice at erice@bdtonline.com

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