Ruth T. Perot
Ruth T. Perot

On Dec. 8, 2022, Summit Health Institute for Research and Education, Inc. (SHIRE) celebrates our Silver Anniversary in Washington, D.C. We will be commemorating 25 years of service, advocacy, and community engagement in pursuit of health justice, equity and empowerment for African Americans and other people of color. 

Since 1997, SHIRE has maintained a rock-solid commitment to help eradicate racial/ethnic health disparities and to promote optimal health and wellness for the communities we serve. For example, the impact of our cutting-edge policy research focused on racial/ethnic data collection is reflected in the Affordable Care Act. Our leadership and advocacy aimed at the inclusion of people of color, with respect to health information technology, has served as a catalyst for federal and state policies and programs. The convening of people of color under the banner of Out of Many One has been a model for multicultural collaboration. Our refurbished website features more information about these and other activities.

At the same time, SHIRE has become a highly respected partner with numerous community organizations and has engaged thousands of residents in the District of Columbia in wellness initiatives. The Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Collaborative convened over 100 stakeholders, including parents, educators, government representatives, and members from community organizations, universities, corporations, and the media who develop creative policies and programs. Another childhood obesity prevention effort was SCOOP, SHIRE’s Childhood Obesity and Overweight Prevention program, that engaged young children and their teachers in activities promoting movement using music and drama created for that purpose. Our Passport for Youth Program, conducted in partnership with the YMCA, has served as a model for encouraging middle school youth to become involved in physical activities, such as swimming, that were new to them. We have trained and involved over 50 individuals as health coaches and peer educators who have spread the message of health and wellness throughout 5 DC wards. Over 1500 men and women have participated in SHIRE’s Wellness Circles to date. They have acquired tools and strategies to improve their health outcomes and make lasting lifestyle changes—taking charge of their health and their lives.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has revealed the urgent need for fundamental change in our healthcare systems, also offers an opportunity to think differently about health and wellness. SHIRE offers a compelling answer to this challenge. We have equipped community residents with the information and tools they need to demand respect, high quality treatment, and promote changes in the healthcare systems that serve them. Although we are aware of the influence of social determinants, we firmly believe that fostering self-determination and empowerment is a powerful strategy for meaningful change. This is the mission that we carry into our next 25 years. 

In 2023, we will vigorously promote our Wellness Circle program as a concept applicable to new groups and health challenges. For example, we will seek partners and sponsors to advance improved maternal health, which has been greatly impacted by the recent Supreme Court decision. Building on past experience, SHIRE will seek to involve youth in Wellness Circles—particularly those impacted by violence to aid their development as self-empowered health ambassadors. Our approach is to equip individuals with the tools they need—accurate information, skills and experiences, encouragement and motivational group support—which can be applied to many challenges facing community residents. Lastly, we will build on the success of Wellness Circles focused on chronic health conditions by offering this program to providers of health services and health insurance agencies in the District of Columbia and surrounding jurisdictions.

Indeed, there are many reasons to celebrate SHIRE’s past, present, and future. Over the past 25 years, SHIRE has continued to thrive and with the support of the community our collective success is assured.


  1. SHIRE commemorates 25 years of service, advocacy, and community engagement for people of color.
  2. SHIRE maintains a rock-solid commitment to eradicate health disparities and to promote health and wellness for communities of color.
  3. SHIRE is a highly respected community partner and engages hundreds of the residents in the District of Columbia in their Wellness Circle programs.
  4. SHIRE empowers people of color with health information and the tools to improve their health outcomes and make lasting lifestyle changes.
  5. SHIRE trains community residents as health coaches and peer educators to spread the message about health and wellness among DC residents of color.
  6. SHIRE has influenced policies that support health equity and justice at the national level. For more about SHIRE’s Silver Anniversary

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