Fri | Jan 21, 2022

Second-generation Jamaican named as presidential fellow

Published:Friday | December 3, 2021 | 12:10 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer

Second-generation Jamaican Garth Walker has been appointed by President Joe Biden as a presidential fellow for 2021- 2022.

Walker, whose parents were born in Jamaica, is among the 19 people to be so honoured this year. He has been attached to the Department of Human Service as a special adviser to the US surgeon general.

Walker joins a long list of noted Americans to serve as presidential fellows, including the late General Colin Powell.

He is an academic board-certified emergency physician, a former public health executive.

He is a recognised healthcare and public health leader, who has been interviewed and quoted by major local and national news networks, such as MSNBC, Chicago Sun-Times, and ABC. He has also contributed insights and expertise on issues and topics ranging from COVID-19 and vaccine hesitancy to strategies to increase access to healthcare.

Walker is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, with a bachelor of arts in economics and a minor in chemistry.

“I then pursued a medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a master of public health from Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. I continued my emergency medicine training at the University of Chicago, and then spent time as a health economics research fellow with the Northwestern Buehler Center of Health Economics and Policy, through the Center for Health Equity Transformation and Northwestern Emergency Department,” he told The Gleaner.

A practising emergency medicine at the Jesse Brown Veteran Affairs Hospital, Walker has also worked as the deputy director for the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). “While with IDPH, I operated internal and external public health strategies during COVID-19 to enhance vaccination rates, advise vaccine operations across state departments, and improve opioid strategies across Illinois. I am also an assistant professor at the Northwestern Emergency Department,” Walker told The Gleaner.


He added: “My academic accomplishments include first-author peer-reviewed scientific articles focused on social determinants of health, firearm injury, and healthcare disparities, receiving runner-up honours for top paper with the Journal of Healthcare Management. In addition, I review several major scientific journals within emergency medicine and serve as an adviser for the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine with Aspen, a national non-partisan foundation that supports research for effective firearm policy. Additionally, I have advised several start-ups around product quality and value-based care strategies.

Committed to civic leadership, I was appointed by President Biden to serve as a White House fellow with the Office of Surgeon General, appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot to Chicago’s equity advisory board, co-founded IMPACT4HC, and am a board member for Imerman Angels and Thresholds.”