Ray Blackwell, M.D., MJ, chief of Cardiac Surgery, surgical director of the Mechanical Circulatory Support Program at ChristianaCare, and W. Samuel Carpenter, III, Distinguished Chair, Cardiovascular Surgery, received the James H. Gilliam, Jr. Award from the American Heart Association. The award’s namesake was a business leader and philanthropist, including service as a trustee at ChristianaCare.
The award honors Dr. Blackwell as an individual who has made the most significant contribution to the health, welfare and benefit of the community among the award nominees for 2019-2020.
In conferring the honor, the award committee described Dr. Blackwell as one who has dedicated his life to service of others, especially on behalf of underprivileged and underrepresented people. As a medical student, he was enrolled in the A Better Chance Program, which places underprivileged, underrepresented and underfunded students in better academic environments, and he is still active with the organization. A Dartmouth alumnus, he also served on the minority admissions subcommittee and later became a regional recruiter for the Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Medical School. Last year, he received a lifetime achievement award as part of a Dartmouth College celebration, “Standing at the Threshold,” honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Blackwell is a regional alumni council member of National Medical Fellowships and co-founder of Association of Black Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons, which supports and develops upcoming and practicing cardiothoracic surgeons. He has provided many mentoring opportunities for local and regional underrepresented college and medical school students.
He has served as co-chair of the ChristianaCare Diversity and Inclusion and Health Equity committees and has resided as chairperson of the Blood Pressure Ambassadors Program from its inception. The program has addressed hypertension in the African American community through the use of community ambassadors and touched more than 15,000 lives.
A trustee of ChristianaCare, Dr. Blackwell serves on the Board of Directors for the New Castle County and regional Eastern States chapters of the American Heart Association.