Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., Ph.D.

When Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., Ph.D., moved to Jacksonville, Florida, in 1997 to become the 26th president of Edward Waters College, he was mentored and introduced around town by one of the Lung Association's legendary volunteers, Bernard V. Gregory. As one of his final gifts to the Lung Association prior to his death in December, 1997, Bernard nominated Dr. Jenkins to serve on the Northeast Region Advisory Board.

This nomination dramatically impacted the already positive long-standing relationship between the Northeast Region office and Edward Waters College, one of the nation's oldest historically African-American institutions.

Dr. Jenkins, who suffered from asthma as a child, knows what it is like when you can't breathe. He supports local initiatives regarding asthma education and is an eloquent speaker regarding the need for funding for asthma awareness and programs. He was a strong supporter of the Smoke-Free for Health Amendment which led to the elimination of smoking in all Florida workplaces, including restaurants, and encouraged support by students and faculty members alike.

Each year, the exceptional Edward Waters College Choir has participated in local Lung Association events. Dr. Jenkins and faculty members attend the Oxygen Ball fund-raiser and the college provides a team of walkers at the annual Blow the Whistle on Asthma Walk.

"I have been blessed with good health," said Dr. Jenkins, "but I remember the absolute fear that would grip me as a child when I would have an asthma episode. I am proud to volunteer for the American Lung Association of Florida to encourage the lung health of children and adults."

The American Lung Association of the District of Columbia has a rich history of being extremely involved in cultural diversity and outreach to the African American community. Through the years the American Lung Association of the District of Columbia has launched various educational and public awareness campaigns such as The Legacy Campaign, featuring a poster of six African American entertainers who died from cigarette smoking. Today the Lung Association has turned its focus to asthma, which affects the African American community disproportionately, addressing education, treatment and environmental factors impacting asthma in order to reduce morbidity and mortality of asthma in the District.

In 1999 the Lung Association launched the DC Childhood Asthma Campaign which sought to raise public awareness about asthma in predominantly African American communities. The campaign included:

  • A series of posters with the slogan "I have asthma but asthma doesn't have me" in the District's subways, buses, schools, community health clinics, hospitals, and community centers
  • Asthma education in elementary schools and day care centers
  • A free, weeklong summer camp for 60 Washington, DC children with asthma, age 7-11 years
  • Presentations to health care professionals and community groups about asthma management

Interest from the community and other organizations to generate plans for new activities and seek funding for collaborative efforts resulted in the formation of the DC Asthma Coalition. The DC Asthma Coalition will focus its efforts on two areas of DC that have the highest morbidity of asthma, one that is overwhelmingly African American and one with a high Latino population.

In 2003 the American Lung Association of the District of Columbia was the recipient of the prestigious Bernard Gregory Award. The award acknowledges an American Lung Association constituent, affiliate, or volunteer who effectively uses diversity practices as one means of helping to fulfill the American Lung Association's mission.