The Community Hero Spotlight program is a consortium of media partners highlighting ordinary people who are making an extraordinary difference in the lives of others and community. The Chicago Reporter encourages its readers to vote for our HERO: Lamenta Conway M.D, MPH. Heroes with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd most votes will receive money to donate to the charity of their choice.
LAMENTA CONWAY M.D | Trained in both Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Illinois, she has celebrated over 22 years as a physician with most of her career teaching in top academic hospitals in the Midwest. In her current professional role, she is Deputy Chief of Medicine for the Illinois Department of Health where she and her team are responsible for the medical care of +40K offenders in custody in the Illinois State Prisons.
An act of violence would inspire a powerful work of advocacy that would change her trajectory and become her life’s legacy. Dr. Conway decided to formalize her life-long legacy of mentoring young people in the art of compassionate medicine and service when one of her favorite 14 year old cousins, full of promise and talent, was paralyzed following a gunshot wound to the spine intended for someone else. This pivotal moment followed the murder of her 15-year-old cousin on mother’s day just 6 months earlier.
“Violence exists where there is hopelessness. It will knock on every door until it is answered. We can’t rest until we change this narrative,” Dr. Conway explains.
She realized that many of the younger, misguided youth from these communities not only lacked mentors to guide and position them for success but they also didn’t understand how we are all as humans connected one to the other; that we are not just responsible for our brother – but we are a reflection of them and we are in fact “our brother’s keeper.”
She created I AM ABEL FOUNDATION, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, that she describes as a “mentoring scholarly community” whose motto is “Excellence Period. Serve Always.”
The foundation is focused on community and global service with pipelines to medicine and STEM with the objective of bridging socioeconomic gaps so that all of Chicago’s children would have a shot at the not so impossible dream. Those children would in turn ignite the dreams of others who would follow by breaking generational curses and changing our communities from the inside out. “We all are teachers and each one must reach one,” Dr. Conway explains.
The flagship program of I AM ABEL FOUNDATION is it’s Urban Bridges Medical Mentoring Physician Pipeline Program designed to offer 1:1 physician mentoring, academic advising and scholarly support in the areas of STEM. Students benefit from intense clinical and pre-med opportunities for underrepresented Chicago area students. Students also have a number of service opportunities both locally and abroad along with unique global healthcare opportunities in countries like Haiti, Cuba, Costa Rica and more.
The foundation now has 100s of students in their physician pipeline programs. It is further credited with helping students get accepted into medical school with countless future physicians in the pipeline whose academic successes are through the roof. “We have created new ceilings for our kids now and they are reaching them. They are well aware that mediocre will never do,” described Dr. Conway. Through conferences, workshops and community outreach, the foundation has impacted thousands of kids already that will one day become our community’s future researchers, leaders, advocates, healers and healthcare heroes.
Conway says about helping others, “Never walk through a door without leaving a wedge so that others may follow. We have been tremendously blessed to do this work, and pass it on.”
CAST YOUR VOTE HERE! By clicking the link, you will be taken to the Community Hero Spotlight landing page to cast your vote for the Chicago Reporter Hero.