For over fifty years, Whitman-Walker has been part of the fabric of the local DC and national community as first responder and care-provider for those living with HIV; a leader in LGBTQ care and advocacy; a research center working to discover breakthroughs in HIV treatment and prevention science; and one of the DC’s most trusted partners during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Whitman-Walker envisions a society where all people are seen for who they are, treated with dignity and respect, and afforded equal opportunity to health and wellbeing.

Through care, advocacy, research, and education, the organization strives to ensure all persons can live healthily and love openly and to feel true equality and inclusion in all aspects of their lives. Whitman-Walker prioritizes the needs of community and has earned the trust of DC residents by remaining intentional in their outreach to engage and care for those we serve. At the core of the organization is a desire to create safe spaces where people are seen for who they are.

Today, Whitman-Walker is a collective of 501 (c)(3) organizations centered around delivering care to community. The organization is led by two CEOs – Naseema Shafi and Heather Aaron. Shafi leads Whitman-Walker Health and Aaron leads Whitman-Walker Health System which oversees Whitman-Walker Foundation, Whitman-Walker Institute and Whitman-Walker Real Property Holdings.

Our spectrum of services include:

At Whitman-Walker Health (WWH) we provide primary medical care, behavioral health care, dental care, and a range of health-related legal and support services to more than 20,000 individuals and families annually in the greater Washington, DC region. Our care continues to be centered around our expertise and legacy in LGBTQ+ and HIV care. At Whitman-Walker Health — “We See You” — which means to us that we see patients, but we see the person first.

Whitman-Walker Health System is driven to help Whitman-Walker Health grow and to position the organization as the nation’s leader in LGBTQ-inclusive care, advocacy, research, and education. Whitman-Walker Health System (WWHS) exists to support the operations of WWH and expand the capacities of some of our most important and crucial functions including fundraising, research and thought leadership.

Whitman-Walker Institute is one of the country’s premiere organizations focused on advancing the health and wellbeing of people facing barriers to quality care, particularly LGBTQ people and people living with HIV, through the strategic integration of clinical expertise, research acumen, quality education and policy change. The Institute has its own 501 (c)3 designation and board of directors. Through the Whitman-Walker Institute – “We Hear You” – which means that our advocacy, education and research must be community-centered in order to make a difference in our community.

Whitman-Walker Foundation uses community-based philanthropy to ensure sustainability and support growth for all Whitman-Walker companies. The Foundation has its own 501 (c)3 designation and board of directors. At the Whitman-Walker Foundation – “We Need You” – which means that we need community support in order to support our community.

Real Property Holdings guides the organization to make strategic business decisions regarding our real estate so that we can invest the earnings back into community.

Why Whitman-Walker? The story behind our name.

Started in 1973 as the Gay Men’s VD Clinic, housed in the basement of a Georgetown church, the clinic leaders understood the importance of providing services to the entire LGBT community. And so, in 1978, a new organization was created to ensure those who needed care and services had a safe and welcoming space. From its start, the founders wanted a name for this new organization that was inclusive, deciding to choose two namesakes, one man and one woman. The selection criteria were that they be important to the history of DC, especially as related to provision of health care and that they be reflective of LGBTQ values and representation. The man was Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892), considered by many as one of the most influential poets in American literature. Whitman volunteered his time as a male nurse in DC during the Civil War, caring for thousands of sick and wounded soldiers, many of his poems reflect his time in DC. The woman was Dr. Mary Edwards Walker (1832 – 1919), a true trailblazer in every sense of the word. Dr. Walker, among the first women to earn medical degrees in the US, was the first female US Army Surgeon, a steadfast women’s rights advocate, dress reformer, prisoner of war, possible Union spy. She was the first and remains the only woman to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Her remarkable life and legacy were honored by the United States Mint which released the Dr. Mary Edwards Walker quarter as part of the American Women Quarters Program in June 2024. Pictures of that event can be found here.