Community Leader Dr. Everlena Holmes Celebrates 90th Birthday

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Dr. Everlena Holmes

Dr. Everlena Holmes, a dedicated community leader and activist, was recognized by Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly and countless others as she marked her 90th birthday on Feb 15.

“I want to join the many other Chattanoogans who are celebrating Dr. Everlena Holmes as she turns 90,” said Mayor Kelly. “A steadfast activist and beloved long-time resident, Dr. Holmes has touched countless lives with her unwavering dedication and passion for making our city a better place for all. It’s Black History Month, and Everlena is one of many Chattanoogans who are living Black History makers.”

A resident of Glenwood, Dr. Holmes established the Glenwood Block Leaders in 2008 and later the Avondale Block Leaders in 2015, fostering grassroots movements aimed at empowering neighborhoods and nurturing future leaders.

She was appointed by Mayor Andy Berke to serve on several of his task force initiatives over the years–including the Homeless Veterans, Council for Women, My Brother’s Keeper, and the Council on Aging.

The city’s former Chief of Police Fred Fletcher in 2014, asked Dr. Holmes to serve as a community representative on the RESTART initiative, a community-based working group to assist with the reform of processes regarding how police officers are recruited, selected, and promoted.

Additionally, Dr. Holmes established and administered the Full Circle Empowerment Center, and is active in collaborative efforts to implement projects and develop leadership skills. She is a recipient of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc.’s Black Pioneer Women of Excellence Award.

A third-generation educator, Dr. Holmes’ journey through academia and administration exemplifies her dedication to advancing education and diversity in healthcare.

After earning her Ed.D. from Virginia Tech in 1981 and doing postdoctoral work at Harvard’s Institute for Educational Management, Dr. Holmes spent the rest of her career in higher education. She was chair of the Department of Health Record Science at Eastern Kentucky University and the Department of Health Information Administration at George Washington University. As an associate dean of the College of Allied Health, she also served as chair of the Department of Health Information Administration at Tennessee State University.

“The reason I wanted to be a dean,” Dr. Holmes has been quoted as saying, “was because I didn’t see any African Americans, Latinx, or Asians in my discipline or in the allied health field–period. And I thought I could be a role model, just like Vice President Kamala Harris is today. If they saw me in a leadership role, they would realize they too could do something with their lives.”

Her deanships included Hunter College with the City University of New York, East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania, and the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, from which she retired in 2001. “I’ve been inspired by the outpouring of support for Everlena, whether it was calls, emails, birthday cards, or even billboards,” Mayor Kelly said. “It’s a testament to the sense of community and local pride we have in our great city. Happy birthday, Dr. Everlena Holmes.”