DR. AARON SHIRLEY, PIONEER OF RURAL HEALTH CARE IN MISSISSIPPI, RECEIVES NCIV’S CITIZEN DIPLOMAT AWARD
WASHINGTON, DC — Today Dr. Aaron Shirley, a dedicated community activist and pioneer of rural health care in Mississippi, received NCIV’s Citizen Diplomat Award. The Award honors individuals or institutions for their outstanding achievements in furthering the cause of international understanding and global engagement. NCIV member organization the International Visitors Center of Jackson (IVCJ) nominated Dr. Shirley for the honor, and Sara Williams, Program Officer at IVCJ, was on hand to introduce him. Alexander P. Durtka, Jr., Chair of NCIV’s Board of Directors, presented the Citizen Diplomat award to Dr. Shirley during the concluding luncheon of NCIV’s National Meeting in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Shirley was recognized for his work establishing health houses in the Mississippi Delta using a model for healthcare delivery pioneered in Iran. His work shows how a passion for change in concert with a high-impact exchange program can make a profound difference in people’s lives.
In 2008, Dr. Shirley teamed up with Dr. James Miller and Dr. Mohammad Shabazi to implement the “rural health house” model that Dr. Miller discovered in Iran while on a professional exchange program. Learning from Iranian doctors, the three established a series of exchanges and a partnership with Shiraz University. This led Dr. Shirley to create the HealthConnect group in 2010, consisting of 11 school-based community health centers across the Mississippi Delta aimed at reducing health disparities among poor and rural populations.
NCIV President Jennifer Clinton said, “Dr. Shirley is a shining example of how each citizen can become a catalyst for global change and transform entire communities for the better. His personal commitment to solving our toughest challenges and openness to looking beyond our borders for solutions illustrate the positive impact international exchanges have not just abroad but here at home. “