Dr. Ellamae Simmons was born March 26, 1918, and is an icon in the history of the United States and American Medicine. She dreamed at an early age of becoming a physician while growing up in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. Her journey was long and complicated by a Jim Crow system of racism, and later sexism. With hard work, determination and help from a few who saw her enormous potential, she achieved a nursing degree from Hampton Institute, served in WWII and was one of the first African American nurses in the US Army Nursing Corps. She received a master’s degree in Social Work and ultimately graduated from Howard University Medical School. Dr. Simmons went on to complete her residency in Internal Medicine, and later a Fellowship in Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; she was the first African American in this specialty in the country.
Dr. Simmons came to California and was the first African American female physician hired by Kaiser in 1964.
Throughout her life she demonstrated grace and a commitment to excellence, community service and mentoring.
In 2016 she published her memoir OVERCOME, My Life in Pursuit of a Dream.