Sandra Long Weaver (holding flowers) with members of the Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center staff. To her left is CEO Katina Beard and on her right is Development Manager Cathy Hunt. Photo by Sharon Langford

By Tribune Staff

FRANKLIN, TN — The Tennessee Primary Care Association recently awarded Sandra Long Weaver, a board member of the Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center, the Caryl E. Carpenter Award for Excellence in Community Support.

The award was presented October 6 by MWCHC CEO Katina Beard during the association’s annual conference awards of excellence luncheon. “Sandra chaired our fundraising committee for the 50th anniversary and has kept it going,” Beard said. “She embraces the organization, embraces the mission. She understands our system. She has fallen in love with the organization in a way that has really resonated with me.”

Award winner l-r; State Senator Richard Briggs, Deborah Terry, Dr. Sarah McQueen, Sandra Long Weaver and State Rep. Esther Helton. Photo by Cathy Hunt

TPCA unites health care centers and other providers of care in an effort to improve access for the medically underserved. The association is abridge between community needs and the decision makers at the federal, state, local and corporate levels.

“When we celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2018, she led the campaign for people to know more about Dr. Walker. She stabilized the fundraising model for the health center. She has maintained the fundraising committee over the years and every year she raises the fundraising goal. And we get a little woozy about it,” Beard said with a smile.

“I’ve had some great board members. And Sandra stands at the head of that line as being a model for what health centers need. Not a board member that is micromanaging you but standing with you and listening to you and championing the work of health centers,” said Beard.

Weaver, who has served almost six years on the board, said she was humbled and honored to receive the award. “Ours is a hard-working board that does its best to ensure patients in Middle Tennessee have access to quality health care. And we touch 18,000 patients each year.” 

In addition to the center’s Nashville site, it has offices in Clarksville and Smyrna.

Weaver has also served as board chair and  board secretary. “We still look to the goals set forth in 1968 by our founder Dr. Matthew Walker, Sr. to guide the work that we do under the leadership of CEO Katina Beard. And next year, 2023, we celebrate the founding of Matthew Walker. All of Tennessee should take pride in the historic founding and continued thriving of the organization. The center is the first federally qualified health center named after a Black man in the country,” said Weaver.

Award winner l-r; State Senator Richard Briggs, Deborah Terry, Dr. Sarah McQueen, Sandra Long Weaver and State Rep. Esther Helton. Photo by Cathy Hunt

 At the time of Dr. Walker’s death in 1978, he had provided surgical education to about half of the Black physicians in the United States. And Dr. Walker often had to hide his Blackness at some hospitals where he was performing surgery because white patients didn’t want a Black doctor to operate on them. He would wait until the anesthesia to became effective and he could then come out to operating room.     

Weaver continued, “Although my second term is coming to a close, I will continue to support Matthew Walker and make sure the story of the “ghost surgeon” is shared around the country.”

Other awards went to: Dr. Sarah McQueen who received the Logan Beasley Leadership Excellence Award; Deborah Terry who received the Outstanding Practitioner of the Year Award and State Senator Richard Briggs, M.D. and State Representative Esther Helton who received the Charles E. Darling Organization of Excellence Award.

You can learn more about the Matthew Walker health center at