History & Founders


The Patrick Healy Fellows (PHF) program, also known as the Patrick Healy Fellowship, was founded in 1996 by a small number of Georgetown undergraduates. These students recognized the important role that mentorship from others had played in their own lives, and believed that there was a need for greater interaction and mentorship between Georgetown undergraduates and alumni.

They also were cognizant of the need for a greater inclusion of the perspective of people of color in the educational opportunities provided at Georgetown, as well as in the programming of events that took place at the University. Lastly, the founders greatly valued the reputation of Georgetown students in providing community service to those in need, in order to live out the Jesuit ideal of being “men and women for others.” Spurred on by these guiding principles, and with the help of Georgetown administrators, the students founded the PHF program. Three Founders currently serve on PHF’s Board of Directors: Christopher Burke, Damien Dwin, and Caleb Pitters.

Other founders of the program include:

Rhondale Barras
George Weathers
Ericka Souter

Patrick Healy

Patrick Healy was born in 1834, to a mother who was both black and a slave. Ordained as a Jesuit priest, Father Healy served as Georgetown University’s prefect of studies from 1868 to 1878. Furthermore, Father Healy served as the university’s president from 1873 to 1881, becoming the first African-American president of a predominantly white university.

His accomplishments included: reforming the curriculum, including mandating courses in the sciences; overseeing construction of a multi-use building which now bears his name; expanding programs in medicine and law; and the foundation of an alumni association. Father Healy died in 1910, and although he was never able to acknowledge his African-American roots during his tenure, his presidency is considered groundbreaking.

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