Aaron Perry, a Madison-area community leader and Wisconsin Partnership Program grantee, has been selected as one of TIME magazine's 50 Most Influential People in Health Care for 2018.

The list, curated by TIME’s health reporters and editors, recognizes 50 people who changed the state of health care in America this year, and bear watching for what they do next. The 50 were selected based on factors including originality, impact and quality.

Photo of Aaron Perry
Aaron Perry

The TIME editors write, "The American health care system has been plagued for decades by major problems, from lack of access to uncontrolled costs to unacceptable rates of medical errors. And yet, real as those issues remain, the field has also given rise to extraordinary innovation. This year, TIME launched the Health Care 50 to highlight the people behind those ideas: physicians, scientists, and business and political leaders whose work is transforming health care right now."

Perry was recognized for his innovative Men’s Health and Education Center, located inside a barbershop.

Perry founded the Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association in 2007 and set in motion his vision to improve health for black men and boys in Dane County. He recognized that many of the health challenges faced by black men in Dane County are preventable and treatable through proper diet and exercise and appropriate care, but men are not seeking or finding the care they need due to barriers including lack of trust, lack of knowledge and limited or no access to screenings and health care.

Through the Black Men’s Wellness Sustainable Initiative, Aaron Perry is changing how his community perceives and experiences health.
To overcome these barriers, he established a Men’s Health and Education Center, located inside JP Hair Design, Madison’s largest black barbershop. His innovative health care model has gained both local and national attention. During this time, he has brought together many supporters and collaborators who share his vision.

Now he is using a $300,000 Community Collaboration Grant from the Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health to expand his work. Through the grant he has established the Black Men’s Wellness Sustainable Initiative, which includes efforts to expand his barbershop/health center model throughout Dane County, as well as outreach projects such as Black Men Run, Brown Boys Read, which brings together mentors and middle and high school youth to focus on literacy and fitness.

Says Perry, “My vision is to ensure that Dane County is place where black men not only live, but thrive. I know that in order to achieve that vision, I need to engage a wide variety of community partners and take unique approaches, like we do through the barbershop, and activities like Black Men Run, Brown Boys Read.” He says, “We have to meet our community’s men and boys where they are, if we are going to help them achieve better health and well-being.”