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Lisa Merritt, M.D., Founder & Executive Director

I have always been a healer and someone who tried to bring the best out of people. I come from a diverse multicultural background which provided a unique perspective in the founding of the Multicultural Health Institute (MHI). 


My professional experience and international exposure have significantly impacted my current views and practices on healthcare and wellness. The pervasive health disparities existing in our country have instilled a desire to share this knowledge.

Lisa Merritt, MD obtained her medical degree from Howard University after completing undergraduate studies at Georgetown University with honors.  She underwent training in family and community medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, and completed residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. 


She is a member of numerous professional organizations, including the National Medical Association, American College for Advancement in Medicine, the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and the American Academy of Pain Management.


In 1995 she founded and remains Executive Director of a non-profit organization, the Multicultural Health Institute, to address racial and ethnic health inequities and to recruit and mentor future health leaders. She has been recognized by multiple organizations locally and nationally for outstanding commitment and service in the development of community programs, and health policy related to multicultural health issues. In addition, Dr. Merritt is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at New College of Florida and a former Director of Care Coordination for Chronic Conditions for MCR Health Services.

Sunday Profile

A Doctor, and a bridge


By KIM DOLEATTO, Correspondent

Published: Sunday, October 11, 2015

lisa merritt

Recognitions and Awards


MLK Day of Service


AAPM&R Distinguished Public Service Award


MLK Celebration Honor for Outstanding Community Service


Honored by BEST

(Brain Expansion Scholastic Training)


National Medical Association Health Policy Colloquium Award


BIZ 941 Unity Alumni Award Outstanding Community Service


Sarasota NAACP Freedom Award


National Medical Association Council on Concerns of Women Physicians Women in Medicine Award


Payne Chapel Men and Women of Excellence Health and Wellness Awardee


MLK Celebration Honor for Outstanding Community Service Award


BIZ941 Unity Award Medical Category


Sarasota Links Community Recognition Award


Genesis Health Services Community Service Recognition Award


Fulton County REACH for Wellness Campaign appreciation Award for Outstanding Dedication to the Community


Selected for Guide to America’s Top Physicians Consumers’ Research Council Washington D.C.


AMA Physician’s Recognition Award


Outstanding Woman Award Health Services YWCA Sacramento California


Outstanding Physician of the Year, Hillhaven Fair Oaks Healthcare Center, Carmichael California


Outstanding Young Achiever of Houston, Houston Chamber of Commerce

January 2016 issue of 941CEOBy Susan Burns and Anu Varma 1/11/2016

Dr. Lisa Merritt, Alumni Winner As a physiatrist, 2012 Unity Award winner Dr. Lisa Merritt has been devoted to improving the health of her patients.

But for the last 25 years, in addition to her private practice, being a devoted mom to her now teen-age daughter and a caregiver to her parents, Merritt somehow has found the time to dedicate herself to leveling the health care playing field for the community.

As the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Multicultural Health Institute, she has used a grassroots approach to work with dozens of local organizations—the Center for Building Hope, HIV/AIDS Network of Southwest Florida (HANS), Genesis Health Services, Gulf Coast Medical Society, Jewish Family & Children’s Services to name a few—to eliminate the chronic and mostly preventable conditions of the uninsured and underserved. Her efforts have touched the lives of more than 25,000 Sarasotans, giving them the resources, support, and knowledge to make smarter lifestyle choices.

Merritt sometimes seems to be everywhere—teaching at New College of Florida, creating a local scholarship program in elementary schools through colleges to create health care leaders, initiating a senior wellness program, and conducting cancer survivor and caregiver groups. Her patients, students, and healing circle participants have learned about cooking and nutrition, stress management, cardiovascular health, dementia prevention, and caregiving. Her recent awards include the national 2014 Council on the Concerns of Women Physicians Award and the Sarasota County 2015 NAACP Freedom Award.


And now, Merritt is taking her advocacy and holistic approach to wellness to Manatee Rural Health Services as director of care coordination for special populations. “I can impact thousands of people’s lives and help design models for future health care delivery,” she says. “I love this work.” 

Dr. Merritt has been awarded the 2014 National Medical Association Council on Concerns of Women Physicians (CCWP) –Women in Medicine Award


"Congratulations on your nomination and award of the 2014 National Medical Association Council on Concerns of Women Physicians (CCWP) –Women in Medicine Award. This award is given to a woman in medicine for outstanding or exemplary service in the field of medicine. At the Annual Muriel Petioni, MD Awards Luncheon at the NMA National Convention, we honor female physicians, who through research, community service and activism, strive to eliminate health care disparities and provide people of color with quality health care."

MHI has been recognized by the COBB Institute, WEDU, The Florida Coalition of Healthy Start Coalitions, the Links, various local media, and is the recipient of the Genesis Health Services Community Service Award.


While MHI focuses on health inequalities directly affecting our nation's people of color, its activities, information, and programs are beneficial to all ethnicities across racial, cultural, and economic groups.

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