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Service as a Way of Life

The Office of Alumni and Constituent Engagement is pleased to announce that Dr. Curley L. Bonds II 87C is the 2019 J. Pollard Turman Alumni Service Award Recipient.

By Elizabeth Cobb Durel
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A psychiatrist based in Los Angeles, Dr. Curley L. Bonds II 87C realized the power of Emory alumni connections when he began his residency at UCLA. “It was really nice to have the small local chapter to connect to,” says Dr. Bonds, who eventually served as president of the chapter. When he stepped down from the leadership role, the chapter had grown exponentially in size. Through that work, he was invited to serve as a founding member of the Emory College Alumni Board, serving two terms, one as president of the council and now as emeritus member 

When he opened the mailbox and read the letter informing him that he won the Turman he was ‘flabbergasted.’ “I don’t work in a field that has a lot of glamour and glory,” says Dr. Bonds. “I am a public servant essentially.”

Currently Dr. Bonds serves as the Chief Medical Officer of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, tasked with ensuring the entire 10.5 million population has access to medical care, especially the un- and underinsured. His oversight includes responsibility for seeing more than 250,000 people a year.

Dr. Bonds also keeps a small, private psychiatry practice and serves as Chairman of the Board for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a global health organization with a presence in more than 40 countries working to make sure people have access to cutting-edge care with less stigma. He has faculty appointments at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) as well as at UCLA, where he is the former chair of the Department of Psychiatry. The schools collaborate on occasion, but his work at CDU is focused on training and providing care to underserved populations of color. At UCLA Dr. Bonds works to train a generation of psychiatrists with the hopes that the needs of LA County will be met.

Saying that his goal is to leave the world a better place than it was when he came into it, Dr. Bonds has had a service mentality as far back as childhood. Boy Scouts was an integral part of his life culminating with earning his Eagle Scout award. And the spirit of volunteerism and service has been woven through his life ever since.

Part of that service is repaying what he calls “my debt of gratitude to Emory.” The onetime Emory Scholar and Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar, Dr. Bonds was able to participate in a spring break trip to the Grand Canyon and a camping course. “It was just those types of opportunities that the university made possible for us regardless of our background and means,” says Dr. Bonds. “The backdrop for all of this was getting a really top-notch, solid academic educational experience that prepared me really well for professional school and life.”

“[The Turman Award] is really about what Emory has given to me,” says Dr. Bonds of his focus on service, encouraged and fostered by his time on campus. “You see one, do one, teach one which is something we say in medicine. So that's what I've done. Any greatness comes through those who come after me.”

Editor's Note: Have you or someone you know demonstrated distinguished service to Emory or the Emory Alumni Association, service to the community, or outstanding professional achievement? Nominate them for one of our prestigious awards.