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Wade Norwood to deliver 2021 College Commencement address

May 17, 2021
Commencement mace outdoors atop a blue tablecloth.(University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Norwood will also receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the School of Arts & Sciences.

Wade S. Norwood ’85, P’13, P’20, CEO of Common Ground Health in Rochester, will deliver the University of Rochester’s 171st College commencement address on Thursday, May 20.

Norwood will be presented the School of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Alumnus Award during the College’s ceremony. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science.

A Rochester, New York, native, Norwood has held leadership positions in the community for more than three decades, including roles in public service, education, and health care. As part of the management team at Common Ground Health since 2006, Norwood has been central to the non-profit’s strategic planning process, pushing the organization to become a more effective change agent for all Finger Lakes region residents, especially those most at risk. Common Ground Health is the health research and planning organization for the nine Finger Lakes counties. In recent years, it has provided support for clinical practices and other population health groups across the state. Norwood also spearheaded the organization’s efforts to engage underserved populations in health improvement, championing the creation of the African American Health Coalition, the Latino Health Coalition, and the Partnership for Access to Healthcare, and providing ongoing support for these and other engagement initiatives.

From 1990 to 2005, Norwood served as a Rochester City Council member and chair of the council’s Committee on Housing and Community Development. During his tenure, he proposed and developed several new programs in housing, neighborhood development, and police oversight.

Currently, Norwood serves on the board of the national Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement, which works to transform health care delivery, payment, and information systems. Since 2009, he has served as an at-large member of the New York State Board of Regents. Responsible for the general supervision of all educational activities within the state, the Regents preside over the University and the New York State Education Department.

Norwood has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Campaign for Public Health Foundation’s Rock in the Pond Award, the Monroe County Medical Society’s Edward Mott Moore Award, United Way of Rochester’s Howard Wilson Coles Community Leadership Award, the City of Rochester Black Heritage Committee’s Black Heritage Pioneer Award, the Rochester Black Physicians Network’s Community Service Award, and the Rochester City School District’s Black History Month Gate Opener Award. A leader in Rochester’s faith community, Norwood is also president and senior pastor at the Holy Jerusalem Spiritual Church.

He and his wife, Lisa, reside in Rochester’s 19th Ward neighborhood. They have two adult children, who are also University graduates.

Additional information about University commencement ceremonies, livestreams, and related activities is available at the Commencement website.

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