Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved
ACU 25th Anniversary Logo: 25 Years of the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved


For a quarter of a century, the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved (ACU) has striven to improve the health of America’s underserved populations and to enhance the development and support of the clinicians who provide care and services to them. Formally incorporated in Lexington, KY, in 1996, ACU has risen to become the leading advocate for the National Health Service Corps and a national voice for the health center workforce, and we support clinicians across the U.S. with professional education, training, technical assistance, and clinical tools and programs. Now based in the heart of Washington, D.C., ACU brings together a uniquely trandisciplinary community of federally qualified health centers, primary care associations, free clinics, and health departments from across the U.S., and we count over 10,000 clinicians, advocates, and institutions within our extended community.

Kathie Westpheling works at her home office in the earlier days of the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved.In 2021, ACU is celebrating 25 years of uniting for the underserved and championing health equity for all at our fully virtual 2021 Conference, “Mission: Health Equity,” on Nov. 1-2. Your support and advocacy to improve the health and raise the voices of patients who are underserved, the clinicians that provide care and services to them, and the National Health Service Corps has made our work possible. We encourage you to read on to learn about the history of ACU’s work, advocacy, and membership below and to join us online at #ACUConf as we prepare for 25 more years more of service.

Barbara Fifield Brandt

“I’m thrilled that the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved is 25 years old. ACU is here to stay, and there’s no question that this work is growing and is core to the healthcare system.”

— Dr. Barbara Brandt, Founding Director of the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education, Professor, and ACU Co-Founder

The History of ACU: A Digital Exhibit and Timeline

We have created a digital exhibit and timeline to tell the story of the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved, from our early days in Lexington, KY, and our expansion into new programmatic and advocacy areas in the 2000s to our rise as the leading national voice for the health center workforce and the National Health Service Corps. This interactive timeline also details the growth of ACU’s initiatives to support underserved populations, from programs to help prevent early childhood dental caries and to improve health literacy to efforts to improve access to vital medications and to support NHSC pipeline participants. Click below to read vignettes and see photos from ACU’s 25 years of striving to improve care for underserved populations.

25 Years of Striving for Health Equity: An Interview with Former ACU Executive Director Kathie Westpheling, MPH

Curious to learn more about the history of ACU? Read an interview with ACU Advisory Council Member and former Executive Director (2002-2013) Kathie Westpheling, MPH, in which she reflects on ACU’s past, its mission, and the importance of renewal, education, and support for clinicians working with underserved populations, often with little in the way of resources.

As she notes, “There wasn’t any topic that [ACU] didn’t touch in some way, shape, or form, really. We always tried to be a forefront of things that were needed for clinicians to be successful.”

Read the interview.

Kathie Westpheling

“From the beginning, ACU has been a uniquely multidisciplinary organization of people who cared about underserved populations. And whether you are a DDS or an RN, and MD or a CHW—your voice is equal.”

— Kathie Westpheling, ACU Advisory Council Member and Former Executive Director

What ACU Means to Our Members: 25 Years in 25 Words

For our 25th Anniversary, ACU asked our organizational and individual members which three words first came to mind when they thought about ACU and what our organization means to them. Click below to view what they said in a short, shareable video, or via a word cloud. What does ACU mean to you? Let us know! Email us or share your perspective on social media and tag us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn and use the hashtag #25YearsofACU.

What Comes to Mind with ACU: A Word Cloud

The Future of ACU: Looking Forward to Our Next 25 Years

The Association of Clinicians for the Underserved looks forward to expanding our network and initiatives until we have achieved our mission to make accessible, patient-centered, and trandisciplinary care a reality for every patient in the United States. Learn more about our vision for ACU’s programs, advocacy, and community in the next 25 years in our interview with our Executive Director Amanda Pears Kelly.

Read the interview.

A Thanks to Our Leaders, Members, and Partners

Numerous individuals and organizations have helped make ACU a reality, and we honor the contributions of all those who have supported and guided our organization in our 25-year history. Thank you for your dedication, knowledge, and commitment to the cause of improving the heath and uplifting the voices of all those living and providing care in underserved communities.

We especially recognize our Advisory Council, Board of Directors, and Committee members for their wisdom and guidance, as well as our Organizational and Individual Members whose continuing support helps to make our work—and especially our policy and advocacy efforts—possible. We also recognize the support of our generous partners and funders, including but not limited to the Bureau of Primary Health Care, Bureau of Health Workforce, National Health Service Corps, Centene Corporation, Corporate Allies, and many others.

“Every day I’m inspired and humbled by the incredible healthcare professionals I’m privileged to work with and support. Their commitment to the greater good, their vision for a better and more equitable future, and their tireless dedication to the underserved is ACU’s reason for existence and the heart of our organization.”

— Amanda Pears Kelly, Executive Director

ACU Logo

Help Us Make the Next 25 Years of Working for Health Equity for All Possible

Today, ACU’s mission to improve the health of America’s underserved populations and to support the clinicians serving them continues. Now as always, your knowledge, advocacy, and support are crucial to ACU’s work. Please help us better achieve our mission to improve health equity for all: consider joining us as a member or advocate, and sign up for our communications to stay informed about the new initiatives to come. And if you have any feedback or suggestions, please contact us: your guidance always helps to improve our work.