Equity Hero: Andrew Suggs

“We are honored to receive this award on behalf of our partnered barbers and stylists who work daily to make a positive difference in their clients' lives. We are continually encouraged by their dedication to our mission of improving minority health outcomes, like stroke, and we look forward to spreading that mission to as many communities as possible.” – Andrew Suggs, CEO of Live Chair Health

Like many Black people, Andrew Suggs got knowledge and support in a barbershop while growing up on the South Side of Chicago.

Trusted pillars in the community, many barbers and hairdressers are positioned to educate Black men and women about health. That’s important because distrust and discrimination are two of the most common reasons why Black people are less likely to go to the doctor.

After graduating from college and working for a Fortune 100 firm, Andrew learned his father had a heart attack and congestive heart failure. This led Andrew to discover more about health inequity among Black people, who have higher rates of stroke and deaths from stroke than any group in the U.S.

In 2017, Andrew launched Live Chair Health, an organization based in Columbia, Maryland that equips barbers and hairdressers with blood pressure monitors and health information for their clients to lower their risk of stroke and other conditions. Live Chair Health shops are mostly in Maryland, but some are as far away as New York, California, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

The organization regularly holds events with free health screenings and its online program encourages participants to track their blood pressure, weight and physical activity.

Live Chair Health also spreads the word about the importance of regular primary care visits and has compiled a directory of trusted, culturally sensitive health care professionals. Enrollees in the online program earn credit toward free haircuts at participating shops, which earn cash for enrolling their clients.