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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​An Exciting New Approach to Diabetes Health Care

Diabetes (high sugar in the blood) is common in southern Dallas. Within the city of Dallas, people who live in the southern sector (south of Interstate 30 and east of Interstate 35) often have diabetes, have more problems from diabetes and are more often hospitalized for diabetes than people who live in any other area of Dallas County.

People who live in the Frazier neighborhood of southern Dallas have the highest rates of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke in the city.

To improve this situation, we came together with the City of Dallas in a joint effort to provide better prevention and care of diabetes to improve the overall health of this community.

The Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute at Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center is located at 4500 Spring Ave. in Dallas, in the former Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center. Named for the beloved and well known community activist Juanita J. Craft, the site has served the neighborhood for many years as a trusted place for individuals and families.

DHWI Mission Statement: The Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute (DHWI) exists to serve all people by providing personalized health and wellness through exemplary care, education and research as a Christian ministry of healing.

DHWI Vision Statement: To be the most trusted name in giving and receiving safe, quality, compassionate health care.

Meet Us

Donald E. Wesson, MD, MBA

President, DHWI and Senior Vice President, Baylor Scott & White Health Weight Management Services

Dr. Donald Wesson is the president of the Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute and senior vice president of Baylor Scott & White Health Weight Management Services. Dr. Wesson is uniquely qualified to excel in both of these strategic positions. With ongoing National Institutes of Health support of his nutritional research, Dr. Wesson is capable of bringing the leading international advances in nutritional science to our patient populations. His clinical background as a nephrologist provides deep insight into the adverse health consequences that chronic disease can bring to vulnerable populations.

Dr. Wesson joined Scott & White as the chief academic officer in 2007 and in this role substantially advanced the reputation of the organization as an academic medical center. By creating a culture in which the value of scientific discovery became integrally incorporated into our daily care delivery, he was able to double the institution’s level of annual extramural funding to $3.8 million, while contributing to the organization’s production of more than 300 peer-reviewed publications in 2015. Simultaneously, Dr. Wesson oversaw the continued development of our marquee graduate and undergraduate medical education programs that have continued to be a pipeline for some of our system’s most valued physicians.

Read full biography

Lydia R. Best, MD

Medical Director, DHWI Family Health Center

Dr. Lydia R. Best is a family physician with 18 years of clinical experience and currently serves as the medical director of the Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute’s (DHWI) Family Health Center. Dr. Best received her formal education at Brown University and the University of Michigan Medical School. She completed her residency at the University of Maryland, Department of Family Medicine, where she also served as chief resident. She also completed the Faculty Development Program at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Best served for nine years as the medical director of a large Christian community health center in Detroit, Michigan, and has experience in several practice settings including hospital-based care, community primary care and private practice.

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Julie Grim MPH, RD, LD

Vice President of Education and Wellness

Julie is a registered, licensed dietitian with a master’s degree in public health and more than 20 years of experience in hospital leadership including clinical management, food service management and physician practice management including multi-site management. She speaks nationally on a variety of topics and has served in multiple leadership roles at the national level for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics including the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics and chair of the Nutrition Care Process Standardized Language committee, and the International Nutrition Care Process Advisory Committee. Locally she is currently the co-chair of the DISD School Health Advisory Committee and a member of the Dallas Area Coalition to Prevent Childhood Obesity. Her areas of professional interest are outcomes research, chronic disease prevention, community program development and environmental stewardship.

Venita Owens

Vice President of Administrative Services and Business Development

Venita Owens' professional career, in healthcare operations and not-for-profit financial management, spans more than 20 years. Her healthcare operations experience was obtained at a number of venues including senior director of operations with VHA, Inc., general manager and AVP of operations with United Healthcare, and manager of operations for Prudential Healthcare. She has extensive experience with several local DFW not-for-profit agencies where she conducted analysis and consulted to strengthen their financial position and improve their financial management systems.

Academically, she has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where she majored in finance and minored in accounting. Graduate studies were completed at the University of Dallas where she obtained a Master of Business Administration degree.

Venita's affiliations include memberships in the Junior League of Dallas, The Links, Inc., Girl Friends, Inc., and Jack & Jill of America. She holds life memberships in the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the National Black MBA Association.

DHWI Board of Directors​

John McWhorter
Ex-Officio, Voting Member

Chief Operations Officer
Baylor Scott & White Health

Albert C. Black, Jr.
Ex-Officio Non-Voting Member

President and CEO
On-Target Supplies & Logistical Services

Charles E. Bell, MD
Ex-Officio, Non-Voting Member

President
Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute

Brenda Jackson, Board Chair
(Retired) Senior Vice President and CCO
Oncor Electric Delivery

Gary Baxter
G. Baxter Enterprises

Debbie Dennis
Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Corporate Affairs
Oncor Electric Delivery

Robert Estrada
Chairman
Estrada Hinojosa & Company, Inc.

Sharon King
President and Owner
Castle Business Solutions

Yolanda Lawson, MD
Madewell OBGYN

Charles D. Mitchell, MD

Jeffery Morris
Alon USA

Christina W. Norris

Wendy C. Parnell, MD
Carlos and Parnell, MD, PA

Erin D. Roe, M.D.
HTPM Baylor Endocrinology Center

Community and Ministerial Advisory Boards

Community Advisory Board

  • Mrs. Willie Mae Coleman
  • Pastor Henry Green
  • Lalonni Dubose-Hagerman
  • Anyika McMillian-Herod
  • Hank Lawson
  • Cheryl Mayo-Williams
  • Sue Pickens
  • Diane Ragsdale
  • Shenekqual “Nikki” Robertson
  • Rodrigua Ross
  • Christina Smith
  • Ken Smith
  • LaSheryl Walker
  • Stacy Welk
  • Auntjuan Wiley
  • Shawn Williams

Ministerial Advisory Board

  • Rev. Lelious Johnson, Pastor, St. Paul Baptist Church
    President, Ministerial Advisory Board
  • Rev. Donald Parish, Pastor, True Lee Missionary Baptist Church
    Vice-President , Ministerial Advisory Board
  • Rev. Stephen Brown Pastor, Greater Bethlehem Baptist Church
    Secretary, Ministerial Advisory Board
  • Rev. Andrè Byrd, Pastor, New Covenant Christian Fellowship Church
  • Rev. Alvin Green, Pastor, Rugged Cross Baptist Church
  • Rev. Henry Green, Pastor, Community Outreach Baptist Church
  • Dr. David Henderson, Pastor, Greater Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church
  • Rev. Elzie Odom, St. Luke Community United Methodist Church
  • Rev. Joe Patterson, Pastor, Greater New Zion Baptist Church
  • Rev. Moises Rios, Chaplain, Baylor Scott & White Health
  • Rev. Byron Williams, Pastor, St. Paul Lutheran Church

DHWI History

An Exciting New Approach to Diabetes Health Care

Diabetes (high sugar in the blood) is common in South Dallas. Within the city of Dallas, people who live in the city’s Southern Sector (south of Interstate 30 and east of Interstate 35) often have diabetes, have more problems from their diabetes and are more often hospitalized for diabetes than people who live in any other area of Dallas County.

People who live in the Frazier neighborhood of South Dallas, have the highest rate of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke in the city.

To try to improve the situation Baylor Scott & White Health, formerly Baylor Health Care System, and the City of Dallas formed a partnership to help provide better prevention and care of diabetes.

The partnership was built around the Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute at Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center, which opened in the summer of 2010, in the former Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center at 4500 Spring Avenue in Dallas.

Named for the beloved and well-known community activist Juanita J. Craft, the center has served the neighborhood for many years as a trusted place for individuals and families.

Image of Juanita Jewel Shanks CraftJuanita Jewel Shanks Craft (1902-1985) was an African American pioneer. Born in Round Rock, Texas in 1902, Juanita Craft was the granddaughter of slaves who spent her lifetime working for equal rights for African Americans and integration for all races.

She was greatly affected by her mother's death in 1918 after being refused hospital treatment when there were no state hospitals for black Texans.

Craft moved to Dallas in 1925 where she served the community in public service. In 1935 she joined the Dallas chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) where she took on leadership roles of chairperson, organizer, and adviser. In the 1940s, she organized the Dallas NAACP Youth Council, which became a nationwide model.

Her many achievements helped to shape Dallas. She was the first African American woman to vote in Dallas County (1944) and to receive the Linz Award (1968).

Craft was a Democratic Party precinct chair for 20 years and served two terms as a Dallas City Council member. During this time she worked to expand the rights of Native Americans and Hispanics. Following the 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, Craft worked to integrate the University of Texas Law School and the Dallas Independent School District. In 1955, she organized a protest of the State Fair of Texas against its policy of admitting blacks only on "Negro Achievement Day."

Juanita Craft’s work brought recognition from many leaders including Presidents John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Lyndon B. Johnson; Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In acknowledgement of her work, the Juanita Jewel Craft Recreation Center, a Dallas city park, and a U.S. Post Office are named in her honor. Her home in Dallas is designated a historical landmark by the Texas Historical Commission.​

Serving all people by providing personalized health and wellness through exemplary care, education and research.


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