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Sharon Goodwin Fogleman, MD

By: Celine Robins

Dr. Sharon Goodwin Fogleman

Award for Service

Sharon Goodwin Fogleman (82MD) has dedicated her career to medical missions in Kenya, rural Appalachia, South Sudan, Uganda, and Ghana. She and her husband began their medical work in 1987 at Maua Methodist Hospital in rural Kenya, joining the medical staff there to provide medical care and mentorship. After 10 years, they moved back to the U.S. to work at Red Bird Clinic in rural Kentucky for 14 years, after which they returned to work in Africa. From 2012 on, Fogleman worked to provide health education and resources to combat malnutrition, malaria, and infectious disease in a region of central South Sudan alongside local government health care workers. When civil war led millions to seek refuge in Uganda, the Foglemans trained community health promoters, pastors, and lay workers in trauma healing within the refugee camps. Now living in the U.S., she continues to travel internationally to work with vulnerable populations and mentor health care workers and students.

Fogleman’s decades of service have been guided by her heart and faith, her first mission to Kenya beginning when her oldest son was just 4 months old. “It was a wonderful place to have young children grow up and attend the local primary school,” she says. “We became very connected within the community.” She recalls being called “Mama Kurt” by many. 

“We always felt that, even more than the medical service we provided, the family connections while in Maua were the greatest blessings,” Fogleman says. “We return to visit friends and co-workers whenever possible!”


Fogleman also tackled medical misinformation during her time overseas. Many cases of malaria, which affects certain regions of Africa disproportionately and kills many children under 5, stem from misleading information about the disease. Fogleman helped implement Imagine No Malaria, a malaria eradication program of the United Methodist Church. She helped train and supervise 200 volunteers who went door to door in South Sudan to educate community members and distribute malaria prevention supplies. This compassionate approach proved to be remarkably effective.  

“In addition, we selected young people who were trusted in their communities and trained them to go into homes and teach families about simple public health topics,” she says. “These ‘home health promoters’ made a big difference in South Sudan as we look back on our years there.”  

True to the Family Medicine principles taught during her residency, Fogleman was able to share in many people’s lives during her years in rural Kentucky, providing home visits, hospice care, and attending family gatherings and graveyard ceremonies. Growing up in small-town Iowa, she feels privileged to have traveled to so many countries and served in many different health care settings.