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Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion

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VCAB Member Profile - Eugene Marsh

Born in South Carolina and raised by an illiterate foster mother, Mr. Marsh grew up in an era of segregation, the oldest of 13 foster children. From a young age, Marsh has always cared for his family, his first community. Throughout his childhood and teenage years, he endured racism, the Ku Klux Klan, and name-calling for the color of his skin. In 1965, he became the first African American student to integrate an all-white high school in Lancaster, South Carolina, bringing Americans face-to-face with the question of racial equality and the overturning of 'separate but equal.'

Update March 2022:  CHERP’s pilot research funding program is being renamed in honor of Eugene Marsh, EdD, a member of CHERP’s Veterans Community Advisory Board in Philadelphia and the VA Central Institutional Review Board (CIRB), who died from complications of COVID-19 in January 2021. At the time of this death, he was a doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership at Rider University, who posthumously awarded Marsh his doctorate. 

Surviving was the word for each day in the South

"Surviving was the word for each day in the South," Marsh recalls. "And I understood this because I was black, poor and uneducated. I had no knowledge of what I wanted to become in life. All I wanted was to be free from poverty and racism." In 1967, he enlisted in the US Army and served a tour in Vietnam as a combat soldier. He received three distinguished medals, including the Bronze Star for valor. After returning home from Vietnam he became a homeless veteran and faced challenges, some were the same he left before he went to Vietnam and others were new. Facing difficulties and a downward spiral, Marsh, with the help of a mentor regained his equilibrium. He ultimately learned how to focus again; he began to set goals and objectives for himself that he believed possible — and even impossible, like obtaining a college education. Before earning his first degree, Marsh completed the MBDA Program at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth in 2007. He received his Associate's degree in Architecture from Mercer County Community College in 2010; his Bachelor's degree from Rider University in Liberal Arts in 2014, and he is completing his Master's degree in Clinical Mental Health at Rider University as well.

During the development of his personal and professional careers, he became interested in volunteering with local non-profit organizations to address issues that were affecting African-American Communities: "I could no longer stand by and complain. I became involved to find solutions to problems that could not be delayed. I saw myself in my community, because I am a reflection of my community. I will and must serve others."

In 1998, Marsh established Construction Project Management Services, Inc., what became the largest black-owned construction management company in the US. In 2012, his firm was selected by the Department of the Interior and the Small Business Administration as the first African-American company to provide construction services for the “Upgrade and Renovation" of the Statue of Liberty. Currently, Marsh serves on several Boards in addition to the CHERP VCAB, including but not limited to: New Jersey Supreme Court Ethics Committee, Mid-Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Mercer County Community College Foundation, Upward Bound (TRIO) and One Hundred Black Men of America — New York Chapter.

In 2011, he spoke at the Department of Commerce in Washington DC on federal disparities when developing contracts for women and minority-owned business. Later that same year, he was the invited guest of Vice President Joe Biden to speak at the Small Business Symposium. In 2018, Marsh was awarded the H.O.N.O.R Community Service Award from Johnson and Johnson Corp. He is also a motivational speaker whose sole purpose is to inform, inspire and educate individuals from all walks of life.