Talking to Dr. Leonard Edloe, PharmD, ThM, and it’s clear that he’s a patient man. Dr. Edloe, who previously served as the first African-American chairman of Retail Merchants’ board, has a career marked with patience, innovation, and barrier breaking. And now, Dr. Edloe is adding one more feather to his cap. This summer it was announced that he would be installed as the Virginia Pharmacists Association’s first African-American president-elect during the organization’s 140th Annual Convention.

While this would be an honor for anyone, for Dr. Edloe, it has even greater significance. His father, who was also a pharmacist, was once denied membership to the same organization based on the color of his skin.

From a young age, Dr. Edloe knew he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps as a pharmacist, but did so while charting his own course. Like his father, he graduated from Howard University College of Pharmacy – after the state paid for him to be educated elsewhere rather than admit him to the School of Pharmacy at the Medical College of Virginia, now Virginia Commonwealth University. But his time in DC served him well, expanding his horizons and growing his network.

After graduation, Dr. Edloe returned to his father’s pharmacy where he’d started working as a young boy. He took over the pharmacy following the death of his father and later grew the one location to four under the Edloe’s Pharmacy umbrella.

Throughout his career, Dr. Edloe has continuously evolved and innovated, paving the way for future pharmacists. Edloe’s Pharmacy was one of the first in the nation to have standalone computer systems and he was an early embracer of immunizations by pharmacists – something that in today’s world has truly been a game changer. He also was an early advocate of a more holistic approach to healthcare, looking at the whole person and addressing their needs.

He’s garnered accolades and appointments across the commonwealth too numerous to list in their entirety including The Practitioner of the Year Award by the National Pharmaceutical Association; the Hugo H. Schaefer Award from the American Pharmacists Association; and the Alumnus of the Year and Pharmacy Legacy Award from Howard University College of Pharmacy. In addition, he was the first African-American pharmacist honored by the Virginia Pharmacists Association with the Bowl of Hygeia and Virginia’s Outstanding Pharmacists.

Above all else, Dr. Edloe has served as a role model, taking a keen interest in mentoring minority students interested in becoming pharmacists themselves.

With all of his accomplishments it would be easy to rest on his laurels, but throughout his career Dr. Edloe has consistently challenged himself, continuing his education, and charting new paths. He’s gone back to school numerous times since earning his Bachelor’s degree from Howard University. In 2003, despite having been a pharmacist for decades, he returned to school to earn his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Florida School of Pharmacy. In addition, he earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, as well as a Master of Theology from Union Presbyterian Seminary. He was recently selected to become a Fellow in the Clergy in Rural and Underserved Areas at the Center for Church and Community of Campbell University.

Today, Dr. Edloe is retired from the pharmacy but has led the congregation at New Hope Fellowship since 2010. When asked what advice he would offer the next generation looking to break barriers, he encourages patience, but is quick to add that hopefully they won’t have to wait until they are in their 70s for such opportunities.