Official Obituary of

Cynthia Elizabeth Morris Kellam

March 7, 1965 ~ February 19, 2024 (age 58) 58 Years Old
Read more about the life story of Cynthia and share your memory.    

Cynthia Morris Kellam Obituary

Celebration of Life Service for Mrs. Cynthia E. Morris Kellam, of Stone Mountain, GA, will be Thursday, March 7, 2024, at 10:00AM; St. Philip AME Church, 240 Candler Rd., Decatur, GA, 30310.

Interment: Georgia National, Canton, GA.

There will be no public viewing. Final arrangements entrusted to Willie A. Watkins Historic West End Chapel. (404) 758-1731.

**The family asks that if sending flowers, they would love for them to be in the pastel color scheme.**


Selfless Giver. Faithful Friend. Family-Focused. Justice Advocate. Future-focused Leader.Outstanding Mentor. Creative Curator.Entrepreneur. Devoted Mother. Beautiful Wife.

Dr. Cynthia Elizabeth Morris Kellam, born on March 7, 1965 to Billy and Gloria Morris graced the world with much love to give. She started her journey in Phoenix, Arizona joining her military family traveling the world. As a young woman, Cynthia’s stunning beauty, captivating smile, vitality and brilliance enamored many! Her innate creativity was cultivated from her early years, from making unique and original gifts for her family, to launching her dream premiere of her designer clothing line, OAKouture.


In 1983, Cynthia graduated from Mead Senior High School in Spokane, Washington. A few months later she entered the gates of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia where she not only thrived academically, but she solidified forever bonds with her Spelman sisters. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1987, Cynthia moved to Washington, D.C. where she earned a Master of Science in 1989 and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Psychology from Howard University in 1993.


While being a full-time graduate student, active in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Student Circle Chapter of The Association of Black Psychologists, mentoring other students, and fulfilling a Graduate Internship in the School of Education at Howard University, Cynthia was a community volunteer and a part-time dress-maker and seamstress. On December 31, 1989, Cynthia married Aaron Prather and from this union they produced her children Aaron Jr., and Cydnei who were her most treasured loves. Cynthia’s love of motherhood propelled her to demonstrate to her student colleagues and friends that she could successfully manage family life while completing the tedious job of writing her dissertation as a requirement for her Ph.D.


While at Howard University, Dr. Morris Kellam supervised students in the physiological laboratory within the Department of Psychology, where she studied the effects of social stressors on the cardiovascular system of African Americans. Also, during Cynthia’s tenure as a graduate student at Howard University, she served as an intern at LTDP in the School of Education.  After receiving her Ph.D. in Psychology, Cynthia served as a Research Assistant at Howard’s Institute for Urban Affairs and Research (IUAR) in Washington, D.C., where she researched issues related to child abuse and neglect and its relationship to alcohol and other drug use. 


Responding to the call of duty to “protect, promote and advance the health and safety of our Nation”, Dr. Morris Kellam accepted a commission in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps on April 6, 1994 as a 2nd Lieutenant. As one of the nation’s uniformed services, the Corps is an elite cadre of well-trained, highly qualified public health professionals dedicated to advancing and delivering the nation’s public health promotion and disease prevention programs andpublic health science. Dr. Morris Kellam ended her distinguished service career retiring at the rank of Commanderwith 25 years of active duty service in United States Public Health Commissioned Corps as an Honorable United States Veteran.


As an active duty officer in the Commissioned Corps, Dr. Morris Kellam began her service as an Associate Administrator on AIDS and Assistant Deputy for Medical and Clinical Affairs atthe Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration from 1994 to 1997. Continuing her active-duty service in 1998 as a commissioned officer, Dr. Morris Kellam joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a BehavioralScientist in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Community Assistance and National Partnerships Branch. From 2000 to 2007, Dr. Morris Kellam work focused on the growing concerns about the impact of HIV/AIDS on racial and ethnic minorities in the United States and she helped design the initial National Minority AIDS Initiative. Dr. Morris Kellam’s leadership was essential in initiating the Dissemination of Evidence-Based Interventions project. Along with colleagues, she planned the dissemination of the Sisters Informing Sisters on Topics about AIDS (SISTA) intervention.


From 2007 until her retirement in 2019, Dr. Morris Kellam served as a Senior Scientist with the Prevention Research Branch. While there, she served also as Project Officer and Project Lead on multiple projects. Dr. Morris Kellam brought a unique and influential combination of content knowledge, passion for health equity, and personal warmth to her work and public speaking. Her approach increased the visibility of the connections between the work's scientific aspects and the world's social forces. She brought this approach to all her work, whether it was a single-site project or as the lead for the Illinois (Chicago), Georgia, and Tennessee project sites.


Paving the way for national HIV testing in the south and northeast, Dr. Morris Kellam’s work resulted in the provision of more than 5000 HIV test kits for people with HIV risk behaviors who were unaware of their HIV status. Dr. Morris Kellam made significant contributions to our nation’s current understanding about the feasibility of developing a Microenterprise HIV prevention intervention which was aimed at reducing poverty-related HIV transmission. She also contributed to seminal articles that addressed the role of racism in the sexual and reproductive health of African American women. Her work has been cited in over 500 publications and in the course of her career and her life she mentored hundreds of people, both personally and professionally!


Dr. Morris-Kellam was a well-trained, highly skilled Health Equity and HIV Subject Matter Expert, with over 25 years of experience in applied social and behavioral research, and evaluation and technical assistance in HIV prevention and treatment. Her professional career included leading and directing large, multi-year, multidisciplinary health projects at the CDC. Her areas of expertise and experience were HIV/AIDS prevention, health equity/health promotion, health disparities, racism, substance abuse prevention, cardiovascular disease, and mental health. Her most recent work prior to her retirement involved managing an $83 million demonstration project.


A 30+ year dream was fully realized at her retirement when Dr.Cynthia Morris Kellam birthed  OAKouture, her one-of-a-kind clothing line. In a recent “Shoutout Atlanta” online magazine interview, Dr. Morris Kellam said of her beloved OAKouture, “…I am happily living the life I imagined. I would like the world to know that everything I make for OAKouture is made out of love. I literally LOVE everything I make.”


About a month before retiring as an extraordinarily accomplished scientist, researcher, and clothing designer,Cynthia married Derek M. Kellam. The two enjoyed traveling, especially taking cruises, cooking gourmet meals, undertaking home projects and serving their community. As a new retiree in 2020, Dr. Morris Kellam continued to work for a more equitable health system at Veritas Management Group’s Health Equity Practice. As co-lead for Project PrIDE, a large-scale multi-million-dollar demonstration project, Cynthia brought the same skill, expertise and grace to a complex project with 12 public health departments. Connecting with colleagues working on different aspects of the same issues gave her a powerful perspective that she shared with other professionals as a researcher, scientist, mentor and public speaker. 

Dr. Cynthia Elizabeth Morris Kellam’s loving memory will be revered by her husband, Derek Kellam, of Stone Mountain, Georgia; her children Aaron Prather of Baltimore, MD and Cydnei Prather of Atlanta, GA; her stepdaughter Toynesha Y. Alston Fisher and son-in-law Duane Fisher, of Greensboro, NC; her brothers, Billy V. Morris, Jr. of Atlanta, GA, and Dr. Vernon R. Morris of Tempe, AZ; her sister Bobbi Morris Garlington, of Atlanta, GA; six grandchildren, Timothy Prather, Jaidan Prather, Tristan Prather, Charlotte Fisher, Cheyenne Fisher and Caiah Joi Fisher, her nieces, Kortnei Morris, Alexis Morris, Sydney Morris, Taylor Garlington, Kyndall Garlington, and her nephewsR. Aston Garlington, Theodore William Perkins-Morris; as well as a host of cousins, extended family and deeply cherished friends. 


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March 7, 1965-February 19, 2024

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In Loving Memory Of

Cynthia Morris Kellam

March 7, 1965-February 19, 2024

Look inside to read what others have shared

Family and friends are coming together online to create a special keepsake. Every memory left on the online obituary will be automatically included in the book.   

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