Dr. Marilyn Pearson – Health Director of the Year



JANUARY 22, 2015


For Immediate Release

Contact: Peg O’Connell—poconnell@fuquaysolutions.com 919-208-5226

NC Association of Local Health Directors
Honors Health Director of the Year, Legislator of the Year and Partner Organization for Contributions to Improving Public Health

MarilynPearsonRALEIGH—On Wednesday, the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors honored Dr. Marilyn Roseann Pearson of Johnston County as Health Director of the Year, State Senator Gladys Robinson of Guilford County as Legislator of the Year and Graham Children’s Health Services with the 2015 Public Health Partners Award for their efforts to improve children’s health in Yancey and Mitchell Counties.

“We are pleased to recognize these leaders for their service to the people of North Carolina,” said Buck Wilson, President of the NC Association of Local Health Director. “They are the true heroes of the public health community.”

The awards were given at the NCALHD annual meeting awards luncheon in Raleigh. The awards luncheon was held in conjunction with the State Health Director’s meeting, also in Raleigh.

The luncheon also featured the debut of a new video, “Building Healthier Lives in North Carolina,” produced by the 219 Group in Fayetteville in conjunction with the NCALHD Communications Committee. The video highlighted the myriad of ways public health and local health departments impact and improves the health of North Carolina.

The North Carolina Health Director of the Year Award was created by the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and is implemented through the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors, an affiliate of the NCACC and is given to an individual for outstanding leadership in both public health in North Carolina and for leadership and involvement in local community and civic activities

Marilyn R. Pearson, MD was chosen as 2015 Health Director of the Year for her leadership and commitment to the health and wellbeing of the residents of Johnston County. Dr. Pearson began her career in the Johnston County Health Department as the Medical Director. After 7 years as a physician in the Johnston County Health Department clinics, she became Health Director and Medical Director, directly supervising three physicians, five mid-Level providers, and other managerial support teams.   In this capacity, she oversees services provided in the adult, pediatric, epidemiology, maternity and family planning clinics. In addition, vaccines, WIC, environmental, and health education services are also offered. In 2013, she led the expansion of the health department with the addition of the behavioral health services division. Pearson’s work in working with other health partners in Johnston County to strengthen the medical safety net for the uninsured and underinsured was a key element in her being chosen for this year’s award.

She was also recognized for her extensive service on several boards and committees, including the Living Well Partnership of Johnston County, the Johnston County Schools Agency Round Table, Partnership for Children, and Project Access of Johnston and Harnett Counties. Her statewide associations include membership on the Community Care of North Carolina Board and in 2011, she was appointed as Congressional District 2 Representative for the Division of Medical Assistance Medical Care Advisory Committee.

Pearson received her Bachelor of Science Degree from Clemson University and her MD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She completed her Internship and Residency in Family Medicine at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC and is currently a Diplomate of the American Board of Family Practice.

Pearson was nominated for the Health Director of the Year Award by staff at the Johnston County Health Department.

The 2015 Public Health Partners Award was presented to Graham Children’s Health Services of Burnsville. This award was created to recognize organizations, businesses and professional associations that have made significant contributions to the advancement and promotion of public health in North Carolina.

Graham Children’s Health Services (GCHS) is a collaborative effort that involves, educates and unites the Yancey and Mitchell County communities for the design and implementation of strategies to improve the health of children now and in the future.

GCHS was chosen for its many years of close collaboration with the Toe River Health District Department, “Since its inception in 1997, GCHS has been a close partner with Toe River Health District (TRHD). Embracing the community health assessment (CHA) as an appropriate tool for planning and implementation of programs designed to improve the current and future health of children in the Toe River Area, GCHS has taken an active role in the CHA process. Specifically, GCHS has expanded the community assessment around the health needs of children and has received grant funding that has assisted with data gathering and compilation, “ said Toe River Health District Health Director Lynda Kinnane in her nomination.

According to Kinnane, “GCHS is a dream public health partner. TRHD has won two Child Health Best Practice Awards based on our partnership with GCHS. A dedicated and hard-working board and staff, committed to using the CHA and evidenced based practices and to giving new and innovative ideas a place to start; and also relating all of their work to the economic development of the area is a recipe for success.”

GCHS was also recognized for its efforts in founding other health organizations in the Toe river District. Two community non-profits got their start as a part of GCHS, a Latino Center and a telemedicine project currently in every school in Yancey and Mitchell Counties.

GCHS Executive Director Schell McCall was at the luncheon to accept the 2015 Public Health Partners Award.

The 2015 Legislator of the Year Award was given to Guilford County State Senator Gladys Robinson. The Award was created to recognize legislators who have made significant contributions to the advancement and promotion of public health in North Carolina.

Senator Robinson was named for both her legislative and professional commitment to improving the health of North Carolina. In addition to her legislative duties, Senator Robinson serves as Executive Director for Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency, a community health center that addresses health conditions such as sickle cell, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, breast cancer, prostate Cancer prevention programs and education/prevention programs.

Robinson was nominated by Guilford County Health Director Merle Green as a “dedicated advocate for the people of North Carolina, specifically Guilford County, for many years. Senator Robinson’s political goal is to improve the economy, education, and healthcare of North Carolina.”

Robinson’s collaboration with the Guilford County Health was also recognized by Green, who accepted the award in Robinson’s absence. “Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health, has also had a supportive and collaborative partnership with Senator Robinson and PHSSCA for many years now, particularly in our efforts to support Triad Baby Love Plus,” said Green. The goal of the North Carolina Triad Baby Love Plus Program is to address perinatal health disparities that impact birth outcomes amongst African American babies.

“Senator Robinson is very passionate about these and any effort that improves the overall health of our community and state.  She partners with us in providing the best case management to children with Sickle Cell disease and Trait as well as other chronic health issues that impact children and adults. She actively serves on many community committees that address health issues and concerns,” said Green.