The Ronald H. Levine Public Health Award recognizes exemplary contributions to public health in North Carolina. This prestigious award is named for former State Health Director Dr. Ron Levine.
Since 2004, 28 individuals and 85 public health directors have been honored for their distinguished efforts to improve the public health system, expand the scope or capacity of public health services, or build new and lasting partnerships.
Two NCDHHS leaders, Dr. Victoria Mobley and Larry Michael, received the 2023 awards at the annual North Carolina Public Health Leader’s Conference on March 16 in Raleigh.
Dr. Victoria Mobley serves as the HIV/STD Medical Director at the NCDHHS’ Division of Public Health and the Director of the NC Epidemiology Field Services Unit. She leads communicable disease outbreak responses and raises awareness for this core public health work.
Larry Michael has dedicated his career to environmental health and safety for North Carolinians. Beginning as an environmental health specialist in Lee County, he currently serves as the State Environmental Health Director and Chief of the Environmental Health Section with NCDHHS’ Division of Public Health.
Dr. Zack Moore and All 85 Local Health Directors
Dr. Zack Moore and all of North Carolina's 85 local health directors were recognized by their peers for their extraordinary accomplishments with the Ron H. Levine Public Health Award at the annual North Carolina Public Health Leader’s Conference on May 19 in Raleigh.
Dr. Moore serves as the State Epidemiologist and NCDHHS' Chief of the Epidemiology Section. In his current role, he helps guide the state’s efforts to prevent, detect and respond to a wide range of public health threats, including those caused by communicable diseases, environmental and occupational health threats, and natural and man-made disasters. He has worked tirelessly on COVID-19 response efforts.
All of North Carolina's 85 local health directors were recognized for their hard work and dedication throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first time a group has been the recipient of this award and, in doing so, recognizes their collective leadership in their respective communities and exemplifies their outstanding commitment, dedication and sacrifice to public health leadership.
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Evelyn Foust and Belinda Pettiford
Evelyn Foust and Belinda Pettiford, two longtime leaders in NCDHHS’ Division of Public Health (DPH), were recognized by their peers for their accomplishments with Ronald H. Levine Legacy Awards.
Foust, head of the Communicable Disease Branch since 2008, and Pettiford, head of the Women’s Health Branch since 2012, received the award at the NC Public Health Leaders’ Conference on Jan. 23.
Sally Herndon and Dr. John Morrow
During the North Carolina Public Health Leaders’ Conference that took place Jan. 24-25 in Raleigh, Sally Herndon was honored with the Ronald H. Levine Legacy Award for her distinguished record of achievement in expanding the scope and impact of public health services and programs and enhancing public health effectiveness through policy development.
Herndon serves as the head of DPH’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch. She has been a leader in public health efforts on tobacco prevention and control since 1991. She helped build support for the 2010 law that makes all North Carolina restaurants and bars smoke-free, working with state and local partners to successfully support the implementation of the law.
Pitt County Health Director John H. Morrow, MD, MPH, also received a Levine Award at the conference.
Chris Hoke, Chief of the Division of Public Health’s Office of Regulatory and Legal Affairs, was presented the Ronald H. Levine Legacy Award on Jan. 18 during the statewide Public Health Leaders’ Conference in Raleigh.
In making the presentation, DPH Director Danny Staley noted that Hoke drafted the public health laws by which the Public Health systems operate. Hoke has served in the division since 1980. Staley described Hoke as exemplifying public health on a local, state and national level, and described him as a “key founder of the concept of public health law at the CDC” -- the federal Centers for Disease Control.
Hoke worked alongside the award’s namesake when Dr. Levine served as state health director from 1981 to 1998.
Bob Seligson and Megan Davies
The 2017 Ronald H. Levine Legacy Award was presented to two recipients during the awards luncheon on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017.
The 2017 awardees were Bob Seligson, MA, MBA, Executive Vice President and CEO of the North Carolina Medical Society; and Megan Davies, MD, former state Epidemiologist and North Carolina Division of Public Health Epidemiology Section Chief.
Thomas J. Vitaglione
Thomas J. Vitaglione, MPH, Action for Children NC, was presented with the 2016 Ronald H. Levine Legacy Award on Thursday, Jan. 21.
Jerry Parks, MPH, Health Director for Albemarle Regional Health Services, was presented with the 2015 Ronald H. Levine Legacy Award on Thursday, Jan. 22.
Joy Reed, EdD, RN, was honored as the 2014 recipient of the Ronald Levine Legacy Award in recognition of her lifetime of contributions to public health in North Carolina.
Dr. Reed has held the position of Head of Public Health Nursing and Professional Development since June 1995, and has served in several other lead positions for the Division of Public Health. Since 2002, Dr. Reed has led the Division’s Accreditation Program, making North Carolina one of only a few states in the nation to have such a program. In addition, Dr. Reed has also served on various national committees presenting herself and North Carolina in a professional and progressive manner.
In light of her passion for public health and nursing, the Joy F. Reed EdD, RN, FAAN Leadership Scholarship has been created in honor of Dr. Reed’s loyalty and dedication to the advancement of public health nursing in the great state of North Carolina.
Dr. Reed began her nursing career over 40 years ago, earning her BSN from Duke University, a Master’s in Community Health from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and an Education Doctorate from North Carolina State University. She was a Robert Wood Johnson Fellow and was the only public health nurse in her cohort. In 2008, she was given the Pearl McIver Public Health Nursing Award by the American Nurses Association and was inducted into the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN), the highest honor bestowed upon a nurse. In 2010, Dr. Reed was recognized by Duke University as a Distinguished Alumnus. Through this progression of higher education and awards, Dr. Reed has displayed a character that exemplifies excellence in nursing scholarship and professionalism.
Pam Silberman, JD, Dr.PH, was honored as the 2013 recipient of the Ronald Levine Legacy Award in recognition of her lifetime of contributions to public health in North Carolina.
Dr. Silberman is the president and CEO of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM). She has served in this role since 2005, and served as vice president from 1999-2005. The NCIOM convenes diverse task forces to study important health issues facing the state. Dr. Silberman is currently working on task forces to develop a rural health action plan, to increase the use of preventive dental services for children eligible for Medicaid or NC Health Choice, and to reduce early childhood obesity. She recently helped staff different workgroups to identify the decisions the state must make to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
State Health Director Laura Gerald, MD, MPH, noted Silberman's record of achievement in expanding the scope of public health services and programs as well as enhancing public health capacity through policy development and collaboration with the private sector. "Dr. Silberman is and continues to be successful in making an enduring contribution to North Carolina's state and local public health system," said Gerald.
Dr. Silberman graduated with a doctorate in public health from the UNC School of Public Health in December in 1997. She obtained her law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1981, and her bachelor’s degree in political science and psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana, in 1977.
Dr. Silberman was presented the award at the State Health Director's conference on Jan. 24, 2013, in Raleigh. The annual event convenes state and local health officials from across the state.
William Pully, president of the North Carolina Hospital Association, was honored as the 2012 recipient of the Ronald Levine Legacy Award in recognition of his contributions to public health in North Carolina. The award was presented at the conclusion of the annual 2012 State Health Director’s Conference on Jan. 27, 2012.
In presenting the award, outgoing State Health Director Dr. Jeffrey Engel acknowledged Pully’s leadership in the development of the North Carolina Disease Event Tracking and Epidemiologic Collection Tool (NC DETECT), a statewide syndromic surveillance system that gathers data from hospital emergency departments and other providers to monitor a variety public health issues in a secure and timely fashion, and the North Carolina Health Information Exchange, a public/private collaboration to provide a secure, sustainable technology infrastructure that supports the real time exchange of health information.
Engel also highlighted Pully’s involvement in the Public Health and Hospital Collaborative, a public-private partnership between the Division of Public Health, NCHA, the NC Institute for Public Health and the NC Center for Public Health Quality that has developed standards for community health assessments as required for nonprofit hospitals by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Public Health Exchange.
Pully, a Rocky Mount native, began his career with NCHA as director of government relations. He became president of the association in 1999.
Dr. Rachael Stevens
Dr. Rachael Stevens was honored as the 2011 recipient of the Ronald Levine Legacy Award in recognition of her lifetime of contributions to public health in North Carolina.
Stevens is a senior advisor for the N.C. Institute for Public Health and a consultant to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She began her career as a nurse in health departments in Chapel Hill and Cabarrus County and was a Public Health Nursing Education and Research Specialist in the N.C. Division of Health Services (now the Division of Public Health). Among her many public health activities, Stevens has been a leader in the Association of North Carolina Boards of Health and is a member of the Chatham County Board of Health. On the national level, she has been active in the National Association of Local Boards of Health and has participated in leadership of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and CDC-funded Multi-State Learning Collaborative since 2005.
A graduate of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing, Stevens has been a clinical assistant professor in public health nursing at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Public Health, providing scholarly advising to many graduate students, many of whom work in public health in North Carolina.
Paul M. Stone and Beth Lovette
Paul M. Stone
Paul M. Stone, president and CEO of the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association, received the Ronald H. Levine Legacy Award for Statewide Impact on Public Health for his efforts to protect restaurant and bar workers and patrons from second-hand smoke, helping North Carolina become the first tobacco-producing state in the nation to pass legislation making restaurants and bars across the state smoke-free. The new law became effective Jan. 2, 2010.
“The smoke-free restaurants and bars law was several years in the making, and there is agreement that it was the support of the business community that made the difference in the end,” said Engel. “Paul Stone’s leadership was to work with his board and bring the board along, and they became a key factor in the debate over this legislation. The result was passage of a strong bill in May 2009 that is good for business as well as good for health.”
Engel also recognized Stone for his contributions in planning the business tools that have assisted the 24,000 businesses in North Carolina that must come into compliance with the new law.
Beth Lovette, Wilkes County health director since 2002, was presented with the Ronald H. Levine Legacy Award for Local Innovation in Public Health. Lovette is known for her tireless leadership in improving health in the community and state and for advocating with policymakers and legislators for public health issues.
Through boards and through partnerships with schools, hospitals, non-profits and other organizations, Lovette has worked to build collaborations, develop and implement action plans for the community’s health, improve children’s health and tackle childhood obesity, improve access to care for the uninsured, and address the high rate of accidental deaths due to prescription drug overdoses, as well as to expand health care services and build a stronger health care system in the community. Under her leadership, the Wilkes County Health Department was accredited by the state in 2006.
Don Yousey, Dean Smith and Dr. Leah Devlin
Brunswick County Health Director Don Yousey and Dean Smith, retired long-time basketball coach at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have each been awarded the 2009 Ronald H. Levine Legacy Award for Public Health in recognition of their outstanding contributions to public health in North Carolina. The awards were announced by State Health Director Leah Devlin at the 2009 State Health Directors Conference in Raleigh on Jan. 24.
At the conclusion of the award ceremony, Dr. Ron Levine made a surprise presentation of a 2009 Legacy Award for Public Health to Dr. Devlin herself. Devlin is retiring on Jan. 31 after 30 years in public health, serving on local, state and national levels. She has been State Health Director and director of the N.C. Division of Public Health since 2001.
The 2009 Levine Award for Local Innovation in Public Health was presented to Don Yousey, who has been health director of Brunswick County for more than 10 years. Yousey was honored for a long list of accomplishments, including securing grant money for a new outreach medical unit, establishing a regional office to administer case management services for Medicaid clients, and starting a clinic for seniors with no medical home. Yousey also led a focused effort by the health department and Minority Infant Mortality Task Force that resulted in two consecutive years of a zero infant mortality rate in the county. Among his many other successful projects was the establishment of an umbrella organization to enable area local health departments to provide low-cost diabetes self-management education that is reimbursable by Medicaid, Medicare, and private health insurance. The pilot project was one of five in the state to get American Diabetes Association approval in 2008.
A native of Rome, N.Y., Yousey received his master’s degree in public health from the University of Texas at Houston in 1984. He retired to North Carolina from the U.S. Air Force as a lieutenant colonel in 1993. He served as health director of Bladen County for almost four years before transferring to Brunswick County. Yousey is past president of the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors and was the recipient of the 2003 Health Director of the Year Award and the 2005 Ham Stevens Award.
The Levine Award for Statewide Impact in Public Health went to Dean Smith. Dean Smith spent 39 years of his life coaching at UNC – the first three years as an assistant and the final 36 as the head coach. At the time he retired, he was the winning-est and most respected coach in the history of Division I collegiate basketball. Recognized as one of the great minds of the game, Smith is widely known and respected for his intelligence, his innovation, and his love for his players.
In the world of Public Health, Dean Smith is also known and appreciated for his ongoing efforts to encourage North Carolinians to get their annual flu shots. Over the last nine years, Dean Smith has acted as North Carolina's spokesperson for adult immunizations, particularly advocating an annual flu shot for senior adults. His constant support of North Carolina's adult immunization program has been a valuable resource in spreading the importance of flu and pneumonia shots. Coach Smith has rolled up his sleeve every year to show how easy and painless it is to be vaccinated against the flu, even going as far as tossing the coin at a senior adult basketball game to highlight the importance of annual flu shots. His punchline? “Get your flu shot – it’s the best shot you’ll ever take.”
Thomas D. Bridges, Mary L. Piepenbring and John H. Frank
Three people have been awarded the 2008 Ronald H. Levine Legacy Award for Public Health in recognition of their many contributions to public health on the local, state and national levels. One local health director and representatives of two philanthropic agencies received the awards at the 2008 State Health Director’s Conference in Raleigh on Jan. 25.
Dr. Leah Devlin, State Health Director, presented the awards to Thomas D. Bridges, Henderson County health director; Mary L. Piepenbring of The Duke Endowment; and John H. Frank of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.
“North Carolina is fortunate to have these dynamic leaders in private philanthropy and local public health making these significant contributions to health in our state,” Devlin said.
Levine Legacy Award for Innovation
Thomas D. Bridges
Bridges, who received the Levine Legacy Award for Local Innovation, has been director of the Henderson County Department of Public Health for the last nine years, after serving for five and a half years as health director in Person County.
During his tenure as a local health director, Bridges has played a key role in establishing a regional coalition among local hospitals and health departments. Continually seeking more effective ways to serve the community, he frequently volunteers his agency as a pilot site for new ideas, initiatives and systems. In various leadership roles in the N.C. Association of Local Health Directors, he has led the way in advancing technology for local health agencies, such as improved health data systems and access to the Public Health Training and Information Network, which brings interactive public health teleconferences and training opportunities to convenient sites across the state.
Bridges also has key roles in the Region 6 Public Health Regional Surveillance Team (PHRST); Western Partnership for Health; N.C. Public Health Executive Committee and Governing Council; Henderson County Partnership for Health, Inc.; and N.C. Center on Health and Aging, and is a member of the Henderson County Council of Aging.
Before becoming a health director, Bridges was a long-time director of Nutrition Services at the Craven County Health Department. He has also worked as a laboratory technician in hospitals and at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health.
Levine Legacy Awards for Statewide Impact
Two Levine Legacy Awards for Statewide Impact recognized the work of Frank and Piepenbring and their respective charitable organizations.
John H. Frank
Frank was a career hospital administrator before becoming director of the Health Care Division of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in 1995, serving in hospitals in Alamance and Davie counties as well as in Lexington and Charlotte.
He is currently a member of the Governor’s appointed N.C. Institute of Medicine; serves on the N.C. Public Health Task Force; is a research fellow with the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina; serves on the Governor’s Taskforce for Health Carolinians; and is on the Board of Directors of Lumiere Medical Ministries in Haiti.
Frank and the Kate B. Reynolds Trust were recognized for major grant and funding programs related to public health and community health, including Healthy Carolinians Partnerships serving 83 N.C. counties; N.C. Schools for Physical Education Programs; and multiple programs supporting child immunizations, community-based public dental clinics, HIV prevention, nutrition, and chronic disease prevention.
In addition, since 2001 the Health Care Division of the Trust has invested $10 million dollars in the five-year Project SELF (Smoking Education Lifestyle Fitness) Improvement, the largest and longest, single commitment the Trust has made throughout its history.
Mary L. Piepenbring
Piepenbring is director of the Health Care Division of The Duke Endowment, a Charlotte-based private philanthropic foundation. A licensed social worker, she has worked in various positions in hospital administration in North Carolina and South Carolina and held the position of vice president in administration for seven years at the Carolina HealthCare System in Charlotte prior to joining The Duke Endowment in 2000.
Piepenbring and the Endowment were recognized for their support of the N.C. Child Maltreatment Initiative, the Care + Share Initiative, programs addressing childhood obesity, and the Health Network for the Medically Uninsured, as well as improving access to quality dental care, providing funding support to small and rural hospitals, and giving $1 million in flood relief grants to North Carolina communities.
Piepenbring serves in leadership positions with the N.C. Medical Care Commission, the Center for Hospital Quality and Patient Safety, and the Carolinas Specialty Hospital, and is a Hull Leadership Fellow with the Southeastern Council of Foundations.
Sen. William R. Purcell and Rep. Edd Nye
State Sen. William R. Purcell and Rep. Edd Nye were awarded the 2007 Ronald H. Levine Legacy Award for Public Health in recognition of each man’s many contributions to public health in North Carolina. The two legislators were presented with the awards by DHHS Secretary Carmen Hooker Odom and State Health Director Leah Devlin at the 2007 State Health Directors Conference in Raleigh.
The ceremony included congratulatory remarks by Dennis Harrington, chief of Public Health’s Administrative, Local and Community Support Section; Dr. Lou Turner, deputy chief of the Epidemiology Section; Jerry Parks, health director for Albemarle Regional Health Services; and Dr. Ron Levine.
In speaking of Sen. Purcell’s and Rep. Nye’s contributions to public health, Dr. Levine said, “These men were invariably on the right side of a call…They always came down with what was best for the people of North Carolina, and they were effective.”
Rep. Edd Nye
Nye represented the 22nd House district, Bladen County, and served in the N.C. Senate from 1974 to 1976 and in the N.C. House from 1976 to 1982 and 1985 to 2006.
Nye was a member of the Public Health Task Force 2004 and 2006, and was very supportive of establishing both the public health department accreditation process and public health incubators. He played a major part in gaining General Assembly approval for the construction of a new State Laboratory and Medical Examiners Office building.
He has served as chairman of the N.C. House Appropriations Committee, chaired the Select Committee on the N.C. State Employees’ Disability Plan, and was a member of the Education, Ethics, Health, Insurance and Election Law & Campaign Finance Reform committees.
He has previously been honored as Legislator of the Year by the North Carolina Association for Home and Hospice Care, Autism Society, Academy of Family Physicians, and Association of Health Directors. He was recently awarded the order of the Long Leaf Pine for his distinguished and outstanding service to North Carolina.
Sen. William R. Purcell
Purcell, a retired pediatrician, has represented District 25 – Anson, Richmond, Scotland and Stanly counties – for five terms. Previously, he served as mayor of Laurinburg for five terms, and as a member of the city council, president of Laurinburg Chamber of Commerce, and chairman of the Scotland County board of health.
In the legislature, Sen. Purcell served as co-chairman of the Appropriations on Heath & Human Services Committee; co-chairman of the Health Care Committee, and a member of the Commerce, Finance, and Mental Health and Youth Services committees.
He was also a member of the Public Health Task Force 2004 and 2006.
He received his medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at the Medical College of South Carolina.
“Their commitment and ability was based on energy, intelligence and integrity,” he said. “They never let the people of North Carolina down.”
George F. Bond Jr. and William J. (Bill) Smith IV
George F. Bond Jr.
Buncombe County Health Director George F. Bond Jr. began his public health career in 1971 at the Durham County Health Department, working in environmental health, after a four-year stint in the Navy, during which he worked in medical and dental health. In 1975, Bond became director of the Henderson County Health Department, where he established a general medical clinic with full-time staff, fostered the development of a successful Hospice program, and growing a significant Home Health program.
In 1996, Bond was named director of the Buncombe County Health Center, where he has built a distinguished record of achievement in public health capacity, policy development, effective partnership building, and advocacy for public health system improvements and reforms.
William J. (Bill) Smith IV
William J. (Bill) Smith IV began his career in public health with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control in 1977. He was appointed Health Director for Robeson County Health Department in August 1988.
Smith is known for his successful efforts to strengthen public health though partnerships and collaboration. On the local level, Smith’s accomplishments include the:
- Development of a model obstetrical care program incorporating private/public partnerships;
- Development and implementation of Robeson County Intensive Livestock Operation Rules;
- Development of multi-county, public/private, immunization tracking system;
- Establishment of three primary care clinics—Robeson Child Health Plus, Adult Health Plus and Family Dentistry Plus; and the
- Development of a Satellite Animal Shelter.
Dr. Jesse H. Meredith
Dr. J.N. "Newt" MacCormack
About the Legacy Award
The person honored with the Legacy Award for Public Health will have a distinguished record of achievement in one or more of the following areas:
- Expanding the scope and impact of public health services and programs;
- Significantly improving public health systems, capacity or infrastructure;
- Enhancing public health capacity through policy development or collaboration with the private sector;
- Improving the public’s health through the creation of sustained partnerships; and/or
Fostering public health improvement through sound science and research.
In order to be considered for the Statewide Impact Award, the selected individual’s contribution in one or more of these areas must have been sustained and significant.
Criteria for Selection
To be eligible for the Legacy Award for Public Health – Statewide Impact, the selected individual must have been:
- Active in the practice of public health for a period of not less than 10 years; or,
- In a position to directly influence or guide public health systems change with regard to the body of public health work under consideration; or,
- Successful in making an enduring contribution to North Carolina’s state and local public health system.
Selections are not limited to state and local public health staff.