Mecklenburg County Manager Dena R. Diorio announced today that former Wake and Buncombe County Health Director Alma (Gibbie) Harris, MSPH, BSN, RN will become the interim director for Mecklenburg’s Public Health Department starting next week.
Harris has been working with the County for several months as a consultant with Praxis Partners for Health. She takes over for Dr. Marcus Plescia, who resigned effective August 4. Plescia will help Harris with the transition.
“This is a huge step in the right direction,” said Diorio, who announced Harris’ hiring to the Board of County Commissioners Tuesday night. “She has experience in all divisions of the public health system and knows the challenge Mecklenburg County is facing to improve. I truly believe she’s the right person to begin moving Health in the right direction.”
Harris retired from County government in 2015 and is a founding partner for Praxis Partners. She will earn $20,000 per month for at least six months or until a permanent director is hired. Public Health has approximately 800 employees and multiple divisions, including School Health, Community Health Services, Clinical Health and Environmental Health.
During her 25-year public health career, Harris led efforts to identify health priorities, work to prevent and control communicable diseases, improve health outcomes and assure equity among all residents. She has also helped manage the transitions of single county health departments into consolidated health and human services agencies, which is what Mecklenburg County is currently working to achieve with Public Health, the Department of Social Services, and Community Support Services.
While Health Director for Buncombe County in 2011, she was named North Carolina’s Health Director of the Year. She says that she’s ready for the task ahead of her.
“There are a lot of things Mecklenburg County Public Health is doing right,” says Harris. “And there are also a lot of things we can do better. I am confident we can identify and implement the changes necessary to better serve our customers and restore public trust.”
Her first day on the job will be June 26.
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