LEADERSHIP: GIVING BACK
Getting to know our current and past board chairs of the UNC Gillings Alumni Association and Public Health Foundation
Alumni Association Board (Past Chair)
For Raleigh, N.C., attorney Todd Jones, who earned a bachelor’s degree in health policy and administration from Gillings in 1993, serving on the School’s Alumni Association board was a way to stay connected to the place where everything started.
After graduating, Jones got a job at an internal medical practice in Durham, N.C., working with 10 physicians — managing schedules, coding medical records, helping patients, ensuring adequate hospital coverage and transitioning the practice into a new facility. As Duke Hospital prepared to acquire the practice, Jones headed to law school at Campbell University. He’s now a managing partner at Anderson Jones, PLLC, in Raleigh.
“I loved my time on the board. It gave me a great chance to come back, to get together with like-minded folks and help the students,” says Jones, a Durham native who served on the board for six years and chaired it for four. “I consider Gillings my place, always.”
Although Jones termed off the board in 2020, his service to Gillings will continue. “The School’s profile is better than ever, and so many professors are on the cutting edge of global issues,” he says. “I will support the School in as many ways as I can. It really has a special place in my heart.”
Chair of the Public Health Foundation Board
Serving on the Gillings School’s Public Health Foundation Board is a way for Fred Hargett, executive vice president and CFO of Novant Health in Winston-Salem, N.C., to stay connected to a place that helped prepare him for his career and inspired him to make a difference.
Before joining Novant, Hargett was Ernst & Young’s manager of health care consulting. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree from Gillings and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a Master of Accounting degree from UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. Combining skills from both schools led him to a career in healthcare management. “Public health has been a passion of mine since I was an undergraduate. I wanted a career that made a difference in people’s lives,” says Hargett, who joined the board in 2016 and was elected chair in July 2020.
One of Hargett’s top priorities as chair is to bring in new members from different backgrounds and experiences. “We need to open our lens and identify talent from diverse backgrounds,” he says, “to ensure that we are hearing voices from everyone we represent.”
In addition to raising funds to help support faculty teaching and research efforts and student support, foundation board members provide fiduciary oversight to the assets of the Public Health Foundation. “Gillings is an inclusive, vibrant place where really smart students care about what’s going on,” he says. “They are engaging in real-world issues of public health and wanting to be part of developing the solutions. It gives me optimism.”
Public Health Foundation Board (Past Chair)
Celette Sugg Skinner, PhD, came to Gillings in 1987 with a master’s degree in communications and a background in marketing — and an aspiration to empower people with information that would help them improve their health and well-being.
An expert in health communication, health equity and health care delivery research, Skinner is Parkland Professor of Community Medicine, founding associate director for population science for the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center and inaugural chair of the Department of Population & Data Sciences at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center. She remains involved at Gillings through the Public Health Foundation board, recently finishing a term as board chair and continuing to serve as a member.
After graduating from Gillings in 1991 with a PhD in health behavior, Skinner broke ground as a pioneer in individual-level-tailored health communications research. Working primarily among underserved groups, she has developed and tested innovative behavior-change interventions for more than 30 years, with a focus on facilitating cancer screening. At UT Southwestern, Skinner has led growth in research in the Department of Population & Data Sciences, with a focus on generating discoveries that translate into improved clinical practice.
Before joining the Public Health Foundation board, Skinner maintained a connection to Gillings as a visiting course lecturer, dissertation committee member and research collaborator.
“I have always been thankful for the training and inspiration I received at UNC,” she says, “and want to do what I can to help the School have the resources and recognition to stay at the top.”
Chair of the Alumni Association Advisory Board
A summer internship at Mission Hospital in Asheville was start of Joanna Conley’s career in hospital administration, but her interest in healthcare as a profession began as a child.
“I knew I wanted to work in healthcare from the time I was a child and survived a significant illness,” says Conley, chief executive officer at TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. “I wanted to help others as I had been helped, but I wasn’t sure the best avenue to pursue.”
A California native, Conley came to Gillings to earn an undergraduate degree in health policy management. While at UNC she took a summer internship at Mission – and after graduating, continued to work there for several years in strategic planning before moving to Nashville to earn an MBA at Vanderbilt. Since then, she has held leadership roles in several hospitals before returning to Nashville to serve as CEO of TriStar Southern Hills.
“I enjoy serving as a hospital CEO. I believe in fostering a culture of inclusion for our colleagues, physicians, and patients while focusing on advancing patient care quality,” she says.
As chair of the Alumni Association Advisory Board and an ex officio member of the School’s Public Health Foundation Board, Conley enjoys the opportunity to give back, connect with other alumni and support students. “
Gillings is a wonderful institution that provides an education and experience that students reap the benefits from for the rest of their career through the relationships they foster, experiences that they gain, and challenges that they overcome,” she says.