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Dec. 4, 2001 -- No. 625
Photo URL: To download a photo of Blanchard, see bottom of page
Alumna who has excelled in health returns to lead public service center
By SCOTT RAGLAND
CHAPEL HILL -- Lynn White Blanchard, who grew up in Raleigh and earned two graduate degrees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will return to her alma mater as director of the Carolina Center for Public Service.
Blanchard, who starts the new post Jan. 7, has been vice chair of community initiatives in the Department of Community Health and Health Studies at the Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network in Allentown, Pa.
As director of UNCís center, her duties will include supporting Carolina's overall public service efforts. She will manage the center's staff as well as help raise funds to meet its budget needs. Launched in fall 1999, the center builds upon the university's strong legacy of public service by connecting students, faculty, staff and other resources with the citizens of North Carolina and beyond. It offers "one-stop shopping" where anyone with a public-service question or need can contact the center, and officials locate helpful university resources.
A search committee of administrators, faculty, staff and students as well as a community agency representative recommended Blanchard for the job. That panel was chaired by Dr. Cynthia Wolf Johnson, associate vice chancellor for student affairs.
"Dr. Lynn Blanchard is an ideal choice for the director for the Carolina Center for Public Service, as she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience with public service in the state of North Carolina, yet she has been away long enough to bring a fresh perspective," Wolf Johnson said. "Her collaborative approach and genuine dedication to strengthening community will serve the university and its communities well."
Blanchard will work from the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, headed by Dr. Robert Shelton, who also successfully suggested Blanchardís hiring to Chancellor James Moeser.
"In her one-on-one interview, Dr. Blanchard impressed me with her passion for effective public service and her high regard for Carolina," Shelton said. "Dr. Blanchard's background is an ideal fit with the mission of the center," Shelton said. "She works well with groups of varying background, has experience in fund raising and her enthusiasm is a perfect match with the energies of our students."
Blanchard earned master's and doctoral degrees from the UNC School of Public Healthís department of health behavior and health education. She earned a bachelor's of science in education from East Carolina University as well as a two-year degree from St. Mary's College in Raleigh.
In her current post, Blanchard led an effort to improve health and the quality of life in the Lehigh Valley, a two-county area in eastern Pennsylvania with a population of 575,000.
One way that effort, known as the "Measurable Enhancement of the Status of Health" (MESH), went about improving area residents' health was by fostering community change through community engagement. Blanchard's team first identified health initiatives already under way and then contributed to those efforts as appropriate and launched new ones when needed. Resulting programs included fluoridation of Allentown's water supply, a two-year campaign to improve children's health through physical fitness, and universal screening for signs of family violence in Lehigh Valley Hospital's Emergency Department -- with patients identified as victims of violence being referred to community resources.
The MESH program stresses community input in reaching solutions to community problems and has organized public forums on topics such as school violence and children's health. In one rural area of the state, MESH holds "Neighbor to Neighbor Community Discussion Suppers," which address issues raised by local residents. These discussions have led to initiatives ranging from a GED program to a walking trail in a community park.
In recognition of MESH's work, the Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network has received two recent honors ó the Hospital Association of Pennsylvania's 2000 Achievement Award for Community Stewardship and the VHA Inc. (formerly Voluntary Hospital Association) 2001 Leadership Award in Community Health Improvement.
Blanchardís hiring follows a three-month search that included finalists appearing at public forums on campus in October.
"The committee was pleased with the quality of applicants, most particularly the finalists," Wolf Johnson said. "Each finalist demonstrated unique strengths for what can be a demanding position. We believe that Dr. Blanchard has the skills and experience necessary to bridge all of the diverse requirements of this position."
Blanchard will replace Dr. Nicholas Didow as center director. A professor in the Kenan-Flagler Business School, Didow left the post last summer to return to teaching full time. Dr. Edward "Ned" Brooks, one of the center's original organizers, has served as interim director since July 1.
"No university in the nation is more committed to public service than UNC-Chapel Hill," Brooks said. "That goes for students, faculty, staff and alumni. The amount and quality of effort that go into serving the public, particularly residents of North Carolina, by the people of this university is really amazing. We're very fortunate that Lynn Blanchard is returning to Carolina to lead the center. She knows the university and the state well. She's committed to public service, and she's a most effective leader."
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Photo URL: http://www.unc.edu/news/pics/staff/blanchard_lynn.jpg
Contact: Mike McFarland, News Services, (919) 962-8593