Each year the Foundation hosts the Jim Bernstein Health Leadership Fund Dinner, bringing together over 300 health care professionals from all over the state of North Carolina and beyond to celebrate the legacy of Jim Bernstein and the work being done to advance health care access and community health in North Carolina. The proceeds from the event support the Jim Bernstein Health Leadership Fellows program, administered by the Foundation.
14th Annual Jim Bernstein Health Leadership Dinner
October 3rd, 2019
The Friday Center in Chapel Hill
Registration has closed. Donation options are still available. Click “Register Now” for more details.
This year, we look forward to celebrating the following award recipients:
Robin G. Cummings, M.D
Susan Mims, MD, MPH
Sarah Thach, MPH
Please see their bios in the Event Details section below.
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Each year the Foundation recognizes outstanding individuals at the event through the presentation of the following awards: the Jim Bernstein Community Health Career Achievement Award, the Jim Bernstein Health Leadership Distinguished Fellow Award, and the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation Community Achievement Award.
Jim Bernstein Community Health Career Achievement Award Recipients
2019: Robin G. Cummings, M.D.
Robin Gary Cummings, M.D., took office as the sixth Chancellor of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke in July 2015 after being elected by the Board of Governors of the 17-campus University of North Carolina System.
Over the past four years, UNCP has increased access to a high-quality education through the NC Promise Tuition Plan, expanded academic opportunities through institutional partnerships, enhanced the university’s role in regional economic development and set records for philanthropic giving. With Chancellor Cummings’ vision for the university, UNCP is advancing its vision of Changing Lives Through Education and broadening its impact across southeastern North Carolina and beyond.
Chancellor Cummings earned his undergraduate degree in zoology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a James M. Johnston Scholar and founding member of the Carolina Indian Circle. He then attended Duke University Medical School as a UNC Board of Governors Medical Scholar and Henry J. Kaiser Merit Scholar, earning the Sandoz Award for Basic Science Research and the National Library of Science Award. After receiving his medical degree in 1983, he interned in surgery and completed residencies in general surgery and cardiac surgery at Duke University Medical Center. During this period he earned a National Research Service Award enabling him to complete a two-year research fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery.
Dr. Cummings practiced cardiothoracic surgery at the Pinehurst Surgical Clinic and Moore Regional Hospital, where he chaired the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Section of Cardiovascular and General Surgery. After retiring from surgery, he remained active in the work of the hospital, serving on the Moore Regional Hospital Board of Trustees and chairing the FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital Foundation. He subsequently served as medical director and executive director of Community Care of the Sandhills, a regional healthcare organization that case-managed 75,000 Medicaid patients across seven counties and coordinated services provided by more than 100 primary-care practices.
In March 2013, Dr. Cummings joined the NC Department of Health and Human Services as Director of the NC Office of Rural Health and Community Care. Six months later, he was named Deputy Secretary for Health Services and Acting State Health Director. In February 2014, he was given additional responsibility for the Division of Medical Assistance, overseeing Medicaid delivery for more than 1.8 million low-income parents, children, seniors and people with disabilities who cannot afford health care.
Active in professional and civic activities, Chancellor Cummings is a former chairman of the UNC Pembroke Board of Trustees, has chaired the UNCP Foundation board, and has served on the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Visitors. The founding chair of the NC American Indian Health Board, he also has chaired the Commission on NC Indian Health and served on the NC Council on Developmental Disabilities and the NC Rural Center board. He currently serves on the Institute for Emerging Issues National Advisory Board and the Southeastern Health Board of Trustees. His honors include the 2016 John. L. Sanders Student Advocate Award from the UNC Association of Student Governments, the 2014 Presidential Award from the NC Academy of Family Physicians and the Visionary Award from NC Prevent Blindness.
Given his background in health care, Dr. Cummings is leading UNCP in the development of a new College of Health Sciences, leveraging the university’s ability to address urgent workforce needs in health care in the region and beyond. The College combines existing departments of social work, nursing, counseling and kinesiology with the goal of adding occupational therapy, physical therapy, optometry and nurse practitioner programs. Established August 2018, the College is already making a difference in health outcomes by educating more than 1500 students who will become professionals qualified to meet the unique needs of Southeastern North Carolina.
Chancellor Cummings is married to Rebecca Godwin Cummings, a Pinehurst realtor, both are Pembroke natives and members of the Lumbee Tribe. They have four children: Amy, a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate practicing pediatric dentistry in Chapel Hill; Mark, an inaugural pediatric dentistry resident at East Carolina University; David, a UNC-Chapel Hill business graduate working as an investment analyst in Charlotte; and Adam, a dental student at UNC-Chapel Hill.
2018: Tork Wade, MSPH
2017: Dave Tayloe, Jr., MD, FAAP
2016: Leah Devlin, DDS, MPH
2015: Gene Cochrane, MBA
2014: Thomas Bacon, DrPH
2013: John Price, MPA
2012: Sarah Morrow, MD
2011: Olson Huff, MD
2010: Harvey Estes, MD
2009: John Frank, MBA
Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation Community Achievement Award Recipients
2019: Susan Mims, MD, MPH
Susan Mims, MD, MPH, serves as the Vice President for Children’s Services and Clinical Genetics and Personalized Medicine at Mission Health, Chief of Pediatrics for Mission Children’s Hospital, and Vice Chief of Staff for Mission Hospital. Dr. Mims has served as the chief executive for Mission Children’s Hospital for over a decade. She also serves on Mission Hospital’s leadership team working to meet the healthcare needs of the people and families of western NC and to promote health throughout the region.
Under Dr. Mims leadership, Mission Children’s Hospital has grown to serve children across western NC and beyond with pediatric specialty care in 24 disciplines, a robust child life program, a child advocacy center, and other outreach programs, several attaining national recognition such as The ToothBus mobile dental care, Asthma Outreach (addressing social influences of health) and WNC Safe Kids injury prevention programs. She has implemented strategic plans resulting in program growth, improved efficiency, attainment of millions of dollars in grant and philanthropic support and significantly improved the financial performance of Mission Children’s Hospital. She takes great pride in managing resources in a fiscally responsible way to ensure program sustainability.
Dr. Mims enjoys teaching, coaching, and presenting on myriad public health topics and communication for better health outcomes and improved healthcare provider well-being. She serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor with the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and cares for patients in the Mission Children’s NICU follow-up clinic.
Before joining Mission, Dr. Mims served as Medical Director at the Buncombe County Health Department where she oversaw clinical services in the county’s largest indigent care clinic and school-based health centers. There she led many quality improvement projects, including transition to an electronic medical record, established open-access care delivery model, and integrated behavioral health in the medical clinic, a program that received national recognition. She also practiced general public health including oversight of immunizations, family planning, STI services, WIC and nutrition, community health, disaster preparedness, and disease control and coordinated several major disease outbreak investigations. Prior to her work as medical director at the Health Department, Dr. Mims worked as a physician in a private practice in Durham, NC.
Dr. Mims attended college at the University of Georgia on an athletic scholarship as a diver on the swim team. After college she volunteered in Guatemala for a year in community development work. After returning to the US, a project working with migrant farm workers in rural NC, sparked an interest in epidemiology and she went on to earn a Master of Public Health degree from UNC while completing her MD degree. Dr. Mims continued her medical training at UNC Hospitals in Pediatrics, Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine and Public Health.
Dr. Mims is active in national, state and community health organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, NC Pediatric Society (currently serving as President), NC Medical Society (past nominating committee member), Western Carolina Medical Society (former Chair of Foundation Board) and Buncombe County Commission Early Childhood Committee. She has served on the boards for the YMCA of WNC, WNC Healthy Kids, and Kids in Parks.
Dr. Mims is an active member of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Asheville and volunteers with a local women’s homeless shelter and as camp medical director for a YMCA camp serving high-risk children. She and her husband have two sons and two dogs and enjoy spending time in all of the outdoor activities western North Carolina has to offer.
2018: Reverend Richard Joyner
2017: Gayle B. Harris, MPH
2016: Robin Tutor Marcom, EdD, MPH, OTR/L
Jim Bernstein Health Leadership Distinguished Fellow Award Recipients
2019: Sarah Thach, MPH
Sarah Thach, MPH, is Assistant Director of the UNC Gillings School’s Masters of Public Health Program in Asheville and Adjunct Faculty with the Public Health Leadership Program at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. She teaches and develops practicum and culminating experience opportunities for MPH students.
Previously, she promoted rural healthcare workforce pipeline development, training, recruitment, and retention of physicians in underserved rural Western North Carolina; developed models to help primary care physicians care for geriatric patients; trained health educators and broad-based health partnerships in assessing and addressing community health needs; coordinated rural clinical training for health profession students and created faculty development for community-based physician-teachers; and developed school-based health centers in a statewide initiative in West Virginia.
She received her Masters in Public Health in health behavior & health education from UNC – Chapel Hill and her bachelors degree in anthropology and women’s studies from Harvard University.
As a Bernstein Fellow, Sarah worked at the Mountain Area Health Education Center, in the Center for Healthy Aging. For her project, Sarah piloted models for primary care and public health collaborations to address environmental factors affecting the health of the aging population in Western NC.
From the words of others:
Sarah has worked to promote community capacity and access to care in rural communities most of her career, and now she is responsible for placing MPH students in western NC communities and mentoring them in time. Sarah has published peer-reviewed articles about rural medical workforce development and has presented at national public health forums. Sarah’s extensive knowledge of WNC has brought her a reputation of a great resource of practical best practices, what works and what doesn’t work, and is the go-to person for prevention issues and implementation.
Sarah was a most attentive and active Fellow throughout her time in the program, and it was obvious that her passions for rural communities and to improve health conditions were real. She is aggressively putting these passions for rural health into action today.
2017: Steve North, MD, MPH
2015: Ron Gaskins, MPA, MBA
The event often features a distinguished health professional who speaks on a relevant issue facing healthcare at the state or national level.
Bernstein Dinner Speakers
2018: Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, MD, MPH
2016: Marcia K. Brand, Ph.D.
2014: Jonathan Oberlander, Ph.D., MA
2012: Tom Morris, MPA
2011: Valinda Rutledge, MSN, MBA
2010: Emily Friedman
2009: Fitzhugh Mullen, MD
2008: Edward Salsberg, MPA
2007: Trish Riley, MS
2006: Ed Wager, MD