Rachel Willard, graduate of both the BSPH (‘10) and MSPH (‘12) programs at UNC Charlotte will take over as the next Health Director/Chief Executive Officer of Wilkes County Health Department and Wilkes Community Health Center on February 1, 2019. Wilkes County is a rural area located in the Northwestern corner of North Carolina and is home to more than 68,000 residents. Wilkes Health provides primary care and preventive services to county residents of all ages regardless of their ability to pay.
After completing her Master’s degree, Rachel worked at Appalachian District Health Department on the federal Community Transformation Grant (CTG) Project and other health education initiatives until moving to Wilkes County in her role as the supervisor of Health Education, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Diabetes and Nutrition Center. She has served as the Director of Allied Health Services there since 2015. Rachel credits her successes in public health to the strong foundation she built at UNC Charlotte and the mentorship she received from professors, including Dr. Jan Warren-Findlow. Rachel also credits her strong leadership and mobility to her two supervisors, Jennifer Greene and Ann Absher. Rachel states if it was not for these strong women, and their passion to influence population health, she would not be where she is today. As the Health Director, Rachel plans to impact population health to ensure that all Wilkes County residents are safe, healthy, and able to thrive through access to care, building resiliency, and addressing tough issues like tobacco use.