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Public Health Leadership Team

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  • Gayle B. Harris, Public Health Director
    General Manager- Community Well-Being

    Gayle has served as the Public Health Director for the Durham County Department of Public Health since February 2009. With more than 41 years of service with the Department, she is committed to promoting health in underserved populations. Gayle earned a BSN from Duke University and a MPH from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    Gayle serves on numerous boards and committees, including: Durham Community Health Network; Project Access of Durham County Board of Directors (Vice-Chair), Durham Directors; Co-PI and Steering Committee member of the Durham Diabetes Coalition, NC Diabetes Advisory Council; United Way of the Greater Triangle Women’s Leadership Council; the Lincoln Community Health Center Board of Directors (Secretary); and the Mayor’s Poverty Reduction Task Force (Health). She is a member of the NC Association of Local Health Directors, NC Public Health Association, American Public Health Association, North Carolina Nurses Association, and the American Nurses Association. She has also received numerous recognitions including the NC Association of Local Health Directors Ham Stevens Award (2013), Auxiliary of the Durham Academy of Medicine, Dentistry & Pharmacy Legacy Award (2012), Duke University School of Nursing 2012 Distinguished Alumna Award (2012), and UNC School of Public Health Alumni Association Distinguished Alumna Award (1995). She was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing in 1990.

  • Tara BlackleyDeputy Public Health Director
    Durham County

    Tara has served as the Deputy Public Health Director since November 2017. Prior to coming to Durham County, Tara has served in state and local public health leadership and programmatic positions in Virginia and Ohio for over 10 years. Tara also has experience working for private and non-profit companies in the health industry. Tara has led a health department through the process of successful public health accreditation and is passionate about population health and using data to drive decision making to better serve the local community and monitor the health status. Tara has a Master of Business Administration from James Madison University, a Master of Public Health from Wright State University, a Master of International Affairs from Ohio University and Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, International Studies and Latin American Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

  • Joanne PierceDeputy Public Health Director
    Durham County

    Joanne has served as Deputy Public Health Director since December 2014 where she oversees and supports administration of programs and services of the Community Health/Medical Services, Dental, and Nutrition divisions as well as the Billing, Communications, Interpreter Services, and Registration units. Joanne serves as a resource for the department to advance equity by integrating racial and social justice principles and practices in order to address health inequities. Joanne brings twenty years of experience working with health and human services, local health departments, and other public and private agencies and organizations.

    Joanne has had a very unique experience of leading two state offices of minority health as Executive Director with the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities in North Carolina and as Director with the Texas Office of Minority Health in the Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities where she provided leadership to the state’s health and human services system ensuring that priorities, policies, and initiatives were addressed in a systemic way and on a statewide basis. Joanne has also served in leadership positions with national nonprofit organizations such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and National Epilepsy Foundation where she coordinated and implemented initiatives working cross collaboratively with nonprofits, governmental, and local agencies.

    Joanne has a Master of Public Health from Howard University College of Medicine, Master of Arts in Counseling from Trinity University, and Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Howard University.

  • Rosalyn McClainSenior Administrative Officer
    Durham County

    Rosalyn joined the Durham County Department of Public Health in 1988 as a Processing Assistant III. Before becoming the Senior Administrative Officer to the Public Health Director in 2009, she served as an Office Assistant to the Director of Nutrition and later, as the Administrative Assistant to the Assistant Health Director. She has over 30 years of experience in Office Management.

  • Will SuttonFinance Administrator
    Durham County

    Will joined the Durham County Department of Public Health as the Public Health Finance Officer in November 2013. Prior to joining the Durham County Department of Public Health, he worked for several other departments within Durham County Government, including Finance, SAP and Information Services & Technology. Will earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from North Carolina Central University (NCCU) and graduated as the top overall business and accounting major. While working in the banking industry, he also earned his Master of Business Administration from NCCU. He has over 20 years of experience in the accounting and finance industry ranging from the private sector, non-profit, banking, state and local government.

  • Dr. Arlene SeñaMedical and Laboratory Director
    Durham County

    Dr. Seña has been the Medical and Laboratory Director since 2001. In her previous position, she was the Clinic Director for the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Clinic from 1998-2001. Dr. Seña is also an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Division of Infectious Diseases, and Adjunct Associate Professor with the UNC School of Public Health. During her medical training, she completed a fellowship with the Teachers in Preventive Medicine/ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in STD/HIV prevention, and worked with the CDC Division of STD Prevention, Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch. She is nationally recognized for her research in STD/HIV epidemiology and STD management, and is a consultant for the CDC STD Treatment Guidelines.

  • Hattie WoodDirector of Community Health and Nursing
    Durham County

    Hattie joined the staff of the Durham County Department of Public Health in 1997 as a Public Health Nurse I in the TB Control Program and became the Director of Community Health and Nursing in October 2012. Over the past 15 years, she has worked in several positions, including Public Health Nurse III/TB Team Leader and Public Health Nursing Supervisor II/Communicable Disease Program Manager. Hattie holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing, and a Master in Health Administration. Prior to joining the Durham County Department of Public Health, Hattie was employed at Duke University Medical Center for five years in inpatient care and later, outpatient care in the OB/GYN Department of the Private Diagnostic Clinic.

  • James Harris, Jr.Director of Dental Services
    Durham County

    James joined the Durham County Department of Public Health in June 2011 as Director of Dental Services. In his previous position, he served as a private consultant, working with non-profit agencies and state departments throughout New England. He was also executive director of the Rhode Island Council of Resource Providers for 12 years. Jim has had three books published, addressing child welfare systems and parenting strategies. He holds a Ph.D in Childhood Development and a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Rhode Island.

  • J. Christopher SalterDirector of Environmental Health
    Durham County

    Chris has served as the Durham County Department of Public Health’s Environmental Health division director since November 2013. Before coming to Durham in 2009, he worked for three years in various aspects of Environmental Health for New Hanover County and a year with Wake County Environmental Services. He has also served as the North Central Environmental Health District President and Secretary/Treasurer. Chris earned his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health with an Industrial Hygiene concentration from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. He also holds a computer electronics certification from Wentworth Technical School in Waltham, MA and a machinist certification from Pitt Community College in Greenville, NC. Prior to his Public Health career, Chris worked as an Electronic Warfare Specialist and Electronics Engineering Technician for Ford Aerospace and Northrop Grumman at MCAS Cherry Point, NC and MCB Camp Lejeune, NC. During that time, he served as a site and program supervisor, while maintaining communications systems, aircraft tracking equipment, and safety surveillance systems used in training air crews and ensuring the safety of air and ground personnel.

  • Marcia JohnsonDirector of Information Technology and Administration
    Durham County

    Marcia joined the Durham County Department of Public Health in January 2013. She has over 10 years experience in health information systems and has supported the missions and visions of two global Fortune 500 management and technology system companies. Marcia has been the primary liaison for business needs within senior management. Her role has provided support in areas such as HIPAA Privacy, Information Technology Security, Training, Project Management, and Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Implementation. She has a keen knowledge of the growing needs for Healthcare and Information Technology. Marcia holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a minor in Computer Science and a Master in Public Administration from North Carolina Central University.

  • Melissa (Mel) Downey-PiperDirector of Health Education
    Durham County

    Mel became the Director of Health Education in October 2012. In her previous position, she worked in the Health Education Division as the Partnership for a Healthy Durham Coordinator, conducting the community health assessment and addressing Durham’s health needs through a community coalition. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Prior to coming to the Durham County Department of Public Health, Mel coordinated a Statewide program in Wisconsin for children and young adults living with and affected by HIV.

  • Michele EasterlingDirector of Nutrition Services
    Durham County

    Michele joined the Durham County Department of Public Health in 1990 as a Nutritionist II. She has also served as the Clinical Nutrition Program Manager and currently serves as the Nutrition Director. Her background includes over 28 years of public health and clinical nutrition experience. She holds a Masters of Public Health-Nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Bachelors of Science in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Central Missouri. She is a Registered Dietitian and is a licensed dietitian/nutritionist with the North Carolina Board of Nutrition and Dietetics.

  • Katie MalletteDirector of Laboratory and Pharmacy Services
    Durham County

    Katie joined the Durham County Department of Public Health in April 2016 as the Medical Laboratory Supervisor and became the Director of Laboratory and Pharmacy Services in January 2017. She is certified as a Medical Laboratory Scientist by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists and holds both a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Ohio University. Prior to joining Durham County Department of Public Health, Katie worked in clinical laboratories in the fields of molecular genetics and hospital-based medicine.