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Health Department

Posted on: May 25, 2021

Press Release: Rowan County Board of Health Names Harris Public Health Director

Alyssa Harris

For Immediate Release

The Rowan County Board of Health announced the appointment of Mrs. Alyssa Smith Harris as Rowan County’s Public Health Director following a public vote at a special meeting held May 25, 2021.

As Health Director, Harris will oversee a Department of over 80 personnel who support her role to assure access to core public health services per GS 130A-41 and the Consolidated Agreement with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Her role will be to establish and direct the execution of health programs to assure that the publics’ health is protected and that community health needs and problems are identified and met through concerted efforts.    

With roots from Rowan County, Mrs. Harris graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in Psychology and holds a Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior Change from the University of South Carolina. She has ten years of experience in health programming and research, with the last six being specifically dedicated to work in health departments, and the last five of those six with community health development in Rowan County. After five years as the Executive Director of Healthy Rowan, Mrs. Harris joined the Rowan Department of Public Health in November 2019 as the Community Health Manager, and became interim director of the Health Department in February, 2021. Mrs. Harris’ energy, knowledge, and enthusiasm are contagious and she brings broad experiences and creative ideas to our community. The BOH recently engaged a consultant to review the overall structure of the Health Department as well as to advise on the qualifications needed in the next Public Health Director. The BOH then embarked on a nationwide search for the new Director, reviewing 12 final applications and utilizing interview panels made of community stakeholders, Health Department staff, and the BOH. “We were very delighted that the candidate who clearly rose to the top was one of our own,” commented Dari Caldwell, BOH Chair. “We have complete confidence in Mrs. Harris’ ability to take our Department of Health to the next level, and elevate it to one of the best in the state.”

Alyssa Harris commented, “I am honored to have been selected to lead the Rowan County Health Department. I am excited for the opportunity to promote and protect health in Rowan County as public health enters a renaissance. We have a dedicated team of public health professionals who are committed to the citizens of Rowan and have done a fantastic job in response to the pandemic. My goal is for all citizens to see the health department as a place they can receive information to promote healthier lifestyles, to prevent the spread of illness, and that we work diligently to protect the health of our community. I plan to ensure Rowan County Public Health remains a strong and forward-thinking community partner as we work towards a healthier future.” 

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