Ben Money (2008 – Present)
Sonya Bruton (2000 – 2008)
Markita Keaton (1998 – 2000)
Steve Shore (1987 – 1998)
Tony Shelton (1978 – 1987)
Benjamin Money Jr., MPH (2008 – Present)
Benjamin Money Jr. is the first leader of the N.C. Community Health Center Association to hold the title of President and Chief Executive Officer. It was not just a title from his predecessors, who held the title of Executive Director. In addition to overseeing the operations of the N.C. Community Health Center Association, Ben also has an active role on the board that oversees the association.
“Other associations like the North Carolina Community Health Center Association have the same kind of structure,” Ben explained. “Also, the structure allows the board to have a staff perspective since we’re the ones doing the work.”
Ben represents the interests of health centers before state and federal legislative and administrative entities. A native of Massachusetts, Ben holds a B.S. in health education and psychology from Springfield College in Massachusetts. He came to North Carolina to pursue an education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned his Masters in Public Health.
Ben’s career spans over 30 years – with work in public health, community mental health, faith-based nonprofits, and health care to the homeless programs.
He has risen in the ranks of the NCCHCA. Ben joined the organization in 2001 as an outreach and enrollment coordinator, then became Associate Director, then Chief Operations Officer, then Interim Executive Director. He was permanently installed in the association’s top position in January 2009.
Under Ben Money, the NCCHCA has seen tremendous growth – the number of health centers has increased from 30 in 2008 to 38 today, while the budget increased from $1.7 million to $2.5 million and staff rose from 11 to 18.
The growth was a systematic effort. The primary vehicle was the development of the Healthcare Incubator Program, through a grant from the Kate. B Reynolds Charitable Trust. “We realized that there are access issues in the state,” Money said. “There are areas in North Carolina where people didn’t have access to quality health care on a sliding-scale fee basis.”
As he assesses the legacy of community health care centers during this milestone year, Ben is convinced of the important role that they play. “Community health centers are the bedrock of health care,” he said. “It’s the place people turn to and stay with, regardless of the situation. People have ups and downs and they want to know that there’s some institution that will stick with them in good times and bad, and that’s community health centers. They’re your health care home.”
Sonya Bruton (2000 -2008)
Sonya Bruton’s association with community health centers started early – as a premature infant of a teenaged mother, she received care at the Carrboro Community Health Center in Carrboro, NC. Sonya later went on to be the Executive Director of the North Carolina Health Care Center Association from September 2000 to November 2008.
She hopes her experience shows the staff of community health centers that each child they care for has tremendous potential.
“Sometimes we need somebody to help us see beyond where we can see ourselves,” said Bruton. “There’s always a way for each of us to do that for somebody else’s life everyday. And if we did it, society would be in a better place. We really are meant to be in the journey called life together.”
Caring for others’ health – particularly mental health – has been a theme running through Sonya’s life. As a clinical psychology Ph.D. student with the Chicago School’s outpost in Washington, D.C., she has brought therapy to loads of people who ordinarily wouldn’t find it available, people who have witnessed murders, suffered mental, physical and sexual abuse. In her time at Community Clinic Inc. in Franklin Park, Maryland, she not only provided therapy but secured a recurring federal grant of $250,000 for two years to assure that the clinic would have mental health services after she moved on.
Born into poverty, Bruton has compassion for people who are in need. “Part of the attraction to public health and community development and uplift of the community was from my believing as a child that I wanted to change things, to make a difference, to bring a voice and power to those who were not at the table, expressing not only their wants, but their absolute needs.”
Experience and education has taught Sonya that people who transform their minds can transform their lives. She saw the power of the mind in her own life through the influence of her stepfather, who encouraged her to get involved in Outward Bound. On a trip to the North Carolina Mountains, she discovered physical feats she accomplished that she at first thought were impossible. She also learned that she put limitations on her personality that were false. Once her mental barriers came down, she quickly was on the fast track to success. She never made a grade below a B again after she was accepted at UNC.
Journalism major at UNC, Sonya went on to earn a master’s in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit and association management at N.C. State. She enrolled in a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology to further her ability to transform minds.
During Sonya’s tenure as executive director of NCCHA, she built on the work that came out of her staff position, shoring up finances of community health centers, and making their assets more attractive to banks and lending institutions. Her strong background in fund-raising – she raised money for UNC for six years before she started her work at health care associations – also helped.
“My major accomplishment was stability,” Sonya said. “I helped stabilize the finances. …. We saw stability in finances and in staffing and unity within the membership.”
Bruton is proud of NCCHA’s 50-year legacy. She sees more good things on the horizon.
“I think that its legacy is really rooted in the community part of community health,” she said. “The reason I think it remains so strong is it’s really serving the underserved in the various communities. It has its eye on the end user, specifically ones without protection and those that would not have a safety net and support. Hand in hand with that, all members of the community are just lifted and strengthened and fortified. I think at the state level, it’s easy to lose sight of that, and that association never has.”
Markita Keaton (1998 – 2000)
Markita Keaton has dedicated more than 20 years of her career to working with various organizations raising awareness about health-care issues.
She earned a doctorate degree in public health from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Prior to becoming the Executive Director for the North Carolina Community Health Center Association, she was the project officer for the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem for four years.
While working for the philanthropic organization, she learned more about the NCCHCA and was impressed. “It allowed me to see the good work they were doing,” she said.
Markita served as the executive director for the NCCHCA from 1998 to the year 2000. She said the organization has a strong commitment to increasing both state and federal funding for community health centers in order to provide high quality health care to as many people as possible.
“The North Carolina Community Health Center Association is so successful because its members and directors clearly understand that they are a united group,” she said. “They all have the same goal.”
As Executive Director, Markita focused on raising awareness about community health centers among state legislators. She achieved this goal by helping state legislators learn about and become more connected to the community health centers located in their respective districts. She also was successful in getting various state senators to attend NCCHCA’s annual meetings.
Markita said she was honored to be a part of the NCCHCA’s important work. Her work at the organization also led indirectly to an important change in her own life.
She attended an event hosted by the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus. At this event, she met Cash Michaels, a reporter working on a story about the state legislative Black Caucus. The chance meeting lead to a 13-year (so far) marriage to Michaels, who is now the editor of The Carolinian newspaper.
Markita continues to work for raising awareness about health issues. She is now a planner in clinical policy for the medical director of the North Carolina Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.
She said neighborhood community health centers’ staff and leaders have worked together during the past 50 years to build a legacy of providing patients with quality care, in nice clinic environments with caring health-care professionals.
“Community health centers successfully identify and serve uninsured and underinsured patients,” Markita said.
Steve Shore (1987 – 1998)
When Steve Shore started his work as the Executive Director of the North Carolina Community Health Center Association in 1987, the organization had two employees and an annual budget of $110,000. When he left in 1998, the association had 20 employees and an annual budget of $1 million.
Much of Steve’s work with the North Carolina Community Health Center Association involved helping provide health care for migrant farm workers. Shore said the number of migrant farm workers in North Carolina grew significantly during the years prior to his work with NCCHCA and the population continued to grow during his executive director years.
“We really put the importance of delivering services to farm workers on the map,” he said. “We wanted to turn around the effort for how farm workers should be treated.”
Steve, who prior to leading the NCCHCA, had been the director of the Caswell County Family Medical Center and director of the Person County Medical Center, worked on this issue with public health leaders from other statewide organizations, including the North Carolina Department of Rural Health. These efforts included implementing the purchase of care based on the Medicaid fee schedule for private health-care providers who served migrant farm workers. Steve also worked with various public health officials to provide financial support for the Farmworker Health Alliance, which is now part of the North Carolina Office of Rural Health.
In 1988, the NCCHCA created and hosted the first East Coast Migrant Stream Forum, an annual conference that provides migrant health professionals on the East Coast continuing education and networking opportunities focused on improving health care access for migrant and seasonal farm workers. The first forum was in Asheville, N.C. and the annual forum moves, or migrates, each year to a different host state along the East Coast.
Steve also helped raise awareness about another major issue affecting many patients in North Carolina and across the country — HIV and AIDS.
“The 1980s was a time when there were a great number of deaths and there was a lot of concern and panic,” he said. “The AIDS epidemic was a really scary thing to different communities.”
The NCCHCA partnered with the Emory University School of Medicine to host the North Carolina AIDS Training Network, to provide education to healthcare professionals and social workers about HIV and AIDS. These regularly scheduled training programs started in 1989 and continued during the 1990s.
“It helped calm a lot of fears,” Steve said about the training program.
In 2003, the NCCHCA had its 25th anniversary. The organization’s leaders commemorated this milestone by creating the annual Steve Shore Community Catalyst Award, in recognition of Steve’s leadership in promoting access to quality health-care for migrant farm workers. The award annually honors an individual, program or agency whose work has brought positive changes in the health and wellness of the farm worker community in the host state or cluster of states where the annual East Coast Migrant Stream Forum is being held that year.
Shore said having an award named after him was shocking and humbling.
“It’s one of the highest honors you can get,” he said.
After serving as the NCCHCA’s Executive Director, Steve worked for the North Carolina Pediatric Society, becoming Executive Director 0f that organization. He retired in December 2014.
Steve appreciates being part of the NCCHCA’s legacy, which he says is to serve patients who are uninsured or underinsured, as well as patients who receive care through Medicaid and Medicare programs. He said the NCCHCA supports community health centers and it allows each center to respond to the unique needs of their respective communities.
“Health care centers were the first to bring comprehensive care to communities,” Steve said. “The promise of delivering health services in local settings actually worked. The community health center model is still viable today.”
Tony Selton (1978 -1987)
First executive director set foundation for NCCHCA’s role in public health sector
The North Carolina Community Health Center Association (NCCHCA) was created in 1978 by the leadership of local community health centers.
In 1986, the former Bureau of Community Health Services began funding state associations and eventually provided some funding for the NCCHCA.
Tony Selton became the first executive director for the NCCHCA in 1986 and served in this role until 1987.
The NCCHCA represents the interests of North Carolina’s health centers to federal, state, and local agencies and officials. The association also seeks support from foundations, corporations, and other private entities to increase access to primary health care for all of the state’s residents.
The Bureau of Community Health Services is now known as the Bureau of Primary Health Care and it is a part of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The HRSA helps fund, staff and support networks of health clinics across the nation.