Michael F. Easley

The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina Carmen Hooker Odom

North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services

For Release: IMMEDIATE
Date: May 4, 2007


Contact: Debbie Crane
(919) 733-9190


RALEIGH – North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Carmen Hooker Odom today announced that she will become President of the Milbank Memorial Fund. The Fund is a New-York based foundation that conducts non-partisan analysis, study and research on significant issues in health policy.

“Accepting this position gives me an unprecedented opportunity to have an impact on the future of critical health care issues across the nation. Leaving DHHS is a tough decision. Our team has accomplished so much during the past six- and-a-half years, but I think we have laid a good platform for continued future success in many areas,” she said. “But, I believe that I can continue to make a difference improving health care for all Americans by working with Milbank.”

Hooker Odom has served on the Milbank Board of Directors since 2001. Milbank Board Chairman Tony Milbank says he has watched Hooker Odom during that time and that she is a good fit to lead the Fund. “We're ecstatic that she agreed to take the position,” he said. “She has the depth of knowledge, the imagination and the presence to bring divergent views to a consensus.”

Hooker Odom said that serving as DHHS Secretary has been a “rewarding” experience. “The thing about this job is that no two days are alike,” she said. “There are constant challenges but many rewards. In the past six years, I have had the opportunity to meet many of the people that we serve. Looking into their eyes and seeing how their lives are improved by our work – quite simply, this has been one of the most exciting and rewarding time s of my life.”

Gov. Mike Easley appointed Hooker Odom DHHS Secretary in January 2001. During her tenure as Secretary, DHHS has:

  • Expanded and fully funded North Carolina Health Choice for Children, which provides health insurance for children whose families make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but too little to cover health insurance premiums. Unlike other states, North Carolina has avoided a freeze on enrollment.

  • Expanded Community Care of North Carolina to all 100 counties, ensuring that most Medicaid recipients have access to a managed care program that provides them with a medical home.

  • Undertaken the largest child welfare reform effort in the state's history. The Multiple Response System is based on providing family-centered services to families in order to prevent child abuse and neglect.

  • Expanded community mental health services to Medicaid recipients. Medicaid now covers a full-range of substance abuse services, mobile crisis teams, improved adolescent treatment and community treatment teams.

  • Built a state-of-the-art psychiatric hospital which is due to open late this year. Planning is also underway to replace two other psychiatric hospitals.

  • Created child and family support teams to help at-risk children avoid failure in school by coordinating services among education, health and social service agencies.

  • Reduced cigarette use and increased sales tax revenues through support of an increased cigarette tax .

  • Helped hundreds of North Carolinians get access to AIDS drugs by increasing the numbers of people eligible for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP).

  • Increased the number of school nurses and the number of children in early intervention programs.

  • Funded 947 housing units for people with disabilities under the DHHS-NC Housing Finance Agency partnership in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program.

  • Created local plans and funded innovative programs to end homelessness.

Hooker Odom has a distinguished career in public service. Prior to relocating to North Carolina , she served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives where she focused on health care issues.

The Milbank Memorial Fund has remained true to its mission since its founding in 1905 by the Milbank family. In addition to serving on the board of directors, Hooker Odom served as a Project Officer with the Fund in the mid-1990s.

Hooker Odom will stay in her position through the legislative session. She begins her work with the Milbank Memorial Fund in October.

Hooker Odom is married to former state Senator Fountain Odom, an attorney, tree farmer and apiarist. Between them, they have three daughters, three sons and 11 grandchildren. The couple will relocate to Manhattan this fall.


Public Affairs Office
101 Blair Drive, Raleigh, NC 27603
FAX (919)733-7447

Debbie Crane