Debra Farrington is NCDHHS' Deputy Secretary/Chief Health Equity Officer, focused on addressing health disparities and the health needs of North Carolina’s most vulnerable citizens. Prior to promotion to the Deputy Secretary role in May 2022, Debra was the Chief of Staff for NC Medicaid. In that role, Debra provided support to the Deputy Secretary on overall program vision, leadership and strategic direction for NC Medicaid including planning, implementing, coordinating and evaluating operations and policies to promote health equity, effective program administration and service delivery.
One of Debra’s biggest priorities during her tenure as chief of staff was to support Medicaid staff on equity-related issues. Notably, after the civil unrest of 2020, Debra worked with colleagues in NC Medicaid to form a Diversity and Inclusion Committee and retain an equity and inclusion vendor to conduct an organizational assessment, and provide training and leadership coaching to executive leadership. Debra has supported the agency’s focus on advancing equity in in hiring, advancement and creation of HR policies for historically marginalized individuals. Debra joined the Medicaid program in October 2016 after working for several decades in the Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization (LME-MCO) and area authority systems.
Debra is a native North Carolinian reared and educated in rural Columbus County where she learned the value of family, hard work and perseverance. Debra received a BA in Psychology and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a licensed clinical social worker with over 30 years of experience in community-based services for children and adults with behavioral health needs.