Foust, Pettiford Honored with Levine Awards for Contributions to Public Health

DHHS Assistant Secretary for Public Health Mark Benton, Evelyn Foust, Ronald Levine, Belinda Pettiford and DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen.

From left to right: DHHS Assistant Secretary for Public Health Mark Benton, Evelyn Foust, Ronald Levine, Belinda Pettiford and DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen.

Jan. 30, 2020 – Evelyn Foust and Belinda Pettiford, two longtime leaders in NCDHHS’ Division of Public Health (DPH), were recognized by their peers for their accomplishments with Ronald H. Levine Legacy Awards.

Foust, head of the Communicable Disease Branch, and Pettiford, head of the Women’s Health Branch, received the award at the NC Public Health Leaders’ Conference on Jan. 23.

The annual award, named for North Carolina’s former State Health Director Dr. Ronald H. Levine, honors those whose hard work and enduring commitment to public health has strengthened the lives of North Carolinians with significant, sustainable and positive improvements to public health across the state.

Recipients of the Levine Award have a distinguished history of achievement in improving public health by expanding the scope and impact of services and programs, developing policy or collaborating with the private sector or other partners.

Foust has more than 30 years of experience serving the citizens of North Carolina. She began her career as a Public Health Investigator at the Mecklenburg County Health Department and then for DPH. She continued at DPH as a Public Health Program Surveillance Consultant, Disease Control Supervisor, Branch Head of the HIV/STD Prevention and Care Branch and as the state’s STD/AIDS Director. Since February 2008, Foust has been the Communicable Disease Branch Head in DPH’s Epidemiology Section.

Foust has been published in multiple national publications on HIV/STD transmission, screening and testing. She was honored by the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) with the 2017-18 "William E. Arnold" ADAP Champion of the Year Award for her work to improve access to care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Foust has undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice and a Master of Public Health in health policy and administration. She is also a State of NC Certified Public Manager.

Pettiford has more than three decades of experience in public health and has been with DPH’s Women's and Children's Health Section since 1995. During this time, she has been the Program Manager for Healthy Beginnings (North Carolina's Minority Infant Mortality Reduction Program) and Healthy Start Baby Love Plus. For 12 years, she was the Perinatal Health and Family Support Unit Supervisor.

Pettiford was named Head of the Women's Health Branch in March 2012, and provides oversight to the state's maternal health, family planning, preconception health, teen pregnancy prevention, sickle cell, tobacco use, and numerous programs focused on equity in birth outcomes. She has provided leadership in writing numerous grants and implementing programs with a focus on evidence-based and -informed strategies.

Pettiford has led numerous national, state and local efforts. To address infant mortality and maternal health in NC, she led the large collaborative effort with partners around NC working to improve the health of women and men of childbearing age and babies to develop the NC Perinatal Health Strategic Plan in 2016.  She has also been a leader in the work on the Early Childhood Action Plan to promote healthy babies and decrease disparities in infant mortality.   

She currently co-chairs the state’s Perinatal Health Committee of the state’s Child Fatality Task Force and serves on the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

She is also on the board of directors for the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) and the National Healthy Start Association. 

Pettiford received her undergraduate degrees from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro and a Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.