Title: Director of health equity and human experience
Organization: New Hanover Regional Medical Center
What the nominator said: “Joe cares deeply about people. Not just people he likes or has things in common with. ALL people. This love for his fellow human beings overflows into everything he does. Few people see the countless hours he spends researching, attending community meetings and advocating for our community’s most vulnerable groups.
“He is never one to back down from a challenge and always does everything in his power to find a solution. I am continually amazed at the innovative methods he dreams up to push the envelope towards change in a fun way. In his role, he relentlessly chases down the health disparities throughout our region that threaten to jeopardize the care of our patients.
“In partnership with NHRMC’s LQBTQ+ employee resource group, Joe was a barrier breaker that supported and empowered his fellow employees to make changes meant to create a more welcoming environment for our LGBTQ+ friends. So much so that our score when from 25/100 to 85/100 in just one year! …”
- Elizabeth Barfield, health equity educator
Organization: Wilmington Transgender Support Services
What the nominator said: “TR and I first met as co-panelists at an LGBTQIA health fair in town. After introducing ourselves, he asked if I was a member of the ‘community.’ As a privileged white cis-female, I was a little caught off-guard, and quickly recognized the meaning of his question, fumbling around for the best way to explain that I was an ally. TR’s welcoming and easy demeanor through that conversation was just the start of my recognizing his meaningful and ubiquitous presence in all matters related to equality and equity, especially around sexual orientation and gender identity.
“I reconnected with TR through his involvement in transgender support groups. … TR remains actively involved in the upkeep of local transgender support groups. …
“In June 2020, TR received, on behalf of the local community, the Wilmington City Council’s first official proclamation of June as Pride month. ...
“I believe it’s his tireless community outreach to support and advance the well-being and health of the local LGBTQIA community makes him a true health care hero.”
- Karen Isaacs, physician
Title: Chief marketing and engagement officer
Organization: Lower Cape Fear LifeCare
What the nominator said: “Since 1980, Lower Cape Fear Hospice has been the leading hospice agency in Southeast North Carolina, providing the highest quality care, comfort, support and education to patients, their families and our communities. This year, we are celebrating 40 years of service and, as of Jan.1, we have rebranded as Lower Cape Fear LifeCare (LCFL).
“Led by Craig Wagner, our Chief Marketing and Engagement Officer, the organization has navigated tremendous change in 2020, including a new name, an updated logo and a spectrum of health services to enhance access to care at any point in people’s lives. These expanded services reach well beyond our core hospice care program.
“They now include hospice care, palliative care, dementia care, grief care, community education and veterans care.
“For sure, 2020 has not turned out as we had anticipated at Lower Cape Fear LifeCare. We had planned to celebrate our 40th anniversary in a number of ways throughout the year. ... The pandemic has certainly put a damper on most of those festivities, but the commitment…and courage… of Craig Wagner, as well as our senior leadership team, our Board of Directors and our staff has never wavered.”
- Jason Clamme, engagement manager
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