Women to Watch Awards Finalists – Public Service
Meet the 2020 finalists
Community Engagement Manager,
Sarah Arthur is the eyes and ears of New Hanover Regional Medical Center in underserved neighborhoods within NHRMC’s service area. Arthur, named last December the health care system’s manager of community engagement, sees her overarching responsibility as that of “building tools and collaborative partnerships in the community that address the basic needs of those we serve, while also treating them with respect and dignity.”
A licensed clinical social worker, Arthur has been especially focused on issues of homelessness, mental illness, and addiction for much of her eleven-year career. In her new position, she’s perhaps proudest of developing a program of transitional housing for the hospital’s long-stay uninsured patients, but she has also trained and deployed health educators and now supervises a new network of community health workers who will advocate for patients and will enhance communication between social service agencies and health care providers.
“I truly love hearing someone’s story and learning how they landed in their current situation,” she says. “There are so many facets to people and helping them understand how their story impacts their life, how it’s given them strength and built their resiliency, is a key to what I love about social work. Even as I’ve moved into more of a macro, planning type role, I have always kept in mind the patient-centered aspect of this job and the power of listening.”
Former Public Health Preparedness Coordinator,
New Hanover County
Although she is a lawyer by training, Lisa Brown’s desire to be of service to her community has led her into the field of health and human services. After a few years in Missouri’s Department of Health and Human Services, Brown was hired to oversee public health emergency preparedness in Brunswick and New Hanover counties in April 2018.
Before leaving the job in September to pause for some family time, Brown addressed public health needs related to Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Dorian, and the COVID-19 pandemic in New Hanover County. She also coordinated a free flu vaccination event last year that required the participation of multiple local and state agencies and proved a model for setting up drive-through COVID-19 testing this past spring.
Key to the success of Brown’s preparedness efforts has been the inter-agency collaboration she initiated, her nominator notes, saying Brown “brought new focus to public health matters across all-hazards planning.”
Brown says she’s especially pleased she was able to be of service during the early stages of New Hanover County’s COVID-19 planning and response.
“But, I also want to emphasize I was just one person in what has been a countywide effort that has included every aspect of our local government,” she adds. “While I am very proud of the role I was able to play, I was just one small part of the larger response effort.”
Youth Violence Intervention Specialist,
New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office
An early interest in developing resilience in children spurred Ami D’Ambrosio’s career path – helping young people overcome adversity and become the best versions of themselves.
“My specific interest in my current role started with my internship at Wilmington Police Department with their juvenile diversion program,” D’Ambrosio says. “I learned about many of the programs developed in our community to assist youth on a very micro level, one of them being ELEMENTS.”
The program helps at-risk youth in grades four through eight set goals and work to achieve them. D’Ambrosio’s active caseload includes at least ten youngsters; she works also with another five who are transitioning from a year of intensive case management.
“I enjoy learning about their lives and what has shaped them into who they are and who they are growing to be,” she says. “I say that each day I hope I am teaching as much as I am learning because the children I work with show many so many new perspectives and understandings that I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to be exposed to.”
D’Ambrosio’s work has earned kudos from her colleagues with the county and in the schools. She hopes to enhance her outreach to families by learning Spanish.
Wilmington International Airport
Tamie Keel, ILM’s facility manager, does well in emergencies. She started her career as a 911 dispatcher, sending help to people in crisis. When a dispatcher position opened up at Wilmington International Airport in 2015, she landed the job. She moved up the ladder rapidly, and in her current and most recent operations roles at ILM, is still handling emergencies. The past two years have brought major complexities caused by three hurricanes, a $60 million expansion project, and – most recently – the intensive sanitizing requirements of a pandemic.
She also prepares maintenance budgets and runs her fourteen-employee unit in accordance with a maze of local, state, and FAA and TSA requirements.
“As one of the most highly regulated industries, the airport is an ever-changing place,” she says.
Keel is determined to become more knowledgeable and to earn further certification from the American Association of Airport Executives.
Keel embraced that kind of determination at an early age.
“I was born with club foot,” she says. “Wearing braces eighteen hours a day, I was not able to walk and play like other children my age. But, I never gave up. I always pushed myself … (and) I’m always seeking out opportunities to improve, to grow and become more capable. I also want my three children (two girls and a boy) to know they can do anything in life they set their minds to.”
Chief of Staff and Geriatrician,
Mary Rudyk’s advocacy for older adults has proved valuable to the nursing home community in the months since the arrival of COVID-19.
Rudyk, chief of staff and a geriatrician with New Hanover Regional Medical Center, has worked with nursing facilities during the pandemic to develop practices that protect staff members and patients.
“I have to commend all of the nursing homes and assisted living facilities that I work with for being ahead of the curve and being so proactive in their response to keeping the most vulnerable people safe,” she says. “They were the first to stop visitation, and it was a difficult but necessary stance to take in the beginning of this. Our coordinated efforts in the hospital and in the community have been an example of what can happen when a group of determined people get together and coordinate their efforts.”
Rudyk also says she was “honored” to serve on the Partnership Advisory Group that evaluated options in the proposed sale of NHRMC to an outside entity.
“It really became about what our community and region needed to address the health care of our population for generations to come,” she says. “We all had to put aside our personal biases and think of the good for all, and that is what we did with our recommendation for choosing a Novant/UNC partnership.”
To view the Women to Watch Awards Finalists main page, click here.