James D. Bernstein, 1942-2005

Jim Bernstein, the Foundation’s first president and its guiding force for more than two decades, worked at the community level to promote big ideas about healthcare: that everyone had the right to healthcare, that care should be delivered in a respectful, effective and efficient manner, and that the healthcare system belonged to the communities where people lived and where providers practiced.

A native of New York, Jim studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He later became the director of the nation’s first Office of Rural Health. Under Jim’s leadership, the Office of Rural Health worked with local communities to found 81 community health centers and recruited more than 2,500 physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other health professionals to underserved communities. The state implemented Community Care of North Carolina, a program envisioned by Jim and his team, a care management program that today serves more than 1 million Medicaid recipients. Jim served as Assistant Secretary of Health for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services before retiring from State Government in October, 2004.

Jim founded the N.C. Foundation for Advanced Health Programs, now the Foundation of Health Leadership and Innovation, in 1982 with Governor Jim Hunt. The Foundation has leveraged private, public, and foundation grant funds to pilot and implement innovative health programs to improve the health of all North Carolinians.