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Peg Morrison Named HEAL NC Manager

When Peg Morrison learned about HEAL NC, she thought of all the groups she’d facilitated where people shared stories of trauma and how it derailed their lives. She wondered how many could have lived with better outcomes if someone had taught them how to manage their pain. No judgement, just skill building to regulate the big emotions that follow trauma like so many long, dark shadows.

HEAL NC is designed to empower Head Start families to achieve sustainable livelihoods. A key component is education about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and how resiliency tools can help people of any age overcome the long-term effects of trauma. When we learn that ACEs are behind some of our health problems and difficult behaviors, we lose a lot of the shame that prevents us from growing and meeting our goals.

All of this resonated with Peg. With its focus on mental health and resilience, she knew HEAL NC would be a great fit.

“I’m delighted to join NCCAA and lead HEAL NC,” she said. “If I could have designed a position to use my skills as part of a transformative program, this would be it.”

Peg first saw the power of recovery in 2004 while working for a supportive housing agency in Toledo, Ohio. Having struggled with depression and anxiety herself, she began to see mental health discrimination as a civil rights issue. Her organizing skills were put to the test when local businesses tried to stop construction of a facility for chronically homeless individuals; neighbors didn’t want the site to “attract homeless people” to the downtown area, they said. Based on their concerns, Toledo City Council was poised to vote down a routine zoning variance needed to proceed. Peg harnessed a coalition of advocates to stand against NIMBYism (an acronym for Not in My Backyard).

When dozens of disability allies descended on city council in August 2005, City Council changed its mind. The Safe Haven facility was built and is still running today. During her 10-year tenure, Peg also raised over $300,000 from private foundations and individual contributors for supportive housing residents.

She spent the last 10 years with the National Alliance on Mental Illness – five in Ohio and five in North Carolina. At NAMI Ohio she learned to facilitate support groups and to teach the skill to others. At NAMI NC, the state contract she managed increased 85% to $750,000.

Peg’s earliest work in advocacy was with WSOS Community Action Commission of Fremont, Ohio. As their first public relations professional, she learned each program while creating marketing materials for Head Start, the Home Energy Assistance Program, Housing & Weatherization, Senior Centers, etc.

Peg earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Kent State University and a master’s in business administration from Bowling Green State University. She is a 2021 graduate of the Leadership Fellows Academy, a program of the NC Department of Health and Human Services, NC State, and UNC Chapel Hill; she is also an alum of the Servant Leadership Center of Toledo, Ohio. She currently serves as Chair of the NC DHHS Mental Health Block Grant Planning Council.

Peg lives in Garner and enjoys nature, dog walking, and spending time with family.

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