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Leach receives award for work to reduce stigma and promote mental health

Barbara Leach, family support specialist and special projects coordinator with the School’s Family Support Program, was recently selected to receive “The Dr. Francis Sumner – Community Pillar Award,” from Cardinal Innovations Healthcare.

Leach was among four recipients of the award and was recognized for her work to reduce stigma and to promote mental health for families with children who have mental health and intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Leach has more than 30 years of personal and professional experience advocating for families with children who have IDD and other special needs.

Cardinal Innovations presented Leach and the other recipients with the award last month during a virtual event.

The community pillar award was named after Francis Sumner, Ph.D., the first African American to receive a doctorate in psychology in 1920. Considered a paragon of mental health, Sumner was known widely as the “Father of Black Psychology.”

Leach’s contributions to the field of mental health, including to numerous state and national initiatives, are worthy of the recognition, said Tamara Norris, director of the Family Support Program.

“Throughout her career, Barbara has championed the improvement of mental and behavioral health services for children and families,” Norris said. “She ensures that families’ voices are represented where the decisions are made.”

Dean Gary Bowen also praised Leach’s efforts, which have earned her a reputation as a “social worker of real impact,” he added.

“Barbara’s work on behalf of children and families in the state of North Carolina and beyond truly exemplifies our three-pronged mission: Advance Equity, Transform Systems, and Improve Lives,” Bowen said.