Kiahna Johnson – Employee Spotlight

Title: Health Education Supervisor
Department: Health
Started working with Lenoir County: May 2015

Can you explain what a Health Education Supervisor does?
I have three titles under my position. I’m the Health Education Supervisor, the Preparedness Coordinator and the Accreditation Coordinator. Each of those have very different roles but one of my favorite tasks is the community healthy assessment. Every three years we capture a snapshot of our community’s health. We look for our strengths, our weakness, possible new programs or strategies to support the things that maybe didn’t get enough attention since the last assessment.

My first title, Health Education Supervisor, means that I do a lot of outreach programs to promote our services to the community, like attending health fairs. As the Preparedness coordinator, I have been busy guiding our Covid-19 plans, trying to figure out our role in the pandemic but it could be other things too like natural disasters. Really anything that hurts public health, I write plans for, maintain those plans, and prepare our staff to respond to the emergencies. Lastly, as the Accreditation Coordinator I arrange with the state to come every four years and show the state the evidence of all our services, our privacy practices, our customer service levels and everything to keep our accreditation and maintain a process where we are always improving.

What sorts of changes did Covid-19 bring to running public health education campaigns?
We tried to be more innovative in our messaging for the public. Because Covid halted most in person things, we had to find different creative ways to let the community know about what was still available and how to protect themselves. Moving forward, we plan to pull from those lessons from Covid-19 and make more comprehensive strategies to promote public health information and protect folks. Currently, we are running educational classes on diabetes prevention, a MedSouth Lifestyle Program and more. 

How did you come to work for Lenoir County Health Department?
I really treasure my story here at the Health Department. I started as an intern in 2013 under a great health educator, Miss Rhonda Ward. I learned so much about public health and its impact on the community from her. The internship put my college education – I have a BS in Public Health – to work because I saw how the process of planning, implementation, and evaluation came to life. I was so fascinated that I went back to school for my Master’s degree. Two years went by and I received news that my internship supervisor, Ms. Rhonda had passed away.  Although we had never met before the internship, our relationship grew so close that people assumed we had known each other for years. The next day, the Health Director at that time, Mr. Huff, called me. He wanted to share his condolences because he remembered me and Rhonda’s special bond and he asked me to apply for the Health Educator position. I did because I enjoyed my internship and how it feels like a family in Lenoir County. I was led to the Health Department for a purpose; to continue the greatness of Ms. Rhonda’s impact and share it with the community.

How has your time with the Health Department shaped how you view your future?
In 2015, when I started in the Health Education division, I was the only one in it. Now, I supervise a three-person team.  Bringing in new team members increases our capacity to change health outlooks in the community. So, as we move into 2023, we know we can make a difference and encourage healthy practices in Lenoir County. We have some exciting projects coming up inside the Department and we are also partnering with outside organizations and schools in the area to promote health at all ages. So, I’d say I am energized about the future here, and leading this team.

How does your job with Lenoir County Health Department embody the slogan “serving communities, building careers?”
Public health touches so many facets of life: the pandemic, diseases like STDs or diabetes which are preventable, nutrition and more. That we can serve the community by talking about immunizations or sharing information on healthier eating, or seeing a diabetic person who can lose 10 pounds to decrease their risks. That’s what we do; prevention through education. And sure, the more you serve the community, the more you build your career but our work speaks to more than just a job. It’s about helping the community. It’s really a lifestyle that attracts me.

What is the commute into Lenoir like?
I commute from Goldsboro. The drive is a time for me to just think about what I have to do for that day or whatever task I have to accomplish and so, by the time I get to work, I’m ready to go. It’s also a time for me to reflect so that I start my day the right, most positive way. 

How do you feel like the County has invested in you? 
So, I was the only health educator here for six years. In 2021, we hired two more health educators and put them under my supervision. Seeing that there’s been an investment in my team and also room for me to advance into a supervisor position; it says a lot about the support that Lenoir County provides, and I really appreciate that. 

If a friend asked you if they should consider working for Lenoir County, what would you tell them?
I have said it times in the past and I’ll say it again, Come over! Work for Lenoir County because it’s a great place to be.