On September 12, 200 attendees gathered at Myers Park Country Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, for an inaugural luncheon benefiting the Carolinas Behavioral Health Advancement Fund. Guest of honor and featured speaker, Jane Pauley, one of broadcasting’s most respected journalists, demonstrated her role as a leading behavioral health advocate. Pauley gained national acclaim as a host on the TODAY show and currently hosts CBS Sunday Morning. She was introduced by Carolinas HealthCare System President and CEO, Eugene Woods, after he shared a brief overview of the System’s vision for behavioral health expansion in the region.

A riveted audience was inspired by Pauley as she candidly detailed her own journey and diagnosis of a mental health disorder with Carolinas HealthCare System psychiatrist, Nicole Aho, MD. She spoke of how becoming an advocate and working to normalize others’ pursuit of mental wellness has brought her great personal satisfaction, becoming a kind of therapy in her own life. Martha Whitecotton, Senior Vice President of Behavioral Health Services at Carolinas HealthCare System, further inspired audiences with her account of the System’s accomplishments in behavioral health since opening the Mindy Ellen Levine Behavioral Health Center, four years ago.

Thanks to the many supporters of the luncheon, the System’s behavioral health safety net in the Carolinas will continue to grow and improve. Led by Jane Pauley and Presenting Sponsors, AccessOne, Howard R. Levine Foundation – Howard and Julie Levine, and Lori and Eric Sklut, the luncheon generated more than $150,000 to support the Carolinas Behavioral Health Advancement Fund. Proceeds from the luncheon will be used to improve the System’s Charlotte-based behavioral health center—the Charlotte Metro area’s only outpatient behavioral health program and psychiatric emergency department—and to underwrite suicide prevention programs and efforts to educate the community about mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

We also thank our sponsors and committee members: Gold Sponsor – Wells Fargo; Silver Sponsor – Winer Family Foundation; Bronze Sponsors – Sandra and Leon Levine, Amy and Alfred Dawson, Beth and Jim Sankey, and Foundation For The Carolinas; Steering Committee Members – Liz Winer, Lori Sklut, Julie Levine, Lynn Salton, Rusty Salton, MD, Tracy Brown, Martha Whitecotton, and Nicole Aho, MD; and Table Sponsors – Action Plus Ideas, Betsy and Bill Blue, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC, Cammie and Barnes Hauptfuhrer, CHS Behavioral Health Physicians, Kathy and Peter Browning, Lundbeck, Mandy and Todd Houser, MedCost, NeuroStar, Savills-Studley / Mark and Lorri Ayers, Robinson Bradshaw, Tansukh, Sarla, and Rajesh Ganatra, and Tracy and Larry Brown.