Darek Hunt brings diverse experience and training to UNC Pembroke’s Regional Center at COMtech. He will seek to energize the organization whose mission is to reach out to surrounding communities to enhance the quality of life.
As the Regional Center’s new coordinator, Hunt would thrust it into the crossroads of regional development. A Philadelphia area native with roots in Robeson County, he brings significant private and public sector training and experience to his new job, said Dr. Cammie Hunt, associate vice chancellor for Engaged Outreach.
“With Darek, the Regional Center is getting an experienced professional with a valuable combination of skills,” Dr. Hunt said. “We are very excited to have him on board, and I believe he will make an important contribution to the center and to the region it serves.”
Darek Hunt talked about his Robeson County connections. “I came to UNCP for college from the Philadelphia area because my parents wanted me to live among our family and our people,” Hunt said. “I enjoyed my time here. With grandparents and cousins locally, I was not lonely.”
Hunt said the Regional Center is a perfect fit for him. With a master’s degree in public policy and administration, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in healthcare policy.
“I believe in the Regional Center’s mission to lift up its constituent communities, and this is where I want to be,” Hunt said. “The college can make a big difference here.
“Everything we do at the Regional Center is about relationship building,” Hunt said. “This is what I have done throughout my career.”
Created in the 1990s to mirror the university’s commitment to the community, the Regional Center coordinates outreach programs for: research and economic development, community health, professional and management training, education and small business development.
Hunt spent a significant part of his professional career working for some of the nation’s largest financial institutions. He developed and managed a portfolio of $55 million for Smith Barney.
“I have worked for many high profile companies, but I have always asked the question: ‘what are we doing for the communities where we make our money,’” Hunt said. “I have always felt the need to return equity to the community, and this is the community where I want to do it.”
On the public policy side of his career, Hunt wrote grants and did research for the Rand Institute for Public Affairs. His findings on healthcare and other social issues were published in a recent cover story in Indian Country Today and in several op-ed pieces for The Robesonian.
“I have studied the Affordable Healthcare Act thoroughly, and I believe it presents many opportunities for an organization like the Regional Center,” Hunt said.
Dr. Cammie Hunt (no relation to Darek Hunt) said the Regional Center with its open-ended mission, requires an energetic and creative leader.
“The Regional Center is doing many outstanding things in the areas of economic and youth development and community health,” Dr. Hunt said. “A project like the Regional Center requires a leader who can realize and capture opportunities. In Darek, we have that, and I’m excited about the future.”
Darek Hunt said thinking out of the box will not get the job done. “We will throw the box away,” he said. “To accomplish our mission at the Regional Center, we will have to think about the future in new ways.”
Hunt is excited to return to the region and the university. “I see big differences at UNCP from the mid-80s when I was here,” he said. “This school has been transformed academically and physically. I am also a big football fan, so I’m looking forward to the season.
“I am a firm believer in education and the value of constant learning,” he said. “I believe UNCP and its mission as a regional university are a good fit for me.”