A health care executive, a prominent local attorney and owner of a comprehensive dental practice have been appointed to the Board of Trustees at UNC Pembroke.
The new appointees, who will assume their official duties this summer, are Jesse Thomas, vice president of Medicaid and CEO of Healthy Blue for Blue Cross NC; Ed Brooks, managing attorney with the Law Office of Edward Brooks, and UNCP alumna Dr. Bobbi Locklear Stanley, owner of Stanley Dentistry in Cary.
Each has been appointed to serve a four-year term. Trustees are selected by either the Board of Governors, the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives or the North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore.
Additionally, existing Board members Pat Corso, Mary Ann Elliott and Alphonzo McRae were reappointed to serve four-year terms. Thomas Crowe-Allbritton, Student Government Association president, will also serve on the board to represent the student body.
The ceremonial swearing-in will be held during the first regular meeting of the Board of Trustees in September.
“We are honored to welcome these three outstanding individuals to the Board of Trustees,” said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings. “They each bring valuable experiences in health care and education and as well, a genuine interest in UNCP. These perspectives will be critical to advancing the vision of our university as we strategically address the opportunities in our county and region.”
A Robeson County native, Dr. Stanley was born and raised in the Saddletree community. She earned degrees from UNC Pembroke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry.
She is the principal dentist of Stanley Dentistry, one of the largest comprehensive dental practices in the state. Education has been a mainstay throughout her 25-year career. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at UNC Chapel Hill School of Dentistry and co-founder and senior instructor at Stanley Institute for Comprehensive Dentistry.
“One thing I’ve always enjoyed is giving back and watching students develop and grow. As a UNCP trustee, I look forward to helping develop the next generation. UNCP changed me dramatically. I developed as a student and as an individual as a result of UNCP’s incredible biology program and the personal, one-on-one relationship I had with my professors.
“Higher education is a big passion of mine. College is not just about learning facts and skills and getting that degree, higher education offers you the opportunity to grow and become more developed as a person.”
Stanley and her husband, Dr. Robert Stanley, have four children, Megan, Robert III, Shane and Blake. They reside in Cary.
Thomas has more than 30 years of extensive Medicaid (MCO) managed care organizations experience. A proven leader, he has served at the helm of several health care agencies across the country. Prior to joining Blue Cross North Carolina, he served as CEO of Trusted Health Plans, Inc. in Michigan and CEO of Coordinated Health Mutual, Inc. in Ohio.
In addition, Thomas has served as executive director of United Healthcare Illinois AmeriChoice; president and CEO of HealthPlans of America, NJ, Inc.; president of Total Health Care, Inc. in Maryland and as board president for the Illinois Association of Medicaid Health Plans in Chicago.
“As a first-generation college graduate, I’m extremely honored to be appointed to the Board of Trustees at UNCP. As a board member, I’m looking forward to being a champion for improving the health and quality of life for the students of UNCP and all North Carolinians,” he said.
“As such, I want to help progress and prosper all who have a will to achieve regardless of background, connections or economic status. In that regard, during my tenure on the board I want to put North Carolina on the pathway to being the healthiest state in the country within a generation, the best state in the country for workforce development by 2030, and also, the best state in the country for equal opportunity by 2030.”
A native of Clarksdale, Miss., he served as health policy advisor for Rick Snyder for Governor of Michigan in 2010 and has served on several boards in Michigan, including the Wayne State University School of Nursing. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois.
Thomas and his wife live in Cary. They have six children.
Brooks, a native of Pembroke, began his career as a trial attorney focused on civil litigation in the areas of general tort liability and cases involving sovereignty of Indian tribes. Brooks was a partner with the law firm of Patterson Dilthey until 2013, when he opened his own law practice in Pembroke where he provides general counsel to local businesses from start-up to assisting with federal contracting regulations.
“I'm truly grateful and honored for the opportunity afforded me to serve as an appointee to the UNCP Board of Trustees. I respect and appreciate what rural North Carolina and a distinguished, storied university like UNCP has done to move all of our state, but particularly this region, forward.
“I look fondly to working with university leaders, fellow BOT members and our esteemed chancellor for the continued development of the vision to make UNCP a center of learning, knowledge and wisdom for all, especially first-generation college graduates of which our fellow North Carolina citizens, our BraveNation and our university founding fathers would be proud.”
As former legal counsel to the Lumbee Tribe, of which he is an enrolled member, he provided legal advice related to employment issues, contract drafting and review, adherence to federal law related to provision of low-income housing, and has represented the tribe during multiple inquiries by various federal agencies.
Brooks earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and juris doctorate at North Carolina Central University.
He is a member of the Board of Directors for the UNCP Foundation Board and Braves Club. Brooks and his wife, LeeChelle, live in Pembroke with their three sons, Riley, Drake and Gaige.
Cummings is looking forward to working alongside the new additions to the board.
“This is such a critical time in the history of our university and strong leaders like Bobbi, Jesse, Ed and Thomas, along with the rest of our board, will help build upon the strong foundation in place. Education, like healthcare, is undergoing a great transformation.
“As we shape the UNCP of the future, together we will have a lasting impact on our community, our region and our state for generations to come.”