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Jean Elaine Mills' love of East Carolina University and desire to make a difference in the lives of fellow AfricanAmericans will live on through the annual Jean Mills Health Symposium.

Jean earned her bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1977 and a master's in public administration with a concentration in community health from ECU in 1984. She died from breast cancer in October 2000.

Amos T. Mills III, Jean's brother, hopes to keep her spirit of discovery and community outreach alive through an inspirational tribute to one of her former graduate school instructors--Dr. Donald Ensley, former chairman of the Department of Community Health. Through a $25,000 donation to the Medical Foundation Inc. of ECU, the Jean Elaine Mills Health Symposium was established. 

The symposia are presented by the ECU College of Allied Health Sciences in collaboration with the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation. Its purpose is to bring attention to critical health care issues facing minority populations and to seek solutions. 


12 th Annual Jean Mills Health Symposium: Keeping Teens Healthy

February 5, 2016 - East Carolina Heart Institute

Purpose: To build synergies between community residents, community organizations and ECU faculty and students focused on teen health. Participants will be challenged to address teen health through interactive workshops and keynote presentations addressing substance use and abuse, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, violence in minority communities, promoting positive teen behaviors and addressing eating disorders.

Keynote Speaker: Philip J. Leaf, Ph.D Director of the Center for Adolescent Health, Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence, and the Urban Health Institute Johns Hopkins University

View Keynote Presentation

Download the flyer (pdf)

Program and Registration information (pdf)

Contact: Dr. Beth Velde, for more information


Jean Mills check 2016
Amos Mills continues his support of the Mills Symposium through a generous donation.


11th Annual Jean Mills Health Symposium - Feb. 6, 2015

New Models for Empowering Personal and Community Health

Download the 2015 Symposium agenda (pdf)

2015 symposium focused on:

  • creating community partnerships focused on the behavioral determinants of obesity
  • improving outcomes among African American women with Type 2 DM
  • innovative approaches to mental health issues of minority adolescents
  • community partnerships as portals to access
  • improving health through community engaged dental education
  • new models for empowering community and minority health

Daily Reflector: ECU Notes February 16, 2015 -- Symposium peddles patient-centered partnerships

Innovative community health care driven by patient needs, and tailoring local resources to cooperatively address those needs was the focus of the 11th annual Jean Mills Health Symposium held earlier this month at ECU.

"North Carolina's strength in health care comes from putting the needs of patients and community first," said Dr. L. Allen Dobson, keynote speaker and current president and CEO of Community Care of North Carolina, the comprehensive network that manages health care delivery for the state's Medicaid recipients and low-income residents.

Dobson told the audience — an assortment of health care providers, community and faith leaders, faculty, students and community residents — that eastern North Carolina has pioneered a successful model of collaborative efforts that put patient needs before health care industry needs.

Dobson also highlighted consolidation, noting how unsuccessful the shift from physician-owned practices to health-system-owned practices can be.

The higher costs associated with ownership consolidation often result from more care being delivered in high-cost hospital settings and hospital based ambulatory surgical centers, Dobson explained. While he noted that increased coordination of care and less duplication of tests and treatments help decrease costs for consolidated practices, he said physician-owned practices provide lower cost care.

North Carolina's effectiveness in addressing such issues lies with the state's collaborative efforts across disciplines and a knack for tailoring approaches to local resources, according to Dobson. Through these efforts Community Care ensures health care is focused at the community level and ensures patients’ needs are met, no matter their location, he said.

"Health care, just like politics, is local. You can't take something that worked in Durham or Charlotte and make it work in little Washington," he said.

The daylong symposium also featured panels and breakout sessions on ways community partnerships can address issues around obesity, diabetes and mental health, especially in minority populations.

The Mills Symposium was created by Amos T. Mills III in memory of his sister, an ECU alumna with a passion for community health and health equity. Presented by the College of Allied Health Sciences in collaboration with the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation, the annual event is aimed at generating awareness and solutions for health problems that plague North Carolinians and minorities in particular.

 Past Symposiums

10th Annual Jean Mills Health Symposium 
held February 7, 2014
The 2014 Symposium featured:
  • keynote speaker, Dr. Lori Carter-Edwards spoke on Health Care Looking Forward: The Role of Community Engagement (view slideshow here, view video here)
  • the role of AMEXCAN in implementing successful health programs in the Mexican & Latino community
  • the innovative contributions of school nurses in reducing health disparities (view slideshow)
  • the role of mobile health units in addressing health inequities (view slideshow)
  • Panel discussion with Jim Baluss, Dr. Lorri Basnight, and Dr. Tom Irons (view video here
View the video of the symposium here

10th Jean Mills Symposium focuses on achieving health equity  

Feb. 7, 2014

Building a road and building better health care require a community to work together.

That was the message from keynote speaker Dr. Lori Carter-Edwards at the 10th annual Jean Mills Health Symposium held Feb. 7 at East Carolina University. Using a road-building project in three towns to illustrate her point, Carter-Edwards said the only community that was successful had engaged stakeholders – from the ditch-diggers to the landowner – to get their road built on time with limited resources. They gathered information, relied on the skills of those involved and shared with each other.

"Let's look at what's working and replicate it in our communities," said Carter-Edwards, deputy director for research and operations at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and research associate professor of health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Achieving health equity, or the same quality care for all, will require using the principles of community engagement to care for an aging – and changing – population, she said.

North Carolina's public school system saw a net increase of 60 percent more Latinos and 32 percent more black students enrolled from 2000 to 2009. In Tier 1 counties, many of which are in rural eastern North Carolina, 84 percent of the population was listed as non-white and 51.5 percent was Hispanic.

While construction and manufacturing jobs continue to shrink in rural counties, one growth area has been health care because of an aging population with chronic health conditions.

Health care in the next decade will need to focus on four key areas, Carter-Edwards said:

  • More options for where people get care. Besides hospitals and clinics, people will be treated in mobile units and other non-traditional settings like recreation centers, churches or schools.
  • More diversity in health care teams. Community health workers will be the bridge to the community.
  • Increased attention to preventing illness and disease.
  • Adding collaborative, integrated care networks with non-traditional partners.

"Research projects need to include the people we're serving," Carter-Edwards said. "Are you ready to sit at the table with the person you're claiming to help?"

Landon Allen of Wake Forest is a third-year ECU medical/master's of public health student and director of the Grimesland Free Clinic. He found Carter-Edwards' presentation translatable. "It's great advice," he said. "It's difficult to navigate, but the more we talk about it, we begin pulling groups together in a social movement to make these sorts of changes."

Helen Hill has attended every Mills Symposium since at least 2008.

"It's been a real advantage. Having the connection, listening to all the speakers they've brought in through the years and the different areas. It's helped me," said Hill, who retired as director of a school-based program with Greene County Health Care after more than 25 years. She began working part-time in Greene, Pitt and Pamlico counties last summer on another project.

Jean Elaine Mills, the symposium's namesake, was a Greenville native and ECU alumna who died at age 45 of breast cancer in 2000. Her brother, Amos T. Mills III, and his family started the symposium as a tribute and to bring awareness and solutions for health problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, hypertension, diabetes and obesity that plague North Carolinians, particularly African-Americans and other minorities.

"We made a commitment to make a difference in the life of eastern North Carolinians," Mills said.

The only minority rural health care symposium of its kind in eastern North Carolina, the event has grown each year, from 50 participants in 2004 to about 175 last year.

The symposium was presented by the College of Allied Health Sciences in collaboration with the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation. A broadcast of the symposium will be available online at and ECU's TV station Channel 99. 

View photos from the 10th Annual Jean Mills Health Symposium below:













 9th Annual Jean Mills Health Symposium

Held Friday, March 1, 2013

Schedule of Events

Presented by the College of Allied Health Sciences in collaboration with ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation and the ECU Office of Continuing Studies.

The 2013 theme of Enhancing Minority Health in the Millennium included:
1) the application of social media in health and health care
2) the use of "apps" to enhance the health of citizens of NC and/or the practice of health professionals--Examples of Health Apps for Smartphones and iPads.
3) the impact of the environment on health and health care
4) healthcare reform post the 2012 election
5) community/campus partnerships as a vehicle to reduce health disparities.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Janice C. Probst, Director of the South Carolina Rural Health Research Center, shared valuable knowledge about innovative methods to address minority health in rural communities.

View the presentation:

- ECU-TV (On Demand Site) Viewable on most platforms and mobile devices 

- Windows Media Link

Story from ECU News Services:

Symposium examines future of technology in health care

By Crystal Baity, ECU News Services


Jean Mills Symposium 2013

Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013 Jean Mills Symposium 2013

Eighth Annual Jean Mills Health Symposium
Enhancing Community Health in North Carolina:  Looking in the Mirror

Keynote Speaker:  Brian Smedley, PhD, Vice President and Director Health Policy,
Institute of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, DC
Building Stronger Communities for Better Health: The Geography of Health Equity

(Windows Media format)
This video is available on the "Video on Demand" site for ECU-TV as well (which is also accessible by some mobile devices that support h.264 streaming)

Other Presentations from the Symposium
Cultivating Campus-Community Health Partnerships: The West Greenville Community Health Needs Assessment, Kerry Littlewood, PhD, MSW, East Carolina University

Partnering with a Community Clinic to Provide Diabetes Self-Management Services Utilizing a Telehealth Approach, Ave Maria Renard, PSYD; Amaris R. Tippey, BA; Laura M. Daniels, MA; Lisa C. Campbell, PhD, East Carolina University

Focusing on the Solution, Craig M. Becker, PhD, CWP, East Carolina University


Friday, February 3, 2012
Greenville Hilton 

The Seventh Annual Jean Mills Health Symposium

Creating Effective Partnerships to Reduce Health Disparities and Improve Minority Health

Click here to view the VIDEO

Friday, February 4, 2011
The Hilton-Greenville

The Symposium featured recognized experts who are knowledgeable about the key principles of community engagement: mutual benefits, collaborative relationships, and empowerment. Presentations focused on the scholarship of engagement and on service to the community with an engagement model addressing health disparities and minority health.

Keynote Speaker
Dr. Bill Jenkins,
Adjunct Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Morehouse School of Medicine and Senior Fellow at the Institute for African American Research at the UNC at Chapel Hill.

Luncheon Speaker
Barbara Pullen-Smith, Director
, North Carolina Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities, Division of Public Health, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Raleigh, N.C.


6th Annual Jean Mills Health Symposium
Race, Stress and Health

Click here to view the VIDEO

Friday, February 5, 2010
Greenville Hilton and Greenville Convention Center
Greenville, NC
Registration: 8:30 AM
Program: 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM

The Symposium featureed recognized experts who promoted the health and wellness of people from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds by understanding the interactions of individual and societal factors on stress and coping behaviors.

Keynote Speaker: 
Sherman A. James, Ph.D., FAHA
Susan B. King Professor of Public Policy
Duke Sanford School of Public Policy


5th Annual Jean Mills Health Symposium
Empowering Individuals to Take Responsibility for Their Own Health

Click here to view the VIDEO.

Friday, February 6, 2009
Greenville Hilton and Greenville Convention Center
Greenville, NC
Registration: 8:30 AM
Program: 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM

The Symposium featured recognized experts who use a health empowerment model.  Using presentations and posters, the symposium described research and services that empower individuals to take responsibility for enhancing their health, thereby reducing health disparities.

Keynote Speaker:  Carmara Jones, MD, MPH, PhD
Addressing Social Determinants of Health and Social Determinants of Equity

Dr. Jones is the Research Director on Social Determinants of Health and Equity, Emerging Investigations and Analytic Methods Branch, Division of Adult and Community Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



The Fourth Annual Jean Mills Health Symposium
Rural Health in Eastern North Carolina, Meeting the Challenges
February 15-16, 2008
The Hilton and the Greenville Convention Center
Greenville, NC

Click here to view the VIDEO

Day One - February 15
The Hilton-Greenville
Presentations related to issues, research and services to address rural health.
Keynote Speaker:  Thomas C. Ricketts, III, Ph.D., MPH
Dr. Ricketts is Professor of Health Policy and Administration and Social Medicine, and Director of the Health Policy Analysis Unit in the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Second Keynote Speaker:  Dr. Yolanda Burwell
Dr. Yolanda Burwell is a senior fellow in the Community and Human Resource Department of The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center.

Day Two - February 16
Community Outreach Focus Health and Wellness Fair
10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Greenville Convention Center


Third Symposium
Presentations from the 3rd Annual Jean Mills Health Symposium-February 9 & 10, 2007

Health Disparities in a “Browning” and “Graying” America: Implications and Challenges

Powerpoint Presentation

James H. Johnson, Jr.
William Rand Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Management
Kenan-Flagler Business School
Director, Urban Investment Strategies Center
Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Food Choice and Obesity in Black America: Creating a New Cultural Diet
Eric J. Bailey, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Medical Anthropologist
East Carolina University

Focus on Research in Health Disparities
Cynda Johnson, MD, MBA
Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical and Translational Research

Weight Loss Experiences of African American Women
Kathryn M Kolasa PhD, RD, LDN
Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University

Understanding Health and Wellness Needs
A Community’s Perspective

Beth Velde, Ph.D, OTR/L
Department of Occupational Therapy
College of Allied Health Sciences

The Built Environment and Human Health: An Initial ‘Sight’ at the Local Status
Max A. Zarate, Ph.D.
East Carolina University
     Part 1
     Part 2
     Part 3

Health Disparities and Disabilities among Hispanic Populations
Lucy Wong-Hernandez, M.S.
College of Allied Health Sciences
East Carolina University
Monica Carrion-Jones, MD
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Brody Medical School
East Carolina University

Second Symposium

Pictures from the 2nd Annual Symposium
Friday, February 10, 2006
Obesity in African Americans:  Causes and Cures

First Symposium

Pictures from the First Symposium
April 6, 2005
Obesity in African-Americans Living in Eastern NC



Presenting Sponsor
$1000 or more

Symposium Sponsor

$499 and under


Become a sponsor.
Sponsorship opportunities (pdf)