John T. Henley Sr. Endowment Launched to Provide Training for Family Medicine Leaders

Established in 2011 to honor former Senator Henley’s advocacy for family medicine in North Carolina and across the country, the endowment has grown with the help of his family, friends and colleagues. Now, closing in on the $150,000 goal, the endowment will support activities to develop strong leadership in the discipline of family medicine.

John T. Henley Sr. Endowment Launched to Provide Training for Family Medicine Leaders click to enlarge The family of the late Senator John T. Henley celebrates the launch of the endowment.

On Sept. 30, the auditorium at UNC’s Department of Family Medicine was crowded with North Carolina’s primary care pioneers and notable leaders. Drs. Jim Jones, Ed Shahady, Warren Newton, Allen Dobson, Doug Henley and Al Daugird joined dozens of lifelong family medicine physicians including UNC and ECU faculty, alumni, residents, medical students and fellows to celebrate the launch of the John T. Henley, Sr. Endowment for Leadership in Family Medicine.

“We are honored to carry on Senator Henley’s legacy, and share his passion with future physician leaders,” said Cristy Page, MD, MPH Interim Chair for UNC’s Department of Family Medicine. “We are grateful to all of the donors, and we thank the NCAFP for supporting this effort from its inception.”

Established in 2011 to honor former Senator Henley’s advocacy for family medicine in North Carolina and across the country, the endowment has grown with the help of his family, friends and colleagues. Now, closing in on the $150,000 goal, the endowment will support activities not otherwise possible that support and develop leadership in family medicine. A focus will be on programs that impact medical students, residents and fellows but activities like lectures that impact the greater family medicine community with a focus on leadership and advocacy of family medicine principals are included. The Inaugural John T. Henley, Sr. Lecture, the first endowment-supported event, was delivered by Rick Kellerman, MD, Chairman at KU Wichita Family Medicine and past-present of the AAFP. Inspired by Sen. Henley, Kellerman spoke on what it means to be a leader in family medicine, and recalled his commitment to improving care in North Carolina.

“John Henley was a strategic optimist,” said Kellerman. “He was a leader who had a vision, communicated that vision and put the resources and people together to accomplish that vision.”

In the late 1960s, while working as a pharmacist in Hope Mills, Sen. Henley realized his patients were struggling with access to primary care. At a time when many academic and community leaders were reluctant to support family medicine as a specialty, Henley used his influence in the NC legislature to create and initially fund the UNC Department of Family Medicine and later the East Carolina University School of Medicine. Since their establishment, both institutions have played significant roles in combatting the primary care physician shortage across the state. Alumni of the UNC and ECU programs attended the endowment’s launch.

“It’s because of his legacy that I’ve developed the clinical, leadership, research and teaching skills that have allowed me to lead this department that I love,” remarked Dr. Page. Others nodded in agreement that they owed their education, training and careers to Sen. Henley. She continued, “John Henley didn’t seek personal recognition or gain, he just did the right things for the right reasons, which I think is something we’re all trying to do here.”

For more information about contributing to the John T. Henley, Sr. Endowment for Family Medicine, contact Brad Wilson at Brad_Wilson@med.unc.edu.