In an extension of her leadership roles, Leslie H. Nelson-Bernier will serve as UNC Health’s Chief Philanthropy Officer. In this new position, she will be responsible for developing and implementing an overarching strategy and vision for philanthropy across UNC Health and the UNC School of Medicine.
Since 2018, Nelson-Bernier has served as President of the UNC Health Foundation and Associate Dean for Development of the UNC School of Medicine. As she assumes her new title of Chief Philanthropy Officer, she will maintain these roles and will continue to lead the UNC Health Foundation’s dynamic team of nearly 60 development professionals who raise critical statewide support for research, education and patient care programs across North Carolina.
In June 2021, the UNC Health Foundation surpassed its $1 billion fundraising goal as part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s $4.25 billion campaign For All Kind. That figure includes contributions from nearly 70,000 different donors. Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, 2021 was a record setting year for the foundation, which raised nearly $200 million, a $50 million year-over-year increase.
Throughout the pandemic, the UNC Health Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund has provided vital support to patients and teammates throughout the state helping to support teammates with meals, groceries and stipends for emergency child care, funding mental health support services, and supporting the UNC Health Mobile Clinic, which brought testing and vaccines to underserved communities.
As UNC Health’s Chief Philanthropy Officer Nelson-Bernier will oversee fundraising and development efforts across the system. She will work closely with executive leadership at the system and local level to increase giving through a comprehensive and data driven approach.
UNC Health’s entity hospitals across the state of North Carolina each oversee their own fundraising efforts and there will be no changes to that structure. Nelson-Bernier, however, will work to provide strategic guidance and to create a unified and integrated approach across the system.
Nelson-Bernier joined the UNC Health Foundation in 2005. Her experience with UNC includes work at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center as well as the Departments of Neurology, Neurosurgery, Otolaryngology, Pathology and the UNC Neuroscience Center. Before she was named President of the UNC Health Foundation and Associate Dean for Development, Nelson-Bernier spent several years as Senior Executive Director of Development and Communications for UNC Children’s.
A Texas native, Nelson-Bernier grew up in Baton Rouge, La, and graduated from Clemson University. She and her husband, Gary Bernier, have four children.