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Buncombe County’s Public Health Director is heading to Raleigh for a new job with the state.

Buncombe County Health and Human Services
Buncombe County Health Director Stacey Saunders receiving Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020.

Buncombe County’s Public Health Director is leaving her post at the end of the year. A press release from Buncombe County Health and Human Services says Stacie Saunders is headed to Raleigh to serve as the Deputy Director/Section Chief for Local and Community Support for North Carolina Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health. In her new role, Saunders will work with all 86 local health departments across North Carolina.

She has been the health director for Bucombe County since August 2020, and quickly became a familiar face and voice during the pandemic, with weekly community updates. The release notes Saunders also helped rebuild the Community Health Promotions section, and helped create the county’s Public Health Mobile Team.

“This is an exciting time for me but also one filled with sadness as it is very hard to leave this Public Health staff, who have become very special to me. I consider those of us in Public Health a family.” Saunders said in the statement. “As a Public Health leader, I have always wanted to see growth for everyone I have had the pleasure and honor to serve as their Health Director. And now, it seems, it is time for me grow outside of local public health and explore this opportunity at the state level.”

Her last day with Buncombe County Government will be December 31, 2022. Buncombe County Health and Human Services will notify the public when additional information is available regarding this position.

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.