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Perspective | Critical conversations with Scott Hamilton and Dr. John Lumpkin

Recently, Golden LEAF President and CEO Scott Hamilton sat down with the President of the BlueCross and BlueShield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation Dr. John Lumpkin via Zoom and filmed an episode of “Critical Conversations.”

The BCBSNC Foundation is a private, charitable foundation established as an independent entity by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina in 2000 with the mission to improve the health and well-being of everyone in our state.

Dr. Lumpkin has been the President of BCBSNC Foundation since April 2019.

Dr. Lumpkin started his career in emergency medicine before pivoting his interest to address underlying issues in communities through a focus on Public Health. He worked at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on addressing healthcare issues across the country.

When the opportunity arose to work at the state level, Dr. Lumpkin was excited to lead the BCBSNC Foundation.

Dr. Lumpkin mentioned that the funder of his Foundation, BCBSNC, is leading an initiative called the Extra Miles Tour to visit every county in North Carolina. So far, BCBSNC has visited 90 counties. You can track the progress and read about the tour here.

Dr. Lumpkin explained that although every county has its unique differentiating factors, common themes are seen. He noted healthcare themes that affect economic progress such as access to healthcare, access to healthy food, availability of workforce housing, access to broadband, and access to childcare.

Dr. Lumpkin stated that another major takeaway is the important role of community colleges. Dr. Lumpkin said that the community colleges are a driving force for companies to locate in an area because of the customizable training offered at the colleges.

Dr. Lumpkin noted that as the BCBSNC went through each county on the Extra Miles Tour, one of the most common issues that communities were facing across the board was a lack of essential workers in hospitals and clinics. The BCBSNC Foundation Board decided to add a new priority to focus on building up the workforce as that is essential to access to care.

One example of such an innovation is that Catawba Valley Community College has a state-of-the-art healthcare training center offering a simulated hospital environment where current health professionals can come to train as well as the community college students who are working to gain degrees and certificates.

Dr. Lumpkin quotes the science fiction writer William Gibson who wrote, “I have seen the future. It is just not everywhere.”

The BCBSNC Foundation is working to build upon the innovations already in place by spreading them across North Carolina.

Editor’s Note: The Golden LEAF Team develops regular newsletter content including updates on Golden LEAF funding opportunities and topics of interest to nonprofits and governmental entities in rural communities. Visit to sign up.

Golden LEAF Foundation

The Golden LEAF Foundation was established in 1999 to administer a portion of the tobacco settlement agreement monies back into North Carolina’s rural and economically distressed communities. For almost 25 years, the nonprofit has partnered with state and local governments and other foundations to build economic opportunity across North Carolina through leadership in grantmaking, collaboration, innovation, and stewardship as an independent and perpetual foundation.