Women's HIstory Month: Spotlight on Verla Insko
March is Women's History Month, a time to illuminate women for their contributions and accomplishments. The Honorable Verla Insko is a woman who has given much of her life to the people of Orange County, and she has achieved many milestones along her stellar career in public service.
Verla Insko has announced her retirement, effective March 31, 2022, after serving in the NC House of Representatives for almost 26 years. Previously, she had been a county commissioner and before that, a member of the school board.
While in the NC House, Representative Insko has been a champion on issues of mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities and substance use. She also has worked diligently on early childhood education, and will continue to advocate for Medicaid expansion.
In my role as county commissioner, I have had the good fortune to work with Representative Insko on a few county/state issues, and I am ever so grateful for her guidance and wisdom. The late Maya Angelou wrote: "I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people." Those words describe Rep. Verla Insko.
To Verla: Congratulations on your retirement and thank you for making Orange County and North Carolina a better place.
44th Legislative Breakfast on Mental Health
This year, 2022, marked the 44th year of the Legislative Breakfast on Mental Health. The theme was, "Building Mental Health Policy for Comprehensive, Integrated, Whole Person Care: Accessible Effective, Lifelong Supports." Over 200 people participated in this virtual event on Saturday, Feb. 26, and we listened to amazing speakers for three hours.
Kody H. Kinsley, Secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services, was the special guest speaker, and he emphasized the need for improved mental health care for people of all ages, backgrounds and income levels. The program included healthcare and social work professionals, legislators and people with lived experience. Perhaps one of the most alarming issues was the high rate of mental illness, including suicide, among our children.
A highlight of the event was the bestowal of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Rep. Verla Insko. As stated in the program about the award recipients: She is noted for her progressive policy positions, believing in "an activist government that provides for the common good and protects the vulnerable."
Again, congratulations to Rep. Insko. N.C. Sen/ Jim Burgin received the Rep. Paul Luebke Legislative Champion on Mental Health Award.
Summer Careers Academy
The Summer Careers Academy is a new Registered Youth Apprenticeship that connects local learners (ages 16-24) with new skills, paid work experiences, and compelling career pathways to in-demand fields. It is designed as an eight-week career training program that will takes place this summer in Orange County.
In this initial phase, the Academy focuses on the skilled trades. Subsequent years will expand to other industries, such as health care and IT. It is designed by a diverse coalition including representatives from educational institutions, employer groups, and governmental agencies as well as community volunteers and experts.
Young people (ages 16-24) of Orange County are encouraged to apply; a special focus is on youth from refugee and migrant families, as well as low-income students and students of color.
Many thanks to Chapel Hill Town Council Member Tai Huynh for igniting this initiative. For more information, visit: https://www.carolinachamber.org/summercareersacademy/.
The Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce will host its fabulous Gatsby Gala 2022 Awards and Annual Meeting on Saturday, March 26, at the recently renovated Colonial Inn in Historic Hillsborough. They will be celebrating their member businesses and giving special recognition to those who gave extra time and energy to the Chamber and the community.
The Gatsby Gala has become an annual and beloved tradition, so please register today as seating is limited. Flapper period attire is encouraged. Fun begins at 7 p.m.
To attend, click here to register. For more information: https://business.hillsboroughchamber.com/events/details/gatsby-gala-2022-awards-gala-chamber-celebration-16191?calendarMonth=2022-03-01