The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky has named five new members to its Community Advisory Council: Leigh Ann Ballegeer of Paducah, Sara Jo Best of Rineyville, Rev. Kent H. Gilbert of Berea, Terrie Burgan of Vine Grove, and Joel Thornbury of Pikeville.
Council members provide the Foundation's Board of Directors with advice and recommendations regarding overall policy direction and adherence to Foundation’s mission. Members of the Council are residents of Kentucky who are committed to addressing the unmet health needs of Kentuckians. The members also serve as a liaison between the work of the Foundation and their respective communities. They serve three-year, renewable terms.
The newly appointed members are:
• Leigh Ann Ballegeer is the Director of Community Health at Mercy Health - Lourdes Hospital, where she has worked for more than six years. She previously held positions in the marketing department, and transitioned to this newly-created position in community health in 2020. A life-long Paducah resident, Leigh Ann is a board member for the United Way of Paducah-McCracken County and the Paducah Police Foundation, and is a member of Paducah Young Professionals. She’s previously completed board terms at Family Service Society and Easterseals West Kentucky, and also was a member and president of the Charity League of Paducah. She achieved her undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky and MBA from Southern Illinois University.
• Sara Jo Best, RS, MPH, is director of the Lincoln Trail District Health Department, which serves Hardin, LaRue, Marion, Meade, Nelson and Washington counties. Best began her health department career in 2002 as a community health educator. She was named director of the department in 2013. Best also is president of the Kentucky Health Directors Association, and has been an officer of the Kentucky Public Health Association and served on the Passport Board of Directors. During her career, she has established four new public health programs (health education, preparedness, harm reduction and health equity), received approval for three local enviornmental health ordinances, added three harm-reduction syringe service sites, and helped win smoke-free ordinances in Bardstown, Radcliff, Elizabethtown, Hodgenville, and Hardin County. Best obtained her master's degree in public health from Western Kentucky University in 2005.
• Rev. Kent H. Gilbert is the pastor at Union Church in Berea, and also serves on the executive board of the Kentucky Council of Churches. He chairs the Council's Justice and Advocacy Commission, which develops consensus policy statements for consideration by the Council Board and Assembly. In addition,
he serves on the Madison County International Committee and the Indiana-Kentucky UCC Conflict Transformation Team. A native of Denver, Rev. Gilbert first started visiting Berea annually at age 17 for a week-long Christmas Country Dance School program. He graduated from Whittier College in Los Angeles, and did his seminary work at the University of Chicago Divinity School and at the Pacific School of Religion and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Rev. Gilbert was ordained in 1991 and served at a United Church of Christ parish in Oregon before returning to Berea to live in 1997.
• Terrie Burgan, MPH, is a health promotion manager and public information officer at the Lincoln Trail District Health Department, where she is responsible for all health education and outreach programs in the district. Her previous roles at the health department include clinical director, managing the Women, Infants and Children (WIC), family planning, and childhood/adult immunization programs; and maternal child health coordinator. Her public health career has spanned 23 years, 10 of which have been at Lincoln Trail. Burgan earned
her master's in public health from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2004 and her bachelor of science degree in nursing from Wingate University in 1992.
• Joel Thornbury is a concierge pharmacist from Pikeville. He also is the pharmacist-in-charge at NOVA Pharmacy, and vice president of Levisa Pharmacies, Inc., which operates several pharmacies in Eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia. He currently serves as president of the Kentucky Pharmacists Association board; he was president of the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy from 2009 to 2016, and a board member for eight years prior to that. In addition, he served on the board and executive committee of the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce from 2012 to 2016. Thornbury earned his bachelor of science degree from the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy in 1992.