Skip to main content
By Mitierra Johnson, Environmental Health Research Assistant 

Jennifer Hatley, the director of Environmental Health in the Cabarrus Health Alliance has always been passionate about science and wanting to change the lives of others. Growing up, she aspired to work in a lab, so she pursued an undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She worked in a chemistry lab during her college years before she discovered a love for environmental health, which led to her applying for her first environmental job in Stanly County and working for nine months as an environmental health specialist.

When the opportunity presented itself to work in a larger county, she applied for a job in Cabarrus County and  began working at the Cabarrus Health Alliance. Twenty-four years have passed, and she is still making an impact.

 “I love that I get the opportunity to help a family make their home safer for their kids by removing sources of lead exposure,’’ Jennifer stated. In fact, she reflected that “leaving a home and not being able to properly identify the source of lead exposure is the most challenging part of my job.”

Cabarrus Health Alliance’s Environmental Health Division provides numerous lead and other healthy homes educational resources to the public and area clinicians, including mold resources on its website.

She was recently promoted to environmental health director in November 2023. In this new role, her work has evolved into handling more logistical and administrative tasks, while continuing to go in the field to conduct lead investigations and inspections.  “Having a biology degree has allowed me to contribute to this role uniquely. I love that I get to use my degree every day.”. She also shared the example of addressing food-borne illness and how her biology background helps her understand the science behind those types of issues in environmental health.

She attended the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) Quality Improvement (QI) Leaders Academy to enhance her professional development and to learn QI strategies for her department. These opportunities informed her development of a week-long Kaizen project with her team, in which restaurant owners were invited to collaborate on strategies to help reduce the primary violations for food establishments in Cabarrus County. Through this collaboration, they developed “Getting Safer” job aides and educational materials for the food establishments. Her department continues to update and use them with their regulated facilities.

In 2016, she received the Bill Broadway Award at the NC Public Health Association’s Conference for her contributions to the field of Environmental Health. This award represents one of the highest honors the Environmental Health Section can bestow upon an individual for outstanding contributions to the professional status of the Environmental Health Specialist.

Jennifer is a member of a number of professional associations. She became involved in the NC Lead and Healthy Homes Task Force through her work in Cabarrus County. She enjoys attending the quarterly meetings and being able to learn and collaborate with others. She is currently serving as Past-President for West Piedmont Environmental Health Section of the EH section of NCPHA.  She is also a part of many other professional associations, including the North Carolina Food Safety and Defense Task Force and Cabarrus County Food Safety Advisory Group.

The most exciting part of her job is the opportunity to learn something new every day in the field and helping people with what she has learned.

Outside of work she enjoys being outdoors with her family, gardening, and college sports.

Comments are closed.