Long-time mental health, substance abuse center director earns Order of the Long Leaf Pine

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A long-time public servant in the Cape Fear area has been given the state’s highest civilian honor–the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Foster Norman, former CEO of CoastalCare, which merged with East Carolina Behavior Health to become Trillium Health Resources on July 1, retired last week after 39 years in the public service system for mental health, substance abuse and intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to a news release from the organization. Norman was inducted into the Order on June 25.

“Foster’s most important leadership trait is that it’s always been about the people that the organization serves,” said Dave Richard, deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. “That has been his commitment, it hasn’t changed, and we will miss him greatly in this field.”

Norman also received recognition from the North Carolina Council for Community Programs, the professional organization affiliated with Local Management Entities/Managed Care Organizations, supporting the coordination, reform and growth of the NC Mental Health, Intellectual/Developmental disability, and substance use system since 1983. Norman received the Council’s Lifetime Leadership Award in 2014.

“Foster isn’t just dedicated like I thought he was,” Leza Wainwright, CEO of Trillium Health Resources, said. “He is absolutely committed to our system, to the people we serve, and to his staff. He’s not just professional. He’s one of the most honorable people I’ve ever met, he has impeachable integrity, and if Foster Norman tells you he’s going to do something you can take it to the bank.”