Lucy Forgione, MS, MCHES, HO
Ms. Forgione is the Health Officer/Director of Health for the Bernards Township Health Department, a contractual health agency serving six Morris and Somerset County communities. Ms Forgione is a Masters Certified Health Education Specialist and Licensed New Jersey Health Officer; she has dedicated her entire career to the practice and profession of public health. As a municipal employee for the Township of Bernards for over forty years, Ms. Forgione has made major contributions to the public’s health on the local, state, and national levels.
Ms. Forgione also serves as the Health Educator / Youth Services Coordinator for the Township of Bernards where she oversees the development, implementation, and evaluation of all community health education services. In addition, she was responsible for developing an innovative, municipal-based youth services program which provided counseling and referral to area youth on drug/alcohol abuse, smoking cessation, and family or personal problems. Ms. Forgione is also credited for the 1986 development of the first Project Graduation program in the state, which was the impetus for the program to be run in virtually every school district in New Jersey. For the 1992, Neighborhood Coffees of Prevention Model, the 2010 “It’s 21 for a Reason “to prevent underage drinking to name a few.
Ms. Forgione Served in many leadership capacities. She initiated the first New Jersey based organization for health educators, New Jersey Chapter, Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) and was the first elected president in 1985.
During her time as health educator, Ms. Forgione secured over 2.5 million dollars in state, federal, and foundation grants to support innovative health education programs that were not funded by local tax dollars. She was also the recipient of numerous professional awards, including the NJ SOPHE “Excellence in Health Education” award, and the President’s award of the New Jersey Public Health Association and Outstanding Women of Somerset County in Medicine/Health Services to name a few.
In 1993, Ms. Forgione was unanimously appointed by the Board of Health and mayor of Bernards Township to serve as the municipality’s first female Health Officer. She was the recipient of Bernards Township’s Management Leadership Award, June 23, 1995. In this role, Ms. Forgione directs and oversees all public health services for Bernards Township and five additional inter-local contracts. Managing a staff of eleven, Forgione provides leadership for all public health activities to ensure compliance with federal, state, and local health laws and ordinances. In addition to her mandated duties, Ms. Forgione works closely with all six local boards of health and staff members to advance the most current, state-of-the art public health services of assessment, assurance, and policy development for continuous improvement for the public health system in the jurisdiction in which she serves.
After becoming Health Officer in Bernards Township, Ms. Forgione went on to become only the third elected female president in 1998 in the 90-year history of the New Jersey Health Officer’s Association. During her presidency, she was responsible for procuring the first funding increase in Public Health Priority Funding in over a decade, while raising the credibility and stature of the New Jersey’s Health Officers among state leadership and legislators.
Perhaps one of Ms. Forgione’ greatest accomplishments during her career in public health is the work that she has done in the area of adolescent tobacco control and alcohol and drug abuse and prevention, a cause that she took on in the late 1980’s, and remains firmly committed to today. Forgione developed “BT STOP”, the Bernards Township Smoking & Tobacco Organization Program which continues today with a proven track record of success and accomplishments. In 2002 and again in 2007 secured and was awarded a federal Drug Free Communities Support Program grant from US Department of Health and Senior Services to prevent adolescent alcohol/drug use and abuse. The grant award totaled one million dollars was funded through 2012 providing education on the 40 Developmental Assets, Building Youth.
Ms. Forgione has a true and genuine commitment and dedication to public service. She serves as a strong role model, bringing pride, respect, and stature to careers in municipal government, continually demonstrating that commitment on the local level can have far-reaching impact throughout the state and the nation. In public health, success comes one community at a time, which Ms. Forgione strives to achieve and demonstrate every day.