Gateway Wellness Foundation adds new board member

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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Polk County’s Josh Kennedy joined the Board in late 2022


Gateway Wellness Foundation recently added a new board member to the organization to better understand the needs, challenges, and opportunities that exist in our communities, specifically in Polk County. Joshua Kennedy, Director of the Consolidated Health & Human Services Agency of Polk County (HHSA), joined the Board of Directors in late 2022.

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Gateway’s Board of Directors represents the foundation’s four-county service area, which includes Burke, McDowell, Polk, and Rutherford counties. Founded in 2019, the nonprofit, philanthropic organization focuses on improving the health and well-being of all residents in its service area through grantmaking, intentional partnerships, and collaborations.


Passionate about health and human services, Joshua Kennedy brings a wealth of experience in leading and strategically managing regional health organizations and health coalitions to his role on Gateway’s leadership team. For the past six years, he has served as the Director of the Polk County HHSA, during which time he has implemented several innovative projects designed to increase effectiveness and efficiency of services for the community.  Prior to this role, Kennedy has served the region in a number of population health-related capacities. Initially serving as the Executive Director and later chairman of the board for the McDowell County Health Coalition, he led the organization’s growth and sustainability efforts with a 200% increase in the budget for community programs, leading to an increase in program personnel for the coalition and partner organizations.  He would later assume the role of Assistant Health Director for the Rutherford-Polk-McDowell Health District where he would be responsible for improving practice efficiencies by transitioning the district to electronic medical records. In his various roles, Kennedy has leveraged community partner collaborations to solve health-related issues from a public health perspective while also viewing his work through the lenses of educational opportunity and economic development. 


Kennedy has been a leading community partner on numerous projects, including McDowell County workforce development through the Get Not Out Program, regional STEM initiatives, enhancements to local food pantry operations such as mobile health clinics at local food pantries, World Equestrian Games’ Health and Human Services Branch Director for Polk County’s Emergency Operations, Polk County Wellness Coalition, Polk County Mental Health Committee, and Polk County Substance Abuse Coalition.


Kennedy volunteers in numerous capacities in his community and has been or is currently a member of several organizational boards, nationally and locally, such as the NC Science Math and Technology Center, the Blue Ridge Health Center, the Free Clinics, and Blue MD. He is married to his wife Allison, and the couple has three amazing boys. When not working, Josh enjoys various outdoor activities with his wife, boys, and the family dog.


Norman Guthrie, Chairman of the Gateway Wellness Foundation Board, expressed his excitement to welcome Kennedy to the group: “Josh is a great community leader and brings a deep understanding of the issues our neighbors are facing to his work on the Gateway board. We are pleased to have him join us and look forward to the positive impact he will have on the organization.”


Submitted by Sarah Morse