In Remembrance: Carole J. Morris

The founder and CEO of the Mount Vernon Health Center Carole J. Morris transitioned, Thursday, June 29, 2023. Black Westchester would like to take this time to offer our condolences to her daughter Linda Morris, her family, friends, and all those whose lives she touched along the way.

The Westchester Community Health Center (formerly Mount Vernon Health Center) remembers its founder and CEO Carole Morris

It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts we announce the passing of Carole Morris, RN, BA, former founder and CEO of the Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center (now Westchester Community Health Center) on June 29, 2023. For over forty-four years, Ms. Morris worked tirelessly to provide quality healthcare services to the most vulnerable. She was a true visionary who grew the health center from trailer units to multiple locations currently serving over 42,000 patients and 132,000 visits annually.

We will miss our matriarch. She worked to improve public health in her community. She served as the first President of the National Association of Community Health Centers and one of the founders of the Community Health Care Association of New York State. Ms. Morris also served as President of Community Choice Health Plan of Westchester.

May her soul rest in eternal peace.

The National Association of Community Health Centers also released a statement in remembrance of its first President.

NACHC mourns the passing of a colleague and leader in the Community Health Center Movement – Carole J. Morris, who passed away on June 29th.

Carole was the founder and former CEO of Mt. Vernon Neighborhood Health Center, now Westchester Community Health Center in New York.  She was also a longtime member of NACHC, serving as Board Chair from 1995-1996 – and a founding member of the Community Health Care Association of New York State.

Throughout a lifetime of service, Carole was a forceful advocate for the nation’s medically underserved and low-income populations.  During her tenure as NACHC’s Chair of the Board, she helped navigate a turbulent time when health centers were buffeted by dramatic shifts in public policy.

She called for the mobilization of the grassroots and for health centers to show in “hard facts” the savings they produce and the value of positive outcomes of primary care interventions. She also called for a strong NACHC, expressing what holds true today:

“We must speak with a collective voice that bears clout and strength.  The many successes we have achieved … the recognition that we hold among providers and others in health care, rest in solidarity and pursuit of common goals for the benefit of all.”

We will remember Carole for her friendship, her indomitable spirit, and her invaluable contributions that helped advance Community Health Centers into the forefront of America’s health care.

Our deepest sympathies are extended to family, friends, and the communities she loved.

On August 27, 1973, Carole J, Morris founded the Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center. During an interview where we celebrated Black Women of Westchester on the People Before Politics Radio Show, the opening week of my book release, one of those whose lives she touched, the current CEO Judith Watson, RN, BSN, MPH discussed how Carole was a mentor and more to her.

“Carole Morris, The founder and CEO of the Mount Vernon Health Center is an amazing, amazing woman, human being, and mogul, not just in Mount Vernon but in the county of Westchester, nationally, and regionally. I am actually at a conference right now in Albany, our Primary Care Association of Community Health Centers, she is one of the founders of this organization, 50 years ago, and here I am sitting at this conference right now. Carole Morris, mentor, friend, mother, boss,” Judith Watson, RN, BSN, MPH shared with Black Westchester on Sunday, March 5, 2023.

On Wednesday, April 19, 2023, elected officials, dignitaries, community leaders, and guests gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center (MVNHC). The occasion was marked by a groundbreaking ceremony for a $12 million renovation of the Mt. Vernon facility and the unveiling of MVNHC’s new name and brand. In order to more accurately reflect its broader geographic service area, MVNHC is now known as Westchester Community Health Center.

Her many highlights and accomplishments, (too many to name all here) include being a speaker at the White House Conference of Teenagers – Raising Responsible and Resourceful Youth, May 2, 2000, during the Clinton Administration. the conference was a gathering to underscore some of the common misconceptions that parents have about the teenage years and offered strategies for raising responsible and resourceful youth. Conference participants highlighted ways in which parents, schools, businesses, the media, and others in the larger community can support children during this critical stage of life. This was President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton’s first-ever White House Conference on Teenagers

Carole J. Morris may be gone, but her legacy lives on in the newly named Westchester Community Health Center, and all the lives she touched like the current CEO Judith Watson.

We celebrate Carole J. Morris a true Black Westchester Legion!!!