Healthy Families program manager receives Governor’s Honor Award


by Sara Banton, Creative Services Student Writer

Yvonne Frazier - governors award
Yvonne Frazier receiving award from Governor Ralph Northam

For almost 15 years, Yvonne Frazier (’83) has served as program manager for Healthy Families, ensuring that day-to-day operations run smoothly. Her commitment to the program has resulted in the organization nearly doubling in size since she started. Many of the people who have worked with Frazier during her tenure know the selflessness of her actions. Because of her dedicated work, Frazier was recently presented with the Governor’s Award for Enhancing the Prosperity and Quality of Life in Rural Virginia.

“I knew nothing about the award or the process at all until I got a congratulations email from the governor,” Frazier said.

Located in Shenandoah and Page Counties, Healthy Families is affiliated with JMU’s Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services (IIHHS) program. Acting as an intervention program, Healthy Families helps parents and families in rural communities access the resources and support they need to improve family situations, encourage better decision-making and set better examples for their children.

“We hope to overcome some of the barriers [rural] pregnant women and families with young children may have to be the best parents that they can be,” Frazier said.

Frazier supervises four employees who perform home visits and coordinates students completing internships with the program. Since the program is grant-funded, she applies for funding and reports on the outcomes. Through her position, she also works to create community connections while promoting the resources offered by the program.

“My role is to keep the support system and safety net working together to help families improve their situations,” Frazier said. “It’s my goal to help people meet their potential, whether it’s with students, parents or community groups. When I see a need, I try to figure out how we can create partnerships that will address that need.”

When Kathleen Owens (’16, ’18M) was in the second year of her graduate psychology program at JMU, she wanted to integrate hands-on work with the course work for an elective she was taking. Her professor connected her with Frazier to put a plan into action.

“The second I met Frazier, she fueled me with encouragement, empowerment and excitement for the work we could do together,” Owens said. “She let me drive my internship so that I could get the exposure I was looking for while also providing me with the resources to make an impact in the community.”

Owens worked with a Healthy Families program called “Lunch Buddies,” which is an initiative to promote mentoring for at-risk elementary school students. The program paired adults who would encourage good behavior, be a responsible role model and a reliable friend with the elementary school students. Frazier helped Owens gain even more experience through this opportunity by introducing her to the school’s counselor, with whom Owens worked to implement support groups for other at-risk students.

“Frazier wants her students to surpass their potential and make a difference,” Owens said. “This is a quality of many JMU faculty and staff, but the thing that makes her stand out the most is that her passion for helping her students does not take away from her passion to help her community.”

To Frazier, receiving the Governor’s Award for her work with Healthy Families is more about recognizing the program rather than recognizing her contributions.

“I want to use this opportunity to draw attention to the good work JMU is doing in rural communities and to increase the relationship building and opportunities to do more of the same thing,” Frazier said. “There are some barriers that really get in the way of doing work in rural communities and I hope this will give me the opportunity to talk with people and make more things happen in the rural communities that will connect with JMU as well.”

Frazier was awarded with a medal commemorating her achievement at the Governor’s Awards ceremony at the Executive Mansion on September 18.

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Published: Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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