Maximizing with Michelle: Sharon Lansdale, President/CEO of the Center for Rural Health Development, Inc.

Ms. Lansdale is the President/CEO of the Center for Rural Health Development, Inc.. She joined the Center in 1994 and brings over 40 years’ experience in health and health care resulting from her work in both the private and public health sectors. The Center is a private nonprofit that works to strengthen West Virginia’s health care system and improve the health of West Virginians.

Before entering public health, Sharon worked as a hospital pharmacist, including serving as the director of pharmacy at a hospital in Charleston. As a hospital pharmacist she was engaged in educating patients with diabetes about how to manage their diabetes once discharged from the hospital. This led her to the WV Bureau for Public Health where she developed the Bureau’s first diabetes control program. After serving as a consultant at the Bureau for about 10 years, she became the Director of the Division of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention. In this role, she managed the development of several chronic disease control programs and community health improvement programs such as Planned Approach to Community Health (PATCH) and Community-Oriented Primary Care (COPC).

Through her role at both the WV Bureau for Public Health and Center she has focused on the health and health care needs of rural communities in West Virginia. The Center created the WV Rural Health Infrastructure Loan Fund to provide a source of affordable capital financing for health care providers and organizations in the state. Since 2001, the Center has partnered with banks and other funders to leverage over $65 million in health care infrastructure improvements in the state.

Throughout her work at the Center, Sharon has focused on the linkages between both health and health care and economic development. In fall 2018, recognizing that community health and economic prosperity are inextricably linked, the Center launched Wild, Wonderful and Healthy West Virginia. Through Wild, Wonderful and Healthy West Virginia the Center works to strengthen the capacity of communities to improve the health of residents and create a community culture that supports entrepreneurial and small business development.

Sharon has received recognition for her work to address health and health care disparities, especially in rural and under-served communities throughout her career. Recent recognition of note includes the CDC’s Childhood Immunization Champion Award in 2012 and the Health Innovator Award by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation in 2019 in recognition of the Foundation’s 75th Anniversary.

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