Monday, August 21, 2017

School of Nursing alumna Connie Mele (BSN ’84, MSN ’96) has received a lifetime achievement award from the North Carolina Foundation for Alcohol and Drug Studies (NCFADS), for her outstanding career in substance abuse prevention and treatment.

Mele currently serves as assistant public health director for Mecklenburg County, where she is responsible for the administration of four divisions, including Trauma and Justice Services and Health Policy and Prevention. Over 28 years and multiple roles with county health organizations, she has been a leader in substance abuse prevention and mental health treatment. As a program administrator, she earned a $1.5 million grant from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration) to implement an integrated treatment program for people struggling concurrently with mental illness and substance abuse. The award is one of several impactful grants Mele has earned over her career.

Mele is past president of NCFADS and chair for the Addiction Nursing Certification Board. Under her leadership, the organization began the initial assessment to determine what was needed to accredit nurses who take this examination.

“Connie has taken the mission of the School of Nursing to prepare leaders to meet the needs of an ever-changing culturally diverse society and developed a career of service, advocacy, collaboration, education and policy development,” said one colleague.

Since 1997, Mele has facilitated a weekly support group for nurses in recovery that helps them support one another and navigate the unique challenges with licensure and employment. The group is the only one of its kind in North Carolina.

A certified clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric mental health nursing, Mele is an advanced practice certified addictions nurse.

She was among the first group of graduates from UNC Charlotte’s Master of Science in Nursing program. She has been identified as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Public Health Nurse Leader and was inducted as a fellow into the International Academy of Addiction Nursing.

The UNC Charlotte School of Nursing recognized Mele with its Distinguished Alumna Award in 2016.