August 9, 2022 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pamela Gillam has relied on leadership and laughter to get her to where she is today. The director of the Center for Applied Research and Evaluation (CARE) has worked with CARE for more than two decades, with 12 of those years as its leader. She draws on her lifelong commitment to learning about leadership and the close bonds of her team (aka, the “framily”) to help CARE partners improve public health practices and systems across South Carolina.
When Gillam talks about leadership, she’s mainly referring to the training and guidance she has received from coaches and mentors over the years. She has benefited from formal and informal activities, beginning with youth leadership programs and including national initiatives aimed at building the skills and capacity of emerging public health leaders.
Hands down, my favorite part of my job is the people I work with. We are a diverse group that brings a lot of special talents and skills to the table, including an intrinsic collaborative nature that has served our center well.
-Pamela Gillam, director of the Center for Applied Research and Evaluation
“My long-time mentor and friend, Dave Murday, hired me and has coached me throughout my career, and I give him a lot of credit for who I am today,” Gillam says. “I also am extremely fortunate to have Lee Pearson as my supervisor. We’ve known each other for over a decade and he both inspires and challenges me to up my game as a leader.”
The laughter happens everywhere Gillam goes, but CARE team members are her most frequent accomplices. The “framily” celebrates birthdays with homemade ice cream (RIP to the several ice cream machines that have perished from this tradition) and perk up when they hear the nearby monkeys (residents of the neighboring Riverbanks Zoo) from their office at 220 Stoneridge.
“Hands down, my favorite part of my job is the people I work with,” Gillam says. “We are a diverse group that brings a lot of special talents and skills to the table, including an intrinsic collaborative nature that has served our center well. We get along very well and intentionally spend time in and out of the office enjoying each other’s company.”
Gillam’s position – a unique niche that brings specialized solutions to public health challenges – couldn’t have been what she envisioned when she graduated from high school (the same one as Julia Roberts!) in Smyrna, Georgia. After completing a bachelor’s degree in urban studies/affairs from the College of Charleston, Gillam worked with non-profit organizations and public-private partnerships before her husband’s job brought the newlyweds to Columbia in 1999.
Pam’s expansive array of talents is an excellent match for leading her all-star team and the range of impactful work they conduct. She is a natural leader, facilitator, collaborator and friend, and the Arnold School has been made much better by her enduring presence.
-Lee Pearson, associate dean for operations and accreditation
Gillam soon joined what is now known as CARE and completed a Master of Public Administration at UofSC. As a senior research associate and now the director, she spends her days collaborating with partners throughout the state.
These projects include working with the Arnold School’s Center for Community Health Alignment to provide evaluation support, such as a return-on-investment study to assess the impact of community health workers. CARE also partners with the Rural and Minority Health Research Center to co-lead evaluation for the Children’s Trust of South Carolina’s Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.
One of the team’s longstanding commitments is to their relationship with the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services where they conduct quality assurance reviews for the Medicaid Eligibility Quality Assurance program. Most recently, Gillam was awarded a grant from The Duke Endowment and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation to lead a statewide initiative to develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing the social determinants of health in South Carolina.
“Pam’s expansive array of talents is an excellent match for leading her all-star team and the range of impactful work they conduct,” says Pearson, associate dean for operations and accreditation. “She is a natural leader, facilitator, collaborator and friend, and the Arnold School has been made much better by her enduring presence.”
The Staff Spotlight Series is sponsored by the Arnold School's Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.