Talbot-Metz’s passion for health education began when she was diagnosed with high
cholesterol during high school. Her interactions with a cardiologist and dietician
inspired her to major in the field at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland.
When comparing her top three graduate school choices, USC came out ahead because the
Arnold School’s (before it was named for Norman J. Arnold) Master of Public Health in Health Promotion, Education and Behavior program offered an assistantship. Talbot-Metz interviewed with founding executive
director for Fact Forward (then known as the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy)
Joy Campbell and knew she had found her match.
“Little did I know then that the experience would be so transformative for me,” she
says. “While I was in graduate school, I was able to receive hands-on experience about
effective coalition building, the importance of public policy in creating healthy
communities, the operations of a nonprofit organization, resource development and
grant writing, and more. With the real-world experiences and high-quality education
I received through the school of public health, I felt fully prepared for life after
Talbot-Metz continued working with Fact Forward after her 1999 graduation, transitioning
from graduate assistant/health educator to campaign director. In 2001, she made the
move to the Mary Black Foundation, where she worked her way up from program officer
to President and CEO.
Founded in 1986 to support the Mary Black Memorial Hospital (a nonprofit medical center
established in 1925), the Foundation has been a separate entity with a charitable
mission since the hospital was sold in 1996. Overseen by a Board of Trustees and run
by a staff of 10, the Foundation has focused on improving the health and wellbeing
of residents in Spartanburg County ever since.
“Working in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector is a fulfilling career path that
I would strongly encourage,” Talbot-Metz says. “There are not many careers that allow
someone to make a comfortable living while also knowing that the day-to-day work is
meaningful and leading to positive community change.”
Since 1996, the team has distributed more than $65 million in grants to local nonprofit
organizations with overlapping missions. Talbot-Metz’s collaborative approach to this
community work helps advance health in many areas, such as teen pregnancy prevention
and early childhood education. She shares her Order of the Palmetto Award – the state’s
highest civilian honor to recognize a lifetime of extraordinary achievement, service
and contributions – with her colleagues and partners.
After a comprehensive strategic planning process, the Foundation has decided to focus
their grantmaking and programming efforts on children and their families moving forward.
Their goal is to improve the health and wellbeing of the entire community by investing
in young people and the adults who care for them.
“I’m particularly excited about this new direction because I understand the importance
of a holistic, two-generation approach in creating healthier individuals and communities,”
Talbot-Metz says. “I look forward to researching areas of greatest need within Spartanburg
and then working with our partners to develop and fund solutions.”
For those considering a career in public health, Talbot-Metz recommends both her program
and her profession.
“In addition to the master of public health program providing me with foundational
understanding of the social and community context that impacts individual health and
wellbeing, the faculty were instrumental in helping me make connections that led to
lifelong friends and colleagues, internship and practicum opportunities, and future
jobs,” she says.
“The nonprofit sector provides a great deal of variety – IT, human resources, fundraising,
communications, direct services and more – and there are different areas of focus,
such as the arts, animal welfare, health and wellness, environment and education.
If students are interested in learning more about the nonprofits in their community,
a local United Way is a good place to get connected.”