Poe Center History Highlights

The Poe Center began as an idea of the Wake County Medical Society Auxiliary (now the Alliance) in the early 1980s. This group of Wake County physicians’ spouses saw a need for preventive health education in the community and wanted to support schools and organizations in fulfilling that need. They had first-hand knowledge of the detrimental effects of chronic preventable diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, through their volunteer work at hospitals and health clinics.

Passionate and determined to make a difference, these women began to explore the idea of developing a health-education exhibit. They worked through a committee of local health officers and hired a designer to create an exhibit on the human heart. This first exhibit was installed at the North Carolina Museum of Natural History in downtown Raleigh and was well received by visitors. Based on the success of this first health education exhibit, the Alliance began to work towards building a free-standing center in Raleigh dedicated to health-education.

Since opening its doors in 1991, the Poe Center has provided health science education to more than 1.3 million North Carolina children, youth, and adults at our facility in Raleigh and in schools and communities across the state reaching constituents from 93 of NC’s 100 counties. Our staff also works to improve health through community partnerships, events, serving on community coalitions, social marketing campaigns, and enhancing community environment.



Inaugural meeting on January 10th.


Exploration of funding begins.


Commitment from Museum of Natural Sciences to provide space and time for a “seed exhibit.”


  • Funding approved from the Wake County Medical Society Auxiliary.
  • Center endorsed by Wake County Medical Society.


  • Funding received from Wake County delegation of the North Carolina Legislature.
  • Opning of “seed exhibit” September 27th.
  • Eecutive Committee formed with six officers: Faye Miller and Dianna Burroughs, Co-Chairs; Charles Wood and Barbara Page, Advisors; Mary Rendleman, Secretary; and Eloise Cofer, Treasurer.


  • Decision made by Health Education Center on May 6th to become a separate organization with its own governing board and membership.
  • By-laws and Articles of Incorporation set on November 22nd, making it the Center for Health Education, Inc.


  • Board of Directors expands on February 3rd with 10 new members.
  • Helen Majors becomes first full-term President on May 5th after the incorporation.


  • Jean Poe Smith and her niece, Jean Poe Martin, meet with Helen Majors in May regarding the property/potential site for the health education facility.
  • Decision was made by the Executive Committee that a completely separate, freestanding facility was critical to the success of the Center for Health Education, Inc.
  • On October 12th, the first office opened at Project Enlightenment, On October 30th, the “seed exhibit” at the Museum of Natural Sciences closes.


  • Land from Jean Poe Smith and her husband, Gordon Smith, Jr., was deeded to the Center for Health Education, Inc. on January 19th.
  • The Center moved to a new office at 7700 Six Forks Road in Raleigh and held their first Annual Meeting on May 10th.
  • Unfortunately, due to the extensive damages caused by a tornado, the Center once again relocated to Bullard Court on December 6th.


  • Medical Campaign, led by Dr. Vartan Davidian and Dr. Blake Garside, launched with a pledge from Raleigh Plastic Surgery.
  • On June 20th, the Center was officially named the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education, with Dr. Thomas B. Dameron, Jr. being named chairman of the Campaign Steering Committee.


  • Actor Louis Gossett, Jr. helped kick off the Three Million Dollar Campaign Event.
  • On May 21st, the first Distinguished Service Award was given to Faye L. Miller. The award now bears her name and is awarded annually.


  • Executive Director, Pa to Jean Poe Smith and Gordon Smith, Jr. for the land that is to become the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education’s home.
  • The Poe Center’s new facility opens on November 21st and welcomes their first ever field trip! Seventy students from Sampson Middle School christen the new Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education facility.


  • Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust awards $120,000 for the Poe Center’s Health Educators.
  • Gordon Smith Award established to perpetuate the Gordon Smith Jr. legacy.
  • Antique Show to benefit the Poe Center established.


  • Governor Hunt dedicates the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education to the people of North Carolina.
  • The Poe Center receives a $260,000 federal grant and a pledge from WakeMed Health & Hospitals to provide building and grounds maintenance.


  • The Poe Center’s curriculum now offers 26 different health education programs.
  • Annual Campaign to raise $100,000 begins.


  • Burroughs awards $24,150 teacher development grant for in-depth health education for middle and high school teachers.
  • Antique Show raises $66,500 and the Rotary Golf Tournament raises $10,000 for the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education.


New Executive Director, Pam Kohl, hired.


23,000 students attend programs at the Poe Center through new contracts with Wake County Public Schools, Orange County Public Schools and Think First Foundation.


  • Over 40,000 participants from 57 counties attend the Poe Center’s programs.
  • New breast health program created through Susan B. Komen of the Triangle grant.


  • Dr. Henry Zaytoun, Jr. becomes Committee Chair of the “Bring Health to Life!” capital campaign, which raises $2.4 million dollars.
  • The Poe Center is asked to coordinate the NC Five A Day Nutrition Challenge – a statewide initiative.
  • Smart Start of Wake County funds Sherriff Tuffy Tooth, an outreach teaching model designed to enhance the learning experience of preschool age students about dental health.


  • The Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education teams with Duke Health Raleigh Hospital and the Fenwick Foundation to create “RAH – for Rolesville”.
  • May 23rd Annual meeting features keynote speakers including Dean E. Smith and Samuel L. Katz, MD speaking on the New Comprehensive Statewide Plan for Child Health in North Carolina.


  • Thanks to State Representative Edd Nye’s leadership and the support of the General Assembly the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education receives state funding.
  • First Ready, Set…Poe! Sunset 5K and Family Festival is held at Cameron Village.
  • Governor Hunt & Carmen Hooker Odom speak at Annual Meeting.
  • With financial support from Rex Healthcare, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Wake County Smart Start, Duke Endowment and Cannon Foundation the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education launches the Cranium Connection.


  • The Cranium Connection officially premiered at the Cerebral Soiree Under the Skull with a ribbon cutting by Lt. Governor Beverly Perdue.
  • Web sites “poehealth.org” and “healthyteachers.org” are launched.


  • Annual meeting features speaker Commander Penny Royall of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness.
  • Ground breaking ceremony for new playground is held.


  • WakeMed’s Playwell Park at Poe is opened with a three day celebration.
  • New CEO for the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education is hired- Sheila Ryba.
  • New Mission and Vision Statements adopted by Board of Directors for the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education.
  • New logo created to reflect the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education’s new mission and vision.


  • Interior paint and carpet, Teaching Theaters, and website all updated.
  • Legislative Reception held at the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education.