Fearrington Faces: Steve Stewart

Photo by Ed Lallo; article by Anne Henkels and Cathy Somer

Steve Stewart

Steve and his wife Donna moved to Fearrington Village in 2011 to be near their grandchildren. Before that, Steve and Donna had been living in Virginia, where they were both employed. As an avocation, they also bred and sold thoroughbred racehorses they raised on their farm.

Steve, who holds a master’s degree and a doctorate in public health from the University of Oklahoma, taught epidemiology and served as department head at James Madison University (JMU). He completed his professional career as an aassociate dean of the College of Integrated Science and Technology at JMU.

Steve’s background in public health and epidemiology led him to become involved in a number of interesting projects during his career. One of the most unusual was a worldwide series of projects on the effects of landmines on civilian populations. Steve was chosen to head the projects in part because he had had experience dealing with traumatic injury as a medic in the US Army during the Vietnam War. These projects led him to serve as a consultant to the US State Department, the Department of Defense, and the United Nations.

During that period, Steve traveled worldwide “to wherever landmines were blowing up or being cleared.” After 9/11, Steve worked on bioterrorism remediation as a consultant for the Department of Homeland Security.

Wanting to volunteer closer to home after his retirement, Steve worked with Jon Darling, another Fearrington resident, to conduct a community survey for Fearrington Cares in 2013-2014 on household perceptions of the organization.

In 2014, Steve was asked to fill a vacancy on the board. The following year, he was elected vice-president and, subsequently, president. He considers his period of service a “wonderful and enjoyable time with great colleagues on the staff and board.” While he was president, Steve met all his personal goals in terms of programs and services except for one: He regrets that he did not develop an adult day-care program for Fearrington Village during his tenure.

One of Steve’s goals—and a goal of other board members as well—was to remodel and expand the existing FC building. Plans were made and the necessary approvals obtained to renovate and enlarge the structure.

After serving six years on the board, Steve decided to step down, but Barbara Hummel-Rossi, the current FC president, asked him to stay in order to oversee construction of the new building. Ground was broken in August of 2019. Thanks to Steve’s dedication and that of many others, the structure was completed in late 2020.

Steve is currently a member of the Fearrington Homeowners Association (FHA) Long-range Planning Committee. Along with several other volunteers, he conducted the 2020 FHA Community Assessment Survey. He also serves on two Chatham County Health Department committees—the Scientific Advisory Committee and the Community Assessment Steering Committee.

Through his volunteer work, Steve continues to put his education and training in public health to good use in improving the lives of residents of Fearrington Village and Chatham County.

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