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Health Director and Senior Staff
Chris Dobbins became Gaston County Health Director in 2011. Prior to that, the Gaston County native and North Gaston High School graduate served 22 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring in 2004. Chris also served five years as the assistant director for the Gaston County Health Department. He holds a Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Science in management of human resources from Colorado Christian University. Chris is also a graduate of the Southeastern Public Health Leadership Institute through UNC-Chapel Hill and the Executive Senior Leadership Seminar through the Center for Creative Learning in San Diego, California.
Assistant Health Director
Steve Eaton joined the Health Department in 2011 as Assistant Health Director. Earlier in his career, Steve spent seven years as an executive director for two North Carolina Smart Start agencies and for the Early Head Start Program in Alexander County. He has more than 12 years experience in government accounting, contracting, financial management, strategic planning, community collaboration and board and staff development. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from East Carolina University, a certificate in non-profit management from Duke University, and has studied at the Center for Creative Leadership of North America.
Business Services Administrator
Cathy Cheek joined the Health Department in 2004 as accounting supervisor, and worked as administrative officer and business services coordinator before becoming business services administrator in 2011. She holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Gardner-Webb University. Prior to coming to the Health Department, Cathy worked for more than 25 years in non-profits, state and local government.
Veronica Costner, RN, BSN, MBA, CHC
Personal Health Services Administrator
Veronica Costner joined the Health Department in 2011 as personal health services administrator. Veronica has 30 years of nursing experience, including 15 years of management and administrative responsibilities. Her background includes case management, discharge planning, risk/quality management and project development experience in five acute care facilities. She holds a Master of Business Administration from the State University of New York at Albany and a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Niagara University. She also holds a certification in health care compliance. Veronica recently relocated from New York state, where she worked with the New York Department of Health monitoring New York state teaching facilities.
Special Projects Manager
Bill Gross joined the Health Department as allied health services administrator in 1988 and became special projects manager in 2007. He holds a Master of Public Health from the University of California and a Bachelor of Science in education from the State University of New York. He previously worked in community health planning with the Health Systems Agency of Northeastern New York, at the National Center for Health Education, and for Cable Health/Lifetime.
Environmental Health Services Administrator
Curtis Hopper joined the Health Department in 1990 as a field sanitarian and became environmental health services administrator in 2001. He is a registered environmental health specialist with the State of North Carolina. He holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He completed national emergency management and terrorism training at the Institute of Emergency Management in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Prior to coming to the Health Department, he was a fermentation process supervisor at Fleischmann's Yeast.
Community Health Education Administrator
Abigail Newton joined the Gaston County Health Department as community health education administrator in 2011. She holds a Master of Public Health from Oregon State University and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Prior to coming to Gaston County, Abby was the community health manager in Lincoln County as well as a research coordinator at Oregon Health and Sciences University.
Satellite Operation Administrator
Cynthia Stitt joined the Health Department in 1996 and worked in a variety of positions, both clinical and managerial. She was the assistant personal health services administrator for five years before becoming the Highland Health Center administrator in 2011. She became administrator for all of the Health Department's satellite clinics in 2012. She was raised in Gaston County and is a graduate of Hunter Huss High School. She holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Health Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She served more than five years in the U.S. Air Force before returning to Gaston County in 1996.
Dr. Velma Taormina has been the medical director at the Health Department since 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in biology and a Master of Science in engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Doctor of Medicine from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, Texas. She completed her residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington in 1994. She was an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology prior to moving to Gastonia in 1996. From 1996 to 2004, she was in private practice in Gastonia. She is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is fluent in Spanish.