12 Black Leaders to Know: Faith Polkey
Source: The Post and Courier
Published: February 13, 2022
Article Author: Adam Parker
CIMS Partner Center: Baeufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services
BEAUFORT — Early experiences and encounters helped shape Faith Polkey’s interests and, most importantly, her sense of self. One tragic episode, which occurred before Polkey was born, perhaps did more than anything else to direct her into a career of caregiving.
Today, she is chief clinical officer of Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services. The organization operates nine centers in all three counties in the bottom corner of the state. Convinced that community health centers are essential to the well-being of low-income and rural patients, perhaps especially during a pandemic, Polkey devotes herself to expanding the reach of these clinics.
Trained in pediatric medicine, she is also a devoted educator, serving as regional director of medical education for Arizona-based AT Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine. Its South Carolina campus is embedded within Polkey’s health center.
She lives in Beaufort, but her roots are in Charleston.
Polkey was born at St. Francis Hospital downtown and grew up on James Island in the old Westchester neighborhood not far from Folly Beach. This was one of the first planned communities for middle-class African Americans. Residents there included businessmen, teachers and professionals.
“I grew up surrounded by home-owning two-parent households,” she said. She forged close friendships in the neighborhood. “It was an idyllic place to live.”
In 1981, when Polkey was 10 years old, the family relocated to Northwoods Estates in North Charleston so her father, Windell Lawrence, could be closer to the aluminum plant where he worked. That daily commute from the far end of James Island to Goose Creek was just too much. Her mother, Cora Lawrence, was a librarian at Mitchell Elementary School downtown.