MayAnn Black portrait
Centennial Spotlights

MaryAnn Black

MaryAnn Black wore many hats during her lifetime: state representative, commissioner, social worker and eventually she took on the role of associate vice president for community relations for Duke Health.

“MaryAnn was known for the extraordinary relationships she built through dialogue, compromise, and steady leadership,” said Duke University President Vincent E. Price, at the time of her death in 2020 at the age of 76. “She was a true pillar of the community, and her strength and compassion will be greatly missed.”

Black entered politics in 1990 when she was elected to the Durham County Commission, where she served until 2002. In 2017, Gov. Roy Cooper appointed her to the state House, though she decided not to run for re-election. In 2004, she received the Josephine Dobbs Clement Award for Exemplary Community Leadership for helping to improve public education in Durham.

Black was born in Manhattan, N.Y. but grew up in Florence, S.C. She earned a master’s degree in social work, after which she worked in the Durham County School System and the Duke Child Guidance Center.

At Duke, Black helped develop and implement strategies and programs to enhance the health system’s relationships with communities and groups supporting Durham’s health and human service needs.

MaryAnn black speaking at a podium with a blue banner that says "medicine" in the background
MaryAnn Black gives the greeting at the Duke Medicine Cancer Summit 2010: Advancing Cancer Care in Our Community, in Durham.

In 2021, WRAL aired a documentary on her life. And, in 2023, The Duke Cancer Institute Community Outreach, Engagement, and Equity program (COEE) hosted the inaugural MaryAnn Black Distinguished Health Equity Lecture, which will be an annual event to honor her life and legacy.