Emma Barksdale, Pearlie Harris, Dr. Levi S. Kirkland

Meet Three of Our Greenville African American Leaders

Feb 18 2021

As we celebrate Black History Month, we want to pay tribute to a few important African American team members in our Greenville market. Several trail-blazing staff members and board members have made and continue to make a difference in our ministry.

Because of the following individuals, their dedication and their talents, Bon Secours St. Francis is a remarkable institution.

Dr. Levi S. Kirkland

The late Dr. Levi S. Kirkland Sr. (pictured above right) is among these great pioneers. He was the first African American surgeon in Greenville, SC.

Dr. Kirkland began his journey with our ministry in 1967 and remained active with us until his retirement in 2006. Without a doubt, he experienced many challenging and difficult days. Yet, he persevered with professionalism and dedication.

Dr. Kirkland’s service to the Greenville community resulted in his receiving numerous awards and recognitions. These included the Order of the Palmetto, an award is given by the governor. It is the highest civilian honor awarded to citizens of South Carolina.

We are genuinely grateful for Dr. Kirkland and his many years of service.

Pearlie Harris

Another changemaker who has made many contributions to our ministry and the Upstate community is Mrs. Pearlie Harris. She was the first African American female to be appointed to the Board of Bon Secours St. Francis Health System in 2002. In 2009, she was elected to be chairman of the board.

As an educator for 37 years, Mrs. Harris (pictured above middle) understands the power of influence. She has openly shared the challenges of her experience while being the only African American teacher at her school during the early years of integration.

The life-long insights and skill sets she brings to the board of Bon Secours St. Francis has instilled knowledge to help us in the pursuit of embracing unity. In October 2011, we proudly unveiled our state-of-the-art breast health center in her name, because we greatly appreciate her continued efforts for change.

Emma Barksdale

Emma Barksdale was one of our first African American registered nurses. She has served with our ministry in several roles during her 40 years of employment.

Emma was one of the first African American head nurses (now known as nursing directors). She had the opportunity to be selected to develop the first acuity system for Bon Secours St. Francis.

As an energetic and innovative leader, Emma (pictured above left) has been effective during her career in developing strategic initiatives to meet the changing health care climate. She also has a talent for catalyzing the exchange of ideas between leaders and colleagues from multiple disciplines to create progressive, creative solutions to improve patient care.

As the chairman of our United Way campaign for over ten years, Emma has been instrumental in helping us exceed our goal year after year. It gives her the greatest joy to empower and mentor young colleagues and inspire them to reach their full potential.

Emma’s greatest surprise and honor was in 2015 when she was selected by 26,000 employees to receive the Dedicated Service Award from Bon Secours. We appreciate Emma’s untiring, kind and compassionate leadership.

At Bon Secours, we embrace our diversity. Many African Americans have made significant contributions to our ministry, and we genuinely appreciate their devotion and service.

Learn more about our mission as well as the health care services we provide at Bon Secours.

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