RALEIGH — Urban Ministries of Wake County didn’t have to look far to find its new director.
Dr. Peter Morris, longtime medical director at Wake County Human Services, was named the Raleigh nonprofit’s next leader on Wednesday. In December, he’ll succeed Anne Burke, who is retiring after 26 years in the job.
Urban Ministries board members said Morris, 59, is a great fit for the agency, which provides shelter, food and health care to the needy. In addition to his background in medicine and public health, Morris earned a master’s degree in divinity from Duke University in 2007.
“To me, he’s a Renaissance man,” said Duke Raleigh Hospital president Doug Vinsel, who recalled working with Morris on a program providing prenatal care to uninsured mothers. “Peter was really the main architect. Going forward, I’m sure Peter will have many other great ideas for Urban Ministries.”
Morris was introduced to the nonprofit’s supporters Wednesday afternoon, sporting matching purple glasses, tie and sneakers for the occasion. He said he’s a fan of Urban Ministries’ mission.
“This community can and should be caring for the homeless and hungry and providing them health care,” he said. “I hope we’re going to move our community to that spot.”
Morris graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill’s medical school in 1978, starting his career as a pediatrician in rural Kentucky. He returned to the Triangle in 1986 and has practiced at WakeMed’s pediatric intensive unit. He joined Wake County’s health department – now part of Human Services – the same year. In addition to being the county’s medical director, Morris is also the county’s compliance officer and director of behavioral health – all positions he will leave when he joins Urban Ministries.
He’ll work with Burke in the coming months to make a smooth transition. She’s been with Urban Ministries since it was founded in 1981.