Fresh face for healthy partnership

Published 9:10 pm Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The new executive director of the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community has hit the ground running, as it were.

Robbie Laughton, a North Carolina boy with an accent to match and a pedometer on his hip, is passionate about healthy living and is excited to be in his new position. He replaces Jaya Tiwari, who moved to Washington, D.C., to follow her husband’s work.

“There’s already been a great amount of work Jaya, the board and the current staff have been doing,” Laughton said at his office Thursday, his second day of work.


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Laughton graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in recreation administration and physical education. He has since worked as an athletic and recreation director for a small North Carolina town, as a community manager for the American Cancer Society and everywhere in between.

“I heard about this position, and it was sort of right up my alley with my experiences and my interests,” he said. “I’m really excited to be with the partnership.”

Laughton said he is learning about the organization’s various programs, events, funding mechanisms and more.

“I’m very much looking forward to jumping in with the Healthy People/Healthy Suffolk program,” he said.

The 10-year plan to help Suffolk residents improve their healthy habits is just getting started, he added.

Laughton also is looking forward to the upcoming expansion of the community gardens project, which will break ground at seven schools by the end of February.

He also said he’s anticipating meeting people, including the partnership’s funders, partners and volunteers and key community leaders.

“It’s all about people,” he said.

Laughton also hopes to investigate how the partnership can become “financially secure and sustainable in our fund development.”

As a health nut himself, Laughton is interested in the various ways he can help Suffolk residents get healthy. He enjoys walking — his goal is to walk 10,000 steps every day — and also does kayaking, tennis, golf and basketball.

As a result of his walking and kayaking hobbies, Laughton hopes to help the city develop more walking, biking and water trails for public access.

“I want to help establish a physically active environment,” he said. “People need access to good areas to walk, bike and jog.”

Laughton and his wife, Mary Kay, have two grown sons. One lives in Illinois and the other in North Carolina.

Contact him at 539-1525 or email