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Jackie Overton

Jackie Overton likes her job and the people she works with at the Department of Public Safety.

And that is why she invited them to be part of the ceremony when she was sworn in as chair of the Employee Forum last July. Jeff McCracken, director of public safety, told forum members that they were lucky to have Overton, who is in charge of annual training for all public safety employees who are not sworn offices, as their chair.

“She has been with our department through tough times, and her training and education and experience have helped us get through those times,” McCracken says.

Overton grew up in Hertford, a sleepy coastal town of about 2,000 people, and graduated from Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in African-American studies in 1985. After that, she enrolled in a master’s program in education and counseling.

As a graduate student and intern for a guidance counselor at a Chapel Hill elementary school, Overton got her first job with the Department of Public Safety writing tickets for illegally parked cars. That led to her take another job in public safety supervising a staff of five people who handled parking ticket appeals. And here Overton unexpectedly found her niche as a training officer.

She noticed her staff was inattentive to people who came for help, so Overton instituted a training program based on the tenet, “We are going to treat these people the same way we would like to be treated.”

Overton has been a part of Carolina for 35 years, both as an employee and a student, and views all that is wrong with the University in the context of all that is right. And she has brought that perspective to the forum.

“At the end of the day, I feel like I’ve got 50,000 reasons to absolutely love this place. Some of the people who work here, who teach here and who attend school here are the finest people you will meet anywhere.” And when there is a problem, she says, “I know I don’t have to shout at people to get their attention. I believe I can get their attention just by having a meaningful conversation.”

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