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2011 Inductees


Alice Eason Ballance


Alice Eason Ballance has stated, “I was put here to help somebody. I really believe that.” Born and raised in Bertie County, her fondest memory is helping people in 1963 register to vote. She secured a car to transport them and then offered her moral support during the registration process. Ballance taught them the American Constitution so they could pass the Literacy Test. Her many endeavors in touching the lives of those marginalized included educating women about their right to public assistance, advocating so that all could ride a school bus; as well as being a strong proponent for paved roads and housing for all. In the 1950s, she worked tirelessly to combat poverty in her community by locating housing for displaced sharecroppers and working to make the welfare system accessible to them. She started anti-poverty programs, daycare for children and seniors, job programs and health and dental clinics. As a result of her efforts, in 1966 the national news media covered her impassioned plea for help before a United States Senate Committee on Poverty which led to federal funding of anti-poverty programs in Eastern North Carolina. Both President Bill Clinton and Governor James Hunt have affirmed her history of service with awards. At age 91, Alice Balance remains Director of the Kiddie World Child Development Center. She shares that “she is just as poor as anybody; but just as rich as anybody.”

Dock M. Brown, Sr.

In January 2011, Halifax County lost a true humanitarian, Dock M. Brown, Sr. Brown educated and mentored many for more than 30 years as a teacher and as a principal collectively in the Weldon City and Halifax County Schools systems. Among his many accomplishments, he served on the Halifax County Board of Commissioners, the Halifax County Health Board, the Weldon Town Board, the Elizabeth City State University Board of Trustees, the Governor’s Commission for the Evaluation of Superior Court Judges, the First Baptist Church Deacon Board and the North Carolina House of Representatives. His many honors included North Carolina’s highest civilian honor, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine – awarded by Governor James Hunt. In 2008, he witnessed the rare and distinct honor of having a federal building, the Weldon Post Office, named after him in recognition of his tireless service. This dedication was truly the most exciting and rewarding experience in his nearly eighty two (82) years of life. His public service represented his dedication and love for his family, community and politics.

Dupont Lafayette Davis


Dupont Lafayette Davis was a dedicated Hertford County Commissioner for over 21 years and Past President of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. He served on various committees throughout the county and state. They include the Atlantic District Fair, Advisory Committee for Rivers Correction, Advisor for the Judicial System for the state of North Carolina, Mid-East Commission, Workforce Development, Representative of Region Q, Jerusalem Masonic Lodge 96, R.L. Vann Alumni Association, Hertford County Athletic Association, National Association of Counties, Dr. Joseph D. Weaver Scholarship Fund, the Business Industry Board and the JobLink Board. In all the positions in which he served, his main objective was to better the lives of Hertford County citizens. In an effort to recognize his outstanding contributions to society, in October 2009, six months before his death, he received the prestigious order of the Long Leaf Pine from Governor Bev Perdue.

Board of Directors

David Barber

David Barber is Senior Vice-President of Kenly Savings Bank in Selma, NC, having worked in the financial industry for over twenty-five years with eight of those at the Kenly bank. He has proved invaluable to the Johnston-Lee-Harnett Community Action, Inc. (JLHCA) agency, not just because of his financial insight, but also through his service as a member of the Community Services Block Grant Advisory Council. It was the Advisory Council that appointed him to serve on the on the JLHCA Board of Directors. He has served on the Board in numerous capacities, including Chairman, since August 15, 1991 as a representative of the poor and has worked faithfully to help low-income families rise above their circumstances to achieve their goal of self-sufficiency. He has contributed countless volunteer hours to the agency as well as other agency initiatives. His ready smile and almost perfect attendance at all meetings sets the standard for what true “Volunteer Service and Commitment to the Community Action Creed” exemplifies. Barber’s goals as a board member are to “contribute back to the community in helping indirectly those less fortunate and through his banking experience assist in accounting matters, budgeting, etc.” Even though his schedule is hectic, he always makes time for agency issues and for the low-income residents served by the agency. His commitment is unquestionably evident to all who know him or the role that he plays in Helping People…Changing Lives. In addition to the JLHCA Board of Directors, Barber divides his time between boards for the local United Way of the Greater Triangle and the Johnston County Education Foundation. Barber is married and has one son. Born in Rockingham County, he has lived in Johnston County for over 35 years.

James H. Collins

A lifelong resident of Edgecombe County, James Henry Collins, is the current Chairman for the Nash-Edgecombe Economic Development, Inc. (N.E.E.D., Inc.) Board of Directors. Collins was re-elected in 2009 after having served as the Board Vice-Chairman in 1996 and Chairman in 2001, serving two terms. His tireless dedication of time, commitment, leadership and insight to the Community Action Agency and his Edgecombe County Community are distinguishing attributes. A 20-year lifetime member of the NC Community Action Association, Collins’ leadership is exemplified through his thirty (30) years of employment with ABB Power T & D as a Quality Control Technician, Supervisor/Team Leader, and his church activities at Pines Chapel Baptist Church, Pinetops, NC as a member and former trustee, as well as his civic contributions. A 1969 graduate of G. W. Carver High School, Collins is President of the local G.W. Carver Alumni Association and Sergeant-at- Arms of the NC Association of Black High School Alumni. He ranks as a 32nd degree Mason Roanoke Consistory with executive offices in Banner Cry Masonic Lodge #625 and Eastern Light #680, Order of Eastern Star. Collins is a member of P.A.I.R.-Parents Against Irresponsible Recreation. He initiated a youth basketball league in the Pinetops Community to offer positive male recreation, sponsors a Scholarship program for area high school students and is a strong advocate for the concerns of Senior Citizens. He is the father of one daughter and has three grandchildren.

Jesse Crowder

Jesse Crowder has been a member of the Blue Ridge Community Action, Inc. Board of Directors since February 2000 and is a supporter of the agency and the community.

S. Terry Elliott

S. Terry Elliott has served on the Board of Directors since 1999, serving two years as Chairman, Secretary/Treasurer, and on various committees. Elliott has served the community as a volunteer fireman, board member, and vice-chairman for 16 years. He has worked for several years with the United Way, Chamber of Commerce, Heart Fund, and is past president of the Lake James Holiday Shores Neighborhood Association

Howard Bishop Ervin

The late Howard Bishop Ervin was a committed member of the Board of Directors for Choanoke Area Development Association (CADA) of North Carolina, Inc., for five years. He served on the Human Rights and Finance Committees. He believed strongly in civic duty and giving back to the community. He served as chair of the Northampton County Democratic Party and on numerous boards of directors both in North Carolina and Texas that included the Sickle Cell Anemia Association of Texas, the Texas Association of Developing Colleges, Dr. MLK National Holiday Commission, the Junior Black Academy of Arts & Letters, the National Blacks In Government (BIG), Opportunity of Industrial Council of America, and the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Government. In addition, he served as Advisor to the Leadership Federal Executive Board and on the Shavano Park Texas Strategic Planning Committee.

Sue Gay

Sue Gay has served on the Choanoke Area Development Association of North Carolina, Inc. (CADA) Board of Directors since 1998. She is a member of the Executive, Personnel and Bylaws Committees and Chairman of the Program Evaluation Committee. Born and educated in Northampton County, Gay attended college and then enrolled in a 33-month Nursing Program at Chowan College that was clinically affiliated with Duke University Medical Center. Her early nursing career was based at Greensville Memorial Hospital in Emporia, Virginia, where she was assigned to Emergency Room and Labor and Delivery for over two years. In 1975, she joined the staff of Northampton County Health Department in the field of Child Health. She knew immediately that her career and niche could be in the field of public health. After raising her small children, she returned to public health in 1987, again in the Child Health Program. In 1989, she became the Director of Nursing until she became Interim-Health Director in 1996. In 2003, Ms. Gay became the official Health Director of Northampton County Health Department, following legislative action. In 1997, Ms. Gay was appointed to the CADA Board of Directors. She says, “I was amazed then at all the programs and services that CADA was able to offer to our citizens and that amazement continues after more than fourteen years. I am proud to be a member of CADA and even more proud of the staff and all they have accomplished to improve the quality of life for our citizens who have very few resources to pull from.”

Dr. Francis James, III

Dr. Francis Marshall James chaired the long-range Planning Committee in 2002 for Experiment in Self-Reliance, Inc. (ESR). This committee served as forerunner for the vision of the ESR Capital Campaign established to raise funds for a new 20,000 square foot building housed on four (4) acres of land and currently under construction. In addition, Dr. James has been an annual donor since 2001 and leveraged 25 new donors to ESR. This accomplishment resulted in raising approximately $10,000 over a 3-year period. Dr. James currently serves as Honorary Co-Chair of the 2010-2012 Capital Campaign, which has raised close to $3 million dollars to date. Dr. James also serves as an advocate for ESR by educating the general public and foundations about the agency’s mission.

Offa Lou Jenkins

Offa Lou Jenkins, former mayor of Littleton, North Carolina, died at the age of 79 on December 1, 1997. She was a tireless advocate for civil rights and a lifelong public servant. Her memorial services were held at the Lakeland Cultural Arts Center in Littleton, North Carolina – a facility she worked hard to make a reality. In addition to her work as a member of the Board of Directors of Choanoke Area Development Association (CADA) and the Lakeland Cultural Arts Center, Jenkins served as a board member for the Halifax County School Board and was a founding member of the Halifax Education Foundation. She was also a member of the Littleton Woman’s Club, AARP-Eaton Ferry Road Chapter, American Legion Auxiliary, Lake Gaston Women’s Club, Littleton Senior Citizens’ Club, Council for Exceptional Children and the Business and Professional Women’s Club in Roanoke Rapids. She served as principal of several elementary schools, director of the Rehabilitation Center/University of Virginia; professor of education for special education at Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia and chairman of the Special Education Department at Winthrop College in Rock Hill, South Carolina. She was one of the first educators to encourage early childhood education and the Head Start initiative.

Lynn Johnson

Lynn Johnson is First Vice President of Choanoke Area Development Association of NC, Inc. (CADA) where she has served on the Board of Directors since 2006. Her assignments include the Human Rights, Head Start and Representation Committees. In addition to Board duties, she made an invaluable contribution to CADA’s Ahoskie High School and Enfield High School projects – facilities retrofitted to provide affordable housing for elderly and disabled individuals – by spending many hours coordinating the interior design and furnishing of the historic structures. She holds the distinction of being the first woman elected as mayor of Murfreesboro, North Carolina, where she served three consecutive terms. She is the President, CEO and Founder of Hertford-Northampton Farmers’ Market., Inc., and in that role, used her entrepreneurial skills to establish Twice Used Wood – a business endeavor that found new uses for the old timbers of abandoned tobacco sheds and provided job training and work experience to local youth. Other accomplishments include serving as president, Greater Murfreesboro Marketing Initiative, Vice-Chair, Historical Murfreesboro Commission, Immediate past president, Mid-East Commission and Founder of the Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce Women’s Division. She is a recipient of the Front Page Award from the Roanoke Chowan News Herald and the Roselle Copeland Stewardship Award from the North Carolina Community Award Association.

Morris Lee Rascoe

Morris Lee Rascoe, Assistant County Manager and Social Services Director of Bertie County, has served for many years as a member of the Choanoke Area Development Association of North Carolina, Inc. (CADA) Board of Directors. Appointed to the CADA Board by Bertie County, he serves as the Secretary/Treasurer for the agency as well as the Executive, Finance and Program Evaluation Committees. In addition to CADA, Rascoe serves on the Board of Directors for Roanoke Chowan Human Services, is chair of the Board for Choanoke Public Transportation Authority, and serves on the Region Q Workforce Development Board and the Board of the Bertie County Partnership for Children. A member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Rascoe is a recipient of the Bertie County NAACP Award and Elk’s Outstanding Member of the Year Award.

Louise P. Sewell

Retired real estate broker, Louise Penny Sewell, has served on the Johnston-Lee-Harnett Community Action, Inc. (JLHCA) Board of Directors since August 20, 1998, currently as Chairperson, having previously served on the Executive and Finance Committees. She has played a vital role in the agency’s efforts to construct a new headquarters. Ironically, Sewell attended school and sat at a desk in the very same facility when it was the Johnston County Training School. She has participated in countless meetings conducted by local, state, and federal officials in her role as board member and chair. Sewell was a military wife and has traveled extensively, allowing her to bring a global perspective to the board and community. She is a vocal member of the community who is not afraid to stand up for those who do not have a voice for whatever reason. Her family has always advocated for both civil and human rights issues. Colonel Leon Penny, Sewell’s brother, was the former Executive Director at JLHCA for many years. Sewell continues to be heavily involved in the political arena and is a member of the Political Action Committee of the Johnston County Citizens Association that was instrumental in changing the policy at the Johnston County Public Library that prohibited African from using it. She was a member of the Electoral College which confirmed President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden and has worked tirelessly on every political front for many years. She has attended three (3) national Democratic conventions and three (3) inaugurations. Sewell and her husband have a daughter who teaches in Johnston county schools.

Executive Director

Bob Leatherwood

Bob Leatherwood served as Executive Director of Mountain Projects from 1987 to 1997. Prior to his term, he held a variety of other positions, including a college internship involving completion of a door to door survey. Leatherwood’s vision of what a Community Action Agency could do to set the foundation for the success of the organization. Under his leadership, Leatherwood established a business that generated revenue as a trailblazer for unrestricted resources. The business has generated millions of dollars to date. His commitment to clients and their well-being lead him to start a centralized point of entry for all income based services, long before anyone had heard the term “one stop”. He did not want clients to have to repeat their story multiple times under the same roof. To date, the centralized point of entry has processed over a million applications to co-enroll clients in multiple services to help them become self sufficient and make their lives better. Leatherwood expanded the organization’s vision to include self-sufficiency for all persons by agreeing to sponsor programs like the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Public Transportation. Mountain Projects Community Action attributes much of its success to the leadership and vision of Bob Leatherwood.

Mattie Patterson

Mattie Patterson has been with Blue Ridge Community Action, Inc. (BRCA) since 1977. She has worked as a CETA Counselor, Agency Planner, Associate Director, Personnel Director, and Deputy Director. She became Executive Director in January 1997 upon the death of longtime Executive, Kenneth L. Cox. She is a native of Caldwell County, NC and a graduate of Freedman High School, Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute, and Appalachian State University. She has done graduate work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in business administration. In addition, Patterson graduated from Duke University’s Non-Profit Management Certification Program, the N.C. Rural Economic Development Leadership Institute, and the NC Blue Cross/Blue Shield Non-Profit Leadership Institute. She has received numerous awards including the Governor’s Award for Volunteerism, Caldwell Community College Outstanding Alumni Award, Caldwell County Women of the Year Award, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Award for Community Service and the 2008 Western Carolina Bennett College Alumni Association Award for Community Service. Patterson is married and has four children.

James Winston Sessoms, Sr.

James Winston Sessoms, Sr. was born in Bertie County on March 17, 1922 to Raleigh and Joyce Sessoms. He was joined in holy matrimony to the late Armecia T. Sessoms and was the father of four and grandfather of three. Winston, as he was called by many, graduated from C. G. White High School in Powellsville, NC, Pitt and Roanoke Chowan Technical Colleges. Sessoms began his community service with CADA as the Assistant Manager of Community Service and Family Group Worker for CADA in Windsor, NC. He became Manager of Community Service and in 1983 became Executive Director, serving in that position until 1990 when he retired. Active in the local schools, Sessoms was a PTA President at Piney Wood Chapel Elementary School and later at C. G. White High School. He was also a deacon, teacher and Sunday school Superintendent of Piney Wood Chapel Baptist Church. Other works include: Bertie County United Voters Movement, Chairman of the Bertie County Human Relations Committee and Mid-Eastern Commission Executive member.

Dorothy Nixon Allen-Freeman

Mrs. Allen-Freeman began her work with Wake Opportunity as an outreach worker. After three years, she became its third Executive Director. Mrs. Allen-Freeman initiated programs such as Economic Development and other Housing Programs. She advocated from the State House to the White House to make life better for those least able to help themselves. She says her greatest honor during her career was the naming of the low-income elderly, handicapped apartments as the “Dorothy Allen Nixon Manor.”

James A. Bailey (deceased)


Mr. Bailey was the third executive director for Johnston-Lee Community Action. He was instrumental in computerizing the Fiscal Department. In 1979, Mr. Bailey was “Jaycee of the Year” and voted “Rescue Man of the Year.” He appeared in “Outstanding Young Men of America” and in 1975 showed up in “Outstanding Personalities of the South.” He was the former mayor of Clayton, NC.

Fred Cooper

Mr. Cooper spearheaded an effort to submit an application to the North Carolina Fund while serving as President of the Choanoke Area Development Association that was initially rejected. He was not about to accept rejection with officials saying, “This four-county area was too difficult.” It was a personal telephone call to Gov. Terry Sanford and a New Year’s Eve meeting at the Governor’s mansion that led to the eventual funding of the agency.

Kenneth L. Cox (deceased)

“As Executive Director of Blue Ridge Community Action, Inc., Ken Cox worked diligently to provide a better life for children through the child development programs which helped with nutritional, health and educational needs. He understood that by working together, much could be accomplished, whether it was housing needs, employment training or providing transportation to the elderly, disabled and handicapped. When the history of community action is finally written, a prominent place will be given to this man who will be missed, but forever loved by so many (excerpts from a statement provided by Congressman Richard Burr).”

Elizabeth Fields

Mrs. Fields received a Master’s Degree in Education Administration from the University of Chapel Hill. She has served as Executive Director of the Salisbury-Rowan Community Action Agency, Inc. since 2001. During her thirty year tenure, she has been responsible for establishing services within five counties -Davidson, Rowan, Stanly, Montgomery, and Moore. She has also provided guidance and stability to the Weatherization, Welfare to Work, WIA and Head Start/ Early Head Start programs

Paul Keller (deceased)

Mr. Keller held a Master’s Degree in Business from Harvard University. He was employed as the first Executive Director of Johnston County from 1966-1977. Mr. Keller created many programs: the Nutrition Program for the Elderly, the first out-of-county transportation program, first alcoholic recovery program, first home health nursing program.

Jo Ann Posey Larkins

Mrs. Larkins came to work for Yadkin Valley Economic Development District, Inc. in 1967 as a secretary and bookkeeper. She later worked as Summer Head Start Director. For over thirty years, she was Director of the Neighborhood Youth Corp Program; a job she says was the most rewarding aspect of her career. While she was contemplating retirement, former Executive Director, Jimmie Hutchens, died and Mrs. Larkins was appointed as his successor. She recently celebrated her 40th anniversary year with YVEDDI. Her words of advice: “Never stop looking ahead to what you want to do next.

Leon Mann (deceased)


Mr. Mann served as Executive Director of Coastal Community Action, Inc. from 1966 until his death in 1996. He has been identified by many in Carteret County as the “consummate humanitarian; an individual who comes along once in a lifetime.” One of his biggest loves was the Family Planning Program which began in 1966 under his tutelage. He was instrumental in establishing the Bogue Field water system and the county’s first 911 Rescue Squad. Mr. Mann devoted his life to fighting for the underdog, the underprivileged, and the uneducated.

Leon J. Penny (deceased)

Mr. Penny was named Executive Director in 1977 after the retirement of Paul Keller in Johnston County. He was a U.S. Army Colonel in World War II. He was a strong community leader and a pastor. He expanded the economic development program to build homes for low-income people. Mr. Penny was a true leader in the community, a strong man of conviction, and an avid believer in his Creator.

John W. Taylor, Sr. (deceased)

Mr. Taylor served as Executive Director of Choanoke Area Development Association from 1965-1973. Under his leadership, the agency experienced tremendous growth and opportunity. We remember him as a great leader at the agency and in the Weldon community.

E. Marie Watson

Ms. Watson is the current Executive Director of Johnston-Lee-Harnett Community Action. She has expanded the agency through grants and collaborations totaling approximately $6 million. Under her leadership, numerous programs have been developed or expanded. Although she holds both state and regional offices of leadership, she is never too busy to personally help someone in need.

Louise G. Wilson (deceased)

She served as Executive Director of Experiment in Self-Reliance from 1968-1985. Mrs. Wilson was a former educator in the local schools and Winston-Salem State. In 1976, she was honored with three prestigious awards- Kiwanis Club Distinguished Service Award, the NAACP Humanitarian Award, and the Winston-Salem Chapter of the Council of Negro Women’s Award. She was a legendary advocate for the poor.

Helen L. Caple

In 1951, Helen L. Caple and her husband relocated to Lexington, North Carolina. From the time of their arrival the Caple's became to work in an undying effort to use their talents and knowledge to enhance the socio-economic status of the poor and under-educated citizens of Lexington and surrounding communities.In the absence of viable programs that offered assistance to individuals and families, Caple became the co-founder and Executive Director of the Davidson County Community Action Program.Under Caple's leadership, many people were given hope in the presence of hopelessness. Countless people received needed assistance with housing, utilities, medical issues and food. She believed that no one in need should go without the necessities of life.Caple fought tirelessly to equalize educational opportunities for all children. Under her leadership, funding was secured to build a new elementary school, South Lexington Elementary. She worked to end inequality in the level of educational services that were being provided to minorities.It was Caple's first-hand experience of living in poverty that led her to accept the position of Chair of the Board of Directors for the Lexington Housing Authority. A brilliant writer, speaker and poet, she never hesitated to share her talents.Caple was the kind of person that left a mark that will forever be remembered by those who had the privilege of knowing her.

Charles N. Holloway, Sr

Charles N. Holloway, Sr. has always been considered a dreamer and a visionary. Whatever he set his hands at doing, he would accomplish. He has often been summed up as a man of steel and velvet.He could have been a doctor or lawyer, but Holloway chose to serve those in need by attacking poverty with vigor and a determination to leave his community better than he found it.Holloway is the first African American to hold the following positions: Deputy Director of I-CARE, Inc. in Salisbury, North Carolina, Executive Director of Davidson County Community Action, Inc., Lexington, North Carolina, Executive Director of Salisbury-Rowan Council of Community Services, Inc., Salisbury, North Carolina, and the Urban Development of the City of Salisbury, Salisbury, North Carolina.He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics from Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, North Carolina and has completed graduate studies in Administration at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.Holloway holds membership on numerous boards and associations in his community. He and his wife Lula are the proud parents of three children - Charles, Jr., Tonya and Leslie and grandparents to Justin, Charles III, Jada, Amber, Joshua and Quentin.

Lonnie D. Burton

In 2001, the North Carolina Community Action Association's Board of Directors posthumously honored Lonnie D. Burton with the Lonnie D. Burton Achievement Award.The award is presented annually to an individual who, through the assistance of a community action program, has achieved a significant level of self-sufficiency and independence while recognition is given in the local community action agency's role in helping the nominee to help their self. The award focuses on personal progress and cannot be awarded to community action agency employees unless they are former recipients of agency services.Burton served as the Executive Director of the Opportunity Corporation of Madison-Buncombe Counties, which is now Community Action Opportunities, Inc. Under his leadership, efforts were focused on Head Start, Human Development, Family Financial Independence, Homelessness Assistance and Crisis Intervention for the elderly and handicapped and the Weatherization Assistance Program.The staff was made of seventy-five employees with 300 volunteers providing assistance to the agency.

Roberta W. Spencer

Roberta W. Spencer served as the founding Executive Director for the North Carolina Community Action Association (NCCAA) from 1989 until 2003. She also served as the President of the NCCAA from 1985 - 1989, and as Second Vice President of the Association from 1981 - 1985, as well as a member of the Board of Directors for the Southeastern Association of Community Action Agencies from 1983 - 2001.Under Spencer's leadership and in partnership with the state's community action agencies, the NCCAA realized the leveraging of additional funds from the North Carolina General Assembly for Weatherization funds in excess of $30 million while utilizing Return on the Investment Strategies.Additional funds were secured from the North Carolina Assembly through federal and state grants and private foundations to assist the state's community action network. Over her tenure, Spencer helped to secure $3.5 million from these agencies.Spencer is also credited for helping to establish a state association office, for her leadership in bringing about change through aggressively calling on members of the North Carolina General Assembly for action on various issues that affect low-income North Carolinians.She was recognized for her leadership with the state's most prestigious award, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award by Governors Jim Martin in 1989 and Jim Hunt in 1985.Spencer resides in Key West, Florida with her husband, Vaughan..

Gloria M. Williams

Gloria M. Williams is one of three Individuals whose commitment and outstanding service was recognized posthumously with an award being named in her honor by the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Community Action Association In 2001.The Gloria M. Williams Award is presented annually to a corporation, foundation, or other valuable partner that has advanced the cause of the North Carolina Community Action Association or one of its members. The award focuses on substantial financial, volunteer or political support.Williams served as Executive Director for the then Orange-Chatham Community Action, Inc. which at that time served Chatham and Orange counties. Under her leadership, the agency incorporated spin off programs like North State Legal Services, Orange-Chatham Home Repair, Inc., North Carolina Rural Communities Assistance Project, Orange-Chatham Comprehensive Health Center, Chatham County Housing Authority, Orange County Department of Aging and the Orange County Community Development Corporation. It employed twenty-five staff persons and had a volunteer pool of 125 people.

Jimmie R. Hutchens

Described by many who knew him as a "workaholic", with a knowledge of state and federal programs, "like a walking encyclopedia", Jimmie R. Hutchens was a man of great character. He worked for the Yadkin Valley Economic Development District, Inc. (YVEDDI) for almost 30 years.Former Surry County Commissioner Gary York said of Hutchens, "his family, friends and benefactors will never know a person who gave, shared, and cared more for others or who aspired with more enthusiasm and hope to improve and enhance the lives of those truly needed help."Hutchens started working for YVEDDI back in the early days when fighting the "War on Poverty" was not an easy task. But, he was a warrior, one who never gave up. YVEDDI was his life. He did not take vacations and gave unselfishly of his time and talents to serve the citizens of Davie, Stokes, Surry and especially Yadkin County.He was a master at writing proposals, grants and contracts that secured funds to provide programs to benefit many thousands of people during his years of service. With this expertise he was able to mobilize resources to renovate the Community Building in Yadkinville into the Yadkin County Senior Center, to construct the Yadkin Valley Senior Center in Jonesville, and at the time of his death, the committee was close to finalizing the construction of the East Bend Senior Center.In 1963, he worked as an administrative assistant to Rep. Jim Broyhill, he became a County Coordinator for YVEDDI in 1969, was named Deputy Director of YVEDDI in 1970 and President/Executive Director in 1971.In 1988, under his leadership, the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce was created. Hutchens was truly the guiding force behind many accomplishments at YVEDDI. Hutchens' lifeless body was found at his home when he did not show up for work at the agency.

John Leatherwood

John Leatherwood has been a leader and advocate for low-income families on the local, state, regional and national levels. From 1969-1998, he served as Executive Director for WCCA. Leatherwood was instrumental in the development of the North Carolina Community Action Association. He has experienced the Association's growth as a member, board member and as president.His efforts have helped lead the organization from a totally volunteer organization with membership limited to only executive directors to more than 350 members.In 1974 when North Carolina Governor Jim Holshouser forbid state agencies from contracting with community action agencies, Leatherwood led the fight by suing the governor. The governor lost. To this day, there is a consent of decree from the North Carolina Judiciary guaranteeing that community action agencies be considered for any contract they want. The existence of community action in North Carolina is a testament to the Leatherwood's leadership.He has served as Treasurer for the National Community Action Partnership. He currently serves on the N.C. Community Action Associations Board of Directors as a representative for the Southeastern Community Action Association (SEACAA).

James T. Barnett

A founder of the Choanoke Area Development Association, Inc. (CADA), James T. Barnett was the community action agency's first Executive Director. He is credited with designing and spearheading the development of the innovative rural public transportation system that would serve the low-income population in Halifax, Bertie, Hertford and Northampton Counties. This mini-bus concept gained national attention and was recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation as a model program for rural populations.Barnett was also founding board member for MDC in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a nonprofit economic development organization. A pioneer in the community action movement in North Carolina, his advocacy was critical in the construction of public television broadcast station by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill public television's network.He was an advocate for all people. The public transportation system that still provides service today is monument to his spirit and tenacity.

John Douglas Hall

The late State Representative John Douglas Hall had an ability to persuade and sell ideas and strategies. He served his community on the Board of Directors for CADA for fifteen years, was elected to the Scotland Neck Town Council, then to the Halifax County Board of Commissioners.His leadership of service continued while serving as a Democrat representing North Carolina's seventh House District. In this capacity, he served on the Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee, vice-chair of the Insurance Committee and a member of the Appropriations and Judiciary II Committees.Rep. Hall was committed to working with people from all walks of life. He opened doors for the rights of women, the physically challenged and the incarcerated.He studied radio communications at Pitt Community College and worked for WYAL-1280 AM Gospel Radio in Scotland Neck, first as an announcer and then as a salesman. He joined WYAL as general manager in 1991 and became proud owner of the station in 1997.Rep. Hall died at the age of 48. His memories are forever cherished by his mother, Lois Marie Richardson Hall, a sister, Georgette Hall Powell and a number of nieces and nephews.

Andrew T. Harris

Under the leadership of Andrew T. Harris, the Salisbury-Rowan Community Service Council, Inc. (SRCSC) developed from a one-county service delivery area to a six-county operation. This expansion was due to the building and success of the agencies Head Start Program which led to a staff of more than 200 people. Harris devoted 30 years to the agency, following his work as a teacher and principal in the area for 10 years. A graduate of Livingstone College, Harris served as a Neighborhood Coordinator, Assistant Director of Community Organization and Planning, Director of Operations and Personnel and then as Executive Director of the agency.As a faithful member of Sandy Ridge AME Zion Church, he has chaired the Board of Trustees and Layman's Council. He and his wife, Marion, are the parents of two daughters and are happily enjoying retirement with their grandchildren.

A. J. Richardson

A lifelong resident of Nash County, North Carolina, A. J. Richardson received his high school diploma from Nash County Training School. He entered the armed services upon graduation and served in two branches of the military, the United States Army and the United States Air Force. Richardson retired honorably as a Chief Warrant Officer ll, after completing twenty fulfilling years of service, including three tours of duty abroad in Korea and Vietnam. Awarded a Purple Heart for service in the Korean War, Richardson later earned his college degree in Business Administration from Shaw University in Raleigh, NC. He worked several years in the family construction business alongside his father, prior to beginning his career in community action service at Nash-Edgecombe Economic Development, Inc. Richardson served in numerous positions for 36 years within the agency as an Outreach Worker, Director/Princeville Home Repair, Deputy Director and Acting Executive Director. He served as Executive Director in October 1975 until his retirement in June 2008. He would later serve briefly as Interim Executive Director from January to May 2012. A lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus, Richardson received much recognition that included the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine. Richardson was a dedicated, loyal staff member, as well as a leader of the Community Action Agency network. Committed to helping economically disadvantaged people to overcome hunger, inadequate housing, illiteracy, unemployment, discrimination, powerlessness and exploitation, helping people help themselves was his passion. He will be remembered for his dedication, leadership, generosity and professionalism – A.J. Richardson, a true advocate for the people he served.


Odessa Vaughan Britt

Odessa Vaughan Britt ,“Mrs. Britt, ” was employed by Choanoke Area Development Association of North Carolina (CADA) for over thirty years. She believed that she had been given a special gift of serving and working with people. She did this by organizing and providing sewing classes, making quilts and serving as a family aide. At CADA, she instructed clients on how to make nutritious meals from items from the food bank and helped families improve their housing with weatherization techniques. Mrs. Britt was also known for her readiness to help single mothers in troubled relationships, bereaved families and those confined to their homes by illness through prayer and home cooked meals. Community residents were so impressed with Britt’s outreach and service to those in need that they made voluntary monetary gifts to CADA to assist families in need.

Ruth L. Buffaloe

Ruth L. Buffaloe began her social work career on November 1, 1966 with the Choanoke Area Development Association of North Carolina (CADA) and worked there continually for thirty-six (36) years until her retirement on December 20, 2002. Ruth served in a wide variety of positions while working with CADA in Northampton County. They include Year Round Youth Counselor, Welfare to Work Job Developer, Community Service Block Grant Job Developer, Job Training Partnership Summer Youth Counselor, Outreach Specialist, Energy Specialist, Neighborhood Specialist, Community Organizer and Neighborhood Worker. She also conducted home health visits, made referrals and needs assessments for the Northampton County Health Department. CADA staff who worked with Ruth fondly recall her as a dedicated employee who was a great asset to the agency and to the communities she served.

Frances Buck Herbert

After working for a grocery distributor in Weldon for 20 years, Frances (Bucky) Buck Herbert felt a strong desire to work with people and resigned from that position. Over the next year and a half, she served as a volunteer in the community and then started working as a secretary with Choanoke Area Development Association of North Carolina (CADA) in its Halifax, North Carolina office in 1967. As a result of her hard work on behalf of disadvantaged residents of the county, Herbert was later transferred to the Roanoke Rapids office as Center Manager. She continued in that position until 1989 after 22 years of service to care for a family member. Always involved in community service, Mrs. Herbert has served on the Boards of the Halifax Regional Hospital and the Children’s Home Society in Greensboro, as president of the Junior Women’s Club and the Board of Trustees for the Weldon Memorial Library since 1990.

Mamie Newson

Mamie Newson has been an employee of Johnston-Lee-Harnett Community Action, Inc. since 1971. She began work in the Head Start Program as a volunteer in 1969 and worked as a teacher assistant in 1971. Her work in the Head Start Program in the early years helped shaped the program that exists today. Her dedication to the agency and Head Start is to be commended. She presently works as a Director in the Smithfield Head Start Center. Newsome has worked to help low-income children and families reach their highest potential. She is respected and appreciated by all staff members and works hard to ensure the program is successful. She has two children and two grandchildren.

Louise Nixon

Louise has been an employee of Johnston-Lee-Harnett Community Action, Inc. since 1977 and has worked in the Head Start Program since beginning work in March 3, 1977. She is dedicated to the program and has worked in various positions through the years including Health Coordinator and presently as the Cafeteria manger and takes much pride in her position. There is no task too big or small for Mrs. Nixon when it comes to making sure the needs of the agency are met. Her thirty four (34) years of service to the agency has been exemplary and her dedication has been exceptional. She is married and the mother of two daughters. She has three grandchildren and resides in Smithfield, where she serves on the Willing Workers Club for her church and the Johnston-Central Alumni Association.

Audrey Hardy Ruffin

Audrey Hardy Ruffin was born and raised in Roxobel, Bertie County, North Carolina, and operated Audrey’s Beauty Shop for over 35 years, often doing hair on a pro bono basis because her motto was “If you look good, you’ll feel better.” In 1972 Mrs. Ruffin began her career with Choanoke Area Development Association of North Carolina (CADA) as a Housing and Weatherization Specialist and remained in their employ for nineteen (19) years. This was a natural fit because Audrey had been working in the community many years prior to her employment with CADA. During her tenure with CADA, she found great joy in moving families from sub-standard housing with no heat or indoor plumbing to newly built houses or at least safe affordable housing. “Miss Audrey,” as she was often called, coordinated adult GED classes throughout Bertie County for people who could not read or write as well as other recreational classes like ceramics, upholstery, flower arranging, and knitting. During the summer months, she operated county nutrition and recreation programs that provided area youth with recreational and educational opportunities. The program provided employment for area teens who acquired skills that have carried them throughout their careers and adult work life. She also transported area residents to medical services in Chapel Hill and Durham. Ruffin served on the boards of Aulander Daycare and Recreation Center, CADA, Bertie County Health and Sandy Branch Baptist Church as Trustee and Usher.

Sally Shell

Sally Shell is a single mother of three. All three children attended the Head Start program at Blue Ridge Community Action, Inc. (BRCA). Shell began volunteering in the Head Start classroom with her children nearly every day. In 1976, she was nominated as Volunteer of the Year. In the same year, Shell was hired through the CETA program at BRCA as an Assistant Secretary in the Head Start department. In 1977, she was hired as a full-time employee. Shell has worked as a Community Service Worker, accepting Head Start and Weatherization applications; driving a van for the Nutrition Program for the Elderly and transporting clients to the congregate nutrition site; delivering home delivered meals to shut-ins; working in the Accounting department; and currently working as Program Assistant IV. Shell has worked in a number of areas during her 34 years at BRCA. She was recognized as “Employee of the Year” at BRCA in 1988 and runner-up in 2007. She attends Harper’s United Methodist Church and serves as Church Secretary, Usher Secretary, and Women’s Treasurer.

Mal Watson

Mal Watson has been an employee of Johnston-Lee-Harnett Community Action, Inc. (JLHCA) since 1982. He has worked in the Economic Development Program as well as Weatherization. He works in the Weatherization Program as Assistant Energy/Housing Director. Watson was instrumental in the Economic Development Program for a number of years. He continues this work assisting the Energy/Housing Director in the critical work of supervising the team of auditors for the Weatherization Program. Watson is dedicated to the work of the agency and is described as having a quiet spirit, but one of the hardest workers in his program. No matter what the task, Watson always accomplishes his mission with a smile. The proud father of two sons, Watson is married and has three granddaughters and three godchildren. A member of Bethel A.M.E. Church, he has served as a trustee for many years and is Vice-President of the Community Male Chorus. His dedication to the program, his church and every area he is involved in speaks to his commitment to serving others. Watson’s favorite saying is “if I can help somebody as I travel along, then my living shall not be in vain.” He lives up to this motto daily by helping others anytime he is able to lend a helping hand.

Joan Williams

Joan Williams began her employment at Blue Ridge Community Action, Inc. (BRCA) in 1977. She worked briefly as a Secretary/Receptionist, and has been employed as Administrative Assistant for most of her 34 year at BRCA. Williams was instrumental in organizing the Clerical Department for the agency and developing standard procedures for the department. Her community involvement includes service as the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) President for 3 years at West Lenoir Elementary School. Joan has served for ten (10) years with “Project Graduation” in Caldwell County, a program organized by the Caldwell County School to provide an all night, drug-free, alcohol-free celebration for the county’s graduating seniors. Project Graduation is funded and supported through donations and parent volunteers who solicit donations and chaperone the event. Married thirty two (32) years, she and her husband have one son, one daughter, two granddaughters and two step grandsons.

Mary Wright

Mary Wright has worked at Blue Ridge Community Action, Inc. (BRCA) since 1977. Positions at BRCA include Outreach Specialist, Job Developer, Counselor, Manpower Program Director, and County Director of Operations. Since 1999, Wright has been the Community Service Department Director. An advocate for low-income families, she has served on several boards and committees that include Area Transit Authority, Council of Aging, United Way Board of Directors, City of Morganton Human Relations Council, Emergency Food and Shelter Grant Board, and the Healthy Burke Access to Health Services Task Force. She is an active member of Slades Chapel AME Zion where she holds several local and district offices. Other community involvement includes the Burke County Branch NAACP, where she has served as secretary and membership chairperson for four years.

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