2013 Inductees

Champions

Senator Edward Jones

Asheville native and NC State Senator, Edward W. Jones, lived his motto, “It’s not about the titles we possess; it’s about the job we do.”  Known for his “signature bowties,” Senator Jones devoted his life to making North Carolinians safer and more self-sufficient, especially in northeast NC.  Upon graduating from Asheville’s public schools in 1968, Senator Jones entered the military, serving with the US Army 82nd Airborne Division. After military duty, he joined the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department as Deputy Sheriff. He completed training with the NC Justice Academy and then joined the NC Highway Patrol in 1975. Promoted to 1st Sergeant upon graduating from Western Piedmont Community College, Jones served as a NC State Trooper until his retirement in 2000, after which he became Police Chief and Mayor of Enfield, NC.   In 2005, Jones was appointed to serve in the NC House of Representatives District 7.  In 2007, he was appointed to the NC Senate District – 4 seat, serving Bertie, Gates, Chowan, Halifax, Hertford, Northampton, and Perquimans Counties. Senator Jones was a member of the Governor’s Crime Commission, NC Legislative Black Caucus, National Conference of Mayors, NC Black Mayor’s Assoc., and the National Legislative Caucus. Additionally, he served locally on the Board of Trustees for Chowan University, as board member of the American Red Cross – F. E. Turnage Chapter in Rocky Mount, NC, and co-chair of the legislative Study Committee on Poverty Elimination and Recovery for Northeastern, NC. Dedicated to the youth of his community, Senator Jones was a constant fixture at the senior citizen centers in his district.  He was a man of God and a committed family man to his wife of 35 years, their two daughters, three grandchildren, in addition to his seven brothers and sisters.

Board of Directors

Caleb J. Forbes, Jr.

Caleb Forbes began his public service career of 24 years in the United States Army and Army Reserves. A graduate of Roanoke Chowan Community College and Elizabeth City State University, he serves on the Vidant Roanoke Chowan Hospital Council. Mr. Forbes' career in workforce development has included Adult Basic Education Instructor, Vocation Evaluator and Job Coach, JTPA Coordinator, and Case Manager. He has worked in several NC counties aiding adult and dislocated workers.  In 2005 he was selected to receive a Governor’s Award for Excellence in Workforce Development and was presented the Wayne Daves Outstanding Achievement in Workforce Development.  Additionally, Forbes was the face of a program called, “Second Chance,” a program that did just that - helped high school dropouts, teen parents and older youth 16-21 years of age that had been involved in the court system.  The program provided a continuum of services to help youth acquire the skills and knowledge to be successful.  He served as a CADA Board member for ten years and was an active member of the Finance Committee. “A dedicated public servant, a team player, a positive image for workforce development” are just some of the phrases used to describe Caleb J. (Joe) Forbes.

 


Kenneth Harris

A native of Halifax, NC, Kenneth Harris began volunteering at an early age in the cotton mills of Halifax County, North Carolina, where he continuously inspired others with his kind heart and willingness to help.  An alumnus of Halifax Community College of Weldon, NC, he retired as a police officer after two years of service and became the first African American male to enroll in the Roanoke Academy of Cosmetology.  After becoming certified, he established The New Image Salon of Roanoke Rapids, Scotland Neck and Enfield, NC where he was self-employed for thirty-five years. Harris worked as a teacher of Cosmetology in NC and VA, retiring as an Instructor from Halifax Community College after twelve years of service. His board service, both locally and nationally include Advisor for the North Carolina Textbook Commission, Parents Advisory Council and Roanoke Valley Chamber Board.  In addition, he served as Precinct Judge of Roanoke Rapids District #2 and was a member of the United States Selective Services System. He has represented the poor for eight years on the CADA Board as a representative for Halifax County. Harris has also served as president and held other positions on the board of Better Life, Inc., a local non-profit organization founded in 1987 that provides shelter, food and educational opportunities to local citizens.  Active in his church, he has served in many leadership positions. He and his wife have four sons and one daughter.  Described as a humble, hardworking man, Kenneth Harris is a role model for young African American males.

 


Curt Kedley

A native of Cascade, IA, Brother Curtis Kedley, became a member of Glenmary Home Missioners in 1966 to supplement the spiritual and material needs of people in rural and small town America. With dual degrees in both Sociology and Social Work from Xavier University, Kedley set out to explore various fields of community development. While working for the housing authority in Taccoa, GA, he initiated a credit union, a sheltered workshop and the construction of solar houses in western NC. He later helped establish the first racially integrated ministerial association in Sparta, GA. Kedley’s strong support for the Hancock Helping Hands thrift store and food pantry ensured an essential service for low-income residents of Hancock County.  His dedication to the area’s Human Relations Council, helped bridge black and white communities. In 2001, the awards panel for the Chicago-based Religious Brothers Conference, described him as “a person who listens to the pain of the people, tries to articulate it and respond to it”, when he was named as the recipient of the “Call for Brotherhood Award.” After moving to Windsor, NC, in 2007, Kedley volunteered his services for a major street beautification project, replacing rotted wooden planters surrounding 50 trees with fancy brickwork to match the sidewalks. In addition to serving on the board of directors for Choanoke Area Development Association for four years, Kedley also provided his services to the Windsor Nursing Home, Meals-on-Wheels and the Food Pantry of the Good Shepherd. More than just programs, Brother Kedley sets the pattern for the renewal of society through a gentle presence of love and concern.

 


John Smith


John Smith is a native of Scotland Neck, NC, where he graduated and currently serves as president of New Beginnings Funeral Services, Inc. and the Halifax County Educational Foundation. Smith began his commitment to community service over thirty years ago with his dedication to serving on various PTA’s. A former member of the Board of Directors for the Choanoke Area Development Association, he was also a member of the Head Start Policy Council. Smith has also been active on the Head Start Policy Council, Halifax County Department of Social Services, Scotland Neck Business Association, Halifax County Planning Board, Halifax County Solid Waste Advisory Board, Our Community Hospital Board of Directors, Regeneration Development Group of Scotland Neck, and Scotland Neck Senior Citizen’s Board of Directors.  Smith is a member and chairman of the Deacon Board at his church. While serving on the Head Start Policy Council from 2008-09, Smith was selected as the NC Head Start Parent of the Year, having provided many hours of service to make the Head Start Program one of excellence. He and his wife have two children and three grandchildren.

 


Frank Stephenson

Hertford County native, Frank Stephenson, served as CADA Chairman of the Board during a vast time of change for CADA and the region as a whole. Prior to his election to the Board of Directors and subsequently Board Chairman, Stephenson demonstrated a keen interest in community action through his implementation of a highly successful Upward Bound program at Chowan University. Upward Bound was specifically designed to help low income high school students prepare for successful matriculation to and graduation from the college of their choice. As Director of the Upward Bound program for 36 years, he worked with over 3,000 (99.5% African-American) disadvantaged high school students from the public schools of Hertford, Bertie and Northampton counties. Today there are hundreds of former Chowan University Upward Bound participants and graduates from more than 100 different colleges across the US enjoying great success in a wide variety of professions. In addition to this work, Stephenson has had a highly successful involvement in community structures revitalization and authored 26 books on the Roanoke-Chowan region of North Carolina. He has been honored numerous times for his work, including 1977 North Carolina Volunteer of the Year by Governor James B. Hunt, Nancy Susan Reynolds Award in 2000 by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Chowan University Male Employee of the Year in 2006 and the Minnie Wood Perkins Humanitarian Award from the Rouson Foundation in 2008.

 


James D. Whitaker

James Douglas Whitaker has dedicated his life to helping others, as evidenced by his chosen career in counseling. After graduating from high school in Enfield, Doug, as he is affectionately known, earned his BA degree in Commerce from North Carolina Central University. A member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, he also served in the United States Army. His professional career as a counselor began at Eastman High School, prior to his employment with the Choanoke Area Development Association (CADA), where he served as Director of Workforce Programs. During his tenure, millions of dollars were taken into the organization to assist low-income residents and youth. Whitaker served as President of the NC Employment and Training Association and eventually returned to Halifax County Schools as a Counselor, prior to his retirement. The recipient of numerous citations, awards and recognitions, he has served on the Planning Board for the Town of Enfield, helping to shape the future direction of his small, rural community. He was also elected to the Choanoke Area Development Association and served many terms, contributing his talents to the finance committee and others. Whitaker has served as Chairman of the Deacon Board at his church in Enfield since 1979, taught the Adult Sunday School class for many years, serves on the Culinary Ministry and is a member of the male chorus.  He and his wife have one son and three grandchildren.

Executive Directors

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.

Staff

Ronnie Mace


Ronnie Mace has been Finance Director at Blue Ridge Community Action, Inc. since 1981. Instrumental in moving the agency from poverty to self-sufficiency, Ronnie is working on the same for staff and clients. His desire for helping people is reflected in the “Connections Game” he created that has sold worldwide. The game was inspired by world renowned Psychiatrist William Glasser, M.D. and his “Choice Theory.” The game teaches that the only person you can control is yourself. Mace is a native of Burke County and graduated from Western Piedmont Community College, Lenoir-Rhyne University and Duke University’s Nonprofit Management Certification Program. He served in the Vietnam War and received a purple Heart, The Vietnam Service Medal, two Bronze Stars for Services, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm and Combat Infantryman’s Badge. Mace has also served on numerous boards such as Burke County Chamber of Commerce, Hospice, Planning Boards, Board of Adjustment, Recreation Commission, Rotary Club of Morganton, Blue Ribbon Committee for new schools and WPCC Small Business Mentor. Awards include Chamber Ambassador of the Year and Chairman’s Award recipient. He was also employee of the month and year.

 


Pat Mumford

Pat Mumford has dedicated her life to serving hundreds of impoverished families in Forsyth County at Experiment in Self-Reliance, Inc. (ESR) She has helped many low-income clients to achieve financial security and build strong foundations for over four decades. ESR has a long and respected reputation of empowering the working-poor, a reputation Mumford helped to build by heading initiatives that enriched the lives of children, their parents, and senior citizens.  Mumford learned from her mentor, the legendary founding director of ESR, Louise Wilson, that “everybody is somebody”.  With that philosophy as her guide, she has been able to place those who were once homeless in housing, give tools to struggling parents to help them create more prosperous tomorrows and provide the next generation with a better chance at the American Dream.  Mumford has never lost her desire for helping others – each day she came to work she made dreams come true and wishes into realities. A graduate of Winston Salem State University, Mumford majored in Elementary Education and worked as a substitute teacher before being called to ESR. As a Community Housing Manager, she worked to establish programs for youth and adults to better their lives with cultural enrichment events, a day care center, 4-H club, community library, tutorial program, sewing club, senior citizens group, and a host of recreational activities. She has served on several boards and committees that include: United Way, Hawley House Board, Housing Authority of Winston Salem (HAWS) Resource Board, Human Relations sub-committee for Low-Income clients, Child Fatality Prevention Team, Child Protection Team of NC, Department of Health and Human Services in Forsyth County, Days of Caring, and chaired fundraising efforts for the United Way Campaign. She has served as an ambassador for ESR in soliciting donations from private donors in the community.  She worked to establish a food pantry, landlord appreciation luncheon, assisted in voter registration drives, as a collaborator with the Weatherization and Crisis Intervention Program with DSS, and overall historian for the agency. Awarded the United Way Employee of the Year Award in 1990, Mumford also received the Winston-Salem Chronicle’s 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award. The mother of two sons, she has four grandchildren and five sisters. An active member of her church for over sixty years, she is currently active with the transportation ministry, Hannah Missionary group, Race progress group, New Bethel Baptist Choir, Willing Workers, and Forsyth County Missionary.

 


Richard Pittman


Richard Pittman came to work for Mountain Projects Community Action Agency, Inc. in 1987 and has worked there as CFO for the past 26 years. Pittman also worked for The Singer Company, Furniture Division for 22 years in various positions in the accounting department.  The transition from private industry took limited time. Pittman’s dedication and work ethic started shining through immediately – helping the agency grow, expand and take on more to meet the mission of helping people.  Over the past twenty years Pittman has overseen an average of forty state, local and federal grants each year, working many long hard hours to ensure every penny is properly accounted for.  He often works on weekends to assure reports are completed and submitted on time.  Instrumental in leading the agency to modernize accounting practices through the use of technology, his leadership and dedication have lead to clean audits with unqualified opinions for more than fifteen years. The reputation of solid financial management allowed the agency to apply for and take on a lot of programs that enabled more people to be served by Mountain Projects.  Without him, many services could not have been provided over the years.  He is a big part of assuring Mountain Projects has a solid foundation.  Pittman attended Caldwell Community College majoring in Business Administration and has attended various trainings and workshops in accounting through the years.  Married for the past 49 years, Richard Coyde Pittman, lives in Bryson City, NC and has two married sons.

 


Mary Powell


Mary Powell began her career in service in 1995 when she joined CADA as the Parent Involvement Coordinator for Head Start and continues to hold this position with duties that include teaching parenting classes, coordinating parenting activities, and assisting victims of home disasters (floods, fires, etc.).  Prior to CADA, Powell worked as a kindergarten teacher assistant with the Migrant Program at an elementary school in Rich Square, NC.  She was a teacher’s assistant for four years with the Northampton County School System and the Rural Day Care Association, Inc. Head Start Program. Her volunteer efforts include:  preaching, ministering, serving on the Northampton Smart Start Board, assisting with food distribution from the Food Bank of the Albemarle of Elizabeth City, NC, participating in charity events at Belk, Toys-for-Tots and Child Abuse Prevention Day. Powell’s community endeavors include serving as a licensed and ordained minister.  She co-pastors a church in Halifax, NC and is married to a pastor. They have two children and five grandchildren.  Powell is fully committed to helping families in her community secure housing and receive donations from faith based organizations, local stores, food banks and clothing. She is always dedicated to ensuring that families are not limited by their situations, to locating services to better assist low-income families and always goes the extra mile. Powell magnifies what we really call helping families to improve the condition of quality life for the “Greater Good for all”.  Mary Powell is one of the gems that truly shine beyond the faces of many.

 


Kaiser Richardson

Kaiser Richardson, born the second of twelve children on August 27, 1927, died at the age of 80. When his father, died unexpectedly, Richardson and his older brother, were left to help their mother, Hattie, to rear and support their siblings. Richardson married in 1947 and was blessed with seven daughters and four sons. He attended church in Hollister, NC. Prior to his employment with the Choanoke Area Development Association (CADA), Richardson worked numerous productive jobs - sharecropper, logger, fuel delivery, mechanic, service station attendant, and local grocery store operator in the Hollister community.  He also worked many years as a machine operator at Philip Fiber in Rocky Mount, NC. In October 1978, he began his career with CADA as a bus driver and head mechanic at the Choanoke Public Transportation Authority (CPTA).  Richardson was a dedicated and faithful employee who took great pride in transporting people throughout Halifax County. He enjoyed this job so much that after retiring in August 1994, he returned as a part time bus driver for Head Start until 1999.  During his years of employment with CPTA, he received numerous trophies, awards, and certificates for his outstanding and dedicated services. After his retirement, Richardson enjoyed traveling and spending time with his family. He continued to repair small engines, a skill he passed on to his sons and grandsons. His love of gardening not only provided him and his family with food, but it also benefited others in the community.

 


Elizabeth (Gail) Walker

During her 23 years of employment with CADA, Elizabeth Walker has served on numerous boards and witnessed many changes and advancements within the agency. Currently the Center Manager of the Halifax County CADA office, she is most proud of her work to ensure the safety, health and well-being of the elderly, having served on the Council on Aging Board for the past 18 years. She hopes to extend her efforts to the needs of youth and adult working professionals. Appointed by the commissioner to sit on the Turning Point Workforce Board, Walker is also proud of her collaborations with community leaders in Halifax County. She has served on The Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce, as well as The Child Family Board, The Child Protection Board, RACC Board, and Smart Start. A former member of the Halifax Housing Collaborative, Walker says, I “I feel the need to make my time in my life count by helping others and being a part of this community where I was born and raised for most of my life”.  Reflecting on the years associated with CADA, Walker looks back and knows “this is where I am to be and what I am to do with my life.” Married for 25 years, she has two children, two step-children and six grandchildren.

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