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2015 Inductees


Norman M. Cherry, Sr

Born and raised in Lewiston, NC, Norman M. Cherry, Sr. is a graduate of John Bond High School, Elizabeth City State University, and East Carolina University, where he completed his Master’s degree in Education Administration. His education prepared him for a distinguished career as an educator, coach and mentor. Since 1964, Mr. Cherry has served in numerous educational positions in Bertie and Martin Counties as an elementary and high school principal and principal of the Bertie STEM High School. Returning to the educational arena after his retirement, he currently serves as Mentor/Field Consultant for principals in the Northeastern North Carolina School Leadership Program (NNCSLP) at Elizabeth City State University and Interim Director of Martin Community College, Bertie Campus. He has been recognized as Teacher of the Year in both Bertie and Martin counties and as Principal of the Year in Bertie. Mr. Cherry was the first African American Teacher at several of the schools and his leadership for paving the way for integration of the public schools garnered him the respect of the community. He has also had a distinguished career as a public servant. In 2000, Cherry was elected to the Bertie County Board of Commissioners. He served 12 years on this Board and three terms as chair. He has served as a member of the Bertie County Rural Health Board of Directors for 21 years and as chair for 19 years. During his tenure on the Board of Commissioners, Mr. Cherry continues to work to provide opportunities for Bertie County residents. He has been recognized as the Rho Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Man of the Year. He served on Elizabeth City State University’s National Alumni Board of Directors for five years, including two years as board chair and is currently serving another term. Very active in his church, Cherry has served on the Board of Deacons over 20 years and as Board Chair for six.

James F. Hoggard

Mr. James F. Hoggard has a long and distinguished record of public service, having served as a Bertie County Commissioner for twenty years, prior to his current position as the Mayor of Windsor, which he has held for five years. He is a member of the Roanoke River Mayors, an organization that works to protect and promote the natural beauty of the Roanoke River basin area as an eco-tourism destination in Northeastern North Carolina. The Mayor of a town impacted by major floods in recent years, Mr. Hoggard has sought resources to rebuild the town and sustain it in harmony with the environment. He also serves on the Board of Advisors for NCLOW. His community service has encompassed many areas of need and interest in Bertie County. He has served as Director of the Windsor/ Bertie Chamber of Commerce and is currently Chairman of Southern Bank’s local Board of Directors. Mr. Hoggard is a member of the Viadant Bertie Hospital Development Council, enabling him to improve health services for all residents.

Board of Directors

Josie Brooks

Ms. Josie Brooks began her work at Gaston Community Action, Inc. (GAC) as an outreach worker. A graduate of Sacred Heart College in Belmont, NC, Ms. Brooks earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work. As a GCA staff member, she also worked as a Job Developer, Equal Opportunity Office, Case Manager and assisted with Senior Citizen Programs and Youth Services, which included Head Start recruitment from 1970 through 1991. She served on the Board of the North Carolina Equal Opportunity Association and helped to develop a newsletter she name the Equal Opportunity Express. Ms. Brooks served as president of the Black Heritage Committee in Gaston County. An entrepreneur, she was also one of the first African Americans to open a Yogurt and Ice Cream Shop in the Nathaniel Barber Art and Cultural Business Center located in downtown Gastonia. She presently serves as a member of the Gaston Community Action, Inc. Board of Directors. Ms. Brooks’ life is devoted to serving senior citizens and victims of domestic violence. She volunteers and refers clients to services provided by state and federal programs. She presently works as an employee of the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services. In May 2014, Ms. Brooks received the Community Activist Award from the Circle of Women in Christ of the Mount Calvary Baptist Church, Gastonia, NC.

George Campbell

George Campbell is a native of East Tennessee where he completed High School, Cosmetology School, and a Cosmetology Teacher Program. He became a certified Cosmetology Teacher and moved to Roanoke Rapids N.C. in 1970, where he established the Roanoke Hairstyling Academy that he managed until 1999. Mr. Campbell was actively involved at the academy for twenty-nine years and provided training for many professionals who went on to develop successful businesses. He has always encouraged community service and involves his students. In 1983 Mr. Campbell began a second career in the field of radio broadcasting. For over 32 years, he has served Northeastern North Carolina as a radio broadcasting personality and administrator. He currently manages WEZU Public Radio Station 95.9 FM and in this capacity continues to provide services to the community. Mr. Campbell is also a part-time musician. He has served on the Board of Directors of Choanoke Area Development Association of NC, Inc., won the North Carolina Governor’s Volunteer Award twice, and served on the Roanoke Rapids Planning & Adjustment Board. Campbell has also been named the Small Businessman of the Year by the Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Ervin V. Griffin, Sr


President of Halifax Community College, Dr. Ervin V. Griffin, Sr., is the first African American to serve in this capacity. His career in higher education spans over 40 years and includes roles as Director of Financial Aid, Director of Counseling, Vice-President of Student Affairs, Provost/ Chief Operating Officer Director, and the first President of West Virginia State and Community and Technical College. He received his undergraduate degree from Bluefield State College, an M.S. degree from Western Illinois University and a Doctorate of Education in Community College Education from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. His leadership in the community is reflected in his many recognitions. Halifax County Business Horizons awarded Dr. Griffin with the “Making a Difference Award” for his work in establishing the Roanoke Valley Early College on the Halifax Community College Campus. A recipient of the Governor’s Living the Dream Award from the W.Va. Martin Luther King Holiday Commission, he was also awarded the “Community Impact Award” from the West Virginia Minority Business Development Center. He received the Distinguished West Virginian Award from Governor Joe Manchin and was named Outstanding National Alumni Brother of the Year by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. The recipient of the Achievement Award from Elizabeth City State University for his work with teacher preparation partnership with the university, Dr. Griffin has held memberships in numerous local, state and national organizations including, Rotary International (Paul Harris Fellow); Halifax County Business Horizons, Roanoke Avenue Main Street, Roanoke Rapids Alliance, Halifax County Economic Development Commission, Choanoke Area Development Association Board of Directors (CADA), Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Legacy Foundation Advisory Committee for a Tobacco-free Community College Initiative, American Association of Community Colleges Economic & Workforce Development Commission. He is a life member of the NAACP, NC Presidents Association and Chair of the trustees at his church in Weldon, NC. He attributes his success to his faith, his parents and his community. Growing up, his father would say to him, “if you get it up there in your head boy, no one can take it away from you.”

James Wendell Hall

Mr. Hall has had a long distinguished career in education, as a teacher, administrator, consultant, school board member, and leader of professional education organizations. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Elizabeth City State University, Master of Arts degree in Education, and a sixth year degree in Administration, both from East Carolina University. He began his career as an elementary school teacher in Virginia and North Carolina. In 1979, he became an instructional specialist with the North Caroinductees 2015 13 lina Department of Public Instruction, Northeastern North Carolina Regional Education Center in Williamston, NC. During his tenure at the Regional Education Center, from 1979 to 1993, he served in several capacities, including Human Relations Consultant and Lead Instructional Specialist. In 1993, Mr. Hall became the Deputy Superintendent for Human Resources for Hertford County Schools and served that school system until his retirement, which was short-lived. He returned serving several schools systems – some more than once, as Interim Superintendent of Schools-Warren County, Northampton County and Weldon City Schools, where he is again serving in that capacity. His professional memberships and achievements speak to his commitment to education and his recognition as a leader by his peers. They include President, North Carolina School Board Association; Advisor, North Carolina State Board of Education; Recipient of Raleigh Dingman Award; North Carolina State Bar Council; Member, Charter Schools Application Review Committee; Co-Chair, Oversight Lottery Committee (NC General Assembly). In 1988, Mr. Hall received the Governor’s Award for Excellence for his work as President of the North Carolina Association of School Administrators. He was inducted into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2000. A member of the North Carolina Association of Compensatory Educators Kappa Phi Honor Society, Hall has served and continues to serve his home county and the northeastern region of North Carolina on the Hertford County School Board, Choanoke Area Development Association of NC, Inc.’s Board as President, Region Q Workforce Development Board, NC Works Career Centers 2010 to Present. His commitment to youth continues as a member of Hertford County Math/ Science Alliance, EXODUS for Youth, Inc., and Genesis Youth. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity

Venus Michele Spruill

Venus Michele Spruill lives by the old adage “to whom much is given; much is required.” She exemplifies this in her home with family, her church, her community and her state, to make it a better place to live. Born, reared and educated in Bertie County, Ms. Spruill furthered her education at Chowan College in Murfreesboro, North Carolina and Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has participated in various mentoring programs that nurture youth including Project L.I.F.T, The Junior Guild and the Northeastern District of 4-H Volunteers, as President. In the faith-based arena, Spruill serves as a Trustee, Choir Member, President of Pastors Aide Club and Master Gardener for her church. She retired in 2010 with 34 years of service to the State of North Carolina as the first elected African American Clerk of Court for Northampton County. Community Service is principal to her as Chairperson for Northampton County Board of Adjustments; First Vice-President of the CADA Board of Directors; Chairperson of Northampton County Health Carolinian; Treasurer for The Weldon-Seaboard Shaw University Alumni Chapter; and Chairperson of Northampton County Extension Advisory Leaders. Ms. Spruill enjoys volunteer and community services work, as 14 well as traveling and gardening. “May the work I’ve done speak for me and if I can help somebody along the way, then my living will not be in vain,” exemplifies this candidate for the Hall of Fame.

Susan Bullard

Susan Bullard grew up the daughter of a minister living in many towns in North and South Carolina. Her family moved to Hendersonville, NC when she was ten years old. Her father was very involved in the struggle for civil rights during the ‘60s. Bullard graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in sociology from Queen’s College in Charlotte and started working as a Head Start home-based teacher in 1975. By 2012 she was serving as the ERSEA, NC Pre-K and Transportation Coordinator for WCCA’s Early Childhood department. After a double lung transplant surgery in 2014, she returned to work. She continues to enroll children and inform families about their options for quality early childhood education programs that assure the best chance for success in life. She has served on numerous nonprofit boards and committees which include United Way, Council on the Status of Women, Community Child Protection Team, Child Fatality Task Force, African Medical Mission. In 2013, Susan was honored by the Henderson County Department of Social Services for 25 years of service on the Permanency Planning committee. Bullard has been an inspiration for everyone for her determination to continue providing great service to families most in need. Whether still connected to an oxygen tank, awaiting her transplant or recovering from surgery, she has continued to make a difference.

Holly Ann Crawford

Holly Ann Crawford came to work for Mountain Projects Head Start program at a very dismal time. A review left the struggling program on a quality improvement plan with a director who retired for medical reasons and a new Executive Director with less than a year’s experience. Their facilities and classrooms were poor quality and their staff had little direction and support. The challenges facing the program were enormous. Within a few months of Crawford joining the program, things began to turn around. In the years that followed, classrooms and facilities were upgraded, a new center opened on the campus of Western Carolina University. One hundred percent of staff received their degrees and reviewers left citing no issues. The program has expanded to serve Early Head Start children and is in the process of being awarded a five year grant. Each year the community supports a fundraiser that generates in excess of $30,000 per year to supply food for families, warm winter coats for all the children and their siblings and a backpack filled with necessary supplies for children transitioning to kindergarten. Crawford assures each child’s basic needs are cared for so that they are able to learn and achieve.

Patsy P. Dowling

Born and raised in Jackson County, NC, Ms. Patsy Dowling’s dedication to community action undoubtedly started with her own story as a young child born into poverty, a story she doesn’t hesitate to share. Her first exposure to Mountain Projects was as a child served in the Head Start program. Ms. Dowling became the Executive Director of Mountain Projects over eighteen years ago. Her dynamic leadership has doubled the amount of grant funding secured for the agency, boosting funding from $6 million to $13 million. New programs initiated during her tenure include Self-Help Housing, which has added over $6 million dollars to the local tax base, resulting in forty low-income residential home owners. Other new programs and projects include Prevention Services, Early Head Start, a new GED program, co-development of three apartment complexes, the acquisition and successful operation of over three affordable rental properties, the construction of a new transit facility and the Health Care Navigator, which has received national attention. Through fundraising, Dowling started the Share the Warmth Program in Haywood County and Jackson Neighbors in Need in Jackson County to ensure that no one would die or be cold in the winter months. She is also an invaluable member of the N.C. Community Action Association Board of Directors.

Brenda S. Greene

Hertford County native, Brenda Greene, currently resides in Winton with her husband. She was educated in the Hertford County schools and is a graduate of UNCGreensboro. Ms. Greene has explained, “I am a licensed NC Real Estate Broker who would rather teach homebuyer education to help first time homeowners achieve the American Dream, to make educated decisions, to repair their credit and enable them to receive low interest rate loans with mortgages they can afford.” In the past 15 years, she has helped more than 195 families to become homeowners. Ms. Greene has built partnerships that have enabled rural families to secure the American Dream of Homeownership, creating new homeownership opportunities that generate millions in local business income, create jobs, and provide taxes and fees to the local units of government. In 2011, CADA received an award from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency for Rural Homeownership. Greene has lead CADA’s efforts to prevent foreclosure for many families, preventing them from becoming homeless. She explains that as a CADA employee for the past 15 years, she has witnessed the financial hardships families are experiencing. She is committed to helping those she serves and advocates for clients daily, as well as the programs and funding that provide opportunities for citizens. Her skillful ability to engage others to develop solutions that require compromise has contributed to her efforts. Ms. Greene’s genuine concern and 16 desire to serve the citizens of CADA’s four county service area and all NC citizens has been recognized by her community. In 2003, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners appointed Ms. Greene to complete the remaining term of the late Robert Holloman as he transitioned to NC State Senate. During her tenure as a County Commissioner, she also served as the county’s representative on the Public Health Authority Board. In 2004, the commissioners appointed her to serve on the Choanoke Public Transportation Authority Board, a position she held until 2014. Ms. Greene was appointed by the governor in 2008 to serve on the Board of Trustees at Roanoke Chowan Community College, Ahoskie North Carolina. Ms. Greene continues to be an advocate for families and a voice for those uncomfortable speaking for themselves.

Thomas O Hedgepeth

An outstanding citizen, not only in his community of Hollister, NC, but surrounding communities and counties as well, Thomas O. Hedgepeth is still committed to serving and helping others at 90 years old. Growing up the son of a farmer with 22 brothers and sisters, he has always had the desire to achieve more for himself so he could help others who were less fortunate. He started his career as Head custodian at his former high school and became a licensed insurance agent, eventually establishing his on agency – Hedgepeth Insurance Agency. Even in that job, prior to joining Choanoke Area Development Association of NC (CADA), he went out of his way to help families avoid the devastating cost associated with the loss of loved ones. During his tenure at CADA, he was able to help families get weatherization assistance, loans for new homes and provide transportation services. He was instrumental in organizing the Farmer’s Co-op Program to help local farmers buy needed equipment/machinery to support their farms. As a longtime patient at Rural Health Groups Twin County Rural Health Center in Hollister, Mr. Hedgpeth became interested in community healthcare. As a result of his interests and concerns, he was nominated to serve on the Board of Directors more than 30 years ago and is still an active member. Consequently, the Rural Health Group dedicated its Norlina medical facility in honor of him in December 2013. The 5,500 square foot Thomas O. Hedgpeth Health Center provides medical, pharmaceutical, behavioral health, case management and lab services to local citizens. Mr. Hedgepeth has always sought ways to help others better themselves. Appointed to the Halifax County Board of Social Services in 1978, he diligently served until 1984. The recipient of numerous awards including one from CADA, Mr. Hedgepeth was listed on the Honor Roll of the Joint Action in Community Service in recognition of Voluntary Service to the Community. In addition to his community service, Mr. Hedgpeth is an ordained Deacon and works diligently not only in his local church but in the district churches as well.

Tina A. Kyes

A native of San Jose California, Tina A. Kyes, moved to North Carolina from Wyoming in 1985. She is a graduate of California State University with a Master’s Degree in Humanities. Ms. Kyes has been employed at Blue Ridge Community Action, Inc. since 1985 as a Head Start Teacher, Coordinator, and Child Development Director. She was instrumental in creating a multi-center, two- county child care program in Burke and Caldwell Counties in the 1980s. An advocate for low-income parents, she expanded the Head Start program in Burke and Caldwell Counties, and started one of the first "wrap around" programs in North Carolina, allowing Head Start parents to work or go to school. Kyes serves on numerous boards and committees including, Burke County Smart Start and Executive Committee, Senior Corps Volunteer Program, NCPK Advisory Board, and Catawba Valley Healthy Families. Tina Kyes is a single mother of two and a grandmother of five, with one watching over her from heaven. A licensed foster parent and licensed elementary school teacher, she was named “Outstanding Volunteer” in 1998 by Governor James Hunt. She has been an instructor at Western Piedmont Community College since 2000 and also worked as both an elementary school teacher and a principal.

Joyce Paige

A native of Snow Hill, North Carolina and an original pioneer, Joyce Paige was employed with Greene Lamp for nearly forty years. She began her employment in the summer of 1966 with a passion to make a difference in the lives children and families. Her meager salary at the time of not much more than $1 an hour (minimum wage) never hindered her desire to work as a JTPA (Job Training Partnership Act) worker and part-time Head Start Teacher Aide, one of two positions in the Head Start Organization. She remained loyal to Head Start’s philosophy and mission through the years, accepting a full time position in 1972 as Parent Involvement Coordinator, which she held until her retirement in 2004. During her tenure at Greene Lamp and more specifically Head Start, she created the first Male Involvement Program and co-developed one of the first parent/child literacy programs, collaboration between Head Start and the local community college. The program allowed both the child and the parent to attend school together. This unique experience afforded both the opportunity to excel – the parent with a GED and the child with early development and life skills for school readiness. Joyce Paige has always maintained a positive outlook on life and a spirit to serve, even during tough times, as she is a 30-year breast cancer survivor. She continues to serve on numerous boards that allow her to give back to her community. A lifetime member of NCHSA, NAACP, Elizabeth Chapter #59 and faithful member 18 of St. James AME Zion Church, Ms. Paige continues to push towards the higher calling and the overall reward that will truly echo, “Her living has not been in vain”.

Jerry Thomas

Jerry Thomas has been employed at Blue Ridge Community Action, Inc. since 1984. He has worked in the Community Service Department as well as the Weatherization/Housing Department. Jerry was employed as the Weatherization Coordinator since the early 1990's and was instrumental in working with the Urgent Repair Program, Habitat for Humanity, and Weatherization Programs in four counties. A member of the BRCA Management Team, Mr. Thomas was successful in achieving an Associates degree in Business at Western Piedmont Community College and earned certificates in HUD Lead Safe Work Practices, Mobile Home Weatherization training, Carbon Monoxide training, Professional Housing Rehabilitation, Individual and Organization Growth, Specification Writing for Rehabilitation, among other training programs. He was instrumental in getting the ARRA program off the ground and served as an advocate for low-income families in need of housing. Mr. Thomas has always had a passion for assisting those in need of the services BRCA and other agencies could provide. An active member of his church, he serves in a number of roles that include President of Men's Group, Senior Sunday School Teacher, Sunday School Secretary, and as a Trustee. He is married, with three sons and one daughter, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Thomas strongly believes that God has always had a hand in placing him in a wonderful environment with wonderful people who work as a team to help those in economic duress.

Linda Ware

Born and raised in Sanford, NC, Linda Ware attended Fayetteville State University and earned a degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Social Work. She earned a Master’s degree at Bethel Bible College. Linda Ware joined the staff of Johnston-Lee-Harnett Community Action, Inc. in the Lee County office as a part-time HUD Intake Counselor in 1993, having worked at the Lee County Public Library for 25 years. One year later, she became the Community Services Block Grant Sr. Counselor/Lee County Supervisor. Ms. Ware has worked diligently to ensure the program thrived and exceeded the agency’s goal of first – “Helping people help themselves” and later – “Helping people, Changing lives.” She has played a vital role in helping clients develop financial literacy skills that have brought them out of financial desolation and moved them toward financial stability. She says her greatest motivation is watching clients realize their dreams, using the skills they gained as participants in programs the agency administers. Linda works with every segment of the community to get the message out that poverty is not an option and united we stand, divided we fall. She provides oversight of the following programs – IDA, Homeless Hispanics, Welfare to Work, Emergency Solutions Grant Rapid Re-Housing and the HUD Shelter Plus Care. She is also a mediator for the Deep River Mediation Association, Certified Community Action Professional (CCAMP) and has a NC Family Support Credential. Ware works tirelessly to meet the needs of the community head-on, choosing to be proactive rather than reactive.

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