Nigel D. Alston is the executive director of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company, producer of the biennial National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem. He is a motivational speaker and weekend columnist for the Winston-Salem Journal and has served on numerous boards and commissions in the Triad, including having served as chairman of the Winston-Salem State University Board of Trustees and currently is a member of the Livingstone College Board of Trustees. Alston is a graduate of Leadership Winston-Salem, Leadership North Carolina, and is a U.S Army War College National Security Seminar Summer Fellow. 


Melvin “Skip” Alston is co-founder of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro. He currently serves on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners – his fifth term since 1992. In 2003, he became the first African American elected to serve as commissioners’ chairman – a position he was also re-elected to in 2009. He is active in the Guilford County Elected Officials Black Caucus, the North Carolina Association of Black Officials, and local, state and national branches of the NAACP. The Durham native is founder and president of S&J Management Corp., as well as Alston and Alston LLC and East Market Street Square Inc. He is a graduate of North Carolina Central University. 


At 32, James R. Beaty Sr. became the first African American superior court judge in Forsyth County when he was appointed by Gov. Jim Hunt in 1981. He had served as president of the Forsyth County Young Democrats and as a county co-chairman of Gov. Hunt’s first re-election campaign. In 1988, he was elected statewide as a resident superior court judge in Forsyth County. During his tenure, he presided over numerous high-profile civil and criminal cases in 76 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. In 1994, Beaty was nominated by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the United States Senate as only the second African American to serve as a United States district court judge in North Carolina. For more than 26 years, he was the only African American U.S. district judge in North Carolina, during six years of which he was the chief judge of the Middle District of North Carolina. Beaty assumed senior status as a federal judge in 2014 and fully retired last January after serving more than 23 years as a federal judge and almost 13 as a state superior court judge.


This year, the Rev. Dennis W. Bishop will celebrate 35 years as senior pastor of First Waughtown Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, accepting the call to preach at age 13. The Winston-Salem native graduated from R.J. Reynolds High School and attended Piedmont Bible College. In 1975, he became assistant pastor of Waughtown Baptist Church before becoming pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Mocksville. In 1983, he returned to Waughtown Baptist to lead the congregation after the retirement of Pastor E.L. Grant.Bishop returned with a vision for a comprehensive ministry to address the needs of the congregation and broader community. He is a staunch advocate of higher education, having provided dozens of scholarships for high school students. Since 2003, he has devoted time each fall to travel thousands of miles to visit every member of his congregation who enrolled in a college or university. Bishop is a volunteer chaplain for Novant Forsyth Medical Center, a mentor for students at Reynolds High, and a member of the board of trustees at Piedmont International University and United Cornerstone University. His story has been chronicled in the local news media, he has been honored by several community organizations, and last year he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from United Cornerstone. 


Charles K. Blackmon focuses his legal practice primarily on business, entertainment, and non-profit organizations. Prior to joining Tuggle Duggins, Blackmon was a member of Gray Newell Johnson & Blackmon and a founding partner with the law offices of Whitfield & Blackmon in Greensboro. He was previously an associate attorney with the firm of Dessen Moses & Sheinoff in Philadelphia, concentrating in the areas of labor and employment law. He has represented small to mid-sized corporations as well as individuals in the music recording industry. He has extensive experience in education law, having worked with a number of institutions of higher learning on matters ranging from vendor contracts to personnel and Title IX. Blackmon is a member of the North Carolina State Bar, American Bar and North Carolina Bar associations, UNC Greensboro Board of Trustees, M&F Bank Piedmont Triad Advisory Board, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Greensboro Men’s Club, and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. Additionally, Blackmon lectures regularly on business and entertainment topics. His current client list includes North Carolina A&T University Foundation, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Core Technology Molding Corporation, Greensboro Housing Development Partnership, and Bennett College. The Durham native obtained his B.S. in Industrial Relations from the UNC Chapel Hill and his law degree from the North Carolina Central University School of Law. 


Bishop George W. Brooks is pastor emeritus of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Greensboro where he served as senior pastor for 37 years. He also served for over ten years as bishop of administration of Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship. Under his leadership, Mount Zion became an international ministry that grew from under 100 members to over 5,000 with missions in West Africa and Haiti. Brooks holds a bachelor’s in industrial technology from N.C. A&T, a Master of Divinity from Shaw University in Raleigh, and a Doctorate of Ministry from Friends International Christian University in Merced, Calif. Brooks is the co-founder of Welfare Reform Liaison Project, a vehicle by which welfare recipients are empowered to become self-sufficient. He is a member of the Tri-State Christian Television (TCT) Board of Directors, M&F Bank Board of Directors, N.C. A&T College of Arts & Sciences advisory board, and Beautiful Butterflies. He also is the suffragan bishop of Global United Fellowship. Brooks was named among the “Most Influential Persons in the Triad” by the Business Journal from 2005-2012. He was given the Lifetime Community Service Award by the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, granted the “Order of the Long Leaf Pine” given by the governor of North Carolina, and he is a member of the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame.


The Rev. Cardes H. Brown Jr. has served as pastor of New Light Missionary Baptist Church in Greensboro for nearly 40 years. At 19 and during his sophomore year at N.C. A&T, Brown accepted the calling to preach. Brown received a Graduate of Theology degree and Bachelor of Arts degree from Greensboro Bible College, a Master of Divinity degree from Shaw Divinity School in Raleigh, and a Doctor of Ministry/Worship Studies from Eastern Carolina Christian College in Roanoke Rapids. Brooks has honorary doctoral degrees from Apex School of Theology in Durham and South Eastern University in Greenville, S.C. Brown is former president of the Greensboro Branch NAACP, and is currently the State NAACP Religious Chair.  He is a lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and a member of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers. 


Robert (Bob) J. Brown is CEO & founder of B&C International, a business management consulting firm in High Point. He also is founder of the International BookSmart Foundation, a nonprofit that to date has shipped over 5 million books to and opened over 300 libraries on the continent of Africa. Early in his public relations career Brown was contracted by F.W. Woolworth Corp., A&P Supermarkets, Wrangler, Sara Lee, SC Johnson and Kimberly-Clark, to handle corporate communications and race relations during pivotal moments of the civil rights movement. He has been credited with starting the U. S. Minority Enterprise Program and initiating the U.S. Government Black College Program through executive order by President Richard Nixon. He currently is a board member of AutoNation and Blue Ridge Holdings, High Point University, Boston University, Virginia Union University, National Urban League, Horatio Alger Association and the Richard Nixon Foundation. He has served on the boards of the NCAA, Duke Energy, Wachovia Corp., Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, and Sonoco Products. He holds ten honorary doctorate degrees and six national achievement awards. 


Vivian H. Burke has been a member of the Winston-Salem City Council since 1977 and has served as mayor pro-tempore six times. She has received honorary doctorate degrees from Winston-Salem State University and Wake Forest University. She is credited with introducing the city’s Minority and Women Business Enterprise Program and she was the first chairwoman of the Winston-Salem Public Safety Committee. She is a past member of the N.C. Senate Banking Committee, the first international membership chairperson of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and the first African American elected official to sit as an at-large member on the N.C. League of Municipalities Board of Directors. Burke is a lifetime member of the NAACP and a founding member of the Black Political Awareness League and the N.C. Black Elected Municipal Officials. 

Prior to becoming the eighth executive director of Hayes-Taylor Memorial YMCA in Greensboro, Larry Burnett was a member of the agency’s board of management for six years and had volunteered there more than thirty years ago as an N.C. A&T student. Burnett is vice president of the N.C. A&T Military Alumni Association and he is on the BB&T Bank advisory board. He is a member of the Lebauer Park Board of Directors, the Boy Scouts outreach executive committee, the Southeast Guilford County Foundation, C.W. Lawrence Prince Hall Masonic Lodge #837 and Khalif Temple #144. A veteran of 25 years in the U.S. Army, Burnett is a member of the N.C. A&T Army ROTC Hall of Fame and the Harnet High School Sports Hall of Fame. Lieutenant Colonel Burnett is a lifetime member of the 82nd Airborne Division, 555th Parachute Infantry Association, Greensboro Men’s Club and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He recently was involved in the successful $11.1 million capital campaign for the new Hayes-Taylor Memorial YMCA, which opened in January 2015.


Lisa J. Caldwell retired earlier this year as executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Reynolds American, the first African American to rise to that senior executive level in the company’s history. She joined R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in 1991 and assumed her senior-level executive roles in 2008. Caldwell is a past member of several boards, including the Wake Forest University School of Business Board of Visitors, Industries for the Blind, Allegacy Federal Credit Union, The Safe Passage Group, UNC Friends of the Library, RBC Centura Bank community board, Hospice and Palliative Care Center, UNC General Alumni Association, Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina, the Morehead Scholarship selection committee, Novant Health, WSSU Foundation Board of Directors, WSSU Board of Trustees, UNC Chapel Hill Board of Visitors, and she is a past chairwoman of the UNCF Kennedy Evening of Elegance, a fundraiser for the United Negro College Fund. The Burlington native was the first female Morehead Scholar ever chosen from Alamance County.  She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill where she was a UNC cheerleader. She earned a JD from the Wake Forest University School of Law. 


Dr. Sharon L. Contreras began her career as a high school English teacher before serving as a principal, area superintendent and assistant superintendent in Rockford, Ill. In 2011, she became the first woman of color in New York state history to serve as superintendent in one of the state’s largest districts when she took over the Syracuse City School District. Contreras again made history in August 2016 when she was sworn in as the first woman, and first Latina superintendent of Guilford County Schools. Already, under Dr. Contreras’ leadership the high school graduation rate has reached 89.8 percent, the highest in GCS history. Additionally, the dropout rate has reached an all-time low and the number of low-performing schools has decreased. She is also a member of The Links Inc. and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She earned degrees from Binghamton University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and now spends her days cultivating a remarkable legacy – leaving every school district better than it was when she arrived.


Carol Davis is executive director of the Simon Green Atkins Community Development Corp. and interim co-director of the Center for Design Innovation. An attorney and real estate developer, Davis has collaborated with local, state and federal partners to provide more than $5 million in investment for community economic development in east Winston-Salem. Under her leadership, the S.G. Atkins CDC has built homes for families, invested in entrepreneurs and supported neighborhood organizers. In 2010, the CDC purchased and transformed a vacant 40,000-square-foot building into a hub for business incubation and community engagement for socially conscious entrepreneurs and nonprofits. The Enterprise Center offers start-up and emerging businesses low-cost office space and support from such current and past on-site partners as the WSSU Center for Entrepreneurship, Forsyth Tech Small Business Center, Wake Forest University Community Law and Business Clinic, Microenterprise Loan Program, and North Carolina Central University. The center also houses a 4,710-square-foot conference and banquet facility. Davis earned a JD from the Wake Forest University School of Law, an MBA from UNC Charlotte and a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins was appointed president of Bennett College July 2017 after serving as interim president for nearly a year and as provost and vice president for academic affairs. Before coming to Bennett, she worked at Cheyney University in Cheyney, Pa., Dillard University in New Orleans, and Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte. Dawkins earned a Ph.D. from Ohio State University, a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree from Johnson C. Smith. She has reinvigorated Bennett’s relationship with various denominations, particularly its founding denomination The United Methodist Church.  


Eric S. Ellison is chairman of the Forsyth County Democratic Party. He began practicing law in North Carolina with the Legal Aid Society of Winston-Salem in 1999. He opened the Ellison Law Firm in 2000. The Detroit native has a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a JD degree from the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich. 


In 1983, Henry E. Frye became the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of North Carolina as well as the first to serve as the court’s chief justice when appointed by Gov. Jim Hunt in 1999. After his retirement in 2001, Frye joined the Greensboro office of Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard. The Ellerbe native has served in leadership roles in several nonprofit, academic, professional and civic organizations and is continually recognized for his dedication and contributions to local and state communities. Earlier this year, a bridge in Richmond County was dedicated in his honor. He also served as a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Political Science and Criminal Justice at North Carolina A&T State University.  He is a deacon and former Sunday School Teacher at Providence Baptist Church in Greensboro. He and his wife Shirley, have two sons, Retired Judge Henry E. Frye, Jr., and Harlan E. Frye, Community College Human Resources Director.   


He is a graduate of North Carolina A&T and the UNC Chapel Hill School of Law.  

In 1968, he became the first African American elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in the twentieth century. He served in the state House for 13 years and was then elected to a two-year term in the General Assembly. 

He was the organizer and president of Greensboro National Bank; practiced law in both State and Federal Courts for over 21 years and was admitted to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court.  


Shirley Taylor Frye, a native of Fremont, Wayne County, North Carolina, graduated from Friendship High School in Fremont as valedictorian of her class.  She is a magna cum laude graduate of North Carolina A&T State University with a B. S. Degree, in Elementary Education and English and a graduate degree in Special Education and Psychology, with honor from Syracuse University.  Shirley has had an interesting career as a housewife, teacher, volunteer, university administrator, business executive, mother and grandmother. Her work experience has included, a public school teacher, administrator at Bennett College, her Alma Mater as Assistant Vice-Chancellor of Development and University Relations, the State Department of Public Instructions and Vice President of Community Relations at WFMY Television.  Shirley believes that we are placed on this earth, “to serve and not to be served”! A selected list, but not limited to ways she is sharing or has shared her community are, President of the Greensboro YWCA, Vice President of the National YWCA, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Guilford Technical Community College, The North Carolina School of Math and Science, The North Carolina A&T Real Estate Foundation and the Joseph McKinley Bryan Foundation.  She has also served on the North Carolina Blue Cross Blue Shield Board of Trustees, the Greensboro Partnership, the GlaxoSmithKline Foundation and the Z Smith Reynolds Foundation. Shirley has received many honors and accolades for her service; honorary degrees from Bennett College, UNCG and North Carolina A&T State University, The Nathaniel Greene Award, The Athena Award and Distinguished Citizen Award from the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, the News and Record Woman of the Year Award and the Greensboro YWCA named its building the “Shirley T. Frye Greensboro YWCA”.

Shirley is a member of Providence Baptist Church in Greensboro and is a former Sunday School Teacher and Church Clerk.  She and her husband, Henry, who met as students at North Carolina A&T, will celebrate 62 years of marriage in August. They have two sons, Retired Superior Court Judge Henry E. Frye, Jr and Harlan E. Frye, Community College Administrator. Henry Jr. is married to Angela Holloway, Manager of a Medical Practice and they have three daughters, (to whom Shirley bursts with pride) Whitney, an attorney, Jordan, a teacher and married (with two children, Avery and Brandon, Jr). and Endya, a medical doctor.


Michelle Gethers-Clark is the President and CEO of United Way of Greater Greensboro. The United Way is a global network of 1,800 community-based organizations. Michelle is applying 29 years of corporate and community experience to advance the common good and give voice to the voiceless. Under her leadership, as a senior vice president at American Express Company and as president at The Center for Service and Leadership, LLC, she was able to inspires teams to deliver extraordinary service, improve processes, and deliver exceptional results. Gethers-Clark, who is president of The Center for Service and Leadership and former senior vice president and general manager of card operations at American Express, has agreed to serve as interim president and CEO until a successor is found, Cole says. Cole said at the time Gethers-Clark was hired as a consultant that changes needed to be made in the organization as a result of a new long-term strategy that involved shifting United Way’s focus to collaborative efforts to help boost academic performance and grade advancement for children, improve health literacy, and strengthen financial stability for individuals and families. She is a subject matter expert in the areas of: operations management, leadership development, strategy development, process improvement, financial management, service delivery, and public speaking.

Franklin D. Gilliam Jr. was named Chancellor of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, effective September 8, 2015. Dr. Gilliam was appointed Dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs in September 2008, and was a longtime UCLA Professor of Public Policy and Political Science. His research focused on strategic communications, public policy, electoral politics, and racial and ethnic politics. As Dean of UCLA Luskin, Gilliam shepherded a $50 million naming gift, and he led the school’s charge to redefine its critical advantage and transform its scholarly and practical influence with innovation and impact. Dr. Gilliam launched UCLA Luskin’s strategic plan in October 2011 with such new initiatives as Global Public Affairs, Digital Cities, Inequality and Democracy, Arts and Culture Policy, and Leadership. Dr. Gilliam focused on identifying society’s most pressing problems and establishing the school as a leader in addressing these concerns. Prior to his appointment as Dean at UCLA, Gilliam served as the first-ever Associate Vice Chancellor of Community Partnerships in the University of California system from 2002 to 2008. As Vice Chancellor, he championed UCLA’s civic engagement by supporting engaged scholarship and community collaborations to improve the quality of life for residents of Los Angeles. Dr. Gilliam is the author of Farther to Go: Readings and Cases in African-American Politics (Harcourt Brace) and his work has been published in many leading academic journals. He is frequently interviewed or cited by national and international news outlets such as CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Huffington Post and the BBC. Gilliam is a senior fellow with the FrameWorks Institute (winner of the 2015 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions), where he has served as director for the “Framing Race in America” project and has contributed to research and training on health care, racial equity, early child development, youth and rural issues, and criminal justice. Gilliam serves on the boards of the Greensboro Partnership, Union Square Campus, Gateway University Research Park, and FrameWorks Institute. He has been honored with the 2015 Upton Sinclair Award by the Liberty Hill Foundation for his renowned work advancing civic engagement and commitment to social justice. Twice nominated for UCLA’s Luckman Distinguished Teaching Award, Gilliam has also taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Grinnell College and the University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and was a Visiting Scholar at Brandeis University. In addition, he taught at Columbia University, Fisk University and Middle Tennessee State University with former Vice President Al Gore. Dr. Gilliam received his B.A. from Drake University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Iowa.

Mike Grace has been engaged in private practice and criminal defense law in Winston-Salem for more than 30 years. Grace, Tisdale & Clifton is one of two local firms who represents local law enforcement through the Police Benevolent Association. Grace earned his JD degree from Wake Forest University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from UNC Asheville. He currently serves as an adjunct professor for the WFU law school. Prior to his work as a defense attorney, Grace worked as a staff attorney for congressmen Lamar Grudger and Ike Andrews. By appointment of former President Jimmy Carter, he served as special assistant to the attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice. He is a member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, several local and state bar associations, and is a member of the UNC Asheville National Alumni Council. In 2009, he received the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus Award at UNC Asheville’s annual Distinguished Alumni Awards for his career as a lawyer and was inducted into the UNC Asheville Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2015, Grace was appointed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court to be a commissioner on the Innocence Commission. 


Maurice “Mo” Green is executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, a private, family foundation that has been a catalyst for positive change in North Carolina for 80 years and has invested more than $570 million into the state. His work entails spearheading the foundation’s efforts to improve the quality of life for residents of the state. Soon after joining ZSR in March 2016, Green and the foundation’s trustees and staff embarked on a yearlong strategic assessment and planning process to evaluate and examine the foundation’s approach to grant making and broader work. As part of the process, the foundation launched a statewide listening and learning tour called “Mo Wants To Know.” The yearlong process resulted in an emerging direction for the foundation that along with a core set of values, will serve as a framework for its future grant making and other activities. Prior to ZSR, Green completed more than seven years as superintendent of Guilford County Schools. Before that he was, successively, general counsel, chief operating officer and deputy superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Greene began his career as a lawyer in private practice lawyer after doing two United States judicial clerkships. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics and a law degree, both from Duke University. 


Edward Hanes, Jr. Representative Ed Hanes Jr. is a three term member of the North Carolina General Assembly, serving District 72 in the NC House of Representatives. He has distinguished himself in the areas of business and education.

Currently, Representative Hanes serves as Vice-Chairman of the Energy and Public Utilities Committee, and is a member of the following Committees: Alcoholic Beverage Control, Education (Universities), Ethics, Finance, Health Care Reform, Insurance, Rules/Calendar/Operations of the House, House Select Committee on Implementation of Building Code Regulatory Reform and the House Select Committee on Redistricting. Additionally, he serves as a Member of six other non-standing committees. He is a founding member of the Main Street Democrats, focusing his efforts in the areas of Business, Education, and Transportation. He was recently named one of the state’s eight “Business Champions” by the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

Representative Hanes is the President of Monticello Park Holdings LLC, a holding company with business interests in the areas of Green Energy Services and the arts.   He is the former Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity and taught Business Law at the RJ Reynolds School of Business, both at Winston-Salem State University. He is a recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Building the Dream Award given jointly by Winston-Salem State University and Wake Forest University. A champion of inclusion, Representative Hanes continues to challenge long-held and common community perceptions of both human rights and the possibilities for academic excellence in disadvantaged student populations.  

Prior to joining Winston-Salem State University, Representative Hanes worked as an Associate in the Regulated Industries and Health Care practice of the law firm Kilpatrick Townsend LLP. He also consulted Fortune 500 companies, corporate legal departments, major law firms, and non-profit groups whose missions were centered on education and marginalized populations.

Representative Hanes attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he earned an undergraduate degree and Juris Doctorate from the School of Law.   At UNC-CH, he was a North Carolina Teaching Fellows Scholar and a non-scholarship athlete in the Basketball Program his freshman year. At UNC School of Law, he was president of the Student Bar Association.

At Harvard University, Representative Hanes earned an Ed.M. in Higher Education Administration, Planning, and Social Policy. He is a Fulbright scholar and the first administrator at Winston Salem State University to ever be honored by the Fulbright Commission.

Representative Hanes actively serves on numerous boards in the Arts and Educational communities including the Winston-Salem Symphony, Piedmont Opera, and the River Run Film Festival.

Representative Hanes is married to Traci Hanes and has two daughters, Madelyn and Evelyn.

was first elected to the North Carolina legislature in 2012. He has a bachelor’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill and he earned a master’s degree from Harvard University and a JD degree from UNC Chapel Hill.

Denise S. Hartsfield, a three-term District Court judge, has an undergraduate degree from Spelman College in Atlanta and a JD from Wake Forest University School of Law, where she was the first recipient of the dean’s Leadership Award. She is an adjunct professor at the law school where she co-directs an Academic Success Program for first-year students. She is board president of Carter G. Woodson School of Challenge and a member of the board of directors of Second Harvest Food Bank and Goodwill Industries of Northwest N.C. Hartsfield is a certified Lay Speaker in the United Methodist Church having completed the basic and advanced Lay Speaker certification. In 2006 she received the Winston-Salem Chronicle’s Woman of the Year Award and has received numerous recognitions for her involvement with youth and young adults. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Joseph Branch Inn of Court, and president of the Forsyth County Bar Association.  


As senior pastor and chief executive officer of the multicultural St. Peter’s Church and World Outreach Center in Winston-Salem, Bishop James C. Hash Sr. is known for pioneering and facilitating ministry functions unfamiliar to traditional denominational methodology. He has transformed his church congregation and expanded its growth. The Wytheville, Va., native became senior pastor of St. Peter’s in 1987 when his father, the late Bishop Reuben K. Hash Sr., stepped down. Under his leadership, the church, now located on a 79-acre campus off Old Lexington Road in Winston-Salem, has seen its membership increase from 300 to more than 3,500. The campus houses a 2,700-seat sanctuary, an enrichment center, a 42-unit housing complex for seniors, and a place to provide food and clothing for the needy. Hash is a graduate of Rhema Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Okla., and he holds a bachelor of theology degree and an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Union Christian Bible Institute in Durham. 


Since 1993, the Rev. Donald Jenkins has served as pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem. The Kansas City, Kan., native is a graduate of American Baptist College in Nashville, Tenn., and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill. Under his guidance, St. Paul has increased ministries for all ages and initiated several significant outreaches into the community, while reversing a more than 30-year trend of annual net loss in membership. He is a clergy member in full connection in the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church.


The Rev. Nelson N. Johnson is founder and senior co-pastor at Faith Community Church in Greensboro. He also is the co-executive director of the Beloved Community Center, which organized in 1991 to carry out the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Johnson serves on the national executive committee of the Poor People’s Campaign under the leadership of the Rev. William Barber. In the face of mounting concerns about police accountability, he co-convened the Community-City Working Group with the Mayor of Greensboro to address that city’s challenges.  Rev. Johnson is actively building relationships with and providing leadership among faith groups, organized labor, education, student, youth, neighborhood, and community organizations in Greensboro and the south. Two of the most pace-setting undertakings he has been involved with in Greensboro have been the successful K-mart labor struggle in the late 1990s and the Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Process that was initiated in the aftermath of the 1979 Greensboro Massacre. He has served as president of the Pulpit Forum of Greensboro and on the executive committee of the Greensboro branch NAACP. Other state initiatives have included the Smithfield workers struggle and the ongoing effort by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee to institute fair working conditions for immigrants and farm laborers.  Johnson has been recognized for his work from various quarters, including the prestigious Ford Foundation Leadership for a Changing World Award, the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Faith and Politics Award, the National Purpose Prize Award, the 2012 Human Rights Medal bestowed by N.C. A&T State University, and the 2017 N.C. NAACP President’s Award. The Halifax County native is a graduate of A&T and the School of Theology at Virginia Union University. He was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from the Apex School of Theology.  


Greensboro Mayor Pro Tempore Yvonne Johnson has been a member of the Greensboro City Council for more than 25 years. She was first elected in 1993. She is the city’s first African American female mayor.  A native of Greensboro, Johnson is an alum of Dudley High School, Bennett College and N.C. A&T State University. Her impact can be felt throughout the Greensboro community and beyond as evidenced by her being presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian honor awarded to her by Gov. Roy Cooper. 

As a former Division I athlete, Porsche Jones developed the leadership, communication and personable skills that have served her well in years since she was a former basketball standout at Wake Forest University. She is the president and founder of BOND (Building On New Development), which was created in 2008 to provide leadership, discipline, SAT counseling and athletic development for young women and men aspiring to further their education in college. By 2016, BOND had accumulated 18 full scholarships to Division I schools from three graduating classes. Professionally, Jones is a community health and wellness educator at Novant Health and the co-owner of JMAC Hauling. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Wake Forest and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling at Winston-Salem State University. 


Cheryl Lindsay is the director of global diversity/inclusion and community relations at Hanesbrands. She is a member of the Salem College Board of Visitors and president of the nonprofit Red H.E.A.R.R.T. (Help Educate And Reduce Risk Today). She is a former chairperson of the RiverRun International Film Festival, The Winston Salem Youth Chorus and the Josh Howard Foundation.  She’s held an annual Zumba heart health fair for the last seven years as well as a Red Bottom Shoes Heart Health Wellness luncheon  the last three years to target and educate minority women.  This year, she launched her first Red Bow Tie Event to educate men. She has received the Governor’s Volunteerism Award, President Barack Obama’s Volunteerism Award, the 2016 HanesBrands Global Women’s Brand of Excellence – Community Leadership Award, and the Triad Business Journal Women in Business Award.  Lindsay earned an MBA from Columbus University and a bachelor’s degree N.C. State University. 


For more than two decades, the Rev. Paul A. Lowe. Jr. has been pastor of historic Shiloh Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. Elected in 2015 by the Forsyth County Democratic Party to fill the Senate District 32 seat, Lowe considers politics an extension of his work as pastor, as both professions help those in need. Within his first few days as a member of the General Assembly, he focused on the economic needs of residents of Forsyth County and the state. He introduced several bills to revive tax credits, including historic preservation and film production as well as numerous pieces of legislation to show that North Carolina is open for business and job creation. Lowe was a delegate at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 and 2012. He has served as an adjunct professor at Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, and is a denominational leader and member of the General Baptist Convention of North Carolina and the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A. He is past moderator, or president, of the Rowan Baptist Association of North Carolina, is actively involved with the Minister’s Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity, and the Missionary and Education Union of Forsyth County. Lowe received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bishop College in Dallas, Tex., a Master of Divinity degree from the Samuel D. Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Va., and he earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Drew University School of Theology in Madison, N.J. He also completed studies at Christ Church College at Oxford University in Oxford, England. 


As pastor and teacher of Union Baptist Church in Winston Salem, Bishop Walter L. Mack Jr. presides over a congregation of more than 4,000 members. He currently serves as metropolitan bishop with Global United Fellowship. Mack has an undergraduate degree from Elon College, a master’s degree from Duke University, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. He also completed a continuing education program at Harvard University, which focused on economic development and community revitalization where he was both a pupil and invited guest preacher. He was also a guest lecturer and round table participant at Oxford University in Oxford, England, that focused on the role of religion and education in the government. Mack currently serves students as their academic advisor and theological mentor through the doctoral program at United Theological Seminary. Mack’s pioneering outreach programs include the Corner 2 Corner Drug Dealers Conference and the Youth Character Football League, which provides youth a positive athletic experience while addressing prevalent social issues. Mack is the author of four books, has been a featured guest on Trinity Broadcast Network, and has hosted shows on TCT Network. His affiliations include the National Baptist Convention, Progressive Baptist Convention, N.C. General Baptist State Convention, Second Harvest Food Bank, Winston-Salem State University, and the Governor’s Crime Commission. Most recently, he was inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers of Morehouse College. 



Davida W. Martin is the first African American woman to hold the position of County Attorney in the State of North Carolina.  She was appointed the Forsyth County Attorney by the Forsyth County Commissioners, a position which she has held for twenty years.  She and her staff are responsible for providing legal representation to the departments of Forsyth County Government as well as the County Commissioners. Mrs. Martin earned Bachelor of Science and Master’s Degrees in mathematics education from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She also earned a law degree from the Wake Forest University School of Law. Mrs. Martin is a past President of the North Carolina Association of County Attorneys and received the Outstanding County Attorney of the Year Award in 2005. Ms. Martin is a member of the local and state bar associations and has served on several boards.  She currently serves on the boards of The Winston-Salem Foundation, Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation, and the advisory board of Brenner Children’s Hospital. She is a graduate of Leadership Winston-Salem. She is also a member of the Winston-Salem Moles and the Winston-Salem Chapter of the Links, Incorporated. Davida Martin is married to Dr. Harold L. Martin, Sr., Chancellor at North Carolina A&T State University. They are most proud of their two sons, two daughters in law and three grandchildren. The family church home is United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church.


Dr. Harold L. Martin Sr. was elected the twelfth chancellor of North Carolina A&T State University in May 2009, bringing more than 30 years of leadership experience in higher education to the role. He is the first alumnus to serve as the university’s chief executive. Martin’s leadership establishes long-range strategies and asserts tactical leadership to develop innovative approaches to position the university in the global marketplace, which is outlined in “A&T Preeminence 2020: Embracing Our Past, Creating Our Future.” The strategic plan sets the university on a course for making a significant difference in the lives of its constituents and the communities they serve. Under Martin’s leadership, A&T has become the nation’s No. 1 public historically black college or university and largest HBCU. Before his election as chancellor of A&T, Martin served as senior vice president for academic affairs for the UNC system. He also served as chancellor of Winston-Salem State University. He is a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Review Advisory Board, Research Triangle Institute, Piedmont Triad Regional Development Council, National Collegiate Athletic Association Historically Black Colleges and Universities Committee on Academic Performance and Limited-Resource Institutions Advisory Group, and the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, an appointment by President Barack Obama. The Winston-Salem native received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from A&T and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. 


Prophet, preacher, pastor, professor, philosopher, psychotherapist and activist are just a few adjectives that describe the life, work and ministry of the Rev. John Mendez. Mendez has been the senior minister of Emmanuel Baptist Church since 1983. Throughout his 30-plus years as a pastor, he has been a voice for the voiceless while equipping and empowering others to speak truth to power. At Emmanuel, Mendez has organized various ministries to raise self-awareness, consciousness, and instill pride in the members, especially youths through the Kemet Academy and the Kemet Summer Youth Camp, which provides summer employment for teenagers and young adults. In 2000 the church built a multimillion dollar sanctuary and classroom edifice. Mendez has served on many international and national boards and committees: the Racial Justice Working Group, Partners in Ecumenism, the Urban-Rural Commission of the World Council of Churches, the Black Theology Project Board, the Human Rights Commission of the Baptist World Alliance, and as an honorary member of the All Africa Conference of Churches in Nairobi, Kenya. He is a founding member of Citizens United for Justice that led to the creation of the citizens-police review board in Winston Salem. He currently serves on the Daryl Hunt Innocence Project board and provides counseling for the Re-Entry Program for ex-offenders. He also served as a consultant for the Bridging the Gap Cultural Competence Program of the Winston-Salem Urban League. 

The Rev. Derwin L. Montgomery is executive director of Bethesda Center for the Homeless, where he forms partnerships with local businesses to secure adequate funding to promote the nonprofit’s mission. He also is a pastor and member of the Winston-Salem City Council. First elected during his senior year at Winston-Salem State University, he became the youngest elected city official in the city’s history and is currently serving his third term. He is a 2017 graduate of Leadership North Carolina, a Master of Divinity candidate at Duke University, a board member of the N.C. League of Municipalities, the N.C. Black Elected Municipal Officials, the National League of Cities, the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, the National Young Elected Officials, and a former vice president of the N.C. NAACP Youth and College Division. He also is past president of the Winston-Salem State University NAACP, chaplain of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Mu Epsilon Chapter and an Eagle Scout of the Boy Scouts of America. Montgomery is a member of the Annie E. Casey Foundation FEED Leadership Program, which works in concert with Feeding America, and he is the senior pastor at First Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. 


Representative Amos L. Quick III is the seventeenth senior pastor in the 106-year history of Calvary Baptist Church of High Point. He has led numerous community efforts aimed at providing needed services and training for children and families struggling in poverty. Quick has been a member of the Guilford County Schools Board of Education and was unanimously elected board vice chairman ten consecutive times. In January 2017, he was sworn in as a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives. In 2015, the graduated of James B. Dudley High School was inducted into the Dudley High School’s Sports Hall of Fame/Hall of Distinction. He is a graduate of UNC Wilmington. 


Elwood L. Robinson assumed chancellorship of Winston-Salem State University in January 2015. Prior to arriving at WSSU, he served as provost and vice president of Cambridge College in Boston. A native of Ivanhoe, Robinson graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina Central University with a degree in psychology and then earned a master’s degree in the field from Fisk University in Nashville. After completing a pre-doctoral internship at Duke University Medical Center, he earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from Pennsylvania State University. He later completed his clinical training as a research associate at Duke University Medical Center. He joined the faculty of NCCU in 1984, and in 1993 was named director of the Minority Access to Research Careers Program, which directed the next 11 years. From 1993-1996, Robinson also served as chair of NCCU’s Psychology Department. Concurrently, Robinson directed NCCU’s Alcohol Research Center, funded by a grant from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. In 2006, he was named founding dean of the NCCU College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. His numerous awards and honors include an Image Award from the NAACP and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. He has served on the boards of the YMCA of the Greater Triangle, the Center for Child and Family Health, and the Uplift Foundation, and has served as a delegate for the People to People Citizen Ambassador Program to China, Egypt and South Africa. 


Senator Gladys Robinson was first elected to the North Carolina General Assembly in 2010. In 2016 she won her fourth term with nearly 84 percent of the vote, following unopposed elections in 2012 and 2014. Robinson earned her bachelor’s degree from Bennett College for Women and is currently chairwoman of the college’s board of trustees. She holds a master’s degree and doctorate from N.C. A&T State University. She has worked as a grant writer, executive director, and a member of the University of the North Carolina Board of Governors. For years, she was the executive director for Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency, a community health center.


Cedric L. Russell is the president and business manager of Russell Funeral Home Inc., a 78-year-old family-owned and -operated business in Winston-Salem. After graduating from UNC Chapel Hill, returned to Winston-Salem to work in the family business. He received his funeral director’s license in 1989. While at UNC, Russell was a member of the freshman basketball team, was a minority student recruiter, and was a team statistician for three seasons all the while maintaining a Dean’s List GPA. 

His experiences as a claims representative for Insurance Company of North America from 1979-1982, and as an operations supervisor for Allstate Insurance Company from 1982-1984 provided a handy point of reference. Serving in the evenings from 1980-1985 as Assistant Director of the Marion Diehl Center for the Challenged, Amay James Recreation Center for the City of Charlotte, Parks and Recreation Division and as a Customer Service Representative at Piedmont Triad International Airport from 1986-1987 added considerably to his management and people skills. Additionally Cedric’s Brief employment with Charles Cathey Realty Company as a licensed real estate agent in 1983 enhanced his salesmanship skills.  

Russell also strives to make significant contributions to the community in which Russell Funeral Home is located. He is affiliated with the following organizations and businesses: Winston-Salem Branch NAACP, Fulton YMCA Board of Directors, Tiny Greyhounds,  Carver High School, Reagan High School, Carter G. Woodson, UNC Chapel Hill Educational Foundation, Board of Directors of M&F Bank, INC, – Durham, NC, City advisory Board M&F Bank, Winston-Salem, NC, Former Board of Directors of Gokler Depot Street, CDC, Life Member of Psi Phi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, INC and the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, INC Cedric is a practicing Catholic by faith. He attends Saint Benedict the Moor Catholic Church where he is a member of the Parish Council, the Men’s Club, a Lectorer and recently chaired the 75th Anniversary celebration of the church Cedric is especially family oriented. He is devoted to his wife, the former Lita Fennet Fennell, his five children, Cedra, Chloe, Cedric II, Chamberlin, Carledward and his eight brothers and sisters and their families. 


James “Smitty” Smith owns and operates several McDonald’s restaurants in five North Carolina cities. His civic involvements have included the United Way of Greater Greensboro, Greensboro Men’s Club, National Black McDonald’s Operators Association, North Carolina Black McDonald’s Operators Association, Hayes-Taylor Memorial YMCA, Greensboro Merchants Association, Downtown Greensboro Inc., UNC Greensboro Board of Trustees, and North Carolina A&T State University. He is a Goldsboro native who grew up in Brooklyn. After high school he joined the Marines and after his military duty, he attended college and majored in business management. He got a job at McDonald’s and now owns several golden-arch restaurants as CEO of DeJas Management.


Dr. W.B. “Hank” Smith is a senior interventional cardiologist at CHMG HeartCare at Cone Health in Greensboro. He is past chairman of the Cone Health Board of Trustees – the only physician to serve in that capacity. He is a graduate of Morehouse College, Harvard Medical School, and has served as chairman of the Deacon Board at Greensboro’s Providence Baptist Church where he led a successful transition following the 49-year ministry of the Rev. Howard Chubbs.


In January 2000, Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin became the first African American and the first female to be named director of the Forsyth County Public Library System – a career that began in 1979 as the library’s department head for children’s outreach. She received a bachelor’s degree in education from Winston-Salem State University and an MLS degree from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta. She has been involved in numerous community programs and initiatives including Youth Opportunities Inc., Family Services Inc., Friends of the O’Kelly Library, Diggs Gallery, and Winston-Salem Children’s Museum Community Advisory Board. She was the first recipient of the Annette Lewis Phinazee Award, given for significant contributions in promoting African American Literature for Children.  One of her most significant contributions to the community relates to her service as president of the board of directors of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company, founded in 1979 by her husband, the late Larry Leon Hamlin. In addition, she has served as executive producer of the National Black Theatre Festival since 2007. The festival, also founded by Hamlin, celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2019. Sprinkle-Hamlin also served as volunteer coordinator for over 1,500 festival volunteers from 1991- 2007 and is advisor to the NCBRC Theatre Guild and the Marvtastic Society. She is a member of several library associations as well as the National Forum for Black Public Administrators. She chaired the first black caucus of the American Library Association conference of African American Librarians and is a past president of the caucus. She was appointed by former North Carolina governors Beverly Perdue and Pat McCrory to the North Carolina Public Library Certification Commission.


The Rev. Michael Thomas is pastor of Love and Faith Christian Fellowship in Greensboro. Prior to coming to Greensboro, the Mt. Gilead native was an assistant pastor at a growing church in San Antonio, Tex. Thomas is also the chief executive pastor of Good Shepherds Fellowship International, a non-denominational fellowship of whose primary mission is to empower clergy to build strong and healthy churches.


Chief Catrina Thompson is a 23-year veteran of the Winston-Salem Police Department. Those twenty-three years were spent in the the Patrol Division, Recruiting Unit, Training Division and the Criminal Investigations Division.  She also serves as one of the departmental commanders of the Crisis/Hostage Negotiation Team. Chief Thompson is a member of the Board of Directors for the United Way of Forsyth County, serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Kaleideum (Science and Children’s Museum), and serves as the Board of Directors Chair for the Mental Health Association of Forsyth County. 

Chief Thompson earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Appalachian State University.  Additionally, she is a graduate of numerous leadership programs.

Chief Thompson is married to Alonzo Thompson (Police Chief of Spartanburg, SC) and they have two children, Christopher and Alyson.  


James H. Upchurch Sr. is a businessman and entrepreneur who provides education and training to prepare children for creative learning experiences through his Baby’s World Child Care Center in Greensboro. For more than three decades, Upchurch has been a leader in the Prince Hall Masons fraternal body, currently serving as Deputy of the Orient of North Carolina for the Dr. G. Wesley Allen Council of Deliberation, P.H.A., Scottish Rite Free and Accepted Masonry of the Southern Jurisdiction of the U.S. (Memphis, Tenn.) He is passionate about developing young boys into strong men, hence his involvement with the Hayes-Taylor Memorial YMCA, the Greensboro Men’s Club, the Brothers Club of Reidsville and all Prince Hall fraternal bodies. The Wendell native was a U.S. Marine who studied business administration at North Carolina A&T State University following his military duty. 


Gerald L. Walden Jr. is the assistant general counsel for Greensboro-based Fresh Market. He joined Fresh Market in 2004 following two judicial clerkships at the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Since the spring of 2011, he has served as director of the North Carolina Central University School of Law’s General Externship Program. The mechanical engineering graduate of North Carolina A&T State University was a manufacturing engineer for Siemens prior to attending law school at N.C. Central. He also has a master’s degree in business administration from Elon University. Walden is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Board of Governors, the Greensboro Bar Association’s Board of Directors, the NCCU School of Law’s Board of Governors, and is the immediate past president of the Guilford County Association of Black Lawyers. He is the 2013 recipient of the NCBA’s Citizen Lawyer Award, was recognized in 2015 as a Leader in the Law by North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, and was selected by his peers in 2017 as the Legal Elite winner in the Corporate Counsel category published by Business North Carolina magazine.


Goldie Frinks Wells, a retired educator, is serving her second stint as a member of the Greensboro City Council. In 2005 she was elected in District 2 and served for two terms. Currently she is serving as councilwoman for the district again. She has served as president of Saints Academy and College in Lexington, Miss., as Title I director for the Iredell-Statesville Schools, and she is a former schoolteacher in Wake and Guilford county schools. She is a member of the Wells Memorial Church of God in Christ Board of Trustees and is the national director of the C.H. Mason Jurisdictional Institutes of the Church of God in Christ. In 2016, she received the Dr. Vivian Burke Community Leadership Award presented by the North Carolina Black Elected Municipal Officials. The Edenton native and daughter of the late civil activist Golden Frinks and Ruth Frinks has undergraduate and graduate degrees from Hampton University and North Carolina A&T State University, respectively, and a doctorate from UNC Chapel Chapel Hill. 


For more than a decade, Twana Wellman-Roebuck has been executive director of Experiment in Self-Reliance, a nonprofit organization that assists people in becoming self-reliant. She is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University and is a former school teacher and radio announcer. Prior to joining ESR, she worked with United Way of Forsyth County. She is a member of the Liberty Street Restoration board, the Women’s Fund special events committee and the ACEY Women’s Fund Group. She is a former member of the Forsyth County Workforce Development board, the Cooperative Extension Service advisory board, the Winston-Salem State University graduate school advisory board, the Liberty Street Community Development Corp. board, and the board of the Shugart Women’s Center at Forsyth Technical Community College. She is the former president of the United Way Agency Executives Association, and former member of the United Way of Forsyth County board. 


Joe Williams