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Who Decides?

Harold L. Martin

Chancellor
North Carolina A&T State University
Harold L. Martin
Evaluation Panel: Chair

Martin has served as chancellor of North Carolina A&T State University since 2009. As chancellor, he provides leadership that establishes long-range strategic plans in consultation with various constituencies, asserts tactical leadership to develop innovative approaches for expansion resources, and ensures the fiscal and academic vitality of all colleges and schools. 

He has also served as chancellor of Winston-Salem State University and has held positions with the University of North Carolina and NC A&T. 

 

Barbara Akins

Nurse/Staff Educator
Behavioral Health Hospital
Barbara Akins
Evaluation Panel: Member

Having worked in the field of behavioral health and substance abuse for more than 20 years, Akins now focuses on the body, mind and spirit as they relate to the root causes of chronic illness.

She considers her greatest accomplishments to be her work in Greensboro to improve inner city neighborhoods by looking at how racism affects health care disparity.

Akins is president of the Ole Asheboro Street Neighborhood Association and has served on numerous City of Greensboro boards and commissions. She has also participated and facilitated Impact Greensboro and Other Voices sessions.

 

Donna Anderson

Vice Chair
Greensboro Public Library Board of Trustees
Donna Anderson
Evaluation Panel: Member

Anderson is a childcare provider and caregiver to adults who are disabled, elderly or in Hospice care.

In addition to being appointed to the Greensboro Public Library Board of Trustees, Anderson also is a member of the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary (DAVA) and the Executive Board of the local Disabled American Veterans Chapter.

 

Shermin Ata

Principal Owner
Shermin Ata, Architect PLLC
Shermin Ata
Evaluation Panel: Member

Ata’s seven-year-old firm offers architectural design and planning services for healthcare, government, commercial, industrial and multi-family residential projects.

Ata’s professional experience includes nearly 25 years with international and local firms practicing architecture and construction administration.

A graduate of Leadership Greensboro and City Academy, Ata has served on several community and City of Greensboro committees and commissions and is currently a member of the Minimum Housing Standards Commission. 

 

Phil Barnhill

Director of Operations
East Market Street Development Corporation
Phil Barnhill
Evaluation Panel/Selection Committee: Member

Barnhill is responsible for managing the day-to-day office operations and all minority entrepreneurship initiatives and activities for the organization. He also serves as the liaison with the East Market Merchants Association, Greensboro Small Business Consortium, Greensboro Police’s Citizens Advisory Council, and three neighborhood associations.

The majority of Barnhill’s career has been spent in the banking industry in retail and commercial lending. He was also a sales representative for a national profit recovery company.

Barnhill has also served on the boards of directors for the Eastside Park Community Center, Greensboro Community Television, and the YMCA of Greensboro.

 

J. Leslie Bell

Planning & Development Director
Guilford County
J. Leslie Bell
Evaluation Panel: Member

J. Leslie Bell brings more than 20 years of private and public sector planning experience as Guilford County’s Planning and Development Director. He has worked as a Planner with R.W. Beck (now part of SAIC) - a private consultant that specializes in assisting local governments with planning and project development and management. Prior to joining Guilford County, Leslie was employed with Brunswick County, North Carolina for more than 15 years as Planning Director from 1999 to 2007 and held the position of Planning and Community Development Director from 2007 to 2013 as the County peaked as the 14th fastest growing county nationally.

Mr. Bell earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics in 1991 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Science in Urban and Regional Planning in 1993 from The University of Iowa. Mr. Bell holds several certifications including the American Institute of Certified Planners, Housing Development Finance Professional Certification, and Community Development Academy Certification in addition to completion of the Municipal and County Administration Program and the Public Executive Leadership Academy through the UNC School of Government. He is a past recipient of the Planner of the Year Award by the Cape Fear Region Council of Governments and was nominated as Public Servant of the Year by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington Department of Political Science.

He oversees a departmental staff of 38 full time employees in Planning and Development, Inspections and Permitting, Solid Waste and Recycling and Soil and Water with a combined total budget of $4.1 million.

 

Charles K. Blackmon

Principal 
Tuggle Duggins, PA
Charles K. Blackmon
Evaluation Panel: Member

Charles K. Blackmon focuses his legal practice primarily on business and entertainment matters, government relations, and white-collar criminal defense.

Prior to joining Tuggle Duggins, PA, Mr. Blackmon was a member of Gray Newell Johnson & Blackmon, LLP and a founding partner with the law offices of Whitfield & Blackmon, LLP in Greensboro. He was an attorney with the firm of Dessen Moses & Sheinoff in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania before then, concentrating in the areas of labor and employment law.

Mr. Blackmon is a member of the North Carolina and Pennsylvania State Bars, American Bar Association, M&F Bank Piedmont Triad Advisory Board, Bethel AME Church, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Board of Trustees, North Carolina Central University School of Law Board of Visitors, Greensboro Metro YMCA Board of Directors, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (Boulé), a past member of the North Carolina American Cancer Society Board, Greensboro Bar Association Board of Directors, Salvation Army/Boys and Girls Club Advisory Council, Greensboro Legal Aid Society Advisory Board, North Carolina Central University School of Law Alumni Association Board ,and Sickle Cell Disease Association of the Piedmont Board. He is a past president of the Guilford County Association of Black Lawyers and past chair of the Malachi House II Board of Directors. Additionally, he lectures regularly on business and entertainment issues.

His clients include: North Carolina A&T University Foundation, Inc., Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), and Bennett College.

A Durham native, Mr. Blackmon obtained his B.S. in Industrial Relations from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his law degree from the North Carolina Central University School of Law. He resides in Greensboro, North Carolina with his wife, Mable Hubbard Blackmon, and their daughter, Chloe.

 

Allison Bramwell

Assistant Professor
Political Science
UNC: Greensboro
Allison Bramwell
Evaluation Panel: Member

Allison Bramwell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she teaches courses in urban political systems, public administration, and community and economic development in both the M.P.A. and undergraduate programs. Her current research focuses on collaborative urban governance and the political economy of restructuring with an emphasis on regional economic development and employment in renewable energy industries.

Allison has published studies in various policy areas such as local labour market planning and workforce development, the role of post-secondary institutions in regional economic development, and the interaction effect of innovation, creativity, and economic performance in urban regions. Recent work includes publications in Urban Affairs Review and Research Policy., and her co-edited book, Governing Urban Economies: Innovation and Inclusion in Canadian City-Regions was recently published by the University of Toronto Press.

 

Pat Danahy

CEO and President
Greensboro Partnership
Pat Danahy
Evaluation Panel: Member

Patrick Danahy has served as the President and CEO of the Greensboro Partnership since 2006. Danahy though made his name in Greensboro as President and CEO of Cone Mills Corporation, where he served as President and CEO from 1991 to 1999. Between stints with the Partnership and Cone Mills, Danahy was a full-time consultant with a South Carolina textile firm, Delta Mills. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Guilford Technical Community College and is on the Advisory Council, KROC Peace Institute, with the University of Notre Dame. Danahy graduated from Notre Dame and has an MBA from the Darden School, University of Virginia. Following his MBA, Danahy spent three years in the United States Navy. 

 

Javier Gomez

President
Dynamic Quest
Javier Gomez
Evaluation Panel: Member

Javier Gomez is technologist which has spent the past 20 years mapping out business solutions to fit the needs of his clients. As the Co-Founder and President of Dynamic Quest, Javier Gomez has led the company to a growth of 250% over the past three years. Dynamic Quest, established in 2000, has grown with a solid reputation in the industry for providing highly skilled resources and services in four distinct business areas: Data Center, IT Services, Software Development, and Marketing. Dynamic Quest was awarded the Business Journal's 2007 Fast 50 award, recognizing the company as one of the top 50 fastest growing companies in this region. In addition, Javier Gomez was awarded the 2007 Small Business Person of the Year award and nominated for the 2007 Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Carolinas.

 

Mark C. Hale

Head of School
Greensboro Day School
Mark C. Hale
Evaluation Panel: Member

Hale oversees all aspects of the day-to-day operations of this nonsectarian independent school known for its excellence in education.

In the eight years he has been affiliated with Greensboro, Hale has been a community leader and staunch promoter of quality education as the means to a successful future for us all.

Hale has been the leader for other schools elsewhere in the country and has several years teaching experience. He has also served on several community boards and commissions both here and in other states.

 

Frankie Jones Jr.

Smith, Moore, Leatherwood LLP
Attorney
Frankie Jones Jr.
Evaluation Panel: Member

Frankie T. Jones, Jr. is an Attorney at Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP where he concentrates in the areas of real estate, land use and litigation.  Frankie is a graduate of Davidson College, where he was a starter at defensive back on the football team and was inducted into the Omicron Delta Kappa and Order of Omega honor societies.   Upon graduation from Davidson, Frankie earned his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from University of Virginia School of Law, where he was the law school chair of Omicron Delta Kappa,  President of the Black Law Students’ Association and was inducted into the Raven Society honor society.  Frankie was a member of the inaugural class of the North Carolina Bar Association Leadership Academy and has been recognized as one of the 40 Leaders Under 40 by the Triad Business Journal (2010), an Emerging Legal Leader by North Carolina Lawyers Weekly (2011), Super Lawyers-Rising Star by Law & Politics Magazine (2012) and Legal Elite in the Corporate Counsel category by Business North Carolina Magazine (2014).  Frankie’s civic involvement has included the following: Chairman of the City of Greensboro Board of Adjustment; member of the City of Greensboro Planning Board; member of the Davidson College Alumni Association Board of Directors; co-chair of synerG Young Professionals; co-chair of the Future Fund; co-chair of the Greensboro Chapter of the Davidson College Alumni Association; member of the Real Property Section Council of the North Carolina Bar Association; and member of The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.  

 

Denny P. Kelly

President & CEO
Bouvier Kelly 
Denny Kelly
Evaluation Panel: Member

Kelly leads a staff of production, media, brand development, public relations and digital specialists who create marketing, advertising and public relations campaigns in a variety of industrial categories.

Her hobby is volunteering within the community in areas related to the arts, youth, diversity and inclusivity, mentoring girls, downtown revitalization and economic development.

She currently serves on the boards of Gateway University Research Park, United Arts Council Board of Directors, Sternberger Artists Center and the Dinner Committee of the National Conference of Community and Justice.

 

Donna Newton

Director of Workforce Initiative
Community Foundation
of Greater Greensboro
Donna Newton
Evaluation Panel: Member

Ms. Newton is the Director of the Workforce Initiative at the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro. Previous local roles included the Director of the Guilford Nonprofit Consortium, Building Stronger Neighborhoods Liaison, Advisor to the Greensboro Neighborhood Congress, and Senior Vice President with Jefferson-Pilot Life Insurance Company.

Donna is an honors graduate and a past Distinguished Alumnus of Guilford College. She worked as medical insurance executive for more than 30 years and left that industry as a Senior Vice President with a national firm that was headquartered in Greensboro. She has been involved in her second career with nonprofits for 12 years. During this time Ms. Newton has been a broker of networking and a technical resource for local nonprofit organizations, neighborhood leaders, educational institutions, government entities and faith organizations.

Donna also serves or has served on a number of nonprofit and government boards and committees, including Chair of the Board for The Evergreens Senior Care System, Chair of the Board for The Evergreens Foundation; Chair of the Partners Ending Homelessness Board; NCCJ, Bell House, Inc., and Triad Stage Board Member; Advisory Board Member for the UNCG Center for Leadership and Service Learning; Advisory Board Member for the UNCG Political Science Department; Member of the Future Talent Council for Degrees Matter, UNCG Chancellor's Engaged Scholarship Committee; Advisory Board Member for the Cooperative Extension Service; Member of the Greensboro Mayor's University Roundtable; Member of the Selection Committee for the current Greensboro Police Chief and other senior City staff positions; Chair of the Neighborhoods’ Committee for the Greensboro Bicentennial Commission; Chair of the Outreach Committee for the Performing Arts Center Task Force, and member of numerous and varied ordinance committees for the City.

Donna has been recognized by the Triad Business Journal with the Women in Business award. She was also honored the 2009 Athena Award presented by the Greensboro Partnership primarily for her board role with the Evergreens Senior Care System, where she led the restructuring that brought 3 new state of the art skilled nursing facilities and a $30 million investment to Guilford County. She has been recognized in the News and Record as a Community Role Model and featured in the News and Record with regard to what she would hope to be “The Next Big Thing” for Greensboro. Donna was also been selected by Guilford College as the 2011 recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for her distinguished and meaningful service to the Triad Community.Most recently, Donna has been awarded the America Heart Association’s inaugural Heart of the Community Award.

 

David Parrish

Assistant City Manager
Greensboro, NC
David Parrish
Selection Committee: Chair

Career Highlights
City of Greensboro
• Assistant City Manager 2013 to present

City of Danville, Va.
• Deputy City Manager, 2010-13
• Management Analyst, 2005-07

Town of Yanceyville
• Town Manager, 2007-10

Well-Spring Retirement Community
• Director of Recreation, 2002-03

Arc of Greensboro
• Employment Specialist, 2000-02

Professional Organizations and Memberships
• International City/County Management Association
• Virginia Local Government Management Association
• UNC MPA Alumni Association
• Haven, Domestic Violence Coalition, Board of Directors, 2012

Civic Involvement
• Danville-Pittsylvania United Way Campaign Cabinet Member, 2012
• Leadership Southside, 2011-12
• Center for Creative Leadership, Foundations of Leadership, 2009
• UNC MPA Assessment Center Facilitator, 2008 and 2009
• Rural Economic Development Institute, NC Rural Center, 2008
• IIMC Clerks Institute, UNC School of Government, 2008
• MPA Admissions Committee, spring 2005
• MPA Diversity Day Committee, spring 2005
• Duke Leadership in an Aging Society participant, summer 2004
• Trained in Alzheimer’s care by Eastern NC Alzheimer’s Association

Tom Phillips

Merrill Lynch
(Retired)
Tom Phillips
Evaluation Panel: Member

John R. Ryan

President & CEO
Center for Creative Leadership
John R. Ryah
Selection Committee: Member

John R. Ryan is President of the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), a top-ranked, global provider of executive education that develops better leaders through its exclusive focus on leadership education and research. A retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral, Ryan joined CCL’s Board of Governors in 2002 and became President in 2007. From 2005 to 2007, he served as Chancellor of the State University of New York (SUNY).

Previously, Ryan served as President of the State University of New York Maritime College and as Interim President of the University at Albany. From 1998 to 2002, Ryan was Superintendent (President) of the U.S. Naval Academy, winning widespread praise for his focus on academics, strategic planning and fund-raising. A former Navy pilot, Ryan commanded squadrons, wings and forces in Asia, Europe and the Middle East during a 35-year career in the military.

Ryan serves on the Board of Directors for Cablevision (Bethpage, N.Y.), CIT Group Inc., and Barnes and Noble. He is also a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation Board. Ryan received a B.S. from the U.S. Naval Academy, an M.S. in Administration from George Washington University, and completed the program for Senior Executives in National and International Security at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

 

Wayne Szafranski

Director of Outreach and Technology Transfer
NC A&T State University
Wayne Szafranski
Evaluation Panel: Member

Szafranski helps develop the university’s intellectual property portfolio, identifies and evaluates promising breakthrough technologies, negotiates licensing opportunities, and directs spin-out company formation. He also is responsible for establishing research relationships between the university and private sector companies. 

With more than 30 years experience in technical product development for several international corporations, Szafranski’s focus has been on new product marketing and sales management in the industrial and consumer markets.

 

Mike Tarrant

Director of Strategic Initiatives
University of North Carolina – Greensboro
Mike Tarrant
Evaluation Panel: Member

Tarrant coordinates the planning and development of short- and long-range strategies for achieving the university’s top priorities and serves as a liaison between the university and the state and federal governments.

His commitment to ensuring quality higher education while working in the Office of Federal Government Relations at UNC General Administration, where he advanced the government relations efforts for the 17-campuses of the University of North Carolina.

In 2008, Tarrant was one of 18 Americans selected as a Henry Luce Scholar and worked at the National University of Singapore.

 

Cecelia Thompson

Director 
Action Greensboro 
Cecelia Thompson
Evaluation Panel: Member

Thompson directs synerG, an initiative to attract and retain young professionals to Greensboro, manages marketing and programming for Center City Park, works on center city development plans, and manages marketing for Opportunity Greensboro, a collaborative effort of business and educational leaders working to leverage higher education for economic development purposes.

Thompson also serves on boards and committees with the Triad Health Project, Elsewhere Artist Collaborative, Greensboro Symphony, Weatherspoon Art Museum, and the Greensboro Children’s Museum. 

 


Penny Whiteheart

Managing Director
NC Aerospace
Penny Whiteheart
Evaluation Panel/Selection Committee: Member

Penny Whiteheart is managing director of the new non-profit working to connect and strengthen the aerospace and aviation industry for the economic benefit of North Carolina. With a strong volunteer Board, she and NC Aerospace are working to improve the pipeline of skilled employees available for this sector, to advance the competitiveness of aerospace companies and the supply chain, and to communicate the opportunities and value of this sector.

With more than 25 years of experience in non-profit management and economic development, she is a frequent speaker on topics including international trade and workforce and economic development practices. She is past president of ACCRA, the national association of professionals in community and economic development research, and a member of the Board of the NC Center for the Creative Economy.

Penny grew up in Winston-Salem, NC and has a B.A. in Political Science and American Studies and a Masters of Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill. She lives in Greensboro, NC with her husband and three children.

 

Richard Wittington

Managing Director
Triad Stage
Richard Wittington
Evaluation Panel: Member

Whittington oversees the day-to-day operations of the theatre and has done so since its inception in 2005. He has also taught theatre management classes at Greensboro College and NC A&T State University and has guest lectured at other area universities.

Along with theatre management experience in Texas, New York and Massachusetts, Whittington has served on numerous grant panels throughout the state, as well as for the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2007, he was appointed by the governor to serve on the board of the NC Arts Council and is currently a member of its executive committee.