Dianne Blackwell Davidian
Dianne Davidian has devoted her time, resources, and energy to the Raleigh community for the past 32 years. She has provided vision and inspiration to many in the areas of health care, education, and the arts. Dianne graduated from the UNC–Chapel Hill School of Radiologic Technology in 1970. She has devoted her time to serving the medical community as a member and past President of the Wake County Medical Alliance and as a Treasurer for the NC Medical Society Alliance. Additionally, she was President and founding member of the Board of Directors for the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education and worked to raise $1.3 million to establish the center. Her strong advocacy for education also included being a founding Board chair for Kids Voting Wake County. As a result of her dedication, 44,000 students learned about civic duty and democracy. Dianne has long supported the arts community as well. She was awarded the Academy of Women Arts Award as well as the Individual Business Support of the Arts Award from the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. In addition, she’s served on and led Boards for a multitude of organizations including the NC Theater, Raleigh Little Theater, United Arts of Raleigh and Wake County, and the Raleigh Fine Arts Society. Dianne Davidian’s willingness to give time and talent to wide variety of causes has greatly benefitted the City.
Van Eure has made it her mission to make memories for others. Taking a cue from her “Barn Master” father, Thad Eure, Jr., Van Eure has successfully taken the infamous Angus Barn in Raleigh to the next level as the “Barn Maestro”. After working as an educator in Kenya, Eure returned to Raleigh in 1988 to help take the reins of her family’s business following the death of her father. Today, the Angus Barn remains a family business, employing over 400 people and seating 850 customers. While expanding the Barn’s business, Eure continued her educational passions by allowing local university students to arrange internships at The Angus Barn. Eure holds steadfast to the idea that serving others is a privilege. In addition to her work to grow a Raleigh signature staple, Eure has contributed to the growth of Raleigh by serving on numerous boards including the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Theatre in the Park, Toast to the Triangle, and the Convention Center Steering Committee. Perhaps Eure’s biggest endeavor has been to continually focus efforts on eliminating the stigmas surrounding mental illness through her family’s charity, The Foundation of Hope. Since 1989, Van Eure and the Angus Barn have held the annual Walk for Hope in support of The Foundation of Hope. Since 1984, the Foundation of Hope has awarded over $5.7 million in research grants to UNC-CH to support the fight against mental illness. The Foundation of Hope funded over 300 community grants to support effective mental health treatments, while research grants and projects at UNC-CH led to breakthrough treatments and cures for a multitude of mental illnesses. Van Eure lives passionately, working to make a profound difference in the lives of others in this community, whether it be at work or her philanthropic missions, or in her personal life.
Sabrina Goode works to preserve and share the history of Oberlin Village, the largest community of newly freed persons in Wake County after the Civil War. She founded and serves as the Executive Director of the Friends of Oberlin Village (FOV) an organization that strives to both honor the memory of Oberlin Village and educate the larger community about its history. Sabrina Goode assembled a team of volunteers and supporters from across the city. The FOV was instrumental in preserving Oberlin Cemetery, one of only four remaining African American cemeteries in the city. They spearheaded the movement to have the hallowed ground certified on the National Historic Register and maintain the property. Sabrina Goode has helped Raleigh recognize the contributions of marginalized and overlooked communities. As architectural historian Ruth Little said, “She’s telling the facts, but she’s also projecting the passion. . . . When people see her and hear her, they understand through her just what the village meant to Raleigh then and means to Raleigh now.” Her work preserves African American collective memory and heritage so that future generations may appreciate its significance. Sabrina Goode remarked, “Being the descendants of slaves, this is the only place we can identify as our place of origin.” She’s made an important and enduring contribution by giving a voice to the past, present, and future of this important community.
Greg Hatem has set the table for historic restoration in downtown Raleigh. Through his companies, Empire Property and Empire Eats, Hatem has preserved and repurposed dozens of properties throughout downtown. Each year, thousands of visitors and local residents flock to Hatem’s restaurants housed in meticulously restored structures. While the menus may run the gamut – from barbeque at The Pit to Mediterranean fare at Sitti – the restaurants have uniformly established a reputation for high-quality food, friendly service, and a unique dining atmosphere. Empire Properties’ focus is not confined to restaurants. Under Hatem’s direction, the company acquired and physically moved an aging 1875 chapel to a site acquired on East Street next to the Raleigh Cemetery. After extensive renovations, including stained glass windows, bathrooms and a kitchen area, Empire Properties reopened the Carpenter Gothic Revival style structure as the “All Saints Chapel” events center. At last count, Empire Properties manages more than 70 buildings and land parcels in downtown Raleigh and employs over 550 people. Hatem’s ability to forge connections between past and present extends to his personal life. Hatem was raised by parents of Lebanese descent in a small eastern North Carolina town. Family and community connections were strong. Several years after attaining the rank of Eagle Scout in that small town, Hatem now serves as a Boy Scout troop leader and is active in the Occoneechee Boy Scout Council. He is also a key booster of the Khayrallah Center at NC State, which celebrates the heritage of the Lebanese American Community in North Carolina. Hatem’s role in the revitalization of downtown Raleigh cannot be overstated. Through his tireless efforts, Hatem is restoring the shine to our urban center.
Robert L. “Roddy” Jones
Business leader Roddy Jones has played a key role in shaping Raleigh’s transformation from the parochial city of his youth to the dynamic metropolitan center of today. Jones’ business career began when he returned to Raleigh after graduating from East Carolina University. Working in his family’s construction business, Davidson & Jones, Jones began as a carpenter and eventually worked his way up to the company ladder to become its president. Jones is widely credited with the company’s decision to shift its focus from residential to commercial construction. This move benefited both the company and his community. During this era, Davidson & Jones delivered several leading projects, including Crabtree Valley Mall, the Raleigh Civic and Convention Center, the North Raleigh Hilton, Highwoods Business Park, and the American Airlines terminal at RDU. Jones’ energies were not confined to making physical improvements to area properties. Jones also set about making less visible but equally lasting improvements to state and local education. After chairing East Carolina’s Board of Trustees, Jones accepted an appointment to the North Carolina System’s Board of Governors. Jones chaired the Board for two years. At various times Jones has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Peace College, Shaw University, and Ravenscroft School. Pooling his resources with other community leaders, Jones also helped launch Wake Education Partnership, the first independent local education fund in North Carolina. Jones remains active in various civic affairs where he continues to make lasting contributions to his community.
Marjorie L. O’Rorke
Marjorie Lehman O’Rorke came to Dorthea Dix Hospital in 1963 as a volunteer for the newly established Dorthea Dix Volunteer Service Guild. A new initiative, the guild was a new concept at psychiatric hospitals, serving the needs of both patients and staff. Having earned a nursing degree from Yale university, O’Rorke had extensive experience as both an instructor and a supervisor and was at ease with working with patients living with significant mental illness. O’Rorke went on to serve for nearly fifty years on the Guild, leading it through changes in psychiatric care, and serving with Guild members and staff through adapting practices to meet the changing needs of the patients and Dix hospital. In the late 1980’s, Dr. Granville Tolley, Director of Dix Hospital, approached O’Rorke about writing the history of the hospital. O’Rorke’s background as a researcher and a nurse made her uniquely qualified to take charge of this momentous responsibility. Over the next twenty years, O’Rorke crafted a comprehensive history of Dix hospital based on hospital and state records, research at libraries, archives, and newspapers, along with interviews O’Rorke conducted herself. With a history spanning over 150 years, Marjorie Lehman O’Rorke published Haven on the Hill in 2010 to not only detail the history of Dorothea Dix Hospital, but to challenge others to reject the stigma of mental illness. It is carried in libraries across in the country, even as far as Germany. In 2019, at age 95, O’Rorke remains actively involved on the Legacy Committee of the Dix Park Conservancy.
Harvey A. Schmitt
When Harvey Schmitt joined the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce in 1994, Raleigh’s direction of growth was at a crossroads. Through his experience as a professional leader for chambers of commerce across the country, Schmitt had seen first hand the long term community and economic benefits of Entertainment and Sports Arena. His encouragement and experience helped guide the Chamber Board to champion the now PNC Arena as a priority investment for a growing Raleigh. Serving over two decades as President with the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, Schmitt played a critical role in the success and development for Raleigh, working with both city and county leaders to support causes and coalitions behind growth projects like the Raleigh Convention Center, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, and the Regional Transportation Alliance (RTA). His creation of the RTA was strategically designed to coincide with Raleigh’s growth. In addition to being a champion for Raleigh’s strategic growth and economic prosperity, Harvey Schmitt supported the City’s community by fervently supporting education initiatives and serving on numerous boards including The Wake Education Partnership, Downtown Raleigh Alliance, St. Augustine’s University Trustees, and the Carolina Hurricanes Foundation. Schmitt’s dedication to education and support of Wake County Public Schools saw him as a critical voice of support to pass over $3 billion of school construction bonds and also led him to win the Vernon Malone Friend of Education Award in 2015.
J. Blount Williams
Like the Oak Tree featured in the Raleigh Hall of Fame’s logo, J.Blount Williams’ roots run deep. Williams is the chairman and CEO of Raleigh-based Alfred Williams and Company. He is the fifth generation of the Williams family to lead this venerable business institution. Under Williams’ leadership, the company has expanded its geographic reach, changed its product mix exclusively to office furniture, and successfully managed associated growing pains. Today, Alfred Williams and Company employs over 200 full-time employees. Many of them work in the Company’s downtown headquarters on Salisbury Street, just a stone’s throw from the site of the company’s original 1867 storefront. The Williams family is also known for its commitment to the community. Williams has continued this legacy, chairing the Boards for the Wake Med Foundation, the Marble Kids Museum, and the NB Broughton Capital Foundation. He has or is currently serving on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including the Leadership Council for Wake Education Partnership, the Dorothea Dix Park Conservancy, and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. His name is also associated with the Green Chair Project – a non-profit that provides furniture for those in need – that he has nurtured and supported for many years. Williams’ service extends to his family’s place of worship, Christ Church in downtown Raleigh. Among other leadership roles, he has served as a member of the Christ Church Vestry, as Senior Warden, as Chairman of the Stewardship Campaign, and as Co-Chair of The Cornerstone Fund. Those familiar with the church’s massive and stunning renovation give Williams much of the credit for the success of this project.
Habitat for Humanity of Wake County
The City of Raleigh has enjoyed tremendous growth and prosperity for more than 30 years. It is often regarded as one of the best places to “live, work, and play”. However, as Raleigh’s popularity and demand for housing surges, the need for affordable housing grows. Enter Habitat for Wake County. Established in 1985 as an affiliate for Habitat for Humanity International, Habitat Wake’s mission is to build homes, communities, and hope. Habitat works in partnership with homebuyer families, sponsors, and volunteers to construct homes that are sold at zero profit to the qualified partner family. The family repays an affordable mortgage over 20 years. After completing the first home in 1986, Habitat Wake’s partners and volunteers helped build an average of eleven houses per year between 1889-1999. In 2002, Habitat Wake welcomed the Builders Blitz, a challenge for local builders to build Habitat homes in a week. This initiative meant that by 2004, Habitat Wake was building almost thirty homes annually. With support over the years from nearly 350 sponsors and over 11,000 volunteers, 2018 Habitat Wake built its 500th home and ranks 8th nationally in the number of new Habitat homes constructed. In addition to building homes for qualified families, Habitat Wake partners with these families to help educate them on financial stability. Habitat Wake was also the first affiliate in the country to start the Habitat ReStore. Beyond its work in Raleigh, Habitat Wake volunteers have traveled around the world to Habitat affiliates to build homes in partnership with countries like Thailand, India and Mexico. Habitat Wake has assisted in funding construction of 361 homes internationally, and ranks 5th among U.S. affiliates in global building.
Tammy Lynn Center, Inc.
The Tammy Lynn Center, Inc. has offered programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities for 50 years. During the 1960s parents across the country demanded services and equal rights for their children with disabilities. The deficiency in services and support led three families to establish the Tammy Lynn Center in Raleigh. The families advocated for additional funding and policy changes to ensure equal access to public education. By the early Eighties the Tammy Lynn Center offered a wide range of services. Tammy Lynn Center opened group homes for children with disabilities and complex medical needs providing both nursing care and personal assistance. An Early Childhood Intervention Program provides critical therapy for children up to age three allowing them to reach key milestones. Tammy Lynn Center offers respite care giving families who care for a loved one a well-deserved break. Additionally, they opened a school with specialized teachers and therapists. Over the past five decades the Tammy Lynn Center has benefitted hundreds of families by adding programs to provide options and address the needs of the disabled and their families. Thousands of families have benefited from their quality care. Tammy Lynn Center remains a leader, pace-setter, and vital contributor to the Raleigh community.
Reverend Morgan L. Latta
Reverend Morgan L. Latta overcame great adversity to make a significant contribution to Raleigh with the establishment of Latta University in Oberlin Village. Born enslaved on the Fishdam Plantation in northwest Wake County he survived a life of cruel inhumanity. As a child he endured the traumatic sale of a sibling and witnessed the brutal whipping of his uncle. At one point he staved off starvation by eating the feed intended for livestock. After his emancipation at the age of nine, Latta attended a Freedmen’s School before enrolling at Shaw University in the late 1870s. Latta earned a teaching certificate and taught in the area while also becoming an ordained reverend. In 1892 he came to Oberlin Village in West Raleigh to start Latta University. Through the school he sought to uplift the most vulnerable and marginalized during the nadir of race relations. Reverend Latta created the school to teach the children and descendants of emancipated slaves. At its height Latta University had 23 buildings and the capacity to enroll hundreds of students. Reverend Latta’s history and legacy continues to inspire children from all backgrounds through programming by the City of Raleigh and the Latta House Foundation. He has earned an honored place alongside other founders of Raleigh institutions.
Joseph B. Winters, Sr.
Joseph B. Winters left an indelible legacy for Raleigh serving with the Police Department for almost four decades and helping shape the city’s cultural landscape. In the 1940s he was one of the first African Americans to join the Police Department earning commendations throughout his career. After apprehending a bank robber, the News and Observer recognized him as Tarheel of the Week and he received a letter of commendation from the Director of the FBI. In the Jim Crow South, his dedication and service attested that African American officers were both competent and capable. Winters also left an impact on Raleigh’s entertainment culture spending his free time organizing and promoting music shows. Raleigh was the perfect stop for musical acts traveling between Washington, DC and Atlanta. In a segregated city he provided African American entertainers safety, access to accommodations, performance venues, and places to eat. For more than thirty years Winters introduced the city to some of America’s biggest performers including Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Diana Ross and the Supremes, and James Brown. Though the early concerts were segregated, many of them ended with white and black concert-goers mingling or even dancing together. Winters was both a dedicated officer and visionary entrepreneur who, according to Former Chief Justice Burly Mitchell, “paved the way for integration.”