2015 Razor Walker Award Winners

Yevonne S. Brannon

Public Service/Policy

Yevonne Brannon"Dr. Yevonne Brannon has been fighting the good fight for a strong public school system that serves every child for more than 40 years."

Yevonne Brannon is a former Wake County Commissioner and PTA President, who has directed the Center for Urban Affairs and Community Services at North Carolina State University since 1991. She also serves as chair of Public Schools First NC, a statewide organization that advocates for high-quality public education.

Brannon received her Ph.D. in sociology from NC State University. She has over 35 years of experience in applied social science research and has devoted her adult life to child and public advocacy with a focus on education and the environment. She has served as President of the Wake County PTA Council and in leadership roles at two groups she helped to create, WakeUP Wake County and Great Schools in Wake.

Brannon is also involved in numerous civic and church groups including the Western Boulevard Presbyterian Church where she started the "Hands to Hearts" Prayer Shawl Ministry. She has also served as a Sunday school teacher for more than 20 years.

Brannon has received numerous awards for her contributions to state and local PTAs and was recognized with the Governor's Award for Outstanding Service in 1988. She has earned an Outstanding Service Extension Award and the Mary Frances Hester Service Award for her work at NC State. She was inducted into the YWCA Academy of Women in 2011 and named a 'Champion of Children' by the North Carolina Foundation for Public School Children in 2014.

Yevonne Brannon exemplifies a true Razor Walker Award Recipient through her dedicated service and passionate advocacy over the course of four decades for a strong public school system that benefits all of the children in our state.

Attorney General Roy Cooper

Public Service/Policy

Roy Cooper"Roy Cooper cares deeply about the future of his home state of North Carolina."

Roy Cooper has a long record of service to the people and youth of North Carolina. As the state's Attorney General, he works to keep people safe by fighting crime, protecting consumers and helping crime victims. His initiatives include tutoring and mentoring efforts to reduce youth involvement in gangs and crime, training law enforcement and helping schools plan for emergencies to reduce violence in schools, advocating for tougher stances for child predators, and numerous other programs to improve the health and welfare of young residents of the state.

For decades he has fought to maintain North Carolina's historical commitment to public education and provide opportunities for children and young adults.

Cooper attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Morehead Scholar and practiced law in his native Nash County after finishing law school. In 1986, he was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives where he served until he was appointed to the North Carolina Senate in 1991.
As a legislator, he fought to increase pay for teachers and reduce class sizes. He also wrote North Carolina's first children's health insurance initiative, pushed tougher safety standards for child care centers, banned guns from schools, and helped create a graduated license program to give young drivers more training.

Cooper has served for many years as a Sunday school teacher, an elder and a deacon in his church. He tutors children at a local middle school and has led fundraising efforts for the March of Dimes, Barium Springs Home for Children and the United Way.

Over the course of his career Roy Cooper has continuously "walked the razor's edge" by taking on tough challenges and fighting for a safe and healthy future for the youth of North Carolina.

Jana Jones Halls

Educational Administration

Jana Jones Halls"Jana Jones Halls has an unwavering commitment to the youth of North Carolina, particularly those most at risk residing in Wilmington's North Side."

Jana Jones Halls is an educator, rising community leader and passionate advocate for impoverished youth and their families. As executive director for the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Prevention of Youth Violence (BRC), Halls works tirelessly to bring safety, wellness, academic support and hope for the future to those residing in the high-poverty Youth Enrichment Zone in Wilmington.

The goal of the Youth Enrichment Zone, modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone, is to transform communities one block at a time by identifying, coordinating and making a variety of community resources available to struggling youth and their families. In just two years, Jones Halls' strong leadership, collaboration with community leaders and unwavering commitment to making a difference have enabled the BRC to greatly increase the availability of after-school and summer programs addressing life-skills, career-readiness and violence prevention programs.

Jones Halls has been an integral part of the Cape Fear community for a number of years, where she has worked as an educator at the Friends School of Wilmington and a teaching artist at DREAMS of Wilmington. Prior to accepting her position with the BRC, Jones Halls was an AmeriCorps HandsOnSchools VISTA volunteer and community outreach coordinator at D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy in Wilmington. She was named one of 12 to Watch in 2015 by theStarNews and was also a finalist for WILMA Magazine's 2014 Women to Watch.

With strength of leadership, passion and dedication for serving underserved youth and their families, Jana Jones Halls "walks the razor's edge" every day in the Wilmington community.

Frankie A. Roberts

Public Service/Policy

Frankie Roberts"Frankie Roberts is an everyday warrior for justice and opportunity for the least of us, and a powerful inspiration for meaningful community action to us all."

As founder and executive director of the Wilmington non-profit Leading into New Communities (LINC) Inc., Frankie Roberts crafted the vision for a facility and programs for convicted felons, children of incarcerated adults and at-risk youth. Since its inception in 2000, the organization has helped more than 2,000 adults transition from prison to life in the community, with an 88 percent success rate. LINC also serves youth with efforts aimed at preventing their involvement in the juvenile justice system.

LINC offers a residential re-entry program through the Marvin E. Roberts transitional living facility, named after the brother Roberts lost to incarceration and addiction. In addition to temporary housing, the program offers education, training and job support to recently released inmates and an opportunity to build skills and valuable community connections through enterprises it operates, which includes an Urban Garden and a lawn care program.

LINC's LITE Manhood youth development program provides workshops, mentoring and skill-development for young men ages 16-21, and partners with local high schools to provide alternative educational programming and job placements for African American males. Roberts has also worked closely with YouthBuild, a grant-funded program sponsored by the Wilmington Housing Authority, to help students obtain professional skills and a GED.

On a daily basis, Roberts nurtures possibility and promise as he serves disenfranchised youth and adults with strength, humility and humor. His visionary leadership, strong community connections and dedication to youth education and empowerment have enriched the lives of many. Frankie Roberts has truly displayed the vision, tenacity, sacrifice and courage of a Razor Walker Award recipient with his profound commitment to serving the underserved in the greater Wilmington community over the past 15 years.

2015 Razor Walker Supporters

Gold Sponsors
Dr. Robert E. Tyndall, '00

Silver Sponsors
Mr. James H. Faison III, '13
Ms. Tannis F. Nelson, '03
Mr. James Wallace / Intracoastal Realty Corp., '07

Bronze Sponsors
Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation, '08
Mr. Cedric Dickerson, '09
Ms. Elizabeth Frasier, '05
Ms. Anna W. Hattaway, '95
Dr. Toni C. Hill, '97
Dr. Noel K. Jones, '06
Mr. Hugh MacRae / The Oleander Company, '00
Mr. Robert F. Warwick, '98
Dr. Eleanor B. Wright, '08

Other generous contributors
Dr. Heyward Bellamy, '02

Previous honorees designated by the yearin which they received the award.