2016 Razor Walker Award Winners

June St. Clair Atkinson

Educational Administration

Atkinson"Dr. Atkinson is a visionary leader who understands the importance of improving teaching and learning and creating school environments that encourage student success."

June St. Clair Atkinson is the first woman elected State Superintendent of the Public Schools in North Carolina. She has served in this position since August 2005 and oversees almost 1.5 million students in more than 2,500 public schools.
As State Superintendent, Atkinson works tirelessly to revitalize the state's curriculum and accountability programs, transform low-performing schools and ensure students have the opportunity to learn the technical skills needed in today's global economy. She was instrumental in securing North Carolina's $400 million dollar federal "Race to the Top" grant award and has initiated numerous programs and partnerships to improve education in the state, including the "Give Five, Read Five" campaign launched in 2013 to address summer learning loss. During the first year of the campaign, parents, business leaders and community members donated 123,152 books to North Carolina elementary schools. In 2015, more than 500,000 books were donated.

Atkinson's career in education spans 35 years. She has served as a chief consultant and director in the areas of business education, career and technical education and instructional services within the NCDPI.

She has received numerous awards, including the Champion of Children Award from the North Carolina Association of School Administrators, the State Policy Maker of the Year Award from the National Association for State Educational Technology Directors, and North Carolina Association of Educators' Inclusive Leadership Award. In addition, Atkinson has held many professional offices, most recently serving as president of the National Council of Chief State School Officers.

For more than three decades, June Atkinson has "walked the razor's edge" by taking on tough challenges and working to build a strong public school system that meets the educational needs of all children in North Carolina.

Clifford D. Barnett Sr.

Public Service/Policy

Barnett"Dr. Barnett sees every single child as precious and important, sees each person's potential and has an unshakable faith that we can solve any problem if we work together."

Rev. Dr. Clifford D. Barnett Sr., pastor of the Warner Temple A.M.E. Zion Church in Wilmington, is a community leader and team builder with a passion for connecting resources with needs. Since arriving in Wilmington in 2009, he has been a founder and active member of many programs that enhance the lives of youth and families, particularly in downtown Wilmington.

Barnett chairs the Southeastern Dropout Prevention Coalition at UNC Wilmington, is a member of the Cape Fear Coalition for a Drug Free-Tomorrow Committee, and is a member of the D.C. Virgo Prep Academy Board of Advisors, where he also serves as a mentor. In addition, he serves as vice-president of the New Hanover County Smart Start Board of Directors, has spearheaded the annual First 2,000 Days Summit, and hosted Leadercast, the largest one-day leadership event in the world (broadcasted from Atlanta). He is the founder of Bridges to Success, a program designed to offer assistance to students who have been suspended from a middle or high school in New Hanover County, as well as their families.

Barnett received his Doctorate of Ministry from Eastern Baptist (now Palmer) Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He has pastored a number of A.M.E. Zion churches in South Carolina, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Virginia and worked as a public school physical education teacher and coach.

Rev. Clifford Barnett exemplifies a true Razor Walker. He nurtures possibility and promise every day by bringing energy, faith, support, wisdom and determination to his work with youth and families in the Wilmington community.

Communities in Schools of Cape Fear

Educational Administration

CIS"Communities in Schools of Cape Fear is dedicated to making sure children get whatever they need to succeed in school and in life. They never give up."

Communities in Schools of Cape Fear provides services to at-risk youth in New Hanover and Pender counties. Their work is grounded in a belief that every child has potential. Many children struggle, often for reasons beyond their control. Every day, CIS works to surround these students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.

CIS of Cape Fear works in schools to mentor and tutor students at the elementary, middle and high school levels. They provide a safe after-school environment through the Wilmington Youth Center for Inspiration, Recreation and Education (WIRE). The organization also reaches out to vulnerable populations such as teen mothers and brings community resources, services, parents and volunteers together to meet students' needs.

CIS of Cape Fear's tenacity is seen in the willingness of their staff to do whatever it takes to ensure a child succeeds. Last year, they served 1,189 students, providing resources, exposure to academic and career opportunities, and help developing "life-sustaining skills." Their positive impact on young people's lives was clearly visible in dramatically improved school attendance, behavior, academics and a 96 percent graduation rate.

Communities in Schools of Cape Fear has "walked the razor's edge" for more than a decade, by providing invaluable services and support to thousands of at-risk students in the greater Wilmington area.

Hannah Dawson Gage

Public Service/Policy

Gage"Hannah Gage's decades long devotion to the empowerment of youth is embodied in every campus in the UNC system. Her legacy is one of capacity, of opportunity and of possibility."

Hannah Dawson Gage is a Wilmington businesswoman who built and managed radio stations for 25 years in southeastern North Carolina. In 2008, she was elected to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors and became the first woman to chair the board. Gage served for 12 years and is currently serving a four-year emeritus term.

The UNC BOG oversees 16 campuses, including the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, UNC Health Care and UNC TV. Gage's focus as chair of the UNC board was to design a public university that was sustainable and affordable for both the state and North Carolina families. She is widely recognized as a remarkable leader who combines energy, intelligence, knowledge and good judgement with vision.

Prior to joining the Board of Governors, Gage served for eight years as a member and as chair of the University of North Carolina Wilmington Board of Trustees, where she led the university's successful effort to establish a world-class marine science center. She has served on the Wachovia/Wells board for 25 years and is a former member of the Wilmington Rotary Club, the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust Board, the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Board, the North Carolina Association of Broadcaster's Board and the BEST NC Board.

Gage has received numerous honors and recognitions, including the YWCA's Woman of Achievement Award and the Outstanding Alumni Award from St. Mary's High School in Raleigh. She was inducted into the North Carolina Association of Broadcaster's Hall of Fame in 2009 and in 2012 received The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state's highest honor for service from the Governor.

Hannah Gage has truly displayed the vision, tenacity, sacrifice and courage of a Razor Walker with her stalwart, unwavering support for creating the best outcomes for each and every young person who desired access to higher education in the state of North Carolina.

Wanda M. Marino

Public Service/Policy

Marino"Wanda Marino's care and concern for children in need has no limit. In challenging cases she always goes the extra mile, does the right thing and asks others to follow."

Wanda Marino is the assistant director at New Hanover County Department of Social Services. She has worked throughout N.C. since 1983 in various social service positions and has served for many years on the NC Department of Health and Human Services Child and Family Services Committee, assisting in policy development for local departments of social services. She has been instrumental in developing North Carolina's Community Child Protection Team State Advisory Board and has provided leadership for her local community team for almost 20 years.

Marino is a passionate advocate for children and families in New Hanover County. She has led numerous efforts to enhance the safety and well-being of children, including the development of a new 911 protocol to prevent child fatalities. She takes a personal interest in the foster parents who care for children in the custody of DSS, was an active participant in the county's two-year effort to develop a memorandum of understanding to address the school-to-prison pipeline, and has aided in the development of community service work programs for adjudicated youth through her longstanding role as a member of the New Hanover Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.

Marino received a bachelor's degree from Western Carolina University and a master's in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Wanda Marino demonstrates her commitment to children, especially our most at-risk children, every day. Her leadership, vision and refusal to accept the status quo in her efforts to improve the lives of the children and families she serves distinguish her as a true Razor Walker.

2016 Razor Walker Sponsors

Gold Sponsors
Dr. Robert E. Tyndall, '00

Silver Sponsors
Mr. James H. Faison, III, '13
Ms. Tannis F. Nelson, '03

Bronze Sponsors
Ms. Anna Watkins Hattaway. "95
Dr. Noel K. Jones, '06
Mr. Robert F. Warwick, '98
Dr. Eleanor B. Wright, '08