2017 Razor Walker Award Winners

Benjamin R. David


“Ben David epitomizes the reality that one can achieve the balance between fulfilling duties as a public servant while simultaneously advocating for and encouraging the youth of our communities and throughout the state to dream and believe in themselves.”

Ben David has served as the elected district attorney for New Hanover and Pender Counties since 2004. Every day, he stands on the front line, battling the destructive forces that have the capacity to hinder our youth from reaching their full potential in their personal and professional endeavors.

David believes the job of D.A. extends beyond law enforcement, and he partners with schools, businesses, government, nonprofit agencies and faith-based organizations on numerous initiatives to enhance the lives of young people and families.

He brought Teen Court to New Hanover County in 1999 and was instrumental in the county’s recent adoption of an Interagency Governance Agreement designed to keep kids in schools and out of courts. He is a founding member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Youth Violence and the Safer Schools Task Force of New Hanover and Pender Counties. He co-authored a resolution to reopen D.C. Virgo Middle School that was approved by the Board of Education. He helped to establish the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) programs at 18 area schools; partnered with leadership at the Carousel Center to help youth victims of abuse; and collaborated with the business community to create Hometown Hires, an employment initiative established to reduce crime by getting people back to work.

Every year, he speaks to thousands of eighth-graders and high school seniors at every public school in New Hanover and Pender counties on issues of community safety and positive life choices.

The easy position for an elected D.A. to take is to prosecute each case to the fullest extent of the law. The more challenging position is to look for better ways to address problems. Ben David has distinguished himself as a true Razor Walker by going the extra mile and beyond the call of duty to create opportunities and an environment for children to grow and succeed.

Alan Faulk

Educational Administration

“In his tenure as superintendent, Alan Faulk has lived by the principle that leadership requires trust. The residents of Columbus County have trusted Mr. Faulk for more than 30 years to do what is best for its children and, ultimately, what is best for the community.”

Alan Faulk has devoted his entire career to serving the children of Columbus County. He began his career as a high school science teacher and worked as a principal and central office administrator prior to assuming his current position as superintendent of schools in 2011.

Faulk oversees 6,000 students in 18 schools spread across 937 square miles – the state’s third largest county by land. In a rural district where many students are challenged by the realities of poverty, he is a relentless student advocate known for eliminating the narrative of excuses and instead, changing the conversation to how students can and will experience success in Columbus County.

Faulk works tirelessly to create conditions for success in each of his schools. Under his leadership, Columbus County has expanded career-technical education and arts education opportunities for students in grades K-12; championed a summer enrichment program for middle-grades students; introduced STEM initiatives in each of the district’s high schools; and partnered with Southeastern Community College to develop “Pathways to Prosperity,” a program that streamlines requirements for high school students seeking associates degrees and/or certification licensure. During his tenure, Columbus County has moved out from under the shadows of a district deemed “low-performing” and decreased the district’s dropout rate to 1.97 percent.

Columbus County has been a valued member of the Watson College of Education Professional Development System school-university partnership for more than 20 years. Under Faulk’s leadership, the authentic collaboration and trust between the school system and the university has been strengthened. His tenacity in advocating for all students with integrity, equity and a commitment to decision-making that will advance the purposes of a high-quality, free and public education make him a role model for razor walkers everywhere.

Emma Jackson

Educational Administration

“Emma Jackson has spent what is the equivalent to a lifetime advocating for all students, leading people on behalf of this cause, and making a positive difference to every child and every educator she touches.”

Emma Jackson retired in December 2016 after a career with New Hanover County Schools that spanned 52 years. She began as a fifth grade teacher at James B. Dudley Elementary School, located on the Northside of Wilmington, in 1963. She taught at Peabody and Alderman schools, was named the first assistant principal at Snipes Elementary and served as principal of Wrightsville Beach Elementary before opening Bellamy Elementary as their first principal. Jackson subsequently served as principal of Pine Valley Elementary and Gregory School of Science, Math and Technology before becoming director of Instructional Services and Title I and eventually, federal programs director and director of Elementary Education for New Hanover County Schools.

A prominent leader in the community and across the nation, Jackson has served on numerous boards and committees to lead and shape education. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and has served as a leader in civic and community organizations including The Links, Incorporated, Jack and Jill of America, the NAACP and Smart Start of New Hanover County. She is also an active member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, where she has taught Sunday school and held many leadership positions. Among numerous honors Jackson has received during her career, she was awarded The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state’s highest honor for service from the Governor.

A passionate, dynamic and devoted educator, Emma Jackson has “walked the razor’s edge” for decades in service to children and families in New Hanover County and the State of North Carolina.

Deloris Rhodes

Educational Administration

“Deloris Rhodes believes there is no task more critical than providing the resources for a successful education to the disadvantaged, underserved students in our state. Until every student has the opportunity to reach his or her potential, we must keep working together to make it happen.”

Deloris Rhodes is a passionate educator and advocate who has spent more than 35 years working in public schools in North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, California and Illinois, as well as for the University of Maryland and Department of Defense schools overseas. She held positions of teacher, guidance counselor, principal and assistant superintendent prior to serving as outreach liaison for UNCW’s Watson College of Education from 2007 to 2014.

Rhodes’ passion is the process of connecting with students, especially those who are underserved and economically disadvantaged. Her goal is to get students the resources they need for success. For this, she reaches beyond the school systems into the realms of business, government and nonprofit organizations.

As WCE’s outreach liaison, Rhodes brought more than 100 nonprofit agencies to the Watson College, forging relationships between faculty, students and the community. Her motivation was to encourage Watson students to find a connection to the community and a passion for helping others so they would become volunteers for life.

Rhodes’ service to the community is extensive. She was a founding member of UNCW’s Dropout Prevention Coalition and the Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington (GLOW). She has served on the Governor’s Task Force for Safer Schools and local boards for the New Hanover County Arts Council, Community Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, Landfall Foundation, Cape Fear Literacy Council, New Hanover Library and the Bellamy Mansion.

Deloris Rhodes remains actively engaged in efforts to cross boundaries and bring diverse individuals together to create solutions that benefit youth in the community and the state. Her tireless passion, dedication and service exemplify the meaning of this award to walk the razor’s edge.

Nick Rhodes

Educational Administration

“Nick Rhodes is a firm believer that the citizens of New Hanover County deserve a school system where every child is provided a quality education regardless of where that child lives, goes to school or his or her socioeconomic status. He has been a leader, supporting programs and policies for students and families who were often ignored.”

Nick Rhodes holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from North Carolina A&T State University, a master’s in Education from Pepperdine University and an M.B.A. from Western New England College. He served for 21 years in the United States Air Force, and had a career as a business consultant before moving to Wilmington 16 years ago.

Rhodes has been an active leader in the community, serving on numerous boards and committees including the New Hanover Board of Education, where he was a strong advocate for parents and teachers to ensure that every child in had access to a quality education. As a member of the BOE he helped guide the development of plans for raising student achievement, reducing the dropout rate and eliminating the achievement gap. He also gave freely of his time and talent as a member of the board of directors for Smart Start of New Hanover County, Communities in Schools of Cape Fear and WHQR national public radio.

Rhodes currently serves on the board of Kids Making It, whose mission is to help at-risk youth succeed in school and in life. A member of the Literacy Committee of the Wilmington Downtown Rotary Club, he tutors elementary school children and helps to secure resources for high-poverty schools. He also serves as a mentor to middle school students as a member of 100 Black Men of Coastal North Carolina and to undergraduate students at UNCW as a member of the Cameron Executive Network.

Through his unwavering support for schools, community organizations, families and youth of all ages in Southeastern North Carolina, Nick Rhodes has displayed the vision, tenacity, sacrifice and courage of a true ‘Razor Walker.’

Mike Ward

Public Service/Policy

“Dr. Ward’s professional experience, his dedication to service above self, as well as his character and integrity, all demonstrate his commitment to improving communities and the lives of children and families.”

Mike Ward is an educational leader with more than 35 years of public education service. He was a teacher, coach, high school principal and local superintendent of schools before serving two terms as North Carolina’s state superintendent of public instruction from 1997 to 2004.

During his tenure, the state earned a reputation for rapid progress in the performance of its public schools. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction also received the Daisy Bates Educational Advocacy Award at the NAACP’s 4th national Education Summit. The award recognized the department’s work in improving access, equity and accountability in education.

Ward is currently president of MEWS Educational Consulting, Inc., and serves as a consultant to state and local education leaders on school improvement, strategic planning and assessment. A three-time graduate of North Carolina State University, he also serves as an executive coach to administrator interns in the Northeast Leadership Academy of NC State University.

Ward is an active volunteer. He is chair of the International Relief Committee of Stop Hunger Now and is engaged in community development in South Sudan. He has served on relief teams traveling to South Sudan, Armenia, Haiti and Afghanistan, and was active in Hurricane Katrina relief, recovery and re-construction work from 2005 to 2010. He has been a member of the board of directors for the Special Olympics of North Carolina and currently serves on the advisory board of the College of Education at North Carolina State University.

Mike Ward has been an inspiration and a role model for many. He exemplifies a true Razor Walker with his vision, advocacy, commitment and service, and his unique ability to inspire and motivate others to unite around a common cause and achieve at a high level.

2016 Razor Walker Sponsors

Platinum Sponsors

Gold Sponsors
Robert E. Tyndall, ’00 – In memory of Patricia D. Tyndall

Silver Sponsors
James H. Faison III, ‘13
David Jones, “06
James Leutze ‘04
Tannis F. Nelson, ‘03
Bertha Todd, ‘01
Jim Wallace, ‘07

Bronze Sponsors
Mr. Robert F. Warwick, ‘98