2018 Razor Walker Award Winners

Cathy L. Barlow

Educational Leadership

“Cathy Barlow is a visionary leader, known for
her focus, commitment and ability to ‘push the envelope’ to help organizations better serve North Carolina’s children.”

Cathy Barlow has been a leader in education for more than 45 years. She began her career as a special education teacher and held leadership positions in K-12 schools for 21 years before moving into higher education. She joined UNCW as Dean of Education in 2000, after serving as a professor, department chair and dean at two universities. She went on to serve as UNCW Provost, and returned from retirement in 2015 to serve an additional two years as Interim Vice Provost during a period of transition at UNCW.

During her tenure as dean, the Watson College earned regional, state and national recognition as a leader in education. She oversaw significant growth in programs including: the introduction of a doctorate in education; enhanced community engagement with schools, businesses and community organizations; and the construction of the Education Building, home to a regional resource center and the North Carolina Teacher Legacy Hall.

Barlow has been successful in securing over ten million dollars in external funding to address educational challenges. In just one example, she was project director of UNCW’s STAR Program. The program attracted 59 highly qualified individuals to the teaching profession through scholarships funded by the National Science Foundation totaling $606,000.

Barlow is a leader in many professional and community organizations. She is president of The Renaissance Group, a national organization of universities. She is president-elect of the Downtown Wilmington Rotary Club. She has served as national president of the Council of Exceptional Children’s Division of Learning Disabilities, and on the local boards of ACCESS and The Miracle League. She volunteers in support of the Wilmington Children’s Museum, Historical Society and local schools, and has established two scholarships to benefit students pursuing a teaching degree in the Watson College.

For more than four decades, Cathy Barlow has helped organizations to flourish and empowered individuals and groups to reach their potential. Her creativity, innovative and generous spirit, tenacity and sacrifice are truly the characteristics of a person who “walks the razor’s edge.”


Senator Ralph Hise

Public Service / Policy

“Senator Hise is deeply committed to advancing early literacy. He believes there is no greater investment we can make than in our children’s future.”

Senator Ralph Hise is a strong proponent of education who has helped to increase funding for public schools and introduced legislation to boost early literacy efforts. As a result of his leadership, the state recently committed $10.5 million to expand the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program through the North Carolina Partnership for Children, the nonprofit that administers the Smart Start early childhood network. The Imagination Library is designed to foster a love of reading among children from birth through kindergarten. More than 20,000 children enrolled in the first two months following the launch, and the statewide initiative will expand to cover every county in North Carolina by 2019.

Hise is currently serving his fourth term as Senator from the 47th District of North Carolina. He co-chairs three standing Senate committees: Appropriations on Health and Human Services; Health Care; and Redistricting. He is a member of six additional standing and select Senate committees.

Hise attended Mitchell High School and the North Carolina School of Science & Mathematics. He holds a bachelor’s degree in statistics from Appalachian State University and a master’s in Higher Education Administration from North Carolina State University. He served two terms as mayor of Spruce Pine prior to his election to the state Senate. In addition to his legislative work he is an administrator at Mayland Community College and serves on the North Carolina Travel and Tourism Board.

The N.C. Center for Public Policy Research ranked Hise the sixth most effective senator in North Carolina in their 2016 biennial survey. He has also received the Foundation for Government Accountability Champion of Opportunity Award, and Legislator of the Year awards from the N.C. Nurses Association, Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, Bayada, and Children’s Advocacy Centers of N.C.

Through his powerful advocacy for public education, willingness to invest in the state’s youth and commitment to work tirelessly on behalf of young children and families to promote literacy across North Carolina, Senator Hines has distinguished himself as a true razor walker.


Wayne Lofton

Public Service / Policy

“Wayne Lofton believes that everyone is somebody, and everybody should help someone. His passion is helping those who need help the most.”

As president and CEO of the Community Boys and Girls Club of Wilmington, Wayne Lofton is a leader, role model and mentor to youth in New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties. The Club, the second largest in North Carolina, serves 500 to 800 young people each month, providing transportation and a safe place where they can assemble after school to complete academic assignments, enjoy a hot meal and engage in recreation. At the club, children also learn life-skills that empower them to thrive and become productive citizens.

Lofton was an educator, coach, community advocate and entrepreneur before joining the Community Boys and Girls Club in 2006 at a critical point in its history. During his first year as CEO, he raised $250,000, helping to restore the club’s fiscal solvency. Over the past 12 years he has greeted children every day with hugs and handshakes, and initiated numerous programs to promote education, address gang violence and criminal recidivism, and enhance the lives of children and families.

Under Lofton’s leadership the club implemented a shift in the programming to place a greater emphasis on education. He created a Teen Center to keep youth off the streets, has provided opportunities for Wilmington Housing Authority’s YouthBuild students to successfully complete community service hours, initiated a Youth Ambassadors for a Better Community Gardening Club and introduced a program called Tech Divide that gives mothers weekend access to computers. His efforts have led to a significant increase in the number of high school graduates and young people entering college or the military, and helped families gain access to employment, education and affordable housing opportunities.

Wayne Lofton’s vision is to ensure that every child has an opportunity to feel safe and receive both physical and spiritual nourishment, and he stands on the front line every day to combat destructive forces that prevent youth from reaching their potential. With vision, courage and compassion, he faithfully walks the razor’s edge for the welfare of all children.


James McAdams

Educational Leadership

“James McAdams graced the halls of schools, inspired the work of teachers and improved the lives of students for four decades with the warmth and wisdom of his leadership.”

James McAdams was a teacher and coach, longtime principal, and friend and mentor to many. He held leadership roles in education in Pitt, Brunswick and New Hanover Counties for more than 30 years, serving as principal at Farmville Central High School, North Brunswick High School, Bolivia Elementary, South Brunswick High School, New Hanover High School and Ashley High School prior to his retirement in 2011. His dedication to cultivating and affecting the lives of students brought him out of retirement to hold several interim positions in New Hanover County Schools before returning to serve as principal at New Hanover High School from 2014 to 2017.

Students and friends knew McAdams as ‘Mr. Mac’. He led personally and professionally with what he called the philosophy of a blended family. He believed the greatness a person looks for is found in benefiting others and not themselves, that leaders should have confidence in their ability to be a caring soul, and that being smart lets you know when to be kind. Most recently, he created a vision of HOPE at New Hanover High School, known district-wide as a belief in “Having Only Positive Expectations.”

In the book To Kill a Mockingbird, Judge Taylor advised, “People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.” James McAdams did not. He looked at every person, every day and every part of his world in a clear and positive light and he treated everyone the same, regardless of rank or position.

North Carolina lost a truly exceptional leader in January 2018, but his legacy lives on in the hope he inspired in thousands fortunate to have been a member of one of his many ‘blended school families.’ James McAdams’ vision, compassion, integrity, gentle strength, huge heart and four decades of dedication to youth and families in North Carolina make him a role model for razor walkers everywhere.


Special Thanks To Contributors as of April 1, 2018

Razor Walker Scholar

James M. Applefield
Van Dempsey and Jaci Webb-Dempsey
in honor of John Dornan and JoAnn Norris
Tannis F. Nelson ’03 in honor of Robert E. Tyndall
Robert E. Tyndall, ‘00

Dean’s Circle

Nick and Deloris Rhodes, ‘17

Professor’s Circle

James H. Faison III, ‘13

Alumni Circle

Anna E. Hattaway, ‘95
Kathy Stoute, ‘12
Eleanor B. Wright, ‘08

Honorees noted above are designated with the year they received the award.