Adrian Dixon on Tuesday looked as comfortable on the podium at the Knightdale Chamber of Commerce awards banquet as he does delivering Sunday sermons at Northside Community Church.
His natural reflex was to ask the crowd to reach for their Bibles. But Dixon wasn’t there to preach; he was there to be honored as Knightdale’s Citizen of the Year.
As Mayor James Roberson introduced Dixon, he referenced his involvement with the Raleigh Rescue Mission and the Read and Feed program at Knightdale Elementary School. He also mentioned Dixon’s leadership in the Northside Compassion Project, which provides transitional housing for single parents in eastern Wake County, and how he helps keep First Avenue clean through the Adopt-a-Highway program.
“Our award recipient has shown visionary leadership that expands into the community,” Roberson said. “Whether in place of work, church ministry or community, their efforts in leading and engaging others always model service leadership. ... This individual has been a pillar in our community and believes that community happens in circles, not rows.”
Dixon, who is Northside’s founding pastor and the full-time director of spiritual care at Duke Raleigh Hospital, deflected much of the credit.
“If you’ve ever been given something that you know you didn’t deserve ... then you know how I’m feeling right now,” Dixon said.
He instead turned the spotlight on his parents for the example they’ve been to him on giving back to others and on his wife for her support.
The top citizen’s recognition capped the dinner event, held at the North Raleigh/Midtown Hilton. It was the chamber’s 44th annual ceremony recognizing standout members of the Knightdale business community.
Zaxby’s was named Large Business of the Year, and The Mercantile, the vintage home-decor shop on First Avenue, took home the Small Business of the Year award.
Photographer Jeannie Blinson Thompson was named the chamber’s Ambassador of the Year, and a new Community Impact Award went to the Two Green Thumbs Garden Club for maintaining flower beds and memorials in town.
Nathan Ray, who will serve one more term as the chamber board president, announced his eventual successor, Glennie Ainsworth, as president-elect.
Bryan Ryan, Wake Tech’s senior vice president for effectiveness and innovation, gave the keynote speech, talking about the college’s aim to be a step ahead of growth and change to prepare students for that future. He touted the community college’s efforts to create more opportunities for Wake County students and for having resources to help people develop skills needed to advance through the workforce.