The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce honored 12 individuals at its annual Salute to Community Heroes on Dec. 8 at University Place.
▪ Sgt. Keith Ellington
UNC Public Safety Employee of the Year
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Keith Ellington began a career in law enforcement in 2009, and now serves as a sergeant on the Community Response Unit following his promotion this past October. One of two K-9 officers on campus, he travels throughout North Carolina with his dog and works weekends on and off campus to ensure the safety of our students and communities. Ellington is known within his department for going above and beyond his regular assignments, taking on the upgrade of patrol cars, mobile data terminal issues, and mentoring young officers.
▪ Field Training Officer James Johnson
Orange County Emergency Services Employee of the Year
James Johnson has been serving for 11 years. He has an extensive background as an EMT, working for a private ambulance service, as well as Carolina Air Cares. In 2011, he joined Orange County Emergency Services under the first paramedic academy and became an Orange County Boarded Paramedic in October 2012. Even now, he continues to work for Carolina Air Care and serve his community as a volunteer lieutenant with the Swepsonville Fire Department.
▪ Logistics Manager Alton “Al” Matthews
Orange County Emergency Services Employee of the Year
Alton “Al” Matthews has been with Orange County Emergency Services for almost two and a half years. He is responsible for coordinating day-to-day and disaster logistical operations, as well as equipping the department to manage and distribute emergency commodities to the public. He is quick to lend a hand to others and frequently goes above and beyond to fulfill the department’s mission. He demonstrates compassion and integrity on a daily basis, all while excelling in customer service.
▪ Sgt. Chad Riley
Orange County Sheriff’s Employee of the Year
Chad Riley began his career at the Orange County Detention Center, joining the Uniform Patrol Division in 2000, and was promoted to patrol sergeant in 2014. He sets an example with his ability to maintain his work schedule and supervise his staff, with a positive attitude. At home, he and his wife Hannah are caring for their 3-year-old son Ridge, who is being treated for an inoperable brain tumor. Despite very challenging parental responsibilities, he comes to work with a smile, inspiring fellow officers with his leadership and willingness to lend a hand to the department and his community.
▪ Sgt. David Deshaies
Carrboro Police Officer of the Year
David Deshaies was promoted to sergeant in October of this year after seven years of service as a patrol officer and school resource officer. As a sergeant with the Community Services Division, he develops and oversees a number of programs designed to strengthen ties between the police department and the community. He was instrumental in developing Carrboro’s Citizen’s Police Academy, the Coffee with a Cop initiative, building and maintaining the department’s website and numerous other department activities. He is dedicated to creating positive interactions in the community including outreach on social media.
▪ Relief Driver/Department Chaplain Steve Jordan
Carrboro Firefighter of the Year
Steve Jordan was recently promoted to relief driver for Carrboro Fire-Rescue and he also serves as department chaplain. He is always a very dependable person who continuously presents a professional demeanor, representing the department in a positive manner in everything he does. He models the department’s core values of integrity, dedication, and excellence in addition to exceptional work ethic. As the department’s chaplain, Jordan takes the time to attend funerals, conduct hospital visits, and reach out to the families affected by emergencies. He mentors and coaches others, sharing his wealth of knowledge of the fire service and the Carrboro community.
▪ Officer Mark North
Chapel Hill Police Officer of the Year
Officer Mark North has been with the department for 16 years, serving as the quartermaster for the past two and a half years, overseeing the department’s equipment, uniforms and vehicles. In addition to obtaining his Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate, he has also served as a member of the Special Emergency Response Team, Sexual Assault Response Team, and as a field training officer. He has pursued excellence in his role as quartermaster, researching and changing vendors for uniforms and vehicle equipment installations, resulting in better quality and customer service. Showing his commitment to the entire department, he works with officers for last minute and unique requests.
▪ Lt. Jeffrey Ryan
Chapel Hill Firefighter of the Year
Jeffrey Ryan has been with Chapel Hill Fire Department since April 2006 and is a newly promoted fire lieutenant. He is serving on the Town Benchmarking Committee and Pre-Incident Survey Task Group. Before coming to Chapel Hill, he volunteered regularly with local fire departments and emergency services in New York. Anytime technology questions arise, he is always willing to apply his training and knowledge to benefit the Department and the Town.
▪ Cresha Cianciolo, Community Home Trust
Jim Gibson Volunteer of the Year
Cresha Cianciolo gives her time, talent and treasure to several nonprofit agencies and foundations. In this past year, she led the cadre of volunteers to plan and produce the annual fundraiser, Opening Doors, benefitting Community Home Trust. She was a founding volunteer of this event, and her efforts helped to realize an increase in revenue each year. She volunteers with the Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library Board of Directors. She also is a partner with Music and Memory at Carol Woods and recently was appointed by Orange County to serve as a Resident Advocate Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee. She is also a member of the Chandler's Green Home Owners Association Board of Directors and a volunteer with Duke Home Care and Hospice. Her husband will tell you that when she was approaching her retirement, he encouraged her to not retire from something but to something and noted that “Cresha has set the gold standard for doing just that.”
▪ Dina Rousset, Launch Chapel Hill
Town and Gown Award Recipient
Dina Rousset is the associate director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at UNC and Director of Launch Chapel Hill, an accelerator program for entrepreneurs interested in launching businesses in Chapel Hill. She has over 25 years of experience in managing these ventures, with her first foray as entrepreneur operating a snowball frozen treat stand in her youth. Launch, located downtown, is unique in that it's a real partnership between the town, the county, and the university. In addition to her role at Launch, she works to expand entrepreneurship as director of the Adams Apprenticeship, a regional advisory board member for the Small Business and Technology Development Center, and as a partner with Ellevate, a global professional women’s network. Additionally, she serves on the board of Carol Woods Retirement Community and served as a volunteer judge for the EmPOWERment, Inc. and Boomerang’s “Shark Tank” competition for young entrepreneurs.
▪ Mae McLendon, Inter-Faith Council for Social Services
Irene Briggaman Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
Over 40 years, Mae McLendon has worked vigorously in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area, serving on numerous public service and volunteer committees. When you ask her about her years of service, she says “I am proud that I have been able to use my talents and abilities to assist others who are in need especially our youth, the homeless, those who are hungry and in prisons.” She’s done just that! She served 12 years on the Chapel Hill Planning Board and has been an active member of the Northside Conservation District Task Force and Lions Club Precinct. She also gives her time to the Inter-Faith Council for Social Services, the NAACP, Chapel Hill-Carrboro CROP Hunger Walk, and the N.C. Inmate Grievance Resolution Board, a position appointed by the governor. She is an active member of St. Paul AME Church, and in March of this year she received the Outstanding Contributor to Volunteerism from the Association of Justice Volunteerism.
▪ Maggie West, Community Empowerment Fund
Citizen of the Year
Maggie West helped start Community Empowerment Fund (CEF) in 2009 for a more engaged and sustainable way to help the homeless, which is now a life-changing organization that includes a co-working space to generate additional income. She routinely uses connections with energetic UNC students, and received the 2015 APPLES’ Community Partner Excellence Award for her service as board chair with Farmer Foodshare, an organization that provides fresh, local food to food insecure individuals while building healthy community food systems and create jobs. She empowers UNC students to become the new social justice leaders, both during their time as CEF advocates and once they have graduated from the university. She is creative in her advocacy, and is known for her volunteerism in a multitude of organizations, including Highlander Research and Education Center, Project Connect, and Point-In-Time Count.