Today, Governor Roy Cooper toured the International Civil Rights Center & Museum and joined the ribbon cutting for the new Harold L. Martin Sr. Engineering Research and Innovation Complex at NC Agricultural & Technical State University. As part of celebrating Black History Month, the Governor has recognized North Carolina’s African American leaders and organizations in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields for their critical work.
“Black history is an integral part of North Carolina’s history,” said Governor Cooper. “Our state is stronger thanks to the contributions of Black North Carolinians. It’s critical that we reflect on our past, celebrate our progress and continue to work toward a more just and equitable state for all.”
At the International Civil Rights Museum, the Governor visited the Woolworth’s lunch counter where the Greensboro Four began a sit-in movement that changed history and toured several other exhibits in the center.
The Governor also attended the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Harold L. Martin Sr. Engineering Research and Innovation Complex at NC Agricultural &Technical State University. NC A&T is the nation’s largest HBCU and is widely recognized for graduating more African American engineers than any university in America.
The Governor’s administration is focused on addressing the systemic disparities that communities of color face. Governor Cooper established the Andrea Harris Social, Economic, Environmental, and Health Equity Task Force and the North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice to tackle those challenges, and these task forces have recommended solutions that are being adopted. Last month, the Governor signed Executive Order 246 which emphasizes the importance of environmental justice and equity as the state transitions to a clean economy.
For Black History Month, the Governor has recognized North Carolina’s leaders in the STEM fields for their contributions to our state and beyond.
This year’s honorees include:
- Dr. Joan S. Barber: Retired Vice Chancellor for Student Life and Faculty Emeritus at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.
- William J. Barber III: Environmental and climate justice scholar and advocate, the Strategic Partnerships Manager at The Climate Reality Project. Founder and President of The Rural Beacon Initiative.
- Sarah Boone (1832-1904): Inventor and dressmaker, invented the modern collapsible ironing board.
- Dr. Marjorie Lee Browne (1914-1979): One of the first African American women to earn a PhD in Mathematics in the United States, taught and served as department chair at North Carolina Central University.
- Dr. Goldie Smith Byrd: Director of the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity and Professor of Social Sciences and Health Policy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
- Marshall Cherry: President and CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative.
- Dr. Shaundra B. Daily: First Black woman to serve as a professor of the practice at Duke University.
- Willie A. Deese: EVP of Merck & Co., Inc., President of Merck Manufacturing Division.
- Dr. Crystal Harden: Director of Program and Inclusion Initiatives at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.
- Mary Elliot Hill (1907-1969): First African American women to become a chemist, best known for her contributions to the creation of plastics.
- Timothy Humphrey: Vice President, IBM Chief Data Office, Senior State Executive for IBM in North Carolina, Senior Location Executive for IBM in Research Triangle Park.
- Riza Jenkins: Senior Energy Consultant for ICF and Principal and Owner for the Azir Group.
- Alisha René Galloway Johnson: Research Institute for Scholars of Equity Program Coordinator and an adjunct professor of technology at North Carolina Central University.
- Dr. Rita L. Joyner: North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association’s (NCSEA) Senior Adviser. Leads Women in Clean Energy (WICE) initiative under the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I) team.
- Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner (1912-2006): Inventor who was best known for developing the adjustable sanitary belt, a menstrual sanitation product.
- Karen LeVert: Venture Partner with Pappas Capital, Co-Founder and Board Member of Southeast TechInventures and Ag TechInventures.
- Gina Loften: Technology industry veteran and Chief Technology Officer for Microsoft US.
- Dr. Ronald Erwin McNair (1950-1986): NASA astronaut and physicist, the second African American person to fly in outer space.
- Tony L. Mitchell, PhD, Lt. Colonel, USAF Ret.: First full-time African American student to earn a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from NC State University. Served as NCSU’s Director of Minority Programs and Assistant Dean of Engineering.
- Abi Olukeye: Founder and CEO of Smart Girls HQ.
- Ajulo Elisabeth Othow, Esq.: Founder and CEO of EnerWealth Solutions, General Counsel for Carolina Solar Services.
- Dr. Ida Stephens Owens (1939-2020): One of the first three African Americans to enroll in Duke's Graduate School, first Black woman to receive her PhD from Duke, career scientist at NIH, focusing on the genetics of human disease and drug-detoxifying enzymes.
- Deja Perkins: Urban ecologist, co-organizer of #BlackBirdersWeek, co-organizer of #BlackAFinSTEM.
- Professor Robert Powell: Associate Professor of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering at North Carolina A&T University.
- Michael S. Regan: Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, first Black man and second person of color to lead the U.S. EPA, former Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.
- Sen. DeAndrea Newman Salvador: Founder of RETI and the Senior Manager of Corporate Marketing for DataGrail. North Carolina State Senator representing North Carolina’s 39th District.
- Dr. Jamila Simpson: Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence for the College of Sciences at North Carolina State University. First African American woman to earn an BS in Meteorology from NCSU; first Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence for NCSU’s College of Sciences.
- Maria S. Thompson: First State Chief Risk and Security Officer. Amazon Web Services (AWS) State and Local Government’s (SLG) Cybersecurity Leader.
- Dr. Alicia Nicki Washington: Professor of the practice of computer science at Duke University and Author of Unapologetically Dope: Lessons for Black Women and Girls on Surviving and Thriving in the Tech Field.
- Desmond A. Wiggan, Jr.: CEO and Co-Founder at BatteryXchange, Inc.
View the Black History Month Proclamation.
Read more about the Black STEM honorees.