I’m not a big fan of lists, mainly because the person or organization that compiles them does so subjectively. For example, I don’t care how many Super Bowls Tom Brady wins. I still think Peyton Manning is a better quarterback. I cringe every time someone publishes a list of the “Ten Best Films of all Time” because I usually disagree with all ten. And I think I’ll scream if I see one more list that ranks the greatest American Presidents because their rankings should be reflective of the era in which they lived, not how many “likes” they got this week. Nevertheless, this issue is about women who have left their mark on the Triad, so here (in alphabetical order) is my own top ten list.
Vivian Burke … I could write a term paper full of reasons why Ms. Burke had a significant impact on our area, but I’ll try and offer just a few. For starters, she was a long-time member of the Winston-Salem City Council whose voice was respected by people of all races and political persuasions. She was also a big proponent of public education and an advocate for the Urban League, where she once arranged to have a building donated that would house job-training services. Vivian passed away last year, but her impact on the Triad is still felt.
Avery Crump … After winning a historic election in 2018, Avery was sworn in as Guilford County’s first African American (and first female) district attorney. Crump had spent the previous 20 years in the justice system, including nine years as the County’s assistant D.A. Mr. Biden, if you’re listening, Ms. Crump would also be a great federal judge.
Chanel Davis …One advantage of approaching 70 years on earth is that you don’t have to suck up to anyone anymore, so I’m not including Chanel on this list because she is my boss. She’s in my top ten because since becoming the first woman of color to be named editor of YES! Weekly, Chanel has demonstrated a passion for the printed word and a calm, mature professionalism in her management style, as she balances the editorial and economic priorities of the publication.
Dr. Mary Griffith … In the 1950s, the late Dr. Griffith supervised medical students at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem and was one of the first women to be named to the medical school faculty. She was highly respected and still fondly remembered by the male doctors who she trained. She also delivered my sorry little butt 67 years ago, so if you don’t like my column or television programs, then blame Doc Griffith.
Evva Hanes … At age five, little Evva was helping her mother bake cookies for Christmas. Now over 60 years later, she is President Emeritus of Mrs. Hanes Moravian Cookies in Clemmons. While actively running the business, Evva made her cookies famous all over the world. Today the company ships to all 50 States and 30 countries.
Loretta Lynch… In 2015, Loretta, a native of Greensboro, was appointed United States Attorney General by President Barack Obama. She was the first woman of color to serve in that post, and, with the exception of meeting privately with Bill Clinton while the Justice Department was investigating Hillary, Lynch made few missteps. She was America’s top cop and a damn good one at that.
Kim Record … It is no longer unusual for a woman to lead a university athletic department, but Kim has done it with great success while navigating a major recession, a near depression, and an unprecedented pandemic, all in the span of her first ten years at UNCG. She oversees 17 sports, 230 student-athletes, and 70 employees. As an alumnus, I’m naturally a fan of Spartan sports, but I’m an even bigger fan of Kim Record.
Catrina Thompson … a 26 year veteran of the Winston-Salem Police Department, Catrina became Chief in 2018, and today, oversees 549 sworn officers, 170 civilian employees, and an annual budget of nearly 80 million dollars. She is tough but empathetic, and while upholding the strict letter of the law, she is also capable of seeing shades of gray.
Nancy Vaughan … First elected Mayor of Greensboro in 2013, Nancy came to the office with experience in a variety of fields, including education, transportation, and wastewater treatment. In 2016 she successfully lobbied for the City to borrow $126 million that would be used for economic and community development, as well as for other projects. Nancy gets things done because she works well with others, and that’s a trait that is missing in most politicians today.
Pam Cook … In my haste, I mentioned that YES! Weekly Editor Chanel Davis is my boss. I am now using this paragraph to clarify that statement and, in the process, save my marriage. In point of fact, Pam Cook Longworth is my real boss. More importantly, she runs a successful public relations business. In doing so, she helps a number of nonprofit organizations raise awareness for their mission and raise funds to support it. Pam is smart, funny, and always sees the glass as half full while making sure I don’t do things halfway.
Congratulations to all the great women of the Triad! We men don’t deserve you, but we sure need you