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Attorney General Josh Stein Honors Six Western North Carolinians with 2023 Dogwood Awards

For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Nazneen Ahmed (919) 716-0060

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today honored six North Carolinians in western North Carolina with the Attorney General’s Dogwood Award. These awards are given out annually to recognize people who are working to improve the health, safety, and well-being of their fellow North Carolinians.

Recipients in western North Carolina are:

District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch

“Drug traffickers have flooded western North Carolina with illicit, deadly drugs,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “District Attorney Welch has made it clear that she will not tolerate these drugs on our streets and is fighting to hold accountable the criminals who traffic poison.

District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch represents Prosecutorial District 43 (Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties.)

Philip Cooper

“As founder of Operation Gateway in Asheville, Philip helps people who are re-entering society find resources they need to rebuild their lives,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “He has used his own lived experiences to help others lead successful lives.”

Philip Cooper is the founder and executive director of Operation Gateway, which works to address recidivism and support people leaving incarceration.

Mayor Preston Blakely

“As both a local and statewide leader, Mayor Blakely is working to help local communities create a fairer criminal justice system,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “His work and input on the Governor’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice is making a difference.”

Mayor Preston Blakely is the mayor of the town of Fletcher.

Sheriff Lowell Griffin, Henderson County

“Communities across North Carolina continue to face public safety challenges,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “Sheriff Griffin has worked to recruit and retain officers who will serve as guardians of their communities.”

Sheriff Lowell Griffin leads the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office.

Mayor Zeb Smathers, Haywood County

“Long before we heard the Canton paper mill’s last whistle, Mayor Smathers has been helping his community,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “His leadership and optimism have been invaluable for the people of Canton through difficult times.”

Mayor Zeb Smathers is the mayor of the town of Canton.

Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock (Posthumous), Appalachian State University

“Dr. Peacock devoted decades of his life to App State, and the university and its students benefited greatly from his service,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “He helped strengthen the university into a leader in many areas of study, including health care, energy, and economics.”

Dr. Kenneth E. Peacock served as chancellor of Appalachian State University from 2004 to 2014. He passed away in October 2023.

The 2023 Dogwood Award recipients are:

  1. Lynn Guilliams, Fuquay-Varina Middle School
  2. Baker Burleson, parent advocate
  3. Survivors of sexual assault, Accepted by Amy Feath, Carousel Child Advocacy Center
  4. Sen. Tom McInnis
  5. Nidhi Sachdeva, North Carolina Association of County Commissioners
  6. Diannee Carden-Glenn, ekiM For Change
  7. District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch, Prosecutorial District 43
  8. Detective Tori Kennedy, Burlington Police Department
  9. Detective Josh Schultz, Burlington Police Department
  10. Jan and Ron Kimble, Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage
  11. Rashida Gittens, domestic violence victor and advocate
  12. Catherine Johnson, Guilford Family Justice Center
  13. Philip Cooper, Operation Gateway
  14. Mayor Preston Blakely, Town of Fletcher
  15. Officer Robert Daughety, Jacksonville Police Department
  16. Officer Sarah Butler, Jacksonville Police Department
  17. Sheriff Lowell Griffin, Henderson County
  18. Sheriff Clee Atkinson, Edgecombe County
  19. Kara Fox, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  20. Maria Teresa Maza, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  21. Ryan Etheridge, Cleveland County Schools
  22. Kimberly Jones, Chapel Hill High School
  23. Mayor Zeb Smathers, Town of Canton
  24. Rep. Kyle Hall
  25. Cady Thomas
  26. Cassandra Brooks, Medicaid Expansion advocate
  27. Firefighter Kevin Murphy, on behalf of the Charlotte Fire Department
  28. Captain Jeff Bright, on behalf of the Charlotte Fire Department
  29. Senator H.M. Michaux, Jr.
  30. Judge Shirley Fulton, North Carolina Superior Court
  31. Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock, Appalachian State University
  32. Chancellor Harold L. Martin, Sr., North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
  33. Jonas Swartz, MD, MPH, Duke Health
  34. Ernestine Bryant, Brunswick County


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