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Triangle Area North Carolinians Honored with Attorney General Josh Stein’s Dogwood Award

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

NOTE: Pictures available here.

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today announced that he has awarded 12 Triangle area leaders with Dogwood Awards. These awards are given annually to honor North Carolinians who are dedicated to keeping people safe, healthy, and happy in their communities.

Sheriff Charles Blackwood

“Sheriff Charles Blackwood’s COORE initiative is making a real difference in Orange County’s efforts to confront the opioid epidemic,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I am proud to partner with Sheriff Blackwood on this important work to help get people suffering from addiction out of the criminal justice system and into the health care system, where they belong.”

Sheriff Charles Blackwood spearheaded the Coordinated Opioid Overdose Reduction Effort (COORE), an initiative that brings together the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Orange County Criminal Justice Resource Department, Orange County Emergency Management Services, Freedom House, and local police departments. Under the program, people can dispose of drugs and drug paraphernalia and be guaranteed amnesty.

District Attorney Satana Deberry

“A proactive district attorney like Satana Deberry can play a critically important leadership role in testing sexual assault kits,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “District Attorney Deberry’s office has taken the initiative to work closely with the Durham Police Department to get the untested kits in her county tested – and the people of Durham County are safer as a result. I am proud to partner with her in this important work.”

The Durham Police Department has made 11 arrests in 15 cases that date as far back as 1984. District Attorney Deberry has embedded an assistant district attorney in the team that is working to test untested kits, investigate cases, make arrests, and get convictions.

Christian Dueñas

Dreamers are people who have grown up in America and are committed to helping build this nation,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I have been proud to support the DACA program in court and I’m proud to award Christian Dueñas with a Dogwood Award – because Dreamers like Christian make our communities stronger.”

Christian Dueñas moved to the United States from Venezuela when he was 9 months old. He has attended North Carolina schools and is now a banker in Durham.

Peter Gilbert

“Throughout this pandemic, keeping people in their homes has been one of my top priorities,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “My office has worked closely with Peter and his colleagues at Legal Aid to protect people from eviction. As thousands of North Carolinians have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, I appreciate all that Peter and other Legal Aid attorneys have done to keep them in their homes.”

Peter Gilbert works at Legal Aid of North Carolina in Durham and focuses on housing law.

Peter Gwaltney

“Protecting our parents and grandparents from scams is a focus Peter Gwaltney and I share,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “Throughout the pandemic, scammers have been taking advantage of confusion around COVID-19. I appreciate the work Peter and the Bankers Association have done to protect North Carolina’s elderly population.”

Peter Gwaltney is the executive director of the North Carolina Bankers Association. The North Carolina Bankers Association is part of the American Bankers Association (ABA) Foundation’s Safe Banking for Seniors campaign.

Hayley Harris and Lara Purnell

“Hayley Harris and Lara Purnell illustrate exactly what I want to honor with the Dogwood Award: people who see a problem in their community and take action to address it,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “These women saw a real need to restore dignity to victims of sexual assault. Undergoing a sexual assault nurse examination has got to be one of the hardest moments for a survivor – and it comes right on the heels of likely the worst tragedy a victim will ever experience. Hayley and Lara are helping to bring humanity to that difficult experience.”

Hayley Harris and Lara Purnell are sisters and nurses who co-founded Layers of Dignity, an organization that provides fresh clothes to survivors of sexual assault after they undergo a sexual assault nurse exam. Often the survivors’ clothes are taken into evidence, leaving the survivor with paper clothes to wear home. Layers of Dignity provides tote bags with fresh clothes, survivor resources, and notes from other survivors of sexual assault.

Beth Messersmith

“Beth Messersmith is a key advocate for a number of issues that impact North Carolina’s families every day,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “Specifically, Beth has helped advocate for paid parental leave for employees after the birth or adoption of a child. Working parents need time to be with their new children, and I thank Beth for standing up on their behalf.”

Beth is the Campaign Director for MomsRising North Carolina. In that role, Beth focuses on state budget issues, the environment, work and family policies, and voter outreach.

Sec. Michael Regan

“I am proud to work alongside Sec. Regan to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “In particular, I appreciate the hard work he’s led at the Department of Environmental Quality to protect North Carolinians from forever chemicals like PFAS. I look forward to continuing to hold accountable companies that put North Carolina’s environment – and the health and jobs it sustains – at risk.”

Sec. Michael Regan oversees the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, the state agency whose mission is to protect North Carolina’s environment and natural resources. The organization has offices from the mountains to the coast and administers regulatory and public assistance programs aimed at protecting the quality of North Carolina’s air, water and land, its coastal fisheries, and the public’s health.

Jessie Smith

“Jessie Smith is conducting important research into the way North Carolina’s bail system treats people,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I believe people should be in jail pre-conviction based on their threat to public safety, not the size of their bank account. I appreciate the work Jessie has done on the issue of pre-trial release and am proud to honor her with a Dogwood Award.”

Jessie Smith is the director of the University of North Carolina School of Government’s Criminal Justice Innovation Lab.

Frank Timberlake

“In 2020, Frank has kept the doors of his store the Rich Square Market open through pandemics and power outages,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “He’s gone above and beyond to make sure his customers had the food and supplies they needed to shelter in place. He is an essential worker and epitomizes the heroism we’ve heard so much about.”

Frank Timberlake is the owner of the Rich Square Market in Rich Square.

Dr. Anuradha Rao-Patel

“Dr. Patel played a critical role in Blue Cross NC’s partnership in our public awareness campaign to prevent opioid misuse – More Powerful NC,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I appreciate all she has done to improve public health in our state and to fight the scourge of addiction.”

Anuradha Rao-Patel, MD, is Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s medial director. She worked previously in private practice in acute and chronic pain management.

A full list of 2020 Dogwood Award Recipients is below:

  • Randy Abbott, volunteer coordinator, SAFE Project, Greensboro
  • Sheriff Charles Blackwood, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Hillsborough
  • Dr. Carly Brown, Masks of Love, Asheville
  • District Attorney Ben David, New Hanover & Pender County District Attorney’s Office, Wilmington
  • District Attorney Satana Deberry, Durham County District Attorney’s Office, Durham
  • Christian Dueñas, DACA recipient and advocate, Durham
  • Bishop Todd Fulton, Mt. Moriah Outreach Center, Kernersville
  • Peter Gilbert, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Durham
  • Peter Gwaltney, North Carolina Bankers Association, Wake Forest
  • Hayley Harris and Lara Purnell, Layers of Dignity, Raleigh
  • Chief Mark Holtzman, Greenville Police Department, Greenville
  • Mayor Vi Lyles, Charlotte
  • Beth Messersmith, MomsRising, Durham
  • Mike Reardon, Carolina Climbers Association, Asheville
  • Sec. Michael Regan, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Raleigh
  • Sheriff Danny Rogers, Guilford County Sheriff’s Office, Greensboro
  • Rep. Carson Smith, District 16, Hampstead
  • Jessie Smith, UNC School of Government, Chapel Hill
  • Principal Chief Richard Sneed, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee
  • Sheriff Keith Stone, Nash County Sheriff’s Office, Nashville
  • Isaac Sturgill, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Charlotte
  • Frank Timberlake, Rich Square Market, Rich Square
  • Dr. Ogugua Ndili Obi, Vidant Health, Greenville
  • Wendy Mateo-Pascual, Latinx community advocate, Concord
  • Dr. Anuradha Rao-Patel, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Durham
  • Amy Upham, Buncombe County Opioid Response Coordinator, Asheville


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