Mayor's Award for Commitment to Community
Knightdale Mayor's Award for Commitment to Community
The Mayor works tirelessly with the Town Council to continually improve the leadership and direction of our town.
One of his initiatives has been honoring those who give back to the Town of Knightdale. This is why he decided to create the Knightdale Mayor's Award for Commitment to Community.
Whether it is through volunteerism, support of our various community events, or providing other services to Knightdale, these good samaritans are helping to solidify Knightdale as one of the best places to live, work, and play.
According to Money Magazine, Knightdale is one of the top 100 Best Places to Live in the United States. This recognition is only one of the many accolades Knightdale has received. We are very proud to see what we have become as a community. We look forward to our continued prosperity in the future.
The Mayor's Award for Commitment to Community was created to celebrate those individuals in our town that have a demonstrated commitment to Knightdale through their efforts to make our community better.
Each of their various efforts have made a difference. Whether it is building a new business, supporting neighbors, volunteering in our schools, ensuring support programs in Knightdale are a success, their dedication is the fabric of our community.
They have made a difference. It does not matter how great or how small, they make Knightdale better.
2019 Fall Mayor's Award For Commitment To Community Recipients
Monica Barnes holds a B.A. degree from Hampton University in Mass Media Arts. She works for WTVD ABC11 as the Community Engagement Director and is a 20+ year veteran of the broadcast industry. She currently oversees all public service projects and community-related events for the station’s 23-county viewing area. Prior to her current role at ABC11, Ms. Barnes served as the Visitor Information Center Manager for the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as the Public Information Officer for Durham Public Schools.
Ms. Barnes’ commitment to her community expands beyond the station with numerous Board and organizational memberships, including:
- The Triangle Nonprofit Volunteer and Leadership Center
- The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Durham and Orange Counties
- the Wake Education Partnership
- the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina
- Downtown Raleigh Alliance
- Urban Ministries of Durham
- the Downtown Durham Rotary Club
- The Triangle and National Associations of Black Journalists, and
- the Durham Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Incorporated
In Knightdale, Ms. Barnes has facilitated many connections that led to ABC11’s engagement with our community including securing:
- ABC 11 News Anchor Julie Wilson to moderate a panel for the Knightdale Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee Economic Forecast
- ABC 11 reporter Michael Perchick to moderate a forum focusing on the impact of educational opportunities on our local economy
- ABC 11 meteorologist Britany Bell to Emcee the Knightdale Chamber of Commerce’s 45th Annual Membership Banquet,
- ABC 11 Reporter Jon Camp to moderate a local Health Care Matters forum.
The personal belief statement that guides her life both personally and professionally is best described in the quote “Service is the rent we pay for room on earth.”
Demetris Cheatham, born and raised in Tarboro, NC, made Knightdale her home last year after almost two decades living in other states. She currently resides in Knightdale Station with her husband, Cornelius and daughter, Zahra. Within the past year, Demetris has successfully served as the Program Manager for LaunchKnightdale and has become an active member of the Rotary Club of Knightdale.
Professionally, Demetris is the Global Diversity and Inclusion Lead for Red Hat. She is responsible for implementing the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity strategy for the company and its 13,000 employees located around the world. Prior to joining Red Hat, Demetris served as the Chief of Staff to the Chair Pro Tem of the Council of the District of Columbia and the Committee on Business and Economic Development which has oversight of government agencies with a collective budget of over $2.6B. Demetris started her career as a Technology Analyst at Goldman Sachs in New York and was later selected as the first woman and youngest Executive Director to lead the National Bar Association, the nation’s oldest and largest international network of over 65,000 predominantly African-American attorneys and judges.
Demetris recently was named to The Business Journals’ Influencers: Rising Stars, which spotlights 100 executives across the country who are having an impact early in their careers on business being done in cities across the nation. She also received the 2019 Triangle Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award and was previously named to the Power 100 List for Black Lawyers in America.
Demetris earned a B.S. in Computer Science with honors from North Carolina A&T State University and a JD/MBA from the University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law and its Robert F. Smith School of Business respectively. She is a licensed attorney in the State of Maryland and a certified Executive Coach.
Erica Clarkson is the Dean of Students at Knightdale High School. Ms. Clarkson earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her Master of Arts in School Counseling from North Carolina Central University. She has served as a high school counselor in North Carolina for 7 years, 5 of which have been at Knightdale High School. As Dean of Students, Ms. Clarkson is able to impact a large network of students, parents, and members of the Knightdale community.
Ms. Clarkson is passionate about helping students with college planning and meeting their post-secondary goals. In collaboration with Mayor Roberson and the Town of Knightdale, Ms. Clarkson has been instrumental in identifying and recognizing students as scholarship recipients at the Knightdale Arts and Educational Fest. To date, Ms. Clarkson has helped students secure over ten thousand dollars in scholarships to attend colleges across North Carolina.
In addition to helping students actualize their post-secondary goals, Ms. Clarkson assists students and community members in need through various services such as the Care Depot, the Giving Tree, and linking families with necessary community resources. Ms. Clarkson strives to improve the lives of students and families of the Knightdale Community.
Hattie Davis is a Nurse clinician with 37+ years of experience in clinical practices, academia, program development, and administration. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Boston College in 1981, a Master’s in Science in Nursing from Boston University in 1988, and a Master’s in Business Administration and Health Administration from Pfeiffer University in 2000.
She arrived in North Carolina from Boston in 1989 as a Nurse Manager at Duke in Oncology & Bone Marrow Transplant. After several years in various clinical roles, Ms. Davis was elected to develop their Quality Assurance program in the anesthesiology department of nine (9) hospitals in and around Wake County.
Over the course of her career, Ms. Davis developed a passion for eldercare. This passion stemmed from having to place her mother and mother-in-law in large nursing home facilities. Neither of these wonderful ladies received the care they deserved, so Ms. Davis decided to develop her own and give someone else’s mom or dad what hers didn’t receive. Things like a good, home-cooked meal, excellent healthcare, dignity, engagement, choices, and attention.
The Gracie Sturdivant Care Home in Knightdale was her first Care Home. She was drawn to the beautiful tree-lined neighborhood where residents could look out the window and see beautiful houses, children playing, neighbors greeting each other and walking dogs.
Town officials including the Mayor, members of the Fire and Police Departments, Knightdale Family Medicine, Faith Baptist Church, and others have been exceedingly supportive and visit periodically for regulatory purposes but also for birthday parties, Christmas, fun events and sometimes just for a quick visit to say hello and spend some time with the residents. Ms. Davis hopes to serve the community of Knightdale for a long time.
Dr. Paulette Dillard
Dr. Paulette Dillard, the 18th President of Shaw University, has a rich teaching history that includes having taught biology for over 20 years at various institutions. The Board of Trustees made her appointment to President permanent after she had served as interim President for a year. Prior to assuming the interim role, Dr. Dillard had served as:
- Vice President for Academic Affairs
- Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
- Department Chair for Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and as an
- Associate Professor of Biology
Dr. Dillard has over 25 years of experience in the field of clinical diagnostic medicine. Although she began her career as a bench scientist, Dr. Dillard quickly ascended to the management ranks. She was one of only a few women senior executives and even fewer women of color to reach the rank of Vice President and General Manager in the 1980s. She has used her position as one of the few African American women executives to inspire young people to achieve.
Dr. Dillard believes in using her skills and experience to serve the community. Currently, Dr. Dillard serves on the Board of the Carolina Small Business Development Fund, the Dorothea Dix Conservancy Board, and she has been involved with both the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center and the LaunchRALEIGH initiatives since inception.
Dr. Dillard is on the Board of the Capital City Club and serves on the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Board of Advisors. Dr. Dillard has served previously on the Board of the Nashville Center for Black Family Life, which provided after school programs for children and youth as well as workshops to teach family life skills. Additionally, she served on the Hospital Corporation of American Center for Nonprofit management Board working with non-profit agencies funded by United Way to assist with financial management. She mentored students as an Executive in Residence at Paine College, Barber-Scotia College, and Middle Tennessee State University.
Dr. Dillard grew up in Mount Airy, North Carolina. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology at Barber-Scotia College in Concord, North Carolina and received a Master of Science degree in biology from Tennessee State University. Dr. Dillard went on to earn an MBA from the Jack Massey School of Business at Belmont University and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Clark Atlanta University (CAU), Atlanta, Georgia. She was married to the late Reverend Moses C. Dillard, Jr. renowned musician, preacher, and social activist. Dr. Dillard is a faithful member of First Baptist Church in Raleigh.
Shannon Russell Hardy moved to Knightdale in 2001. As a classroom teacher in an innovative charter school, she has promoted and advocated for Knightdale’s schools. In 2007 she co-founded Knightdale 100 working to ensure that Knightdale schools are the first, and best choice for our children. This group’s work included advocacy for the use of EVAAS to focus on growth, a 2013 audit of Knightdale’s schools, and lobbying for Hodge Road Elementary to become a dual language school. As a sports mom, she was the Planters Walk Swim Team volunteer coordinator, manager for East Wake Soccer teams, and served as team mom for Knightdale High’s swim, soccer, and football teams. For the past eight years she has been a dedicated member of the Knightdale High School for Collaborative Design’s PTSA Board.
Ms. Hardy is s certified math, social studies, ELA, gifted teacher with a Principal I (one) license, a Masters in Education in Educational Leadership from East Carolina University, and has received National Board Certification three times in 2000, 2010 and 2019. She is a statewide trainer and champion for Design for Change, a global movement that empowers students to transform the world using a framework: FEEL, IMAGINE, DO, and SHARE. Her students just returned from Rome where they were recognized by Pope Frances for their work to end racism. This includes a campaign to get Joseph Holt’s Story told, researching and publishing the truth about Wake County’s only documented lynching, and assisting in the resettlement of a Syrian refugee family. Hardy is one of the co-founders of the Wake County Truth and Reconciliation Committee and continues to work diligently to ensure that our hard history is included in the curriculum.
They say home is where the heart is and Alton Mitchell’s heart is in Knightdale. A native of Washington DC, Alton traded the bright lights and big city for southern hospitality when he followed his high school sweetheart, and now wife of 20 years to North Carolina in 1996.
As the owner of Cutz By Quick Barbershop in Knightdale, he was able to see firsthand the gaps in opportunities for students in the community. As a barber, he’s known many local children and teens since their very first haircut, many of whom are now on their way to college. Some have matured to parenthood themselves and now bring their children in for their first haircuts, thereby developing a unique bond and personal relationship with his clients.
Alton’s community service began with the Friends & Family program he created to allow discounted haircuts when families came together to the barbershop, special discounts for those that were on the honor roll or excelled in end-of-grade testing. Wherever he could find a way to encourage and support them, many from single-parent homes, he did. His goal was to be a positive male role model in their lives and in turn he has learned as much from them as they have from him.
The Annual Back-to-School event began in 2009 on the last Saturday of the summer before the traditional school year began as a day designated for discounted haircuts and a small assortment of school supplies. Each year the attendance continued to grow, making it evident not only how great the need but also how much the community truly appreciated the support. In 2016, in conjunction with the 15th anniversary of Cutz By Quick Barbershop, the Annual Back-to-School event expanded to a two-day event. Having outgrown the square footage of the barbershop, the event is now hosted annually at the Knightdale Recreation Center where Mr. Mitchell, now an adjunct instructor at Wake Technical Community College’s Barbering program, along with his students and the Cutz By Quick barbers offer free haircuts and backpacks filled with school supplies tailored to each grade level.
In 1978 Barbara and her husband Harold opened the town’s only funeral service. Their business model was founded based on” Understanding Other’s Needs”. Poole Funeral Service has served our community for over 45 years.
Throughout the years, Barbara Poole has been a constant champion for the Knightdale Community by serving on the Wake County Fire Commission, Eastern Wake Fire Department Board of Directors and providing countless donations to local religious and civic organizations. Most recently, Barbara has joined others to revitalize the Knightdale Chamber of Commerce.
At age 72, Barbara is still very active in her community and desires to see Knightdale remain one of the best places to live and work.
Sheila was born in the small Christmas City of Minden, Nebraska. She lived in Nebraska until her husband, David, was offered a transfer with his job, Rockwell International, to North Carolina in 1985.
Sheila and her husband resided and raised four children in the Knightdale - Wendell communities and they attended eastern Wake schools. As a member of the Knightdale United Methodist church, she is committed to the missions of the church and our area communities. Dream Coat Ministries became a vision through her eyes as being faithful to serve our brothers and sisters that live in our community. Founding Dream Coat more than a Thrift Store in 2010, brought her to be an advocate for children, women, and men in eastern Wake County.
She serves as the President of the Knightdale Chamber of Commerce, sits on the Community Advocacy Committee for eastern Wake County and several other committees that speak to homelessness, domestic violence survivors and crisis situations in our community.
Rita Romaine Rakestraw is originally from Nashville, TN. At the University of Tennessee Knoxville, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education and was the president of the College Democrats her senior year. Rita financed 90% of her college education by selling educational books door to door for the Southwestern Company, for three summers in college (Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington State). She achieved sales in the top 12% of the company and Awarded the Gold Seal Gold Award for working 80 hours per week the entire summer. And that is where she met her husband Erich. Erich and Rita have been happily married for 21 years with two boys Paul age 15 and Jack age 12.
After college Rita taught special education at the elementary level in the D.C./ Maryland area and then in Durham and Orange County when they moved to N.C. For eight years she was an infant and toddler specialist and now she works part time as a substitute teacher.
The Rakestraw’s moved to Knightdale thirteen years ago. Rita is an active participant at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. For several years she volunteered at the church’s Round Table Ministry serving hot meals to people with low incomes or homeless. One of Rita’s favorite experiences is eating lunch with the guests who come there for a meal and getting to know them.
Rita has always been an active PTA member in her boys’ schools. At Lake Myra Elementary, Rita was the Cultural Arts Chair for the PTA, applying for grants from the United Arts Council to bring in all kinds of arts to the school; musicians and plays, writers and Artists in Residence. She was also the Reflections Chair. Reflections is a national PTA art, writing, dance, music and photography contest that starts at the school level. Rita was also the PTA president for two years at East Wake Middle School.
In 2009 Rita ran for School Board. As a huge advocate of public education Rita is a founding member of Great Schools in Wake. From 2015 to this year she was the Chair of the East Wake Democrats.
Beautifying her community is important for Rita. She organizes her community on a regular basis to do litter pick-ups on Hodge Road. Rita loves living in Knightdale and enjoys keeping her community clean.
Heather Scott was elected to serve on the Wake County Board of Education as District 1 representative, covering the Knightdale area, in November of 2018. One of the first people she contacted after the election was Mayor Roberson because she wanted him to know she was dedicated to the Town of Knightdale and Eastern Wake County. After being sworn in, Ms. Scott immediately met with all WCPSS principals in Knightdale, getting to know their school communities so that she could better advocate for specific resources. Heather met with teachers, community members, business leaders, parents, students, and Mayor Roberson - listening to concerns, making sure the community is aware of current events, and learning about the amazing things taking place in our Knightdale schools. Ms. Scott has worked with leadership in WCPSS to communicate the specific needs she has learned through community connections. She has hosted several opportunities for families to meet on weeknights and weekends at various locations in Knightdale.
While representing District 1’s 28 schools that are located in six different municipalities can be a daunting and time-consuming task, Ms. Scott knows our children deserve high-quality schools with effective teachers, equitable funding, and facilities that are full of opportunities. Economic success and education are inherently related, and Heather is determined to make sure our Knightdale schools are among the best in the State of North Carolina. She will be the first to tell you they have amazing principals and teachers, and encourage you to join PTA.
Annette Nicole Seawell, licensed Cosmetologist, is the founder and owner of Essential Designs Beauty Salon located at 102 First Avenue, Suite 2 in this great town of Knightdale, NC. Essential Designs has been one of Knightdale’s thriving small businesses since opening almost 18 years ago. Annette’s passion for enhancing the beauty of all woman (and men) has made Essential Designs more than a business, but a bustling community hub.
Annette loves her community and feels a strong sense of responsibility to serve. She makes it a priority to give back to the community that has so richly blessed her. Annually, Annette and Essential Designs hold a Back to School celebration. Students received discounted hair styles, complimentary book bags full of school supplies, food, drinks and light snacks for a busy school day. Annette’s giving doesn’t end with her local community. She also fills book bags with schools supplies for children in Nigeria. In the giving, Annette hopes to assist students with a good start to the year by providing some of their basic needs for school.
Established business owners often experience an array of trials and tribulations. Some of them good and some of them bad, but Annette welcomes the challenges every day brings. She is a devoted wife and mother, to her husband, Dwayne and her 14-year old son, Chase, who is very engaged in his academics and sports. Annette is always optimistic and ready to see what each day will hold.
Annette states; “It helps knowing I have a husband, son, and parents who are always in my corner.” Annette’s hours of operation are longer than most in her field. With a large clientele consisting of men, women, and children, her clients’ hours vary greatly, so there is always someone coming and going to and from Essential Designs. Annette has a sincere love for enhancing the beauty within us all. It is through cosmetology Annette gets to do what she enjoys most. Annette says; “I would not change one moment of my professional career experiences for anything. The icing on the cake is living out this experience in my hometown of Knightdale.”
Jonas spent the last 3 years back in his hometown of Knightdale, working as the Town’s Public Information Officer. He is a Knightdale native, and spent most of his life in the area, supporting the growth of this Town. When he was born, the Town of Knightdale had a population of about 800 people. He has seen first-hand, the growth of Knightdale, and assisted in that growth by engaging in and supporting local civic and community groups including the Knightdale Rotary Club, the Knightdale Chamber of Commerce, and the K-12 Education Alliance of Eastern Wake County. Jonas supports, and will continue to support the Town of Knightdale, and looks forward to the bright and exciting future of his hometown.
Donald Zofrea is a staff member of the Town of Knightdale who consistently goes above and beyond in his work for the Town. Mr. Zofrea has lived in Knightdale for about three and a half years and has worked for the Knightdale Parks and Recreation Department for 2 years as a Recreation Assistant.
Mr. Zofrea manages baseball fields, tennis courts, pickleball courts, assists with tennis clinics and special events for the Parks and Recreation Department, and always makes sure the job is done and done well.
Mr. Zofrea is blessed with a son and three grandchildren who live here in Knightdale.
He is passionate about his family and his work!