UNC Charlotte’s Black Alumni Chapter bestowed Excellence in Leadership Awards upon 10 outstanding alumni at a ceremony in the Popp Martin Student Union Saturday, Feb. 3.
The Excellence in Leadership Awards, founded in 2011 under the leadership of the first BAC president and former faculty member Gregory Davis ’76, recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of Black, African American and African UNC Charlotte alumni who have achieved excellence in their respective fields and communities.This year's honorees are:
Brittany Scott ’15: Excellence in Emerging Leader
Brittany Scott is a leader in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry as a professional development strategist. She took social media by storm in 2019 as the face of BenhancedByScott, growing it to an elite household and international choice for professional development. Scott has worked with Pfizer, Regeneron and Orbus Therapeutics as a lead contract negotiator, enabling clinical trial study startup success. She has used her knowledge and expertise to be a pipeline for Black women to break into the fields of pharmaceutical and biotechnology. Scott completed a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the College of Humanities & Earth and Social Sciences.
Makala Carrington ’19: Excellence in Research and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
Makala Carrington has exemplified remarkable leadership across a multitude of sectors, most notably in public health, military service, ministry, academia and community involvement. Throughout her five-year public health journey, she has accrued significant experience, working at the local and federal levels of government to help improve the lives of those who need it most at institutions such as Johns Hopkins and the CDC. Carrington also served in the military as a public health officer and chaplain candidate. She earned a bachelor’s degree in public health from the College of Health and Human Services.
Kevin Lattimore ’01: Excellence in Arts and Culture
Kevin Lattimore is in the banking and finance industry and serves as a mentor for college finance majors. He is an accomplished film director and is working on a full-length feature titled, "Vices." Additionally, he is the owner-operator of a recording studio and has served as a songwriter and producer for several recording artists. Lattimore was the financial officer for the Greensboro Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and serves on the board for the Charlotte chapter. He completed a bachelor’s degree in biology from the College of Science and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the College of Humanities & Earth and Social Sciences.
Stephanie Thompson ’81: Excellence in Philanthropy and Humanitarianism
Stephanie Thompson, vice president of client services at Communique USA, is the founder of "A Dancer's Heart," a 501c3 nonprofit organization that provides scholarships, life skills and leadership programs to help girls and young women move forward with resilience. Thompson is involved with the Association of Black MBAs, the American Marketing Association and the American Staffing Association. As a college supporter of the Posse Foundation and the Decatur High School College Advocate programs, she has helped several students apply to college tuition-free and without student loans. Thompson earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Belk College of Business; her MBA is from Wake Forest University.
Victoria Watlington ’13, MSEM ’23 Ph.D.: Excellence in Equitable Economic Development and Leadership
Victoria Watlington serves on the Charlotte City Council as an at-large representative, overseeing services including zoning, safety, housing, code enforcement and solid waste management. She drafted the framework for Safe Charlotte and the city’s Corridors of Opportunity plans. Watlington, who serves on the William States Lee College of Engineering Board of Advisors,. completed a master’s degree in engineering management and a Ph.D. in infrastructure and environmental systems from UNC Charlotte.
Yvette Murphy-Erby ’85: Excellence in Activism and Advocacy
Yvette Murphy-Erby, a noted researcher and scholar, is a faculty member at the University of Arkansas and recently completed a five-year appointment as vice chancellor for diversity, equity and Inclusion at the institution. Murphy-Erby and her colleagues have secured over $17 million in external funding, have 34 publications in peer-reviewed journals and a book titled "Incorporating Intersectionality in Social Work Practice, Research, Policy and Education." She served as the inaugural president of the UNC Charlotte Bachelor of Social Work Community Advisory Board, assisting the University in receiving accreditation for the program. Murphy-Erby earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the College of Humanities & Earth and Human Sciences, a master’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. from UNC Greensboro.
Vernisha Crawford ’12: Excellence in Health and Wellness
Vernisha Crawford is CEO of the Trauma Informed Institute and founder of the BYE Foundation, which promotes a trauma-informed approach to funding and addressing equity gaps in data, research, capacity building and wellness. Crawford is a board member of the National Small Business Association, Prevent Child Abuse NC, Charlotte Lab School and the NC Trauma-Informed Policy Committee. She will be a featured speaker at TEDxUNCCharlotte Saturday, Feb. 17. Crawford completed a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the College of Humanities & Earth and Human Sciences, a master’s degree in leadership from Grand Canyon University and is pursuing a Ph.D. in general psychology with a specialization in trauma and disaster relief.
Barry Smith ’88: Excellence in Entrepreneurship
Barry Smith is the owner and operator of Paradise Cove, the top-rated tour resort and snorkeling business in the Grand Bahamas for the past 30 years. He has worked tirelessly to save the destruction of waterways and oceans and is a member of Waterkeeper International, Save the Bays activists, Grand Bahamas Port Authority and the Ministry of Tourism. A former member of the 49ers men’s basketball team, Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the College of Humanities & Earth and Human Sciences.
James Ford ’22 Ph.D.: Excellence in Education
James Ford is principal consultant at Filling the Gap Educational Consultants LLC.and executive director of the Center for Racial Equity in Education. He was appointed by Gov. Cooper to the State Board of Education. He taught world history at Garinger High School in Charlotte, was named North Carolina Teacher of the Year for 2014-15 and was recognized as Charlotte Magazine’s 2014 Charlottean of the Year. Ford writes for Education Post, EdWeek, Charlotte Magazine, Charlotte Agenda and EducationNC. His work has appeared in Ebony and ASCD Educational Leadership magazines. Ford completed a Ph.D. in urban education from the Cato College of Education. His bachelor’s degree in mass communication is from Illinois State University, and his master’s degree in teaching is from Rockford University. He earned principal certification from Wingate University.
LaShanda Miller ’88: Dr. Gregory Davis Visionary Leadership Award
LaShanda Miller is CEO of Tuxedo Lady and is a partner at DW Designs. She, along with Gregory Davis, was one of the founding members of the UNC Charlotte Black Alumni Chapter. Miller worked with the Office of Alumni Engagement to have the chapter formally recognized and served as the organization’s inaugural vice president. In addition, she served two terms on the UNC Charlotte Alumni Board of Directors. Miller was the first African American selected as a Gold Duster at UNC Charlotte and completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Belk College of Business.