NCDHHS, State Employees Honor the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

John R. Larkins Award Ceremony

Governor Roy Cooper and First Lady Kristin Cooper present the John R. Larkins Award to Aleshia Hunt. 

Jan. 24, 2020 – State employees from throughout North Carolina, including many from the Department of Health and Human Services, attended the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Program and John R. Larkins Award Ceremony on Jan. 17 in Raleigh. The annual event commemorates the life of Dr. King and celebrates the value of public service.

DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen and Department leadership were among those in attendance as Governor Roy Cooper, former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and others addressed the day’s theme, which was a quote from Dr. King: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”

“The work that state employees do every day makes people’s lives better, stronger and more fulfilling,” said Governor Cooper. “We are a diverse group of people who share the common value of answering the call to service to the people of North Carolina.”

NCDHHS employees Sabrena Lea, Holly Riddle, Amanda Stathakis and Wanda Williams-Pettiford were honored as nominees for the John R. Larkins Award for their exemplary work championing diversity and culture in and out of the office.

The 2020 Larkins Award Recipient, Aleshia Hunt, was honored for her service through her position at East Carolina University and with the Lumbee Tribe, of which she is a member. A video of the award presentation is online.

Lynch, the first African American woman to hold the position of U.S. Attorney General, was welcomed with an extended standing ovation before her keynote remarks. She challenged the audience to continue Dr. King’s work by speaking out, listening to the voices of others, being present, showing up and uplifting and upholding the communities we serve.

“The challenge Dr. King set forth was not for our leaders,” said Lynch. “Today’s challenge is for all of us. It falls to every generation to defend our values in their own time; now is our time of challenge, now is our moment of controversy.”

Speakers thanked state employees for their tireless dedication to North Carolina’s communities, both on and off the clock. Special appreciation was extended to the organizers, hosts and special guests as well as the State Employees’ Choir and the Department of Administration’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission.

More information about the annual State Observance Program is available on the NCDOA website.