Raleigh, N.C.

Today, Governor Roy Cooper announced that a coding education initiative, an auto repair and tire shop, and four individual North Carolinians have won NCWorks Awards of Distinction. The recipients were recognized during the 33rd annual NCWorks Partnership Conference, organized by the N.C. Department of Commerce and held this year in a virtual format.

“These award winners are focused on getting North Carolina job ready, connecting workers to the skills they need as well as employers who need those workers. Each of these honorees stand out for their contributions to develop our state’s workforce and has a big role in helping our state recover from economic challenges that we face,” said Governor Cooper.

The Governor’s NCWorks Awards of Distinction honor outstanding examples from the state’s workforce development system - including the students and jobseekers who receive training, the professionals who provide career services, and the employers and other organizations that support a skilled workforce. Awards were presented to the following recipients:


  • Stephanie Preacher of Raleigh: Outstanding Adult. With help from a local NCWorks Career Center in Raleigh, Preacher demonstrated perseverance and dedication after being laid off from her job. She explored her options for a new, more sustainable career, completed Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training, and began working for a home health agency. She later returned to NCWorks to secure support for more advanced training to prepare for the next phase of her career path. Preacher successfully completed the CNA II program at Wake Technical Community College in December 2019. She quickly obtained a CNA position with UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill and began working full-time in January 2020. In September, Preacher began working as a COVID-19 screener for the N.C. Department of Revenue. Preacher’s strong work ethic, faith, ability to stay the course, and willingness to tap into available resources helped her reach her career goals and create a stable home for her children. 
  • David Meads of Hertford: Outstanding Young Adult. After enrolling in the NCWorks NextGen youth services program of the Northeastern Workforce Development Board, Meads received career guidance and identified welding as a promising occupation. He completed his high school equivalency diploma and received support for welding classes at the College of the Albemarle. Meads earned a certificate in Welding Technology and completed a welding work experience opportunity, created with help from NCWorks, at Hoffer Flow Controls in Elizabeth City. Because of the work he has put into honing his skills and his genuine interest in the field, Hoffer Flow Controls offered Meads a position through the On-the-Job Training (OJT) program. He started OJT in May, which will lead to permanent, full-time employment and provide him with the financial stability needed to become a self-sufficient member of the workforce.
  • Yadira Paz-Martinez of Clinton: Outstanding Teen. Paz-Martinez comes from a farmworker family and enrolled in the National Farmworker Jobs Program in 2019. She is a senior at Union High School in Rose Hill and takes college classes through a partnership between her high school and Sampson Community College. While dedicated to her academics, Paz-Martinez is also involved in various school and community activities, including the Student Government Association, Key Club, Beta Club, Rotary Youth Leadership, and the Migrant Education program. She volunteers at a local nursing home, serves as an interpreter for the community and school system, tutors part-time at Union Intermediate School for students of migrant farm workers, and helps math students at Sampson Community College. Paz-Martinez is on track to graduate in 2021 with both a high school diploma and an associate degree. She aspires to attend a state university and obtain undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Economics.  
  • Earl Wright of Charlotte: Wayne Daves Award for Outstanding Achievement in Workforce Development. Wright serves as an outreach career advisor at the NCWorks Career Center in Charlotte. He is known for his passion for helping others and his innate ability to listen to customers and discover their challenges, needs and wishes, so that he can identify potential solutions for each one. In 2018, Charlotte Works (the workforce development board for Mecklenburg County) partnered with Mecklenburg County's Community Resource Center (CRC) to better serve individuals with barriers to employment. Wright was deployed to meet those individuals where they are and provide coaching, rapid employment, and access to training scholarships. In two years, Wright’s contributions have resulted in placing 589 individuals with employment, with salaries ranging between $28,000-$64,000 per year. His latest endeavor is providing job coaching to people impacted by COVID-19 through Freedom Communities, a nonprofit that provides access to affordable housing, employment, and education for underserved populations.  
  • CB's Auto Tire and Service of Elizabeth City: Outstanding Employer. CB's Auto Tire and Service, owned and operated by Calvin L. Boone, Jr., is a small business making a big impact on the local workforce and the community. CB’s Auto has partnered with NCWorks on multiple workforce initiatives, including Incumbent Worker Grants, NCWorks NextGen Work Experience opportunities, and On-the-Job Training. When he discovered that there were no formal short-term auto mechanic trainings offered in the region, Boone developed his own training class that he conducts. He and his employees are active in the community, volunteering at many workforce board events. Boone serves on the Perquimans County Career and Technical Education Advisory Board. CB's Auto currently provides Work Experience training to NextGen participants, including one young person with disabilities.  
  • Code Guilford: Community Coding Workforce Initiative of Guilford County: Outstanding Innovative Partnership. A partnership focused on building the local workforce for the information technology field, Code Guilford created a unique educational opportunity to introduce youth and adults to computer science and related careers. The partners, including GuilfordWorks (the Guilford County Workforce Development Board), Welfare Reform Liaison Project, Inc., Guilford Technical Community College and Guilford County Schools, held a four-day camp in 2019 as a pilot program. Participants in the camp learned the basics of coding, app development, and design in an interactive, creative format, based on the “Everyone Can Code” curriculum developed by Apple, Inc. The program served 120 participants, including groups of elementary school students, middle school students, high school students, and adults. The success of the pilot led partners to plan to expand from four days to a four-week boot camp. Delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this camp is currently scheduled for the summer of 2021. 


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