WILMINGTON — Three local leaders will be recognized this spring as part of an annual service awards ceremony.
The Wilmington Rotary Club will honor Charles Hardy, Brian McMerty and Connie Parker with Leaders in Service awards given annually to people in the private, nonprofit and public sectors. The third annual gala for the 2024 honorees will be held May 1 at the UNCW Burney Center, where 400 guests are expected for the dinner and ceremony.
The awardees are chosen based on contributions made to Wilmington overall so that it is a better place to live and work. The nominees are chosen based on executing one or more of the seven Rotary Areas of Focus:
- Peace and conflict prevention/resolution
- Disease prevention and treatment
- Water and sanitation
- Maternal and child health
- Basic education and literacy
- Economic and community development
- The environment
They also are business leaders who align with the rotary’s mission “Service Above Self” and are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Having retired in 2022, Hardy was the founding dean of UNCW’s College of Health and Human Services, established in 2010. The college’s nursing program has experienced a 350% increase in enrollment under his tenure, with social work and other health and recreation programs doubling enrollment numbers. He still is a professor of public health and has worked on boards at numerous nonprofits.
Founder of “Men on a Mission,” McMerty’s group at Wilmington’s St. James Episcopal Church has included 150 parishioners helping nonprofits Good Shepherd Center, Habitat for Humanity, Coastal Land Trust, and others. McMerty — a managing partner of executive-search firm Arris Partners — also utilizes his skills as a head-hunter to help nonprofits, as seen in the merger of the Brigade Boys & Girls Club with the Community Boys & Girls Club of Wilmington. McMerty supports other nonprofits and funds a scholarship at UNCW.
Parker founded Wilmington Health Access for Teens in 1995 and served as executive director through 2005, where she now holds director “emeritus” status. She has served on many boards and advisory councils regarding medical care and mental health for teens but is also passionate about urban forestry. Parker founded the Alliance for Cape Fear Trees, and currently serves as its president and executive director, with the goal to restore the region’s tree canopy.
The three award recipients were chosen by a committee of Wilmington-area business and civic leaders from a list of several dozen nominations from the public.
Learn more about the awards here.
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