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Five Honored With EDK Humanitarian Award

Five Honored With EDK Humanitarian Award

Five Salisburians were honored last month at the annual Elizabeth Duncan Koontz (EDK) Humanitarian Awards held at the Salisbury Civic Center. Honorees Edward and Susan Norvell, Emily Jean Perry, Jason Walser and David Whisenant were among the 10 residents and organizations nominated this year for their dedication to the community.


About Dr. Elizabeth Duncan Koontz

Dr. Elizabeth Duncan Koontz continually shattered gender and racial barriers while working as a tireless advocate for dignity in the workplace, livable wages and benefits, and child and dependent care.

Dr. Koontz was appointed by President Richard Nixon to serve as the first African-American director of the United States Department of Labor Women's Bureau. She also served as a United States Delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and an advisor to the Secretary of Labor on women's programs.

She was the first African-American president of the National Education Association (NEA) and during her term established the NEA’s Human and Civil Rights Division.

Born Elizabeth Duncan in Salisbury, North Carolina, she was the youngest of seven children in a family of educators. Her father was a high school principal, her mother an elementary school teacher and her brother Samuel served as president of Livingstone College

She graduated as salutatorian from Price High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Elementary Education from Livingstone College and a master's degree from Atlanta University. She was the recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from Northeastern University, Bryant University and Indiana University and in 1977 was awarded the North Carolina Award for Public Service. In 2020, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper honored Dr. Koontz as one of a select group of pioneering Black educators who have made groundbreaking contributions to the state.

In 1985 she was one of the organizers who re-established the Salisbury-Rowan Human Relations Council.

The Human Relations Commission is proud to recognize members of the Salisbury-Rowan community who exemplify the ideals of Dr. Elizabeth “Libby” Duncan Koontz.

It is a fitting tribute to her trailblazing accomplishments and humanitarian interests to recognize and celebrate three special members of our community who demonstrate those ideals.



EDK Recipients: Mr. Edward and Mrs. Susan Norvell

Susan Linn Norvell grew up in Landis, North Carolina and graduated from Catawba College. She has served on the Salisbury Historic Preservation Commission, the Historic Salisbury Foundation board, the Shelter Guardians board and the Proctor Foundation. She currently serves on the D.C. and Frances Linn Park board in Landis.

Edward Novell is a retired attorney and a lifelong resident of Salisbury. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master’s degree in English from the City University of New York, and a juris doctor degree from the Wake Forest University School of Law. Edward practiced law in Salisbury and served as the Rowan County Clerk of Superior Court from 1988-1994. He has served on many boards in Rowan County including the Rowan Museum, Bell Tower Green, Rowan Arts Council, Rowan Community College and St Luke’s Foundation. He currently serves on the North Carolina Arts Council, the Salisbury Public Art Commission, the Racial Equity Rowan Committee, and is president of the Historic Salisbury Foundation and Piedmont Players Theater.

Edward and Susan Norvell are members of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and have dedicated their lives in service to their family and community. They have two children and two granddaughters.


EDK Recipients: Ms. Emily Jean Perry

Emily Jean Perry is a Salisbury native and a graduate of Boyden High School. She received her bachelor’s degree in behavioral science from Shaw University and a master’s of social work degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

After working in Washington, DC, for eighteen years, Emily moved back to Salisbury in 2000 and immersed herself into the community. While employed as a health educator in Rowan County, Emily helped establish the Healthy Carolinas program. From 2001-2017, Emily was an adjunct professor of social work at Rowan Cabarrus Community College and Shaw University. She has also served as a health education consultant for the State of North Carolina.

Emily is a passionate community organizer and activist. She was the chair of the City of Salisbury Dixonville Cemetery Task Force, a founding member of Rowan Concerned Citizens and a member of the West End Purpose Transformation Community Project. In addition, she has received grants from Black Voters Matter and works with Mission House of Salisbury to lead grassroots efforts to educate citizens about the election process. Emily has received numerous awards including the Salisbury-Rowan NAACP Presidential Medal of Honor, the Ida B. Wells Barnett Award and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dare to Dream Award.


EDK Recipients: Mr. Jason Walser

Jason Walser grew up in Statesville, N.C. He received his undergraduate degree in business from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a degree from the UNC School of Law. He practiced law in Hendersonville, N.C., before joining The Land Trust for Central NC (now Three Rivers Land Conservancy) in Salisbury in 1999. He worked for The Land Trust for nearly sixteen years and helped establish several new public nature preserves and parks.

In 2017, Jason became the Executive Director of the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation. In this role he has overseen investments in community nonprofits. He has also helped oversee community improvements in the Historic West End and the creation of Bell Tower Green Park.

Jason has served on multiple nonprofit boards of directors and currently is an appointed member of the NC Land and Water Fund. He has attended the Center for Whole Communities in Vermont and has participated in Racial Equity Rowan workshops. He is active in community initiatives and is a strong believer in public policy engagement as well as public education.

Jason and his wife Tracy have two children Autumn and Ian.


EDK Recipients: Mr. David Whisenant

David Whisenant is a Salisbury native who began his broadcasting career a WSTP/WRDX Radio in 1977 while he was a student at Salisbury High School. He graduated from Appalachian State University in 1983 and began working as a stringer for WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte, in 1991. He became a fulltime reporter for WBTV in 1994 and covered Rowan, Cabarrus and Iredell counties.

In his thirty-two years at WBTV, David covered major local and national stories including the shutdown of Pillowtex in Kannapolis, the disappearance of Erica Parsons, several presidential elections, NASCAR and Formula One and thousands of local stories. He also covered the funerals of President Ronald Reagan and Queen Elizabeth II for WBTV. David won an Emmy Award in 2022 and retired from WBTV in December of 2023. Following his retirement, David was awarded the Order of Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian honor.

David is a deacon and Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church in Salisbury. He and his wife, Jtan, have a son Kyle, a daughter-in-law Anna, and two granddaughters, Ava and Maisie.

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Monthly Newsletter

 TitleDescription
07/2024National Night Out | Footbridge Repairs | Approved City Budget | Citizen's Academy | Hurricane Prep
06/2024EDK Awards | Street Repaving | City Budget | Rec/Senior Center Survey | Spruce Up Week
05/2024Cheerwine Festival: Band Lineup, T-Shirt Contest Winner, Free Shuttles, Safety Guidelines and Ways to Stay Connected.
04/2024Strategic Plan | Mental Health Crisis Line | BlockWork Call For Neighborhoods | Paint the Pavement Call For Artists | Meet the Sculpture Show Artists
03/2024Vote on Cheerwine Festival T-shirt Design | What to do for Water Line Breaks | Sign Up For RoCo Alerts | Spring Spruce Up Week
02/2024Sign Up To Steer Salisbury | Save the Date for Cheerwine Festival | City Begins Budget Process | Protect Your Pipes This Winter
01/2024Holiday Decor Contest Winners | MLK Celebration Weekend | Tour Wines and Downtown | Beautify Your Neighborhood!
12/2023Public Art | Holiday Decor Contest | Main Street Project | Winter Spruce Up Week
11/2023Holiday Events | Toss The Grease | Housing Survey | Bike Giveaway | Sculpture Show
10/2023Dixonville Cemetery Memorial Dedication | Halloween Safety Tips | Empowering Women in Law Enforcement | Leaf Collection and Map
09/2023Rowan Creek Week | Leaf Collection | BlockWork Volunteers | New Deputy City Manager | Bell Tower Brewfest
08/2023An Outdoor Art Adventure | Summer Program Inspires Youth | Salisbury Invests In Community | City Changes Up Departments
07/2023Hurricane Season | RoCo's Homeless Task Force | Waste Assistance Program | Citizen's Academy | Community Fair and National Night Out
06/2023Dive into Local Pool | Humanitarian Awards | Summer Spruce Up Week | City Budget Updates
05/2023Neon Trees Headline Cheerwine Festival | Summers Camps | Smoke Alarms | Lawn Tips | Street Resurfacing | May is Bike Month
02/2023Protect Your Pipes This Winter | Join A Board | City Begins Budget Process | Recycling In Salisbury | Recycling Calendar
01/2023Downtown Decor Displays Holiday Spirit | MLK Celebration | Humanitarian Nominations | Wine About Winter Tickets On Sale | Reader Survey
12/2022Sculpture Calls For Artists | Winter Spruce Up Week | Feedback On Our Future | Be The Difference With A City Career | Holiday Recycling
11/2022Holiday Events | Salisbury Youth Council Inducts New Members | Tips to Shop Safe | Toss the Grease
10/2022Tips for Trick-or-Treaters | United Way Rowan | Crime Prevention Month | 4th Cultivating Community Conversations | Leaf Collection
08/2022Kudos To Lifeguards | Grant to Fund Flood, Road Sensors | Funds for Family Water Bills | City Awarded For Good Health
08/2022Kudos To Lifeguards | Grant to Fund Flood, Road Sensors | Funds for Family Water Bills | City Awarded For Good Health
06/2022Pool Opens For Summer | Reels and Riffs: Movie and Music Series | Wine About Winter ... In Summertime | Summer Spruce Up Week
05/2022New City Manager | Cheerwine Festival | Local Humanitarian Awards | BlockWork Applications Open
05/2022New City Manager | Cheerwine Festival | Local Humanitarian Awards | BlockWork Applications Open
04/2022Two Headline Bands To Rock Cheerwine Festival | Spotlight on Fire Safety | Salisbury Locals Win Big at NC Main Street Awards
03/2022Cheerwine Festival Returns | 5 Ways to Pay Your BIll | SPD Receives Grant | Spring Spruce Up Week
02/2022Interim City Manager | Tips to Prevent Frozen Pipes | Apply For A Board | City Begins Budget Process | Employee Spotlight
01/2022Holiday Storefront Awards | Social District Proposed | EDK Nominations | Wine About Winter | Winter Spruce Up Week
01/2022Holiday Storefront Awards | Social District Proposed | EDK Nominations | Wine About Winter | Winter Spruce Up Week
01/2022Holiday Storefront Awards | Social District Proposed | EDK Nominations | Wine About Winter | Winter Spruce Up Week
12/2021Be A Part of Our Public Art | SRU Recognized For Quality | Don't let FOG Take Your Holiday Down the Drain
08/2021Rowan Creek Week | Back-to-School Resource Fair | New Crime Information Center | Blockwork Awarded Lowe's Grant For $100,000
07/2021Salisbury Cease Fire | Citizen's Academy | Summer Spruce Up Week | Sculpture Show
06/2021Summer Camps | Transit Director Award | Hurricane Tips | Wine About Winter
05/2021City & Partners to Boost Minority Business | Festival Looks For Volunteers | BlockWork Nominations Open | Bike Safety Tips
04/2021School Officers | New Look For Downtown | Local Humanitarians Receive EDK Awards | Employee Spotlight
03/2021Dixonville Memorial Missing Connections | New Bill Pay System Coming | Spring Spruce Up | Stormwater Survey Seeks Solutions | Ring In Spring Event
02/2021New Fire Station & Memorial Event | Protect Your Pipes | Join A Board Or Commission | Save The Date For Cheerwine | Employee Spotlight
01/2021Holiday Storefront Winners, Celebrate MLK, Main St. Plan, Nominate A Local Hero, Funds For Fire Suppression
12/2020SRU Exceeds Water Standard | Bring On 2021 Virtual New Year's Eve | Public Input Wanted
11/2020Christmas Bike Program Returns | Showcase Your Art In Salisbury | Give The Gift Of Water | Be Safe This Black Friday
09/2020Dixonville Memorial Phase 2 | Leaf Map | Census 2020 | ADA/Parantransit Service | Go Transit Month | Safe Exchange Zone
04/2020City Response to COVID-19 | Helpful Resource | CAC/Tree Board Awards | Spring Spruce Up \ SPD Engages With Community
04/2020City Response to COVID-19 | Helpful Resource | CAC/Tree Board Awards | Spring Spruce Up \ SPD Engages With Community
04/2020City Response to COVID-19 | Helpful Resource | CAC/Tree Board Awards | Spring Spruce Up \ SPD Engages With Community
11/2019Bike Giveaway | Plan For Downtown's Future | Don't Get Clogged | Lost Families | Sculpture Show
11/2019Bike Giveaway | Plan For Downtown's Future | Don't Get Clogged | Lost Families | Sculpture Show
11/2019Bike Giveaway | Plan For Downtown's Future | Don't Get Clogged | Lost Families | Sculpture Show
10/2019Fire Prevention Week | City Park Lake | Forward 2040 | Fall Spruce Up | Be Ready To Vote | Employee Spotlight | Leaf Collection Map
08/2019Salisbury Youth Employees | New SPD Initiatives | Youth Baseball Camp | Brewbury Fest Returns | Recycling
07/2019Keep Salisbury Beautiful | Save The Date for Cheerwine Fest 2020 | Back To School | National Night Out | Beat the Summer Heat
06/2019Sculpture Show Returns | Summer Camps | Hurricane Season Tips | Weather Alerts | Pool Hours | #PositiveGossip | Employee Spotlight | Summer Spruce Up | Celebrate Garbage Man Day
05/2019Look Behind the Scenes | Cheerwine Festival | BlockWork Accepting Applications | #FeelingCuteChallenge | Watch Your Water Usage with EyeOnWater
04/2019Festival Music Lineup | Locals Receive EDK Awards | Business with the City | SPD Foot Pursuit 5K | City Nature Challenge
03/2019Celebrate Spring At Hurley Park | Runner-Friendly Community | Cheerwine Festival Volunteers | Employee Spotlight | SPD Ride-A-Long Program | Contact Directory
02/2019Cheerwine Festival Vendor Applications Open | Get Involved, Apply Now | Fair Housing Seeks Volunteers | Council Retreat Open to Public | Snow Safety | Employee Spotlight | Main St. Conference in Salisbury
02/2019Cheerwine Festival Vendor Applications Open | Get Involved, Apply Now | Fair Housing Seeks Volunteers | Council Retreat Open to Public | Snow Safety | Employee Spotlight | Main St. Conference in Salisbury
02/2019Cheerwine Festival Vendor Applications Open | Get Involved, Apply Now | Fair Housing Seeks Volunteers | Council Retreat Open to Public | Snow Safety | Employee Spotlight | Main St. Conference in Salisbury
02/2019Cheerwine Festival Vendor Applications Open | Get Involved, Apply Now | Fair Housing Seeks Volunteers | Council Retreat Open to Public | Snow Safety | Employee Spotlight | Main St. Conference in Salisbury
02/2019Cheerwine Festival Vendor Applications Open | Get Involved, Apply Now | Fair Housing Seeks Volunteers | Council Retreat Open to Public | Snow Safety | Employee Spotlight | Main St. Conference in Salisbury
02/2019Cheerwine Festival Vendor Applications Open | Get Involved, Apply Now | Fair Housing Seeks Volunteers | Council Retreat Open to Public | Snow Safety | Employee Spotlight | Main St. Conference in Salisbury
02/2019Cheerwine Festival Vendor Applications Open | Get Involved, Apply Now | Fair Housing Seeks Volunteers | Council Retreat Open to Public | Snow Safety | Employee Spotlight | Main St. Conference in Salisbury
02/2019Cheerwine Festival Vendor Applications Open | Get Involved, Apply Now | Fair Housing Seeks Volunteers | Council Retreat Open to Public | Snow Safety | Employee Spotlight | Main St. Conference in Salisbury
02/2019Cheerwine Festival Vendor Applications Open | Get Involved, Apply Now | Fair Housing Seeks Volunteers | Council Retreat Open to Public | Snow Safety | Employee Spotlight | Main St. Conference in Salisbury
01/2019EDK Nominations | Holiday Storefront Awards | Celebrating MLK Weekend | Employee Spotlight | Winter Spruce Up Week | Transit Survey | New Tools Keeps An Eye On Water

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