Friday, 15 November 2019 14:14

UNC Pembroke hosts 22nd annual Business Visions Awards Banquet

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UNC Pembroke Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings (far right) with recipients of the 2019 Business Visions Awards. Left to Right: George Breece, Vanessa Abernathy, Ricky Harris, Ron Roach, Kyle Chavis, Walter White, Mary Elizabeth Williford, Cameron Cruse, Darwin Leggette, Milla Leggette, and Chancellor Cummings. UNC Pembroke Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings (far right) with recipients of the 2019 Business Visions Awards. Left to Right: George Breece, Vanessa Abernathy, Ricky Harris, Ron Roach, Kyle Chavis, Walter White, Mary Elizabeth Williford, Cameron Cruse, Darwin Leggette, Milla Leggette, and Chancellor Cummings. UNCP

PEMBROKE — Former N.C. Rep. George Breece was honored for a lifetime of public service during the 22nd annual Business Visions Awards Banquet at UNC Pembroke.

Breece, an Army veteran and former chairman of the state Military Affairs Commission, is a well-known civic leader and military advocate in Cumberland County. He is the former chairman of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber and founding executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics, a position he has held since 1987.

UNCP Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings commended Breece for his long history of service as he presented him with the Dr. Collie Coleman Spirit of Unity Award on Tuesday.

“George brings years of experience, a sense of humility and humor, energy and passion to every conversation and to all of his work to improve Cumberland County and southeastern North Carolina,” Cummings said. 

“It’s been George’s life mission to give back to our state, community and the military through his civic involvement for the past five decades.”

Breece serves on numerous civic board and organizations, including chair of Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade, He also helped lead successful restoration efforts for the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery and is a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine–the state’s highest civic honor.

He is married to Dr. Dena Breece, an associate dean at Methodist University and adjunct professor at UNCP. In accepting the award, he was reminded of his mother’s words: “Service to humanity is the best work of life.”

The award is named for the late Dr. Collie Coleman, a former associate vice chancellor of Outreach, who is remembered as an educator, community activist and leader. He passed away in 2008.

“I am moved by this award. I will cherish this for a long time to come,” Breece said.

Since 1997, the university’s Office for Regional Initiatives recognizes success in the business community by honoring students, entrepreneurs and business leaders. 

Other award winners included:

  • Mary Elizabeth Williford, Associate of Applied Science Business Administration Student of the Year. A Lumberton native, Williford attends Robeson Community College and has plans to enroll at UNCP with the goal of one day joining the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • Kyle Chavis, MBA Student of the Year. Chavis, of Lumberton, is CEO of Lumbee Guaranty Bank.
  • Michael Estler, MPA Student of the Year. Estler is from Florida and plans to become a Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda.
  • Ricky Harris, Entrepreneur of the Year. He is from Pembroke and owns Dakota Hawk Construction.
  • R. Riveter, Business of the Year. Military spouse-owned company, financially backed by billionaire investor Mark Cuban and housed in Southern Pines.
  • Ron Roach, Business Person of the Year. Roach is president of Contempora Fabrics, a leading knit manufacturer in Lumberton.
  • Robeson County Arts Council, Nonprofit of the Year. The Lumberton-based organization supports a network of music, art and theatrical events countywide.
  • Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation, Excellence Award for Large Business. LREMC is an electric utility with 52,000 members serving Cumberland, Hoke, Robeson and Scotland counties
  • Jack Leggette Farms, Agricultural Excellence. A successful, family-owned and operated farm near Rowland.