About the Steering Committee
consists of Gaston County community leaders and provides oversight and direction to the visioning process and is ultimately responsible for creating the vision, dashboard, and implementation plan.
Deborah Ally – CHAIR
Deborah McQuitter Ally is a Senior Executive with accomplishments in leadership, strategic planning, philanthropy, media and finance. She is the Co-Owner and Publisher of Gaston Lifestyles Magazine. She is the former President of the United Way Gaston County (2009 – 2018). Ally currently serves on the Board of Directors of Novant Health (former Chairperson of the Nominating and Governance Committee) and United Way NC (Finance Committee). She is a member of the Gaston County Planning Board and the Gaston Business Association Task Force. Her prior service to North Carolina for Gaston County includes 2020 Complete Counts Census Committee, Emergency Food and Shelter Program (Chair), NC 509 Continuum of Care for Ending Homelessness and Reducing Poverty (Chair), Family Advisory Board, Gaston County Transportation Advisory Board and Employment Security Commission of Gaston County. Other Board of Director positions included Gaston Together (Civic Engagement Leadership Program Founder, Healthcare Commission), Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Gaston, Presbyterian Healthcare, Gaston County Wells Fargo Advisory Board, Gastonia Faith Network and HealthNet Gaston. She was a member of the CEO Search Committee and Strategic Planning Committee for the Girl Scouts Peaks 2 Piedmont and a former member of the Rotary Club of Gastonia. The Gaston County Board of Commissioners selected Ms. Ally as the 2014 recipient of the William Gaston Award, which recognizes the significant contributions of citizens through their work on county boards, committees, and task forces. Ms. Ally holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce/Accounting from North Carolina Central University and has been a certified public accountant since 1990. She is an avid traveler and resides in Gastonia.
Sharon Padgett – ACTING CHAIR
Sharon Padgett has served over 30 years in YMCA work. She began her Y career in Raleigh NC at the YMCA of the Triangle. In 2002 she met her husband David and moved to the SC region and worked for the YMCA of Columbia, SC, for 7 years. In 2009, Sharon moved with her family to Gaston County and is still serving the YMCA movement at the Gaston County Family YMCA as the CEO. Sharon has received awards from the Association of YMCA Professionals (President 2012 – 2014, Service Award 2012 and Leadership Award – 2015). She also served as the Gaston HR President in 2018 and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the NC Alliance of YMCA, Board of Directors for Small to Midsize YMCAs across the United States, the Rotary Club of Gastonia. In her free time she loves spending time with her family, grandchildren and anything that allows her to be outside.
Carl A. Harris, Sr. – Community Engagement Action Team Chair
Carl A. Harris, Assoc. AIA, IREM-ARM, NC/SC-LGC is the owner of CAHarris, Inc., a full-service construction firm offering construction management, design-build, preconstruction, and general contracting services. He has 30 years of planning, development, design and construction industry experience including architectural, engineering and construction disciplines. He has extensive experience in management of large, complex, building projects, overseeing the development and negotiations, infrastructure, site work to building construction. His experience includes construction and construction management of commercial projects, public utility, institutional, infrastructure, bridge improvements and site development construction, totaling over $2 billion of construction projects.
He is a former Senior Vice President of the City of Charlotte Housing Authority for Construction Management-Real Estate Development, and former Senior Project/ Design Manager with the CMS/Bovis K-12 Construction Management Team. He also served in various roles within Community Development Department for the City of Charlotte. He was the team lead to develop and construct one of the nation’s first LEED Gold senior high rises. He has received awards from Sustain Charlotte, NCHFA Housing NC, and he was named Diversity Advocate of the Year CLT.
He currently serves as the Vice Chairman on Gaston County Planning Board and is a members of the City of Gastonia Planning Commission (former Vice Chairman of the Solid Waste board). He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and 100 Black Men of Greater Charlotte. He coaches and mentors youth in his spare time.
He is a graduate of Appalachian State University, North Carolina State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree, concentrating in Architectural Design, Urban & Regional Planning/Community Development/ Construction Project Management Program.
Juan Garcia – Dashboard Action Team Chair
Juan G. Garcia is the Senior Transportation Planner and Data Analyst for Gaston County Building and Development Services. Mr. Garcia has worked for Gaston County Government since 1997. He was previously a Spanish Instructor at Gaston College and was a news writer with the National Broadcasting Company.
He served as the Latinx Community Outreach Coordinator for the Decennial 2000 Census, as Technical Manager for the Decennial 2010 Census Complete Count Committee, and as Multi-Cultural Outreach Coordinator and Vice-Chair for the 2020 Decennial Census, all in Gaston County. Mr. Garcia serves on several Health and Transportation Committees in Gaston County. He attended the Civil Engineering Program from E.A.F.I.T. University in Colombia, South-America and he is currently enrolled in the Principles, Statistical and Computational Tools for Reproducible Data Science Course at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Ray Hardee – Fundraising Action Team Chair
Ray is the Founding Lead Pastor and Cultural Architect of The Pointe Church for the last 20 years in Belmont after having served at Gardner-Webb University for 15 years as Dean of Admissions and Enrollment Management. He also serves GWU as an Adjunct Professor of Human Services. He holds degrees in Pre-Law from GWU, Counseling from UNCC, a Master’s Degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Religion and Social Justice from Harvard University. He has completed additional study at GWU School of Divinity, Regents Park College of Oxford University, and Southeastern and Southwestern Seminary. He is working toward a PhD in Leadership. He has written a book, “Ten To Win” and authored columns regularly for the Gaston Gazette. He is a competitive runner and most recently finished the Jerusalem Marathon and the Medtronic Marathon. He is also an advocate for Compassion International, World Vision, and Run for Zion.
His favorite prayer is “Lord, don’t let me die until I’m dead.” His favorite saying is “I’m just a NOBODY telling EVERYBODY about the ONE BODY who can save ANYBODY and make them the SOMEBODY they always wanted to be.
He is married to his college sweetheart of 37 years and they have 3 grown children Princess Anna (a 2nd Grade Teacher in Belmont Elementary), Alex The Great (a Captain in Belmont’s Fire Department) and Dear Abigail (A Senior Advisor At Price Waterhouse Cooper). He has three grandchildren-Ella Grace, Easton Gray, and Blake Alexander.
Dr. Valerie Holmes Waddell
Dr. Valerie Holmes Waddell received her undergraduate, Dental Hygiene, and Doctor of Dental Surgery degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry. She practiced as a Dental Hygienist for three years. After dental school, she completed a General Practice Residency at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Hampton, Virginia. Dr. Waddell has served as an Adjunct Professor at the UNC-CH School of Dentistry. She had served on the Board of Directors of Holy Angels, Piedmont Community Charter School, the AIDS Council of Gaston County and the Multi-Advisory Council for Gaston Community Action.
Dr. Waddell was the first Public Health Dental Director in Gaston County. In 2009, she opened her solo dental practice. She is a member of the American Dental Association, the Academy of General Dentistry, the North Carolina Dental and Old North State Dental Societies and the Spear Study Club.
Dr. Waddell is a member of St. Stephens A.M.E. Zion Church, the Gastonia Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., The Links, Inc.-Piedmont Chapter and the Gastonia-Piedmont Chapter of Jack & Jill of America. She is married to Attorney Beady Waddell, III. They have three children and three grandchildren.
Stephen A. Crane – Marketing Action Team Chair
Stephen Crane is the Executive Director/CEO of Our Neighbors, Inc, a nonprofit affordable housing development organization. He has lived in Gaston County for 29 years. He and his wife, Janine Crane, have two grown sons, and 2 grandchildren.
He has served Gaston County as a strong advocate for positive community development through targeted affordable housing for persons with disabilities and low to moderate incomes. Crane is an avid gardener, hoping to earn a Master Gardener certificate when he eventually enters retirement and can spend more time in the yard.
He and his wife like to travel and are planning to visit Japan soon. His hope for Gaston Vision 2040 is that businesses, people from each town, and visitors appreciate and celebrate the gifts that Gaston has to offer.
Donyel serves as the Community Centered Health Director for Kintegra Health , a Federally Qualified Health Center. She promotes community engagement, while working with communities to identify social determinants leading to poor health of the community.
Working alongside the community, her mission is to achieve health equity and improve the overall health of the community.
She is a 1996 graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree and she is certified in Facilitative Leadership. During the November 2019 election cycle, Donyel was elected to a 4 year term on the Gastonia City Council.
Brandon Bellamy is the only African-American majority owner of a professional minor league baseball team. And if that wasn’t enough, he and his company, The Velocity Companies, will also collaborate on economic development projects, including residential, retail, hotel, and office space properties tied to Franklin Urban Sports & Entertainment (FUSE), a $100M potential investment opportunity for the City of Gastonia.
Brandon has built a team of industry professionals, environmental stewards, and creative designers to transform communities through strategic and mission-led development at The Velocity Companies. Under his leadership, The Velocity Companies has developed and consulted on projects in the Mid-Atlantic and the Carolinas with an aggregate asset value exceeding $500 million. Brandon and his team are firm believers in only doing deals that create impact – championing the vitality of local economies through meaningful development, partnering with local, disadvantaged businesses, and supporting non-profit organizations.
Brandon Bellamy is a purpose-driven man walking in his destiny. He is a Christian, a devoted son, a dedicated father, a real estate entrepreneur, a Chief Executive Officer, and now, a team owner.
W. Jeffrey Booker, Superintendent of Schools
The Gaston County Board of Education unanimously appointed W. Jeffrey Booker to serve as Superintendent of Gaston County Schools effective January 1, 2014.
As Superintendent of Schools, Booker is responsible for the overall operation of the school system, which includes 56 schools, approximately 29,000 students and more than 3,800 full- and part-time employees. He works directly with the Board of Education to implement Board policies and directives.
A dynamic educational leader with a vision to move Gaston County Schools forward, Booker joined the school system in 2009. As the Deputy Superintendent of Operations, he served in an executive leadership role and was the senior administrator for business/finance, technology, facilities and maintenance, bus transportation, and school nutrition.
During his time as Superintendent of Schools, Booker has focused on ways to improve student achievement, provide more technology for the classroom, support employees through professional development, increase communication with parents and the community, and enhance school safety. In 2018, the district celebrated its 50th anniversary, and voters approved a $250 million school bond referendum. Further, he has provided excellent leadership for the district during the COVID-19 pandemic. Booker lives in Gastonia and is married to Rhonda Booker. They have three children: a daughter and two sons.
Captain Nancy Brogdon is the first Latina Assistant Police Chief in the Gastonia Police Department’s history.
Brogdon joined the GPD in 2005, was promoted to sergeant in 2013 and captain in 2020. She has served in a number of positions including patrol officer, community coordinator, grant manager and coordinator of the Gaston County Gang Initiative, and as a detective specializing in financial and electronic crimes. Since being promoted to sergeant in 2013 she has served as a patrol sergeant, a community coordinator sergeant, a Criminal Investigations Division sergeant, and as assistant commander of GPD’s Crisis Negotiations Team. She oversees the department’s Traffic and Canine Units, LeadsOnline, Victim/Witness and U-VISA programs, and serves as commander of the GPD Tactical/Mobile Field Force Team. Brogdon is also a recent graduate of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Command College.
She has served as President of the GPD Sergeant’s Association and in 2019 she was recognized with an Exceptional Duty Award for the Association’s support of the Pink Patch Project. Other past awards include recognition for her work with the Mexican Consulate, GPD’s recruiting efforts, the Gang of One Gaston Program, the West Gastonia Kids Camp Program, and for her role in Gastonia’s first human trafficking case in 2017. Brogdon received a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Illinois, and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Pfeiffer University. She also received North Carolina’s Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate. Brogdon is bilingual with fluency in Spanish and English.
David Day serves at the Main Street and Economic Development director for the city of Cherryville, NC. Also under his umbrella of responsibilities fall the Chamber of Commerce, City Marketing, City publicity/social media and web site. David has been with the city for a year and has lived in Cherryville for 19 years.
His background in working with many city boards and organizations provided him a strong ability to work with in this newly created position for Cherryville. He is directly responsible for working with all of the Main Street merchants and business on the 8.4 million dollar revitalization for the town and working with Economic Development for the entire city as well as Main Street. David comes to the city with 30 years service as Minister of Music in two First Baptist Churches and also a business background before that. David is married to his wife Darla for 39 years and they have 2 daughters Emily Lingerfelt and Katelyn Day and also 2 grandsons, Blake 5 and Cole Michael 3. His hobbies are music, reading, camping, and family time.
Kim Eagle, Ph.D.
Kim joined Gaston County as the County Manager in August of 2019. Under her leadership so far, county staff have demonstrated their operational resilience by weathering the COVID crisis and have developed strategic muscle by creating the first-ever Gaston County Strategic Plan.
Prior to joining Gaston County, Kim served as an Assistant City Manager for the City of Charlotte, where she was responsible for operational initiatives and functional areas including Water/Sewer, Solid Waste, Transportation and Engineering. She was also responsible for supporting the Council’s Environment Committee, Transportation Committee and Public Safety Committee. Kim served as Charlotte’s designated point person to the cross-sector, collaborative effort to align and coordinate services for victims of domestic violence and serves on the Family Justice Center Steering Committee.
Before her appointment to Assistant City Manager, Kim served as Charlotte’s Director of the Office of Strategy & Budget and Senior Operations Advisor, responsible for the development and oversight of the City’s annual operating budget and five-year community investment plan.
As Deputy Director of Charlotte Water, Kim managed and coordinated the business support and administrative side of the water/sewer operation. Leading up to this position, Dr. Eagle worked for eight years in the City of Charlotte Budget and Evaluation Department as the Evaluation Manager where she managed the City’s strategic planning efforts including the Balanced Scorecard.
She also served for eight years in several roles within Charlotte Water, including Assistant Business Manager. Kim joined the City of Charlotte in 1995.
She earned her doctorate in Public Administration from the Center for Public Administration and Policy at Virginia Tech. She also holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration and an Education Specialist degree, both from Appalachian State University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wingate University. Dr. Eagle has taught several graduate courses in Public Administration, published articles on administrative reform and performance measurement, and has led numerous workshops on strategic planning both at the local level and in conjunction with local governments and universities in Trinidad and Sweden.
Dr. Rodney B. Freeman was born in York, South Carolina to Mr. Ira Lee Freeman and Mrs. Johnnie Mae Jackson. He is the Pastor of Mt. Zion Restoration Church in Gastonia, North Carolina. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Mrs. Jeanine M. Freeman. They are the proud parents of two wonderful children, Mrs. Tierra Carter and Justin Freeman, and the proud grandparents of Chase Carter.
Rodney earned an Associate of Arts in Biblical Studies from Jacksonville Theological Seminary, a Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Studies from Queen City Bible College, a Master’s of Divinity Degree from Gardner Webb University and a Doctorate of Ministry Degree from Ashland Theological Seminary.
He was the first African American appointed President of the York Rotary Club, York, SC, in 2009. He is the founder and CEO of Save Our Children Youth Academy, Gastonia, and founder of Bountiful Blessings Food Pantry, Gastonia.
In 2021, he received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Award in Gastonia. He has been recognized with the President’s Award from the SC Western Branch of the NAACP for Dedication and Community Contribution, for Internal Leadership for External Service, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Zeta Mu Omega .
He is an Executive Board Member of the Hope for Gaston Community Project, Board member of Gaston Together, Executive Board Member of Gaston Citizens & Clergy Coalition (GC3), Board Member of United Way, and Executive Board Member of the Gaston Progressive Coalition and Board Member of The Dream Center.
Originally from Memphis, TN, Vincent Ginski came to Gaston County to study at Belmont Abbey’s Honors College. After graduating from the Abbey in 2017, he then earned his MBA at UNC-Charlotte’s Belk College of Business.
Since 2017, Vincent has served in various positions at the Gaston Business Association, where he is now the Strategic Initiatives Director. Heavily participating in the business community and in the economic development arena, he has been involved in countywide marketing efforts, advocacy, infrastructure and strategic planning initiatives, issue-based campaign management, and more.
Vincent and his wife, Alexis (also an Abbey graduate), happily reside in Gaston County.
Kelvin C. Harris, MD
Kelvin C. Harris, MD is the founder of Gaston Women’s Healthcare, now CaroMont Women’s Health – Summit, in Gastonia, NC. A native of Greensboro, NC, he was valedictorian of his class at James B. Dudley High School in 1978. He was the first student from Dudley High School to be awarded the prestigious John M. Morehead Scholarship to UNC-Chapel Hill.
At UNC, Dr. Harris became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Alpha Chi Sigma Chemistry Fraternity, as well as numerous campus organizations, including the Black Student Movement (BSM). After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry in 1982, he completed his medical degree at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in 1986. Dr. Harris completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1990 at Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center in Detroit, MI. During his residency, he received various awards, including Outstanding Junior Resident. Returning to North Carolina following his residency, Dr. Harris started his own medical practice in Gastonia, NC in September of 1990. Over the years, he has delivered thousands of babies and performed thousands of gynecologic surgical procedures. He became the first African-American Medical Chief of Staff at CaroMont Regional Medical Center in 2005. He served on the hospital’s Board of Trustees from 2005-2012. Dr. Harris has also served as Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Chair of the Credentials Committee at the hospital.
Dr. Harris has been awarded the Physician Recognition by Nurses Award, Best Obstetrician/Gynecologist by the Gaston Gazette/Best of Gaston, and Best Doctors Recognition by Business North Carolina. He also received the Harvey Beech Black Alumni Award from UNC Chapel Hill. Dr. Harris has served his community on numerous boards, including Alliance Bank and Trust, Warlick Family YMCA, Gaston County Dept. of Health and Human Services, CaroMont Health Foundation, UNC Board of Visitors, UNC General Alumni Association Board, North Carolina Sickle Cell Council and North Carolina Museum of Natural Science.
Dr. Harris and his wife, Angela Gravely Harris, are the proud parents of two daughters, Kelsey and Sydney Harris.
Ernest Sumner, II
Ernest Sumner, II works as the Product Manager for the Mill Devices Division of A.B. Carter, Inc. providing products and machinery to the textile and composite industries throughout North America. Ernest attended Gaston Day School and graduated from Forestview High School. He received a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Geography from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at Chapel Hill, Ernest met his wife Sarah Rabon Sumner of Raleigh, NC. Ernest and Sarah reside in McAdenville with their dog Wells.
Ernest is a lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church of Gastonia where he serves as a Deacon. He completed Gaston Together’s Civic Engagement Leadership program and was the recipient of the Silver Star Trophy at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Gaston’s Dancing For Future Stars event in 2021.
Natalie has been in Gaston County since 1974. After graduating from Ashbrook in 1983 and UNC-CH in 1987 where she is an Alpha Chi Omega, she moved back to Gastonia before pursuing her dream of becoming a Cruise Director. Instead of cruising the seas, she developed a newfound love for Gastonia and the transportation industry and began her career at Earl Tindol Ford. She learned every job in the dealership and quickly became immersed in the community.
She became the General Manager in 1995 and purchased the Ford store when her dad retired in 2002. She added Subaru in 2008 and ROUSH performance in 2014. 35 years later, Natalie continues to love her employees, her customers, and her community. She did achieve her dream of being a Cruise Director, but her ship is a dealer“ship”!
She is married to John Davis, has 4 amazing children and two snuggly Basset Hounds. She loves being outdoors on Lake Wylie, helping with youth group at First Methodist in Gastonia, and teaching group fitness at the Gaston County Family YMCA.
Diana Willman is the Latin-x Outreach Coordinator/ Coordinadora de Asistencia a la Comunidad Latinx for Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), where she has worked for eleven years. In her work as Latinx Outreach coordinator she works in Building trust with the Latinx community and connecting community members to public health services; she also ensures DHHS communication is culturally and linguistically appropriate for this community; She has been part of the health Equity team in the health department for the last 3 years. This team works to bridge the health status gap between racial/ethnic minorities and the general population, and advocate for policies and programs that improve access to public health services for underserved populations. Prior to working with the county she was a Spanish liaison for Caldwell County and Gaston County Schools. Outside of work, Diana has a passion for working with families to strengthen their communication and interactions and is a certified family coach. Diana is originally from Colombia, South America and her first language is Spanish. She has enjoyed living in the US for 20 years. Diana loves to spend her free time with her two kids and their many sports and activities. When she is not at the soccer field with the family, she enjoys crafting and decorating.