Learn about the Leadership Greensboro Award Recipients!

Every year, Leadership Greensboro presents awards to the most dynamic and impressive leaders in our community.  All of this year’s winners demonstrate exemplary leadership that positively affects the citizens and community of Greensboro.

Stephanie Mardis is the winner of the 2023 Denise E. Maleska Leadership Service Award, and the three winners of the Leadership Service Medals are Chase Clark, Wilson Lester, Deb Harris Richardson, and Alisha Wielfaert is the receipient of the Leadership Connector Medal.

Headshot of Captain Stephanie R. Mardis

Captain Stephanie R. Mardis

Winner of the 2023 Denise E. Maleska Leadership Service Award

Captain Stephanie R. Mardis received her BS degree from Bennett College in 2000 and her MPA-PP at Liberty University in 2022.

Captain Mardis’ law enforcement education includes: Police Law Institute, United States Secret Service- Computer/Electronic Crimes Training, General Instructor (Instructor) Certification, Racial Equality Workshop 2016, NFBPA Triad Chapter Leadership Thursdays Series Graduate 2016, Other Voice Class 25 Graduate 2018, Leadership Edge Graduate 2018, Administrative Officers’ Management Program 2020 (NC State University), Senior Management Institute for Police 2021 (Police Executive Research Forum), Leadership Greensboro (LG22).

Her community service is equally as impressive as her service to the city: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated – Sigma Kappa Omega Chapter, National Forum for Black Public Administrators – former 2nd Vice President/Member, National Organization for Black Law Enforcement Executives – ENC Chapter Member, PERF (Police Executive Research Forum) – Member, National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives – Member, African American Male Initiative Mentor – (Communities in Schools), Criminal Justice Program Advisory Committee (former) Exec. Board Member – South University, Communities in School Greater Greensboro – Executive Board Member, Kellin Foundation – Executive Board Member (former), B.E.L.L.E.S. Mentoring Program – Bennett College Advisory Board Member, STEM Early College at NC A&T State University PTSA – Recording Secretary and Circle City Church (High Point, NC) – Member and Security Advisor

Community Engagement: Capt. Mardis has been a mentor with the African American Male Initiative for ten (10) years. The mentorship is unique because it is a LIFELONG commitment. The program guidelines require you to commit to mentoring an elementary aged child, through middle school, high school, and ultimately college.

In 2020, she was appointed as the first African American female Commander in the history of the Greensboro Police Department to the Criminal Investigations Division (CID). As the Commanding Officer of CID, she quickly identified the need for my division to facilitate additional support to the families of victims who have been impacted as a result of gun violence. While on the heels of a record year of homicide cases, she became increasingly involved with providing support to the countless family members, left to pick up the pieces after their loved ones had been killed as a result of gun violence. In an effort to garner support for the families and bring awareness to the rising violence in the community, she created the Police and Community Alliance for Peace Forum (PCAP). This forum consists of family members of murdered victims, community based nonprofit organizations, and stakeholders. The ultimate goal of this forum is to strengthen relationships within the community and provide impactful and meaningful support to the victims and their families.

Major Accomplishments: In 2014, she was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Police, Professional Standards Division – Sergeant Investigator. During this assignment, she was appointed as the administrator for overseeing the Body Worn Camera (BWC) program, managing the “Evidence.com” video storage system and developing policy for auditing/managing recordings of officers in the “Evidence.com” database. It should be noted, the Greensboro Police Department was in the forefront of fully equipping all officers with (BWCs) in the state of North Carolina. Therefore, she developed and created policy and directives by conducting research nationwide on standards and methods that proved to be successful. She also conducted research within the agency on the recognized algorithm utilized through the Human Resources Division to conduct computerized random drug testing for City Employees. By utilizing the same algorithm, she calculated the number of officers issued BWCs, their work groups and assignments. This allowed her to create a system which produced fifty-nine (59) work groups/squads. By applying the algorithm, the document produced a spreadsheet with computerized random numbers. Each number represented a different squad to be randomly audited monthly. The system ensured that the number of employees audited each month represented approximately 10% of the total number of employees eligible for auditing. The audit reviewed the frequency of BWC activations when required by policy, the content of the footage captured and proper labeling of video downloads. The policy and auditing systems created during the inception of the BWC camera program are still utilized as of present.

In 2020, under her leadership as the Commanding Officer of the Criminal Investigations Division, she implemented a training program for newly transferred detectives. This program, CID Academy, adopts the training philosophy and practical application of our more commonly known Police Basic Introductory Course (PBIC). The CID Academy consists of a 40 hour course of instruction, comprised of the listed subject matters: Forensics, Search and Seizure, Interview and Interrogation, Surveillance Operations, Juvenile Law, Criminal Intelligence/Gang Awareness, Violent Criminal Apprehension, Social Media Investigations, and Computer Forensics. Upon successful completion of this 40 hour block of instruction, detectives are assigned to detective training officers (DTO’s) for 6 weeks of field training. In addition to the CID Academy, she also implemented an avenue for additional training and professional development for more seasoned detectives, the Advanced CID Academy. This training is a 40 hour block of instruction, which consists of the following courses: Cellular Investigations, Investigative & Open Source Searches, On-call Response to Crime Scenes, Advancements in Interview & Interrogation Techniques, and Critical Incident Response Team /GPD Special Teams.

In 2023, she was appointed as the first African American female in the history of the Greensboro Police Department to serve as the Commanding Officer of the Professional Standards Division in the Office of the Chief of Police.

Headshot of Chase Clark

Chase Clark

Recipient of the 2023 Leadership Service Medal

Chase Clark, a 19-year-old sophomore at Wake Forest University, has emerged as a transformative force in the nonprofit sector, dedicating a decade to community service through her organization, Chase’s Chance, Inc. Focused on empowering local and international youth, she and her team have filled critical gaps by addressing basic needs, paying off lunch debts, providing summer camp scholarships, and supporting teachers and classrooms. Chase’s extensive outreach efforts extend to disaster relief both locally and internationally. Her impact is not confined to her nonprofit; she has been recognized with numerous awards, including the 2018 Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Services and the 2021 Humanitarian of the Year in High Point. Beyond her impressive list of achievements, Chase hosts two podcasts, “The Renaissance Project: a black girl’s movement” and “Chase at Wake,” fostering open dialogues and introducing students of color to the Wake Forest experience. With an unwavering commitment to service and a belief in giving others a chance, Chase Clark’s inspiring spirit continues to make a positive impact on countless lives.

Other achievements and roles include: Member, Girl Scouts (2012-2022) Make-A-Wish Ambassador, Awarded Make-A-Wish Jr. Honoree of the Year (Nov 2016) , Member, Leadership LINKS (2016-2021), Girls of Merit Award (October 2017 & 2019) , Awarded $1,000 from Go Fund Me and noted as a Kids Hero (Nov 2017) Dream it, Do it Contest Winner (First Bank 2018), 2018 Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Services Recipient, Recognized at King Center, Atlanta, GA (April 2018), Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro Teen Grantmaking Council 2018-2022 , 2019 Governor’s Page ,2019 Youth Award, National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club, Inc., 2020 Triad Minority & Women’s Expo Spotlight Award, Wake Forest College Launch Program 2020-2021, Chase’s Chance, Inc. Voted Best Non-Profit for Triad Scout Guide Magazine (2021), Guest Panelist Teen Future Summit for the YMCA Greensboro Teen Achievers Leadership Program (Sept 11, 2021) , Humanitarian of the Year, City of High Point (2021), News & Record Young Inspirer Award (2022), Zeta Youth of the Year Award (2022), GEA Spark Award Winner (2023), YWCA Board of GSO Member (2021), News & Record Inspire Selection Committee (2023).  Undoubtedly, Chase Clark has only began exploring other opportunities to assist students through her open dialogue through her 2 podcasts, “The Renaissance Project: a black girl’s movement”, and “Chase at Wake” which introduces students of color to the experience at Wake Forest. This synopsis does not clearly define the beautiful spirit that Chase Clark exudes.  I am encouraged by her continued commitment to serve and while ensuring that others have the resources they need to continue.  It’s clear to many that that she just truly believes in giving others a chance.


Headshot of Wilson Lester

Wilson Lester

Recipient of the 2023 Leadership Service Medal

Wilson Lester is the Managing Partner at Partners in Equity, a national investment fund with a strong focus on aiding owner-occupied commercial real estate for BIPOC business owners. As a dedicated leader in community finance and economic development, Wilson’s efforts have consistently expanded access to capital and vital resources for BIPOC entrepreneurs. He is the visionary behind Piedmont Business Capital, a North Carolina-based CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) that has channeled millions in impact capital to empower Black businesses throughout the state. Wilson is also a Co-Founder of the ACCESS Center for Equity and Success, which plays a pivotal role in assisting minority business enterprises in securing public and private contract opportunities. With a belief in the transformative power of active philanthropy, Wilson serves as Treasurer and sits on the Investment Committee for the Cone Health Foundation, serves as a Board Member of the Triad Advisory Council for Truist Bank, and holds the role of Trustee at Greensboro College. His involvement in various boards dedicated to health and economic development, including his previous contributions to the African American Alliance of CDFI CEOs Advocacy Committee, underscores his commitment to shaping policies that directly benefit Black businesses and strengthen communities.

Wilson also invests his time as Basileus of the Tau Omega Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Serving the greater Greensboro Community and those in need and as a board member of the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship.  Always recommitting to increased opportunity and access.


Headshot of Deb Harris Richardson

Deb Harris Richardson

Recipient of the 2023 Leadership Service Medal

Deb is a solutions oriented non-profit leader who uses she/her pronouns. She grew up in Philadelphia and spent her early adult years studying and working in New York City, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Adelphi University. She has professional education and experience in human resources/organizational development, business law applications, human services advocacy, health and wellness practices, and servant leadership. Deb Harris Richardson currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Shirley T. Frye YWCA Greensboro after serving in various organizational roles for the past 20 years.

Ms. Richardson has been engaged in building a stronger Greensboro community through participation in arts, maternal/women’s rights, and homelessness advocacy spaces. She has served on the Boards of the Renaissance Community Co-Operative, Guilford County Continuum of Care Homelessness Taskforce, Triad Coaching Connection, and The Choral Arts Collection. She is a past Program Chair for Leadership Greensboro and continues to serve with Greensboro Chamber of Commerce initiatives. Deb has earned credentials from Blessing White-Managing Professional Growth; Allstate Foundation Non-Profit Leadership Center Management Essentials; and the North Carolina Non-Profit Leadership Institute.

Richardson was married for 32 years to Jeffrey Richardson, who left his earthly existence in 2023. They raised an incredible daughter and have a wild four-legged son.

She fervently believes that human beings deserve every opportunity to live full and richly supported lives and will continue to reach for the connectivity to support that optimism.


Headshot of Alisha Wielfaert

Alisha Wielfaert

Recipient of the 2023 Leadership Connector Medal

Alisha Wielfaert is a life coach and an expert facilitator skilled in the art of gathering women for meaningful connection and deep dives into spirituality and creativity.

She is the founder of Yoke and Abundance, a platform committed to amplifying the emerging voices of women through her wise women podcast, press publishing arm, and individual and group coaching programs.  Her first book, the best-seller, “Little Failures: Learning to Build Resilience Through Everyday Setbacks, Challenges, and Obstacles,” was published in May of 2022.  Alisha is working on her second book, Little Rituals.

Alisha is also a 200 and 300-hour registered yoga instructor who’s been teaching and practicing yoga for over 15 years.  Alisha is also an illustrative watercolor artist, traveler, writer, and speaker who enjoys working with anyone with a propensity to take action toward their dreams.

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