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.

Brian James is the winner of the 2022 Denise E. Maleska Leadership Service Award, and the four winners of the Leadership Service Medal are Courtney Dabney, Steven Matthews, Skylar Mearing, and Jimmi Williams.

Chief Brian L. James

Winner of the 2022 Denise E. Maleska Leadership Service Award

Chief Brian James is a Greensboro native and grew up in the Woodmere Park community.  He is a graduate of Page High School and he holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from North Carolina A&T State University and a Master of Business Administration from Pfeiffer University. Chief James is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Administrative Officer’s Management program at North Carolina State University, the Senior Management Institute for Police at Boston University, Leadership Greensboro Class of 2015 and the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce Other Voices Program.

Chief Brian James served as the 23rd Chief of Police of the Greensboro Police Department joining the department in February of 1996. During his tenure,  Chief James implemented and changed a number of policies in the Greensboro Police Department to create greater public trust and accountability and implemented a summer jobs program for the youth of Greensboro and continually participated in multiple conversations to address issues affecting communities and policing.  Chief James also implemented the Behavioral Health Response Team to better address issues that challenge our citizens suffering from mental illness.  Chief James also advocated for and received additional access to mental health resources for first responders in the city of Greensboro.

During his life and career in Greensboro, Chief James served on the board of multiple organizations to include the United Way’s African American Leadership cabinet, the Malachi House, Greensboro Children’s Museum, Guilford Child Development, Communities in Schools and the Guilford Merchant’s Association.

After retiring from the Greensboro Police Department in 2022, Chief James accepted the position as Chief of Police for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  At UNC,  he is responsible for the safety and security of over 30,000 students and over 16,000 faculty, staff and visitors.
Chief James has been married to his wife Stacy for 23 years and they share three daughters and a grandson.

Courtney H. Dabney

Recipient of the 2022 Leadership Service Award

Courtney Hammond Dabney is a Greensboro native who takes pride in serving her local community.  She is small in stature, but big in personality and her love for Greensboro.   Courtney believes in making a difference and empowering those around her. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she currently serves as the Senior Director of Development for the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Courtney is a high energy, success driven fundraiser who is passionate about helping donors identify and reach their philanthropic goals.

She began her fundraising career at Children’s Home Society of NC on the Community Engagement team putting on signature events such as the Beach Music in the Park and the annual A Place to Call Home fundraiser.  As the Director of Development at NC A&T State University, she played a critical role in the $181 million dollar capital campaign including naming the Hairston College of Health and Human Sciences.  During her time at Wake Forest, Courtney led her team in raising more than $15 million.  Courtney is motivated by a challenge and understands the value of a great team.

Courtney is a 2015 graduate of Leadership Greensboro and subsequently served on the Advisory Council for LG.  She has volunteered with organizations such as the Women’s Resource Center, the Volunteer Center of Greensboro, and Black Child Development Institute of Greensboro.  She is also a member of the Greensboro Chapter of Jack and Jill of America.  In 2021, Courtney completed a DEI Certificate through the University of South Florida Muma College of Business.

Courtney has been married to her husband Marlin Dabney for 16 years and they have a 14-year-old daughter, Raegan McKenzie.  In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with her friends and family, exercising, and baking.

Steven Lee Matthews

Recipient of the 2022 Leadership Service Award

Steven Lee Matthews, the welterweight people’s champ of Greensboro, N.C., and a Greensboro native, served in 2003’s Iraqi Enduring Freedom War as a United States Army Chemical Operations Combat Veteran (2001–2004). Upon Steven’s return, he was promoted to a United States Army Sergeant at the young age of 19.

A proud father, community organizer, and visionary. In 2015, he founded Punch4Pounds KIDS, “developing today’s youth into tomorrow’s leaders through combat sports, the selfless service of mentoring, and the advocacy of healthy thinking.” Matthews took the core values of soldiering and began empowering the youth of Piedmont Triad, North Carolina.

Punch4Pounds interrupts gang and gun violence by engaging those most at-risk, meditating, and preventing retaliatory violence through an alternative conflict resolution module. Boxing is more than just a sport. This martial art promotes physical development, independence, and self-control in children. Boxing provides a means of character development and self-defense and demands physical and mental discipline. These are life skills that drive their motivation. Agility, quickness, balance, and hand-eye coordination; confidence through proper technique and mental strategy; de-escalation and less social anxiety; and a reduction in anger and stress while giving you a sense of accomplishment. Specifically, Matthews believes boxing is an untraditional way to deter negative thinking and action and a way to elicit character development, leadership, and the importance of community service, while the onsite facility offers tutoring, mentoring, and mental health services.

In addition, Matthews, a former member of the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, onsite facility location where Punch4Pounds KIDS partners with communities in the School of Greensboro, Guilford, and Forsyth County Public Schools, the NCDPI 21st CCLC Program, and NC Works as a service provider, allows Punch4Pounds to serve youth ages 4-24.

Matthews hosts a community awareness segment called “RingTalk” via Facebook Live with a variety of guests, including elected officials, mental health experts, and community leaders. With an authentic passion for the community and effort to remedy the recent spike in teen violence this summer, Matthews hosted the “Spar & STEM” clinic in partnership with Greater New Hope Baptist Church located in High Point, NC, most disenfranchised communities, providing service and bringing resources directly to its community and youth.

“I fought for my country, therefore I am obligated to fight for my community.” –Steven Matthews, CEO of Punch4PoundsKIDS and Punch4Pounds Inc.

Jimmi Williams 

Recipient of the 2022 Leadership Service Award

Professional Experience
1994-Present: Executive Director, Communities In Schools of Greater Greensboro, Inc.

Jimmi Williams has served as Executive Director of Communities In Schools since 1994. During his tenure, the organization has grown from one, full-time staff and 200 students at four schools to a staff of 15 serving an average of 2500 students at eleven schools. Projects added during this time include: Great Leaps Reading (reading remediation for students reading below grade level), 21st Century Scholars (helping at risk youth transition from high school to post-secondary school, employment and/or training), Success at School after school enrichment and the African-American Male Initiative.

With his leadership, the organization has established itself as an exemplary United Way member agency based on performance; has expanded its funding base; created an official relationship with Guilford County Schools; and, sharpened its focus to address four primary target groups:  youth reading below grade level; new ninth graders who demonstrate the need for additional support based on End of Grade tests and other indicators such as average daily attendance; youth living in homes transitioning from welfare to work; and, youth in need of after-school enrichment and care.

The organization is the recipient of the prestigious 2 Those Who Care Award as well as the Volunteer Center’s Outstanding Volunteer Program. It was one of the first commissioned as a certified member of the national Communities In Schools network, having passed the national qualities and standards review in 1998-1999.

Community Service
Advisory Council, YWCA Adolescent Parent Program (former)
Senior Resources of Guilford County
Kernodle Scholarship Committee (former)

Personal Information
Jimmi was born in Winston-Salem and raised in Kimberly Park projects. He was amongst the first group of black students in W-S to be bused to traditional white schools to achieve desegregation. He graduated from RJ Reynolds High School, and was identified by the W-S Urban League for a visiting student scholarship at Philips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH. In 1977, Jimmi graduated with a BA in American and Black American Studies from Amherst College in Amherst, MA.

He has two daughters, Paula Renee’ (26), and Scotti Nicole (23). They reside in Greensboro, NC and Tampa FL. Paula graduated UNCG in 2016, and Scotti is in her senior year at the University of South Florida.

Skylar Mearing

Recipient of the 2022 Leadership Service Award

Skylar Mearing is Vice President and Director of Marketing at Bank of Oak Ridge. She is a University of North Carolina at Greensboro graduate and a 2014 Leadership Greensboro alum. Skylar lives, works, and volunteers in Greensboro.

Skylar is a city-commissioner with the Greensboro Commission on the Status of Women, acting as an advisor to the Greensboro City Council on improving the lives of women in Greensboro. Skylar also sits on the UNCG Advisory Board for the Department of Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Hospitality & Tourism, providing guidance on department growth and priming college students for career success.

Skylar is a Triad Business Journal’s 40 Leaders Under Forty Award recipient for business leadership and achievement. She has also received the UNCG Bryan School Leadership & Achievement Award, as well as the UNCG Faculty Senate Award for Outstanding Achievement.
In her free time, you will find Skylar on the tennis and pickleball courts, and going on family adventures with her husband and rising kindergartner.

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