District Award Winners
District 1: James Proctor
James C. Proctor has been a Republican Party volunteer and office holder for over 40 years, beginning way back in 1978, and attending all but four state conventions since 1983. As a young man, James was a National Committeeman for the North Carolina Federation of Young Republicans. He then served as assistant general counsel to the Party, and spent the better part of the last 20 years as a county chairman, reliably promoting the values of the Republican Party. Over these decades James has made calls, put out signs, knocked on doors, and worked the booth at fall festivals countless times. The NCGOP is proud to induct James Proctor, of District 1, into the 2021 Hall of Fame!
District 2: Richard "Dick" Hilliard
Richard ‘Dick’ Hilliard recipient has served the Wake County GOP for decades. Over that time Dick has provided exceptional meritorious service to Wake County and the Republican Party while serving in multiple key critical leadership positions. Starting off as a Block Captain in the 70s, he went on to serve as a Precinct Chair for 30 years, served Wake County GOP as a Region Chair, and also servied as Vice President of the Raleigh Republican Club. In his current role, as Wake GOP Finance Chair, with the odds stacked against him, Dick has raised more than $150,000 in Wake County since March of this year. Congratulations, Dick!
District 3: Senator Norman W. Sanderson
Senator Norman Sanderson got his start in Republican politics in 2007, serving as the Chairman of the Pamlico County Republican Party. Since then, he’s served in progressively more impactful roles, serving constituents of his community for one term as a member of the N.C. House and being elected - and re-elected many times - to the N.C. Senate where he currently serves with distinction. Senator Sanderson works tirelessly, day-in and day-out, not as a politician but as a true public servant for the people of North Carolina, giving himself fully to the conservative cause. From serving the Party as a County Chairman to the State Legislature, he has represented the Republican Party with honor and dignity.
Known in the legislature for his integrity, commitment to his constituents, and his devotion to our future liberty, Senator Norman Sanderson understands the great deal of responsibility that is inherited with public service. Congratulations, Senator Sanderson!
District 4: Evelyn Poole-Kober
Evelyn Poole-Kober is a shining example of a dedicated Republican volunteer. Gaining initial experience on Capitol Hill in the 70s, she has spent the last 40+ years committing herself to grassroots organization, spending countless hours on campaigns, walking precincts, working the phones and running county headquarters. It was the latter role in which Evelyn stepped up to deal with a vile act of vandalism - the firebombing of a county GOP headquarters in 2016 that drew national attention. As she has done throughout her years of service, she stood tall on Republican principles in the face of such intimidation, handling media inquiries in the aftermath of that attack. From Republican Women Clubs, to the NCGOP executive committee, Evelyn Poole-Kober has been a model volunteer deserving of recognition for many years.
Plus, she also bakes the best cakes for District 4's Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner auction! Congratulations Evelyn!
District 5: Jack Simms
Jack Simms is the epitome of servant leadership. From Town Council to County Chair to District Chair, he’s been an advocate for the principles of the Republican Party without personal ambition. In a testament to his character, Jack doesn’t look at any task as beneath him. In 2020, he traveled thousands of miles to help the counties of the Fifth District to have the resources they needed to achieve victory for Republicans. His colleagues and peers describe him, simply, as the Best of the Best. Congratulations, Jack!
District 6: Celeste Stanley
Celeste Stanley has been actively involved in Republican politics for over 45 years! She has held just about every non-elected office in the Party and the Republican Women's Club. After spending more than two decades volunteering for the Republican cause in South Carolina, Celeste made the good move to North Carolina in 1998 and wasted no time at all in working to elect Republicans in this state, working in local, state, and federal campaigns in North Carolina. She has recruited volunteers, made phone calls, knocked on doors and worked the polls. As well as working tirelessly on chairing events and raising vitally important funds at all levels. A former recipient of the Robert Rector Award, Celeste Stanley has been unstinting in giving her time and treasure for the betterment of the Republican Party and Republican Women, and we are proud to recognize her decades of dedication. Congratulations, Celeste!
District 7: Allie Ray McCullen
When Sampson County locals think of a Republican, Allie Ray McCullen is always the first to come to mind. He began registering Republican voters as a young man, walking door to door before he was even eligible to vote. His father instilled the values of our Party in him early in life, and he has carried on in building a legacy of promoting Republican values ever since. A highly respected local businessman, active in real estate and farming, Mr. McCullen embodies the kind of work ethic we all admire. He started farming when he was just 13, and still lives on the family farm 45 years later. He’s built a successful local business. Yet as demanding as that is, over the years he has offered himself in public service in everything from community banking, to local healthcare, to education. Allie Ray McCullen’s knowledge and leadership have been instrumental in electing local Republican officials for decades. Congratulations, Allie Ray!
District 8: Representative John Szoka
N.C. House Reprentative John Szoka is a Retired Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Army - Always Forward! He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a degree in Engineering, but he didn’t stop there. He went on to earn a graduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin in Operations Research leading to a career as a critical thinker. In 2012, he took that mindset to the North Carolina General Assembly to shape and promote common sense tax and economic policies. Rep. Szoka hit the ground running with that forward momentum instilled in him by the U.S. Army, sponsoring and passing tax cuts for families and businesses in his very first term! Ever since, John has offered himself in service to this district and this state, advancing Republican policies that leave more money in citizens’ pockets and lending his scientific mind to ensure North Carolina enjoys affordable, reliable energy. Congratulations, Representative John Szoka!
District 9: Dr. Phillip Stephens
Dr. Phillip Stephens is a former winner of the NCGOP’s Robert Rector award, currently serves as a member of the NC Election Integrity Committee and is current vice chair of Robeson County GOP. Dr. Stephens is also a 7-time former Chairman of the Robeson County GOP and during this tenure he helped reverse a powerful Democrat hold, as no Republican had ever won elections there. Under his leadership, Democrat voter registration shifted from over 90% to 52%, trending Republican at twice the state rate. In 2010, the district elected their first Republican North Carolina House member and county commissioner, followed by the election of the first Republican State Senator from the area. All in a county the NCGOP felt it would never win. That is quite the feat, and Dr. Phillip Stephens commitment to service and Republican values, no matter the challenge, continues today. Congratulations, Dr. Stephens!
District 10: Rhonda Waugh
Rhonda Waugh has worked tirelessly furthering the goals and ideals of the Republican party through hard work and grassroots organization. She’s been active for more than 20 years, serving in nearly all capacities over that time. From serving as vice chair of the Iredell County Republican Women, to serving the GOP County Board as Chair, Vice Chair, Head of Finance, and currently serving on the 10th District Board. Rhonda Waugh is the glue that holds it all together for the 10th District. Congratulations, Rhonda!
District 11: Ted and Pat Carr
Ted and Pat Carr came to Haywood County over 20 years ago and became entrenched in the community soon thereafter. From serving as First Responders at the fire department, officers leading community organizations, to school bus drivers, church supporters, and of course, active participants in the Republican Party - these two have been getting things done where it counts most for over two decades! They are superstar volunteers, always offering themselves as poll workers, electioneers, and recruiters. Their dedication and hard work was a huge part of flipping the county commission to Republicans for the first time since Reconstruction, and - we all know how important this is - ushering in Republican majorities to the Haywood County School Board! The Carrs believe in clearly articulating the conservative message to win over new voters, and serve as models for Republican volunteerism. Congratulations, Ted and Pat!
District 12: Melisa Taylor
Melisa Taylor has served in numerous roles for the Mecklenburg County GOP, from poll observer to finance chair. Throughout, she has demonstrated her commitment to our party at the local, statewide, and national levels. If ever there was weakness, Melisa added strength - from grassroots involvement, voter integrity, financial compliance, and election accountability. Ever since living through the 2000 election in Florida, she has had a passion for the importance of election integrity, and after moving to North Carolina in 2004 she bagan volunteering for Republican candidates at the local, state and federal level. As a Republican Chief Judge at Early Voting Locations she worked to ensure only properly registered voters were allowed to vote and her unwavering dedication to accountability is admirable. Congratulations, Melisa!
District 13: Representative Dennis Riddell
Representative Dennis Riddell currently serves in the North Carolina General Assembly, but his grassroots activism and commitment to upholding the principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution started more than 50 years ago, volunteering for Ronald Reagan’s 1966 gubernatorial campaign. Ever since then, Rep. Riddell committed himself to advocating for the cause of liberty, tirelessly working for numerous candidates at local, state, and federal levels. As a former high school history teacher he has extensive knowledge of our nation’s founding, the Constitution, and that which undergirds the American idea. So genuine is his passion for limited government by the people and for the people, that many of his former students have been inspired themselves to become informed, engaged citizens and--in many cases--public servants and/or grassroots activists.
After decades of helping elect Republicans up and down the ballot, Dennis himself was elected to the NC House in 2013. There he serves North Carolina with distinction as Chairman of the General Government Appropriations and Regulatory Reform Committees, Vice Chairman of Appropriations, and various committee memberships. Rep. Dennis Riddell is known as a thoughtful warrior who does not hesitate to advocate for the conservative values we hold dear. Congratulations Rep. Riddell!
Statewide Award Winners
J. E. Broyhill Award: Clarence Henderson
As a member of the “Greensboro Four” Woolworth Sit In movement, Clarence Henderson is truly an example of Living History. He cleared the way for what would become the fall of Democrat Jim Crow laws in the South and over 50 years later was recognized by President Trump for his courage and leadership during a monumental moment in America’s recognition of Civil Rights. Clarence Henderson literally took his life in his hands to stand up for equal treatment for all American Citizens, and continues that fight today. Clarence Henderson embodies the determination and values WE as Americans and Republicans champion!
Charles R. Jonas Award: Senator Thom Tillis
Senator Thom Tillis is a husband, father, and grandfather. He has served as PTA President, Town Commissioner, N.C. House Member, Speaker of the N.C. House, and U.S. Senator and spearheaded historic tax and regulatory reform that made North Carolina a model for other states. Senator Tillis also led the fight for voter ID, always keeps our veterans front of mind, and continues to fight to protect the unborn and our 2nd amendment rights. And let’s not forget, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee he was instrumental in confirming three Supreme Court Justices during the Trump administration!
He is a quintessential leader that gets things done, taking care to not make the perfect the enemy of the good, and getting results for the people of North Carolina.
John P. East Memorial Award: Representative Ruth Samuelson
Ruth Samuelson represented her south Charlotte House district for four terms after her 2006 election. She rose steadily through the ranks, her conservative voice resonating even as legislators from both parties praised her gift for negotiating. She became Republican Conference leader and chair of the Banking and Environment committees. She was a primary crafter of the Voter ID bill. She was adamantly pro-life and made no apologies for it.
She was a strong contender to become the first female Speaker of the House when she decided in 2013 not to seek re-election. Just as she felt called to politics, Ruth felt called to come home, to be closer to their four grown children and their families, and to her aging parents. Months later she received the diagnosis of stage 4 ovarian cancer. She was only 57 when she passed away. May God Bless her soul. Ruth Samuelson was the epitome of a principled Republican Woman. Her contributions to the State of North Carolina went beyond the Republican Party and the General Assembly. She acted on her beliefs and, till this day, remains a role model to Republicans who want to make our communities, state and country a better place.