2022 Winston-Salem Legacy Awards honor women of color in our community

2022 Winston-Salem Legacy Awards honor women of color in our community
November 17
14:15 2022

The 2022 Winston-Salem Legacy Awards Gala was back in full swing this past Saturday, Nov. 12, serving as Winston-Salem’s highest honor for women of color, sponsored by the Legacy Foundation for Women. This yearly award gala highlights and recognizes women who are leaving a legacy in their local community. 

It was the organization’s first in-person gala since the COVID-19 pandemic and Winston-Salem was ready to welcome its return. The event brought out the city’s most prestigious community members and hundreds of attendees including past recipients, to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of women of color. 

Women of color have long played a vital role in the history of Winston-Salem. Often the accomplishments of women go unnoticed and unrecognized. For some years, the Legacy Foundation for Women has served as an organization that is dedicated to telling the stories and recognizing pioneering, trailblazing women of color who are leaving a legacy in the community. Minister Alicia M. Bailey, founder and CEO, says “Our organization prides itself on never letting the legacy be erased and we are grateful to have partners and supporters alongside our effort in awarding this high honor to women of color.”  

This year’s Legacy Awards recipients include: 

*Legacy Recipient in Business: Carmen Russell has been a trailblazer in mortuary services in the city of Winston-Salem, along with her family, since 1978. She inherited the passion for mortuary services and continued the legacy from both her parents, Carl H. Russell Sr. and Florrie M. Russell, who began Russell Funeral Services in 1939. Today Carmen is the funeral director and treasurer of Russell Funeral Home Service, a thriving business in the community, alongside her family. 

*Legacy Recipient in Medical Science: Dr. Jaleema Speaks is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology at Novant Health and has served in the field of medicine for many years. She specializes in pregnancy and prenatal care.  

*Legacy Recipient in Media/Journalism: Wanda Starke is a celebrated news anchor for WXII 12 News who recently retired after 43 years in journalism. Wanda has spent her life working as a journalist at several news outlets. She served as co-anchor on the 6 p.m. news and produced prime time specials. She was also the producer of the well-known weekly segment, “A Place to Call Home.” 

*Legacy Recipient in Education: Janet Atkinson is an educator in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools where she has served for more than 35 years. Jan began her career in the WSFCS in 1983 as a teacher. She served as principal of the Downtown School, where she retired in 2017. She was named Principal of the Year and the Downtown Middle School building was dedicated in her honor. 

*Legacy Recipient in Cultural Arts/Entertainment: Cheryl Harry is a cultural curator whose mission is engaging the community in the preservation and celebration of Black heritage. She is the founding director of Triad Cultural Arts, Inc., an organization dedicated to presenting programming that contributes to a culturally competent community.  Their signature event is the annual Juneteenth Celebration. 

*Legacy Recipient in Philanthropy/Community Service: Robin Paul is co-founder of the Chris Paul Family Foundation, alongside her husband and family. The Paul Family epitomizes what the word family means.  As co-founder of the foundation, Robin oversees the day-to-day operations. The foundation’s goals are to positively impact individuals and families by leveling the playing field in education, sports, and life. They provide resources that enrich and strengthen the healthy development of strong communities. 

*Legacy Recipient in Politics: Barbara Burke is Councilmember for the North Ward of Winston-Salem. She serves our city through the lens of an educator of more than 30 years. She is a former Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools administrator and teacher. During her tenure as councilmember of the North Ward, she has dedicated her time to fighting for equity and equality. 

*Legacy Recipient in Criminal Justice: Judge Denise Hartsfield is a retired Forsyth County District Court Judge who was elected to the district court bench five times. While on the bench, she presided over all district courts with specialized jurisdiction in juvenile court and bond forfeiture court. She has spent her legal career listening to litigants and hearing the voices of citizens in both civil and criminal courts. 

*Legacy Recipient in Sports/Athletics: AD Etienne Thomas is the athletic director for Winston-Salem State University. Etienne has nearly two decades of experience as an athletics administrator. In her role she uses her leadership and experience to meet the university’s strategic goals related to athletics. 

*Legacy Recipient in Ministry/Religion: Dr. Cynthia Dixon is the founder and CEO of Cynthia Dixon Ministries, Inc. where she hosts empowerments to equip the body of Christ through several ministries such as Faith Academy, Divine Moments of Inspiration, and more. Dr. Dixon was licensed and ordained at First Waughtown Baptist Church, where she has served over 27 years under leadership of Dr. Dennis Bishop, Senior Pastor.   

For more information on the Legacy Foundation for Women and its upcoming events and initiatives, please visit the website at

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