Women to Watch Awards Finalists- Public Sector
Meet the 2022 finalists
Diversity and Equity Outreach Coordinator,
NHC Office of Diversity and Equity
Although only working in New Hanover County’s Office of Diversity and Equity since last year, Marimer McKenzie has surpassed expectations. McKenzie helped hundreds of area Latinos receive COVID testing and vaccines, aided families on the verge of homelessness, and translated hundreds of documents for the county to help provide info to the community. She works with Church World Services to open a refugee resettlement office in New Hanover County and has helped displaced families of the Wilmington Housing Authority get furniture and supplies. Her latest efforts include working with the state to organize an Embassy Day in New Hanover County. “During the next year, I would like to continue to promote language access in our community,” McKenzie says, “and continue to advocate and create more programs and resources for our marginalized communities here in New Hanover County.”
Marketing, Air Service Development, and PR Manager,
Wilmington International Airport
For the past six years, Erin McNally has led the airport’s communications through hurricanes, the pandemic, and natural disasters. She oversaw the rebranding of ILM. She has played a key role in air service development, assisting with cultivating relationships with existing and potential airlines. During McNally’s time at ILM, the airport has received two prestigious marketing and public relations awards, in addition to bringing in two new airlines and expanding its nonstop services. She co-led ILM’s United Way of the Cape Fear Area workplace giving campaign for six years and received its “Volunteer Award.” McNally co-developed ILM’s first Aviation Career Education Academy for middle-school students to spark an interest in aviation careers. She is a member of the North Carolina Airports Association and sits on the air service development; and marketing, communications, and customer experience committees for Airports Council International-North America trade association.
Oak Island Police Department
Jennifer Price is going into her eighth year in law enforcement, the majority of that time being road patrol for the Oak Island department. “I’d have to say the thing I enjoy the most about my work is the outcome of some of our struggling citizens that were addicted to some type of street drug and have turned their life around,” she says. “The best feeling in the world with that is when they approach you and thank you for helping them change their way of thinking and lifestyle from this awful drug world. A simple ‘thank you’ from whomever I encounter is what keeps me going in this profession.” Price became interested in her career as a police officer after seeing her sister, Jasmin Fuller, work in law enforcement. “Ever since then, it’s been an interest of mine, which I have come to realize it is a calling for me,” Price says. “Being a law enforcement officer is more than just helping, it’s building a strong relationship with the citizens so the city will run more smoothly for us all.”
Virtual Service Outreach Coordinator (former),
NHC Senior Resource Center
Until recently Racheal Prosise served as New Hanover County’s first program coordinator dedicated to virtual services for the older adult population (and one of the first in the state). Prosise focused on developing innovative solutions to the digital inequities facing New Hanover County and surrounding areas. In the role, her goal was to develop, create, and implement virtual programming opportunities to decrease the digital divide among older adults and provide more opportunities for learning and socialization. “My work on the Senior Resource Center’s Facebook page has helped increase the center’s overall participant numbers in dramatic size,” she says. “The Facebook page increases in followers by an average of thirty new seniors a month, which has pushed the total followers over 1,100.” Other notable achievements for Prosise at the center were acquiring a one-year license program with AARP to provide free technology classes at the senior resource center, virtual exercise programs, and live-streaming options for older adults.
NHC Sheriff’s Office
As a part of the multi-disciplinary team at The Carousel Center, Detective Sydni Starnes will stop at almost nothing to ensure child victims and their families are taken care of and served properly. Having always wanted to work in the criminal justice field, Starnes found her niche working in the field of crimes against children two years ago. “I experienced my own trauma as a child and was fortunate that I had outside resources that worked with me through that trauma. I attribute my success to these people and my hope is to be that person for someone else,” she says. She is very proud that in some cases she is even able to remain in contact with the victims and see firsthand that they don’t allow these incidents to define who they are, but instead work through them and thrive. For the future, Starnes plans on remaining in her position alongside The Carousel Center, Child Protective Services, and the District Attorney’s office to ensure children are getting the assistance they may need.
To view the Women to Watch Awards Finalists main page, click here.
To view more of photographer Madeline Gray’s work, go to madelinegrayphoto.com.
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