A Greenville woman recently was awarded the state’s top civilian honor in recognition of more than 30 years of public service and for her work in child development.
Lois Harrington, 60, was awarded The Order of the Longleaf Pine during a retirement reception July 13 in Williamston after 34 years with the N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education. She steps down on Aug. 1 as a regional program manager with the division’s regulatory management team, overseeing a team of four supervisors and 30 consultants in the eastern part of the state.
She was nominated for the honor by her assistant director, fellow program managers and the supervisors under her leadership for “exemplary community service that demonstrates a significant impact in improving a local community.”
Through the years, Harrington demonstrated exceptional leadership, built important relationships with DCDEE partners and elevated her team’s performance by increasing staff education and improving the morale, he nomination said. “She believed whole-heartedly that enhancing the skills of her staff would create safer, healthier, higher-quality child care environments for North Carolina’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens — our children.”
Harrington is a product of west Greenville and a 1979 graduate of J.H. Rose High School. While attending East Carolina University, in the early 1980s, she worked in tobacco fields to pay for tuition that wasn’t covered by grants and scholarships. She earned a degree in child development and family relations and a minor in social welfare in 1983.
She worked as a lead teacher in child care centers and as an assistant director at another. During her time as a preschool teacher at Pitt Community College Preschool Lab, she volunteered as a Guardian ad Litem in Pitt County and worked part-time as a therapeutic recreation assistant at Pitt County Memorial Hospital.
While working as a child care consultant at DCDEE, she taught in the Early Childhood Education Department at Pitt Community College. She was twice nominated for the Excellence in Teaching Award and won the award in 1997-98.
In June 1998, Harington completed the United Way of Pitt County/Project Blueprint. The leadership development program trains participants for placement on local boards and committees. Since then, she has served organizations including REAL Crisis Intervention, Child Care Options, Martin/Pitt Partnership for Children, Early Childhood Education PCC Advisory Board, United Christian College Board of Trustees and Integrating Healthy Opportunities for Play and Eating (I-HOPE).
She was recently nominated to serve as the co-chair for the DCDEE Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.
She was honored at a retirement celebration at the TeleCenter/Martin County Economic Development Corporation in Williamston, NC by her colleagues, family and friends. In addition to the Long Leaf Pine award, she received a certificate of retirement signed by Dr. Mandy Cohen and Gov. Roy Cooper.
Harrington said she is looking forward to retirement. She plans to travel, spend time with her family and friends, give back through volunteering, and enjoy lazy days. She says, although her pace may change, her advocacy will never change for children.