WINSTON-SALEM — Mount Airy Mayor Deborah Cochran was honored Thursday night by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of North Carolina, which presented her with a Women of Achievement Award.
The annual awards from the federation recognize the contributions of women in various professional roles across the state, although those in political positions typically aren’t included.
Cochran was deemed to be deserving of the honor for more than just her governmental service, however.
“She has just been such a phenomenal leader in Mount Airy and she has led with such grace that we needed to recognize her,” said Wendy Carriker, a Mount Airy resident who chairs the city school board.
Carriker also is the state president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and nominated Cochran for the award. It was presented Thursday night at the Women of Achievement Banquet at Twin Quarters Marriott in Winston-Salem, as part of the three-day 111th state convention of the federation.
The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is the oldest volunteer service organization in North Carolina with about 1,500 members in more than 150 clubs.
“And it’s not just her accomplishment of being mayor, but the many things she has been involved with in her lifetime,” Carriker added regarding Cochran. This has included serving with The Salvation Army for more than 30 years in multiple charitable capacities, and other efforts such as aiding hurricane victims in Florida.
A concern for laid-off workers prompted Cochran to seek public office for the first time in 2007 as a way to make a difference for local citizens, which led to her being elected as the at-large member of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners. At the mid-point of that service, in 2009, Cochran mounted a successful run for mayor and is completing her first four-year term in the office this year.
“It’s extremely humbling,” Cochran said of winning the Women of Achievement Award. The mayor conveyed her gratitude to Carriker for making it possible with the nomination. “I’m just so honored by her throwing out my name.”
“Any club member all across the state can nominate a leader from their community,” Carriker said. But those nominations must be approved by the general membership.
About 14 women among North Carolina’s 100 counties are award recipients this year. Previous winners from the political realm have included former Gov. Bev Perdue and state Rep. Sarah Stevens of Mount Airy, among others.
There was one drawback to Cochran’s receiving of the award, the fact that the banquet in Winston-Salem was being held at the same time as a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
“This is the first board meeting I’ve ever missed,” Cochran said, with the city’s mayor pro tem, Commissioner Steve Yokeley, pressed into service as her replacement. “I left it up to the city manager and the board members and they all wanted me to go.”
Cochran said that while a personal honor is involved, it also puts her city in a good light.
“It’s another way for Mount Airy to be recognized by the outside world.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.