Larkins Award

Photo of Dr. John Larkins in 1977 (left) and photo of Dr. John Larkins with former Governor Terry Sanford and scholar Hugh V. Brown (right).

April Parker of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, was the recipient of the 2021 John R. Larkins Award. The presentation was part of the annual State Employees’ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance Program.

Other 2021 nominees for the Larkins Award included:

  • Corey Alford, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Ashley Bizzell, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Joal Broun, Department of the Secretary of State
  • Cherlyene Bruton, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dr. Shaunda Cooper, Department of Public Instruction
  • Tonia Cutchin, North Carolina Judicial Branch
  • Clay Fielding, Department of Public Safety
  • James Fuller, Department of Transportation
  • Elizabeth Harrington, Department of Public Safety
  • Jedediah Harris, Department of Public Safety
  • Rhonda Hendricks, Department of Public Safety
  • Miroslava “Myra” Hernandez, Department of Commerce
  • Lisa Johnson-Tonkins, North Carolina Judicial Branch
  • Omeshanda Kirksey-Green, Department of Transportation
  • Steve McKinney, Department of Public Safety
  • Thomas Nevels, Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
  • Olive Ratley, Department of Public Safety
  • Michael “Mike” Reese, Department of Transportation
  • David Sellers, Department of Transportation
  • Dr. Sarah Sexton, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dr. Hina Sharma, Durham Public Schools
  • Kwame Stringfield, Department of Health and Human Services


Dr. John Larkins

Dr. John Larkins

Dr. Larkins was born December 24, 1913, in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he attended public school and graduated from Williston High School. Under the National Youth Administration Program, Larkins attended Shaw University and later earned his M.A. at Atlanta University’s School of Social Work and his Doctorate at Columbia University’s School of Social Work.

After early jobs paving roads and working in the garment industry in New York City, Dr. Larkins returned to North Carolina, to serve as a welfare worker in Warren County. In 1942, he became a consultant for the North Carolina Department of Public Welfare (now the Department of Health and Human Services) until 1962 when he became the Department Coordinator. Dr. Larkins went on to serve as the Associate Director of the State Probation Commission from 1963 to 1973; as the Director of Youth Development at the Department of Corrections in 1973-74; and as Special Assistant to the Governor on Minority Affairs from 1977 until his death in 1980.

Dr. Larkins’ contributions extended beyond the workplace. He authored a collection of articles that explore race, community, leadership, and sociology. He taught part-time at St. Augustine’s College and Shaw University, and served in several sociological associations. Throughout his life and career, Dr. Larkins received numerous honors for his efforts to make our state and nation stronger through better human and race relations. Dr. Larkins’ legacy in North Carolina is one of hope, trust, hard work, and dedication. He believed in his fellow people and committed his life to improving our communities.

The Award and Nomination Process

The Award and Nomination Process

John Rodman Larkins Award was established in 1998 to recognize human service, and it is presented annually at the North Carolina State Employees’ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Observance Program.

You are invited to nominate state employees who reflect Dr. Larkins’ commitment to equality and justice in the workplace and his dedication to improving conditions in local communities through volunteerism and community service. Nominations must be submitted by Monday, Dec. 28, 2020.

To be considered for the John Rodman Larkins Award, submit the online nomination form and provide a detailed description of how the nominee has improved human and race relations in the workplace, and how the nominee has contributed to local communities through volunteerism and community service. The winner is selected by a panel of state employees.

For questions, please contact:

Sheryl Waters
Deputy Director for Constituent Services
Office of the Governor