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NCACC President Brenda Howerton Hosts Summit as Part of Presidential Initiative, “100 Counties: Helping Our Children Thrive”

Greensboro, N.C. – This week, Brenda Howerton, President of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) and Durham County Commissioner, hosted the 100 Counties: Helping Our Children Thrive Summit. The event was part of her presidential initiative to identify ways for county government to make a positive impact in children’s lives.

“The journey to this summit began last fall, when we surveyed every county to identify best practices in programs and services that support our children.  The summit showcased some of the most innovative ways counties are addressing the needs of children.  I am thrilled that other counties were inspired by what they learned and are taking new ideas back to their community,” said President Howerton.

The two-day summit featured counties throughout the state that offer programs to help keep kids healthy and safe, provide mentoring, parental, and family support, address academic and workforce readiness, and promote youth civic engagement and leadership. Participants also heard presentations from various grant making organizations to learn about funding opportunities for projects that help children. 

The summit featured keynote speaker Noran Sanford, founder of Growing Change, and members of his youth Leadership Team, Terrence Smith and Derek Cummings, who discussed their “prison flip” initiative.  Growing Change is an organization that seeks to harness the potential of youth connected to the juvenile justice system by empowering them to lead community development projects. 

Growing Change has converted an abandoned state prison in Scotland County into a community garden, which allows the group to distribute healthy produce to needy families.  The organization has made numerous presentations to other states as well as national and international audiences interested in replicating its model.

Terrell “Tae” Brown, a first-generation college student, also delivered a keynote speech to share his personal story of resilience.  He explained how community mentors play an important role in buffering the effects of adverse childhood experiences and developing youth resilience.  He attributed his success, confidence, and leadership skills to the support he received from the Boys & Girls Club and other community organizations in Henderson County, where he grew up. 

In addition, the summit included a youth panel discussion and screening of the award-winning documentary,Resilience.  The film discusses new research that reveals how child abuse and stress can wreak havoc on the physical health of a child.  The summit concluded with a facilitated table top exercise for counties to design an action plan to improve their ability to address children’s needs.

The event agenda including program and speaker names is available at:  A short video featuring highlights from the summit is availablehere.

Editors: Print quality photos may be downloaded for use at:  Photos should be credited as follows: Photo courtesy Chris Baucom/NCACC.