JL Turner is the founder and longtime Chief Executive Office of the Dollar General Corporation.  One of our nation’s most rapidly growing companies with nearly 14,000 locations in 45 states, this product-mix driven chain of discount stores is often recognized for having had a founder and CEO with only a third grade education who was not functionally literate.  And while many have heard of JL Turner and know of his story, many do not know Mr. Turner was best known for two aspects of his life:

  1. He and his company have been, for nearly two decades, the largest contributor to literacy education for children and adults nationwide.
  2. Mr. Turner attributes all his success to the good people who work for him from his literacy foundation to his individual store stockers and cashiers.

Many people know the owner, manager, founder, or CEO of an organization or company, yet all too frequently their foundational supporters, their grassroots, go unrecognized.  With so much publicity recently surrounding the Miss America Organization and the senior levels of her management, I wanted to take a little time while unwinding here in Atlantic City to express my deepest appreciation to the grassroots of my home organization, the Miss North Carolina Organization.  I have many times mentioned how proud I am to be the representative of 48 young women who shared in my Miss North Carolina dream, however; for all 49 of us, there was a profound and spirited grassroots effort of unsung or under-sung heroes who made our collaborative dream tangible.

Before continuing I will say I am very proud of the way my state organization makes conscious and significant efforts to recognize their local volunteers.  I appreciate that very much from my state leadership.  Nevertheless, as Miss North Carolina, one who proudly represents the product of their labors with whom I shared the dream, tonight I am thinking of those who made it possible.  There are nearly 1000 local volunteers serving in different capacities across the Tar heel state.  I am blessed to be in a position where, as Miss North Carolina, I will meet many I have not yet met throughout my journey.  That being said, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our local volunteers for all they do.

Collectively, our volunteers secure the local competitions leading up to the shared dreams of each class.  They are led by a very distinguished group of persons in North Carolina; our local competition Executive Directors.  In thanking them, please know this appreciation is extended to all their committees, sponsors, and patrons contributing to the final product of 49 young women gracing the Miss North Carolina stage.  Pardon the sidebars…many of these men and women have made significant contributions to me personally and I cannot help but to let them know in this forum how grateful I am.

  • Jeff Jones & John Vance – Miss Asheville, Blue Ridge, & Western Carolina Competitions
  • Deanna Barnhardt & Brittany Sides – Miss Cabarrus County
  • Sarah Bowman – Miss Campbell Univeristy
  • John Norris – Miss Capital City, Clayton, Cleveland
  • Patsy Wainright & Paige Wainright – Miss Central Carolina & Miss Thomasville
  • Michael McGough – Miss Belmont, Charlotte, Mecklenburg County
  • Dawn Glover – Miss Dunn
  • Courtney Brown & Danny Kennedy – Miss Duplin County (Congratulations of your first year local competition)
  • Heather McManus – Miss Fayetteville
  • Harold Garner – Miss Garner (Perhaps the only local competition Executive Director to have me as a titleholder who never did through his tireless efforts to oversee the Miss North Carolina Golf Classic.  Thank you, Harold, for producing this largely successful event to procure funds for our scholarship fund, the North Carolina Educational Scholarship Fund.)
  • Delores Cox – Miss Gaston County, Gastonia, Mount Holly
  • Shirley Proctor – Miss Goldsboro
  • Jan Spivey & Kaye Fritz – Miss Greater Carolina, Greater Sandhills, Moore County
  • Angela Martin – Miss Greater Sampson County
  • Shannon Rinko – Miss Hampstead
  • Peggy Roark – Miss Henderson
  • Travis Green & Stella Todd – Miss High Point (It was a pleasure for me to serve as judge two consecutive years at your Debry Contest to raise funds for the Triad Health Project.  Also, Travis, thank you for both of my amazing garden party hats during my Miss North Carolina competition years.  I felt like a million dollars in your amazing creations.)
  • Kathy Hunt & Cora Godwin – Miss Johnston County
  • Debra Norkett – Miss Metrolina & Miss Queen City (Ms. Deb and committee…thank you for supporting me this year as my local title, Miss Metrolina, all the way to becoming Miss North Carolina. Ms. Deb, thank you, I love you. Of note, I must also thank Mr. Tony Howard and Mrs. Elaine White of the committee for their support.  Lastly, but certainly not least, Mrs. Brenda Wells.  Thank you and Julie for your constant love.)
  • Heather Kaylor – Miss Mountain Glory
  • Jordan Gallagher & Brittany Speights – Miss Piedmont
  • Jenny Parks & Amanda Varner – Miss Randolph County (I only hope to have made you as proud as I was to represent Randolph County.  I am forever grateful to you both, the committee, and the Kiwanis Club of Asheboro for being such a wonderful system of support to me when I served as Miss Randolph County 2017.  There is something very magical about Randolph County and that magic glows in you both.  My Miss North Carolina journey began at Asheboro High School. Randolph County has much to be proud of; one thing in particular is the quality local competition produced there.  You two are the embodiment of all that is positive in the Miss America Organization…thank you!)
  • Kylie Smith – Miss Rose Hill
  • Danyel Phelps – Miss Carolina Foothills & Miss Shelby (My appreciation to both you and Austin for the perfect rehearsal outfits this week.  I will wear them proudly knowing they were not simply sponsored, but given from the hearts of volunteers.)
  • Sabrina Reeves & Wayne Edwards – Miss Spivey’s Corner
  • Starla Whitley – Miss Stanly County
  • Ryan Pegarsch – Miss Statesville (Filling the shoes of the late Danny Davis is an awesome responsibility.  Thank you for taking it so seriously and for having me as a speaker at the Statesville Women’s Leadership Conference.  Furthermore, thank you for sending me my roommate, Alyssa, during competition week.  I would not have made it without her.)
  • Mandy Anderson Ille – Miss Wilmington
  • Tony Long & David Bray – Miss Wilson (Congratulations of your first year local competition)
  • Tracy Alford & Franklin Finch – Miss Zebulon (Congratulations of your first year local competition)

JL Turner knew the success of Dollar General was in the hands of his consumer-facing, grassroots associates.  I am so appreciative of the Miss North Carolina Organization’s grassroots and all of the Miss America Organization’s grassroot volunteers.  While the CEO is certainly important, we are who we are because of the foundation that supports him or her.  As 51 of us live the first 2.0 experience, I remind you all how important you are to the future of the organization.  Your service, spirit, and voice are important; vital even. Please remember, if not for your voluntary efforts, we could not have this dream.  Let’s be united nationwide in an effort to be strong and present following JL Turner’s principles for the Dollar General Corporation…organization-wide appreciation and commitment to education.