2012 Richmond History Makers Honorees

Creating Quality Educational Opportunities

John C. Purnell, Jr.
Retired Executive Director, FRIENDS Association for Children

“John’s unwavering belief that every child has a future worth affirming inspired supporters and staff to create one of the most respected nonprofit providers of early childhood education and family services in the area” William J. Irvin, FRIENDS Association for Children Board Trustee

John C. Purnell, Jr. is the retired executive director of FRIENDS Association for Children where he created quality educational opportunities for over 40 years. The Association provides high quality educational programs, a reflection of Purnell’s belief that every child has a bright future. Purnell was instrumental in enhancing academic programs, which also provide basic computer skills, along with adding music and performing arts programs. As programs expanded under his leadership, children succeeded both academically and socially, resulting in a strong sense of community and the establishment of family support services.

Demonstrating Innovative Solutions

Dr. Charles Price
Sierra Club/ConservAlliance

“Dr. Price richly deserves recognition as a Richmond History Maker for his brilliant and innovative solutions for the long-term protection and improvement of Richmond’s parks that will be lauded for generations to come” Jane Hotchkiss, nominator

Dr. Charles Price has been providing innovative solutions in Richmond for over 14 years by protecting Richmond’s parks and establishing new ones.  His efforts began when there was a proposal to develop and sell Bandy Field, near the University of Richmond. Price used lobbying and a city ordinance to protect the park, and his activism continued to establish and protect other natural areas as official public parks. His leadership gathered over a dozen conservation and parks support groups to assist in these efforts that ultimately led to the permanent “Deed of Conservation Easement” on the James River Park System, the first in Virginia to place a major urban park under conservation easement.

Encouraging Regional Collaboration

Kelly King Horne, Executive Director

“Thanks to Homeward’s regional leadership, solutions-orientation, data-driven decision-making, the Richmond region understands that homelessness is solvable—that we can address this crisis differently, more compassionately, and more efficiently” Wally Stettinius, nominator

Homeward has built and facilitated a regional coalition that fights to end homelessness by acting as a convener, building a network of services that provides the practical and political will to make the prevention of homelessness a reality. Their national model enhances community services, improves stability, quality of life and program efficiency for Richmond’s homeless residents. Homeward’s collaboration with over 35 non-profits and four local governments has resulted in concrete results, such as a 10% decrease in homelessness in the region. For over 14 years Homeward’s collaborative approach has “connected passion and solution” and has been instrumental in changing the region’s outlook and response to homelessness.

Improving Social Justice

Dominic Gibbons Barrett
Shalom Farms

“Dominic is driven by a lifelong passion for social justice and a desire to find sustainable ways to empower communities. His work reflects a belief that solving our problems requires grassroots community-based work as well as public policy and advocacy efforts.” Dr. Leonard Morrow, nominator

Dominic Gibbons Barrett is the Director of United Methodist Urban Ministries and its Shalom Farms initiative. Shalom Farms works to increase access to healthy food by providing fresh produce to low income neighborhoods.  They also educate the community on the benefits of growing, selling, eating and sharing healthy sustainable food. Barrett has been recognized by Bread for the World as one of 75 “Hunger Justice Leaders” from across the country and collaborates on a variety of projects to improve the food system locally and regionally. Under his leadership Shalom Farms has grown dramatically, while outside of work other area organizations including the YWCA, Richmond Public Schools, and Big Brothers Big Sisters have benefited from his passion for social justice.

Promoting Stronger Communities

Ralph White
James River Park System

“For over 32 years Ralph has become synonymous with the Park system, defining its use through demonstration, writings, walks, talks; adding parcels and trails to its purview, through use if not procurement; insuring its conservation through easement creating the greatest treasure and promise our city has ever known.”  Tricia Pearsall, nominator

Ralph White is the manager and naturalist behind what many consider to be one of Richmond’s most important assets and “crown jewel”, the James River Park System. White has been promoting the development of this system for over 32 years, transforming it into a nationally recognized system of trails, providing educational opportunities, community enjoyment and a venue for several high profile events. Under his vision and leadership, a once lacking urban park system has become an environment that not only allows the community to engage with each other and nature, but provides a vast and diverse amount of outdoor opportunities for all residents, resulting in a sense community ownership.