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Founders' Day Program Set for Nov. 6; Whitehurst Is Guest Speaker

Old Dominion University will present awards for community service and entrepreneurship at the annual Founders' Day luncheon on Friday, Nov. 6. G. William Whitehurst, ODU's Kaufman Lecturer in Public Affairs, will be guest speaker.

The program, co-sponsored by Town-N-Gown, begins at noon in the Big Blue Room of the Ted Constant Convocation Center. In addition to the honorees, ODU alumni from the Class of 1959 will attend the luncheon to celebrate their 50th reunion. The Class of '59 is the first to celebrate a 50th reunion in the history of ODU.

Whitehurst, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969-87 before returning to ODU as the Kaufman Lecturer, will speak on the topic of "Then and Now." He previously taught history at the Norfolk Division, ODU's forerunner, and Old Dominion College from 1950-68 and served as dean of student affairs from 1963-68.

The following awards will be presented during the program:

Mike Hughes, CEO of United Way of South Hampton Roads since 1992, will receive the Albert B. "Buck" Gornto Jr. Regional Service Award. He has worked with United Way organizations for more than 36 years in six communities, all in the Southeast.

During Hughes' tenure here, the United Way developed the Young Leaders Society, Women's Leadership Council and African American Leadership Giving Initiative, each an important and successful affinity group targeting specific philanthropic interests.

Along with United Way staff and volunteers, Hughes is involved in a special direct-service component of the organization, a community-wide program to improve the literacy skills of preschool-aged children through a program known as Raising a Reader. Hughes also was instrumental in establishing Project Inclusion, a 10-week minority leadership development program to enhance civic engagement, now entering its 14th year.

Hughes was one of the founding co-chairs of Leave-A-Legacy, Hampton Roads, and is a member of the Norfolk City Commission to End Homelessness. He volunteers with the twice annual Project Homeless Connect event at Scope, which offers important social and health services to area homeless individuals.

Hugh Copeland, the founder and artistic director of the Hurrah Players, a Hampton Roads theater troupe for young people, will receive the Rita M. Costello Town-N-Gown Community Service Award. Hurrah Players has been recognized by the Virginia Commission for the Arts as "Virginia's Leading Family Theatre Company," and in 2007 received the Tidewater Women's Ladies Choice Award for "Best Theatre Company."

While directing Norfolk Public Schools' citywide theater program, Copeland was voted Teacher of the Year in 1982 and the Jaycees' Young Educator of the Year in 1983. A speech and communication instructor at Old Dominion, he received the Distinguished Adjunct Faculty Award from the College of Arts and Letters in 1998 and 1999.

Copeland has performed and directed locally at the Cavalier Dinner Theatre, Norfolk Little Theatre, ODU's University Theatre, Riverview Playhouse, Virginia Beach Dome and the Pavilion Theatre. He was nominated for Best Director (musical) in the 2000 Port Folio Awards competition, and received the "Unsung Hero" Award for his work with "The Lost Colony" production in 2007.

Copeland has served on the city of Norfolk's Citizens' Youth Advisory Board and been nominated twice for the Virginia Governor's Award for the Arts. Recent honors include the Safe Harbor Award (2009) and an individual professional ALLI Award from the Cultural Alliance of Greater Hampton Roads (2008). In 2007, he was the first citizen to receive a Norfolk "Art Star" award for arts achievement.

The Old Dominion University Community Service Award will go to the Community Development Corporation (CDC), which the university established in March 2006. The purpose of the ODU CDC is to engage in a variety of activities primarily intended to revitalize the communities surrounding the campus, develop opportunities for residents, improve physical conditions of the neighborhoods, improve the lives of neighborhood residents and support ODU's community development interests.

Ann Grandy serves as executive director. A board of directors representing neighborhood residents, civic leagues, local churches, government officials, businesses and public schools provides oversight to the organization.

Activities undertaken by CDC include neighborhood planning; rehabilitation and construction of affordable housing; renovation and development of commercial and industrial properties; job training and job referrals for area residents; educational and recreational programs for youth; and serving as an advocacy partner for improved services and public-private investments in the neighborhoods.

The CDC plans to break ground soon on the 43rd Street Housing project, which will result in the construction of 51 townhouses in the Lambert's Point neighborhood. The affordable workforce housing will be marketed to entry-level employees who work for the city of Norfolk. The land was conveyed to the CDC by the city.

Yorktown native Jeffery Watson, the founder and CEO of Headgear Inc., will receive the Distinguished Entrepreneurial Award. A wholesale designer and marketer of young men's and juniors' apparel in the United States, he established the company in 1992. It carries a portfolio of brands such as Blac Label, Blac Label Pink, Blac Label Gunmetal, Antik Denim, Tavernit So, Y-Stone and Tru Ambition footwear.

Headgear's brands are sold through multiple retail channels, such as Nordstrom, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Sacks, Dillard's, Neiman Marcus and more than 2,000 specialty retailers. In 2008, Headgear Inc. was recognized as the most profitable apparel company in the country.

Watson purchased a 28-store retail chain in 2008 with stores in California, Florida and the mid-Atlantic area. Also that year, Headgear completed a joint venture with Blue Holdings Inc. Watson's companies employ more than 500 workers nationwide.

Headgear maintains offices in New York City and Los Angeles, and has its corporate office in Virginia Beach. It also has a growing international business, with products currently being sold in Canada, Japan and Europe.

This article was posted on: October 23, 2009

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