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Urban League honors community leaders at NSU event

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The Urban League of Hampton Roads has named Mr. James Church, Ms. Sharon Durrette-Hunt, Dr. Ashby Kilgore, Dr. Avi Santo and Mr. Bruce Thompson as its 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Community Leader award winners.

The awardees will be honored at the Urban League’s 32nd Martin Luther King Community Leaders’ Breakfast Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, 7:30 a.m., at Norfolk State University’s Joseph G. Echols Memorial Hall. The breakfast, created to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., recognizes and presents awards to those dedicated to community service/volunteerism, education, employment, health and housing.

James Church is the General Manager of Priority Acura. Mr. Church is dedicated and committed to student excellence. He is a mentor in the Male Mentor Group at Coleman Place Elementary School in Norfolk. Further, he supports students throughout the educational process by offering internships and real world opportunities to learn. A former athlete, he directs much of time to utilizing sports to teach young men and women life lessons.

Sharon Durrette-Hunt, an Air Force veteran, is the founder and president of Enspyr, a business management consulting company. She has been instrumental in local fund raising events in support of youth, education and the homeless. Seeing a need to do more, she and her family prepare care kits for those without shelter providing food and personal items to restore dignity and hope. While writing her first book, “An Ordinary Opinion”, she served on the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast board of directors, and continues to be a force for change in her community.

Dr. Ashby Kilgore is the Superintendent on Newport News Public Schools. She has launched numerous initiatives to enhance academic opportunities for all students. Under her direction, more minority students are now enrolled in gifted education programs, advanced math and science course work, and high school Advanced Placement and honors courses. Her personal passion is evident as she tackles challenges to ensure quality education is provided to all students.

Dr. Avi Santo is the Executive Director of the Institute of the Humanities at Old Dominion University. He has been instrumental in promoting race relations awareness in the community. Dr. Santo conceived of a project that would focus on 100 years of African American creative resistance to stereotypes and misrepresentation in popular media. The project was one that encompassed an evening of music, dialog and the debut of a short film produced by the Old Dominion University film program.

Bruce Thompson is the Chief Executive Officer of Gold Key PHR Hotels and Resorts. He has several developments in the Oceanfront area. He was instrumental in building an Oceanfront playground for the disabled and helped organize the annual JT Walk to Defeat ALS, which raised more than $5 million.

Begun in 1984, the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Leaders’ awards are presented to individuals or groups who promote positive images, exemplify community service, demonstrate the values that model those of Dr. King and show evidence of the impact their contributions make in the lives of others. This Urban League of Hampton Roads signature event is also co-sponsored by Eastern Virginia Medical School, Old Dominion University and Tidewater Community College.

Individual tickets are $35 and sponsorships are still available. Visit or contact the Urban League at (757) 627-0864. For media inquiries, contact Bruce Williams at (757) 593-8562 or