Warren County native Charla Duncan, Granville County management analyst, recorded a double achievement last month as she received the Edwin M. Gill Award presented by the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, in addition to graduating from the UNC School of Government’s Municipal and County Administration Program.
The award, named in honor of Edwin M. Gill, who served as chairman of the Local Government Commission and state treasurer from 1953-76, is presented to the student with the most distinguished record in the course, based on input from classroom peers and professors, and course performance.
Duncan, the daughter of Charles and Sallye Duncan of the Macon area, is a 2004 Warren County High School graduate and Aubrey Lee Brooks scholar. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and taught at High Point Central High School in Guilford County, where she was named the school’s Rookie Teacher of the Year in 2009. In 2011, Duncan left her teaching position to attend New York University, where she earned a master’s degree in Public Administration.
She returned to Warren County in 2013, working as executive director of the Chamber of Commerce and becoming active with Warrenton nonprofit Working Landscapes.
In 2015, Duncan moved to Charlotte, where she taught high school and renewed her teaching certificate.
She returned to her home county the following year, when she also began working with Granville County government. There, she served as grants coordinator until she became management analyst in 2018.
Duncan was among 100 people in government positions across the state who participated in the six-month School of Government Municipal and County Administration Program, which focused on the legal framework and administrative requirements of North Carolina city and county government, and how city and county services are organized and provided. In addition, course students learned about the relationships between city and county departments, and how laws, programs and functions work toward achieving the mission of local government.
The course is designed for city and county managers, department heads and other city and county officials whose responsibilities require an understanding of functions beyond individual areas of specialization.
Duncan is grateful that the Municipal and County Administration Program allowed an opportunity to network with and learn from her peers from across the state.
She added that around 100 people attended the April 12 graduation ceremony to support those who had completed the course. Among them were several representatives of Granville County government, including County Manager Michael Felts and County Commission Chairman Zelodis Jay. However, Duncan said she did not know in advance that she had been selected for the Edwin M. Gill Award.
“I was honored, speechless when they called my name, and I got a little nervous,” she said. “There were 100 people (in the course) doing the work I do.”
As Duncan continues her work in Granville County, she is grateful for the opportunity to serve citizens in the region where she grew up, but also views her work as a challenge.
“I’m very excited and happy to be back in my home community and working for local government in our rural region, but it can be hard at times,” she said. “Winning this award, as well as taking the class, was a great reminder that I am part of a network of folks doing really great and important work for our communities across the state. That is an honor.”