Golden LEAF Board Spotlight: Lawrence Davenport

Name: Lawrence Davenport
City of Residence: Greenville, NC
County of Residence: Pitt
Employment: J.P. Davenport and Son, Inc.
Appointed by: Speaker of the House
Appointment Date: December 1999
Golden LEAF Board Leadership Roles: Board Chair (2001-2002); Treasurer (2008-2010 and 2014-2015); Secretary (2010- 2013); Programs Chair (2012- 2015)

What are other activities or leadership roles do you provide for the community?

I have served on the Boards of several organizations including the N.C. State Board of Trustees and Tobacco Growers Association, as well as the Pitt County Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees (now Vidant Health) since 1989. I now serve in an emeritus capacity to Vidant Health. I received the N.C. State Watauga Medal in 1996, the highest nonacademic award given by N.C. State.

What is your connection to rural, tobacco-dependent or economically distressed areas?

As a lifelong resident of Pitt County and a 4th generation tobacco farmer, I live rural and  tobacco-dependent. I grow tobacco and other crops as well as have a seed and fertilizer business. I understand what rural, tobacco-dependent means, the culture, and the economics of it.

How does your personal and/or professional life complement Golden LEAF’s mission and priorities?

Board members have to understand what tobacco-dependent and rural means in order to really understand what we are doing with the mission of the Golden LEAF Foundation. There is a deep-rooted culture and unique issues that affect the economy in rural North Carolina. I interpret the mission of Golden LEAF as giving rural North Carolina communities a chance to play on a level playing field with urban North Carolina communities.

What are you most excited about seeing happen in economic development in rural NC in the next 5-10 years?

It is all about technology. Now that technology is bringing everyone together, you do not have to live where you are working. Technology will allow people to move back home to rural North Carolina which will enable our small towns to start growing again. If they grow then health care gets better, education gets better, tourism gets better, and rural North Carolina grows. 

What do you want people to know about the Golden LEAF Foundation?

I don’t think that the creators of the Foundation would have dreamt it being as successful as it is now. From day one, we have had a board that supported the mission. Golden LEAF has awarded more than $1 billion to support projects over twenty years and still has significant  assets because the Board was able to guide the growth of the Foundation. Golden LEAF has also had great leadership from Bill Friday, Valeria Lee, Dan Gerlach, and now with Scott Hamilton. I am proud to have been a part of this Board from the very beginning.

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