SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - From Livingstone College: Alvena "Al" Heggins, the newly-elected and first African-American female mayor of the City of Salisbury, will be the keynote speaker at Livingstone College's Conferral of Degrees, to be held Friday at Varick Auditorium.
A former dean and associate vice president at Livingstone College, Heggins was the highest vote-getter for Salisbury City Council in the November election, becoming the first African-American female elected to council. On Dec. 5, the newly sworn-in City Council elected her as mayor.
The Rowan County native is leading the most diverse council in the history of Salisbury with a Jewish mayor pro tem and an openly gay councilwoman, referring to council meetings as "the people's meeting."
Heggins is founder and owner of the Human Praxis Institute (HPI), a human relations firm based in Salisbury. HPI helps organizations and communities create and sustain inclusive and welcoming environments.
She has developed a three-tiered system in which participants build awareness, design an action plan and implement the plan. Through her work with HPI, Heggins consulted with Guilford County Schools, the City of Salisbury and the Paul Lawrence Dunbar Group, as well as with Welcoming America on the nationally released publication, "America Needs All of Us: A Toolkit for Talking About Bias, Race and Change."
Heggins also teaches ESL (English as a Second Language) at Rowan Cabarrus Community College. A 19-year veteran of the U.S. Army, she is fluent in Spanish.
In 2013, she was selected by President Barack Obama as a White House Champion of Change for exemplary municipal work for integrating immigrant and non-immigrant communities into Greater High Point.
While working in High Point, Heggins led the city's Human Relations Office in the advancement of human and civil rights, supporting and developing fair housing training and programming, civic engagement and diversity workshops.
Heggins is married to Isaac Heggins, and is the mother of six children and has two grandchildren.Heggins earned a master's degree in education/TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) with an emphasis on linguistics and culture from UNC-Charlotte, as well as a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in public relations. ?
Her personal motto is, "Discover your service purpose to humankind and occupy that space fully."
"It is our distinct pleasure that Mayor Heggins has agreed to address our students for several reasons: She is a history maker; she is a paradigm for excellence and defying the odds, which are tenets of Livingstone College; and she is a former employee," said Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., Livingstone College president. "We are extremely proud of her accomplishments and are grateful for her steadfast support of Livingstone College."
"I'm sure our students can expect to be motivated and inspired to pursue a life defined by purpose and service to others," Jenkins added.
Livingstone's first winter commencement was held in 2014. About 50 students are expected to graduate Friday at the program, which begins at 10 a.m. The public is invited.
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