BJ Murphy, right, with wife Jessica Murphy at the annual YP gala
by Wesley Brown
B.J. Murphy is more than a “figurehead” or a “ribbon-cutter,” and he is definitely not a “joiner,” someone who signs up for organizations just for the sake of promoting their name or agenda.
The Kinston mayor is also a “doer” on a mission to find a voice for the young people of the community, said Becky Hines, head of the six-person selection committee casted by the Kinston-Lenoir Chamber of Commerce to crown the 2011 Young Professional of the Year.
“He is a goal-setter who keeps pursuing his dreams even when he hits a roadblock or two,” said Hines, past chair of the Young Professionals of Lenoir County, the organization that sponsors the yearly distinction.
Now, the 30-year-old is at the top of his class.
The group of community activists between the ages of 21 and 39 charged with bringing youthful leadership and spirit to the area announced Murphy at its yearly gala Thursday as the winner of its third annual Young Professional of the Year award.
“It’s his time. He deserves this,” Hines said of Murphy, whose determination to propel the area’s younger generation forward, both at work and in the community, earned him the organization’s highest honor.
At its end of the year banquet Thursday night, the group also announced the winner of its Forever Young award — LCC President Brantley Briley.
Patrick Holmes, editor and publisher of The Free Press, recognized the winners of this year’s “20 Under 40” award, a distinction the newspaper has bestowed on 20 Lenoir, Greene and Jones County citizens each year since 2008, to the night’s events.
None of the people recognized for each honor has to be a member of the organization.
Nominations for all three honors are submitted by friends, family or co-workers and the awards are given out to civic leaders, educators, businesspeople, elected officials, law enforcement personnel and others under age 40 who are making significant contributions to the community.
Hines said the impact of Murphy’s volunteer work and community involvement helped him beat a handful of candidates nominated to the selection committee by county residents for recognition.
The drive Briley, 58, has shown during his career — similar to Murphy’s, only over a larger audience and during a longer time frame — boosted him to the status of Forever Young, an award formerly known as the Young Professionals Mentor of the Year.
The honor represents an individual who not only supports the Young Professionals, but has provided insight to the group on how it can expand its reach in the community.
“This is in honor of his dedication and continued support to our organization,” current YPLC chair Molly Taylor said of Briley, one of the founders of the group. “Without him, we would not be here.”
Taylor said Briley helped begin the group four years ago in approaching the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce with an idea to create an avenue for young professionals to play a significant role in how the community functions.
The honor, sponsored by Southern Pharmacy Services and elected by the YPLC Advisory Board, had its name changed this year to embody how the group hopes to continue to emphasize its youthful presence in the community in the future.
The Young Professionals of the Year award is sponsored by the Allen Pearson Emergency Services Foundation, in honor of slain Lenoir County Sheriff’s Detective R. Allen Pearson Jr.
“He got the ball rolling,” Taylor said of Briley. “And for that, we are truly thankful.”
Wesley Brown can be reached at 252-559-1075 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘20 under 40,’
A group of civic leaders, educators, businesspeople, elected officials, law enforcement personnel and others under age 40 honored by The Free Press for making significant contributions to the community, include (in alphabetical order):
Scott Alston, Kinston
William J. Barss III, Kinston
Keith Hayes, Kinston
Frances Herring, Kinston
Dana Hill, Snow Hill
Danielle Howell, La Grange
Gary Ipock, Kinston
Ryan Killinger, Kinston
Benjamin Knight, Deep Run
Tamiko Loftin, La Grange
Michael Parker, Pollocksville
Drew Ramsey, Snow Hill
Jeremy Rich, Kinston
Eric Rouse, Kinston
Michele Sasser, Kinston
Justin Stout, Kinston
Samara Sutton-Taft, Kinston
Tara K. Taylor, Kinston
Mary Crews Whaley, Kinston
Brian Wiggins, Kinston
Note: Profiles of the Class of 2011 will appears in a special ‘20 Under 40’ section in the Sunday, Dec. 18, edition of The Free Press.