Originally published: Dec. 15, 2010, 5:43 p.m.
Updated: Dec. 17, 2010, 4:10 p.m.

The Charlotte Business Guild held their annual holiday “TOY” drive benefiting Time Out Youth and presented this year’s Don King Awards on Dec. 16 at Uptown’s Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.

Charlotte Business Guild President Renae Elam presents Morgan Fogarty with the Don King Bridge Builder Award.

Two individuals and a non-profit group received the annual awards, which recognize community members, businesses or organizations whose works embody the legacy of longtime Charlotte LGBT leader Don King. Community leader Burt Woodard, FOX Charlotte reporter and anchor Morgan Fogarty and Time Out Youth were this year’s recipients.

A native of Pennsylvania, Fogarty came to Charlotte’s FOX affiliate in 2005. When she first moved to Charlotte, she says, many of her preconceived notions about the South quickly faded away.

“When I moved here I was pleasantly surprised how a lot of these perceptions of what the South is don’t ring true,” Fogarty says. Yet, there are many issues she thinks still need improvement, especially when it comes to government accountability.

“This is a really unusual place, in that when you bring an issue to local government…anything that is unfavorable or doesn’t paint them in the most positive light, the first reaction is stick stick their heads in the sand and ignore it,” she says. “There’s not a lot of transparency, although everybody talks about transparency and about communicating with the public. It’s very difficult sometimes from a media point-of-view to really get answers.”

In Fogarty’s time here, her coverage of several LGBT social and political issues has brought important discussion of equality and progress to the forefront of city life. Her ability to report thoroughly, fairly and with sensitivity has earned her this year’s Don King Bridge Builder Award. She says her management at FOX Charlotte has pushed for such fairness and balance.

“One of the things I’ve admired about my boss here is that he instills in his employees that our job in media to be the watchdog of government, to tell compelling stories and to be a voice for the voiceless,” she says, adding she often gets teased by colleagues for her often-long and in-depth news reports.

“A lot of times important information, relevant information or information that provides context, history and background is cut from a story because of time and that’s it,” she says. “When you lose that, it doesn’t make the story inaccurate but it can alter the way it is received. I fight really hard to make sure that when I have a story on a sensitive nature, something dealing with the LGBT community, that it is thorough and complete and if that means it takes an extra 30 seconds, so be it.”

Like Fogarty, this year’s Don King individual award winner also works in media. Bert Woodard has used his public relations skills to assist various LGBT community groups for nearly a decade.

In 2002, Woodard became a member of Charlotte’s LGBT running group, FrontRunners. Commuting to and from Charlotte and Winston-Salem for work each day, he also joined Greensboro’s Triad Business Guild and the Charlotte Business Guild. Later, Woodard became a Guild board member and officer. He says he’s most proud of he and Kelley Doherty’s efforts to strengthen and diversify the Charlotte Guild’s membership.

“I’d it heard [Charlotte’s group] was very small, almost all older men,” Woodard recalls. “I thought Charlotte needed to have a good one and about the same time, Kelley Doherty got involved. She and I both worked very hard along with other people, to build membership.”

Woodard says the result of those efforts were positive. Membership increased from about 30 in 2002 to a peak of 250 by 2007.

“That was a lot of hard work and a lot of fun,” he says. “We’ve continued to work very hard both in programming and membership outreach to diversify in all areas. I wish our results were better in that but we have made strides.”

Woodard also recently became a member of the Lesbian & Gay Community Center Board of Trustees, though he came on board after the group received surprising move it’d have to move out of its first location on Central Ave. Working with the group since then, Woodard says the work of former chair Denise Palm-Beck might very well have saved the non-profit from turning into a “virtual center.”

“That location was great on Central Ave., obviously, but if it hadn’t have been for Denise it might have very well have been a virtual center,” Woodard says. “Some people might not think that is an entirely bad idea but I do. The center is such an important thing for this city.”

Woodard stresses the significance of Charlotte’s center as one of only a handful in the Southeast. He says the center is like the LGBT community’s “town hall,” and says it’s location at the N.C. Music Factory will make it an exciting place to be as the development continues to grow.

Both Woodard and Fogarty say they’re honored to have been chosen by community members for the Don King Awards. Each tells qnotes they’re humbled. Woodard, specifically, says he’s “touched” that his colleagues, peers, friends and fellow leaders opted to honor him.

“I have worked with the list and seen the list grow of Don King Award winners through the years,” Woodard says. “The people that came before me are just so talented and have done so much. You go back to the early days of that list, they were the real pioneers when it wasn’t as comfortable to be out as an LGBT leader, so I am so very honored to be added to that list.”

Time Out Youth, Charlotte’s LGBT youth services organization, was also be honored. Under the leadership of its current board and executive director, Steve Bentley, the organization has grown in both size and influence since its controversy over former CEO Janine Eustache in 2008. This year marks the first time Time Out Youth has won the award, through the group’s founder, Tonda Taylor, received a Don King Award in 2001.

The Guild’s “TOY” drive collected donations for Time Out Youth.

About the Don King Awards

Originally called the Community Service Recognition Award and presented in 1993 by the Charlotte Pride organizing committee, it was later announced the award would be named after its first recipient, Don King. The award has been presented by two other organizations since then: OutCharlotte and the Charlotte Business Guild.

In 1995, the award was expanded to be presented annually to both a female and male recipient. In 2005, the award was also presented annually to an LGBT-owned or LGBT-friendly business. Finally, in 2008, a straight ally award was also added to the growing rolls of annual honors. In its first year, the straight ally award was presented to three individuals.

1993 Don King
1994 David Ferebee
1995 Sue Henry, Dan Kirsch
1996 Sue DuChanois, John Quillin
1997 Kimberly Melton, Randy Votsch
1998 Diana Travis and founders of the Charlotte Gay & Lesbian Film Series
1999 Connie Vetter, David Lari
2000 The late Billie Rose, Phil Wells
2001 Tonda Taylor, Jeff Schmehl
2002 Susan Shackelford, the late Alan Rosenberg
2003 No awards
2004 Rev. Tonyia Rawls, Tom Warshauer
2005 Linda Breen, Shane Windmeyer, business winner Q-Notes
2006 LaWana Mayfield, Darryl Logsdon, Southern Estates
2007 Candice Whiteside, Curtis Tutt, The Charlotte Eagle
2008 Kelley Doherty and Debbie Warren (tie for female), Frank Kalian, Tyvola Design and straight allies Rev. Debbie Warren, Rev. Steve Shoemaker and Rabbi Judy Schindler
2009 Sabrena Grey, Scott Vitez, Denise Palm-Beck, Hartigan’s Irish Pub
2010 Bert Woodard, Morgan Fogarty, Time Out Youth

About Don King

Don King was one of the most vocal and visible LGBT activists in Charlotte during the 1980s. In 1981, he and another local activist founded Queen City Quordinators (QCQ), a type of parent organization to/coalition for several other LGBT organizations and activities. QCQ’s newsletter, “Queen City Notes,” would eventually grow into qnotes, established as a monthly print newspaper in June 1986. King, also an employee at the Charlotte Observer, served as qnotes‘ first editor from June 1986 to September 1987. In December 1986, King produced and aired “Gay/Lesbian Forum,” Charlotte’s first local cable show by and for LGBT citizens.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

2 replies on “Charlotte Guild awards community advocates, local news reporter”

  1. Is it time that an organization that serves the entire community takes over these awards..like the Community Center?

    I have difficultly supporting an organization that serves only the elite in the community.

  2. Many other are too, it seem that only the Elite/ fat cats get these hold and present these awards to whom they want. They don’t care for those beneath them.

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