Salisbury mayor to address students at Livingstone’s winter commencement
SALISBURY – Al Heggins, the African-American woman elected mayor of Salisbury, will be the keynote speaker at Livingstone College commencement 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 woman elected to the 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.
Heggins is founder and owner of the Human Praxis Institute, a human relations firm based in Salisbury that 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. Heggins has been a consultant for 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 English as a second language classes at Rowan Cabarrus Community College. A 19-year veteran of the 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 in 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. She has two grandchildren.
Heggins earned a master’s degree in education and teaching English as a second language with an emphasis on linguistics and culture from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, as well as a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in public relations.
“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 Livingstone President Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr. “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.