Michael F. Easley

The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina Dempsey Benton

North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services

For Release: IMMEDIATE
Date: January 18, 2008

  Contact: Sondra Artis,

Gov. Easley Announces 2008 Dr. John R. Larkins Award winner

RALEIGH – Gov. Mike Easley announced today that James Harris, Jr. of Raleigh received the 2008 John R. Larkins Award for contributions by a state employee to human and race relations in the workplace and community.  Harris is the Director of Standards Management at the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services’ Caswell Developmental Center in Kinston.  Harris also serves as an Equal Employment Opportunity representative and instructor at the facility. He received the award today at the 27th annual State Employees’ Martin Luther King Jr. Day Observance Program.

“James Harris has devoted his life, both professionally and personally, to improving race relations, promoting inclusion for people of all races and being a voice for citizens with disabilities and special needs,” Easley said. “North Carolinians can be proud that we have state employees who possess the wisdom, compassion and willingness to serve others.”

In 1997, Harris was instrumental in forming the North Carolina Guardianship Association (NCGA). That organization trains and supports court-appointed guardians for those who are not able to make sound personal and business decisions and who have no family members or friends to serve in that capacity.  NCGA, a private, nonprofit organization, is dedicated to promoting the protection, dignity, and value of persons through guardianship.

Harris is active in his community and church. He has served as a baseball coach for the Raleigh Boys Club, providing mentoring and supportive counseling to youth of all ages and races.  Harris is an usher and involved in health and men’s ministries at his church.

Caswell Developmental Center is a residential treatment facility for people with developmental disabilities. Established in 1911 and opened in 1914, the Caswell Center serves more than 400 residents with developmental disabilities and provides support services for people in the community.

The John R. Larkins Award was created in 1998 as one of North Carolina’s highest honors in public service. Larkins, who joined state government in 1942, helped create and expand the state’s programs for minorities, the poor and the disadvantaged, including establishment of the Good Neighbor Council, now known as the Human Relations Commission.



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Debbie Crane