Debra Watkins serves as a member of the MLK Corporation Board of Directors. She has been involved with the MLK Banquet planning committee for nine years representing the William & Ida Friday Conference Center, an attendee for over thirty years and an official board member for a year.
As Director of the Friday Conference Center, Debra and her team of event specialists, technicians and operations staff partner with the planning committee to produce an inspired and widely impactful event. They provide extensive planning and care for months leading up to the banquet to ensure the evening is one to remember. The Friday Conference Center is proud to be the host of this annual program and joyfully welcomes community members of Orange County and the University of North Carolina to come together and share in the celebration and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The MLK Banquet raises scholarship funds for high school students in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Orange County and UNC students who work to improve the quality of life for everyone in the community. Each year, the Corporation also honors citizens in “recognition of enduring service to humanity by word and by deed” through the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Citizenship Awards. As a Board member, Debra is committed to the development and promotion of activities that commemorate the birthday and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She is honored to serve on the Board and will work extensively to support and strengthen this prestigious event.
In Debra’s pursuit of equality and justice, which is the cornerstone of MLK’s political activities, she advocates for social change through her membership in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Area Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Central University School of Business Hospitality and Tourism Administration program. Since 2012, Debra has established an internship program that provides work experience and employment opportunities for students at NCCU. She has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Inter-Faith Council and the Orange County Habitat for Humanity whose primary mission is to provide assistance to under-served communities. In 2011, Debra was the recipient of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Diversity Award and received the Hometown Hero Award from Modern Woodmen of America in 2019.
Debra is a graduate of NCCU School of Business. She is married to Gary Watkins and they have two daughters; Lakecha, an alumna of NCCU School of Nursing and Princetta, who received her BA in Political Science from Spelman College, and three grandsons; Princeton, Preston and Alan.
Debra lives a life devoted to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and is guided by his quote: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” is what she lives by and will one day be her legacy.