2008 Harvey E. Beech Outstanding Alumna Award
Lori Ann Harris ’84
When Lori Ann Harris ’84 was a senior at UNC, she chaired the Carolina Union’s social committee, a position she thoroughly enjoyed because it let her interact with a wide range of students. Her impulse to connect people with one another is one of the consistent themes of her life. Another is community service.
“I believe in giving back in all areas of my life,” she says. As an undergraduate and a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, she helped organize and plan health fairs. On the Pan-Hellenic Council, she forged deeper bonds among all the sisterhoods on campus, black and white. She took part in a panel of students, faculty and staff who met regularly to discuss campus race relations.
For her exemplary undergraduate service, she was inducted into the Order of the Old Well. And when she graduated with a degree in public policy, she kept right on serving. Grateful for the world-class education she had received and eager to stay connected with the college friends she cherished, she immediately got involved in the Black Alumni Reunion.
She kept up that involvement even as she pursued certification in policy skills at Harvard and a master’s in public policy at the University of Michigan. She remained involved even as she embarked on a demanding career in public policy and politics. Over the years, as she served the BAR and UNC in numerous ways, Lori Ann’s professionalism, positive attitude and pride in being an alumna have been inspiring, says Bernadine Cobb ’84. And her involvement with BAR committees has helped attract other volunteers, community support and the involvement of several legislative dignitaries. Lori Ann has also long served with a group of alumni who advance the University’s agenda with the state legislature.
Lori Ann worked for the likes of Terry Sanford, Dan Blue and Harvey Gantt and led the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus Foundation before joining the Sanford Holshouser Government Relations Group. She now represents business and nonprofit clients with her own firm and is considered a heavyweight in Raleigh’s lobbying circuit. Convincing legislators to support the mission and goals of your clients takes both skill and heart — and Lori Ann has plenty of both.
Lori Ann displays her strong desire to help other people both in her work and beyond it. She has consistently found time to remain involved with her church and with a long list of business, charitable and political organizations. One area of particular concern to her has been the disparities that exist in our society, and in 2004, the Old North State Medical Society recognized her for her work to address disparities in health and health care. Recently, she has poured that same dedication and care into restoring a historic home in her native Greensboro, helping to bring back the once-proud Southside neighborhood there.
“Her strong character is represented in all that she does,” says Judge Regina Newell Stephens ’84, who has known Lori Ann for 30 years. “She has held fast to her beliefs and her dedication to the community. She has worked very hard to leave a mark on the world with her good works.”
Lori Ann’s commitment to service seems to run in the family. Her brother Kelvin Harris ’82 received a Harvey Beech Award in 2001, and they’re now the only brother-sister pair to earn this honor. As Bernadine Cobb puts it, Lori Ann exemplifies and embodies the qualities and characteristics that define an outstanding alumnus. And as Regina Stephens says, it honors the BAR to have her among our award recipients.