Friday Fellow of the Month: Deborah Dicks Maxwell
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Deborah Dicks Maxwell is currently the President of the New Hanover County NAACP and NC NAACP District Director for Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender Counties. She has served both roles for the past eight and six years respectively, working to improve the quality of life in Southeastern North Carolina for all citizens. Part of the mission statement of the NAACP includes”to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.” The collaboration and visibility of the NAACP has increased locally under her tenure. Deborah knows that equity in all areas is needed and this will assist in eliminating racial discrimination.
Deborah grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina where she has resided for over twenty-five years. She earned her Bachelor’s in Administration and Management from LaRoche University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and her Master’s in Social Work with a concentration in Health from East Carolina University. Deborah obtained her MSW because she began enjoying her volunteer work more than the retail management position she held. Deborah knew there had to be a better way to work and help people, so she decided on a career change, following in the path of her older sister. Prior to obtaining her degrees Deborah served in the United States Army and Army Reserves at various duty stations to include two years in Busan, Korea. She is a Desert Storm Veteran and attained the rank of Sergeant First Class. She was also a previous commander of the local NABVETS (National Association of Black Veterans) Chapter.
A recently retired public health social worker, Ms. Dicks Maxwell worked for over twenty-five years with children from birth to 5 years of age and their parents. Her goal was to link them with all available services including therapy, housing, child care or respite for an elderly relative. She was actively involved in numerous Boards to include Head Start, Local Interagency Coordinating Council (LICC), Community Child Protection Team (CCPT) plus Domestic Violence Shelter and Services. Her focus is the continuum of health in the life cycle, regardless of age. She chairs the Southeastern Regional Network of Care and Prevention meetings which focuses on HIV and AIDS.
She is a passionate advocate for children and positive health outcomes. Deborah strives to provide health information and education. She serves as an active member of the Health Ministry at her home church, St. Stephen AME in Wilmington. Her focus on the children of North Carolina has facilitated her serving as a Board member of NC Child, chairing the policy committee. For the past five years in April during Minority Health Month under Deborah’s leadership, the New Hanover County NAACP has hosted an annual health fair.
Increasing minority participation in environmental justice issues is another area of concern. Environmental issues led to her becoming a member of the Board of Cape Fear River Watch and the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters. Deborah and two of her friends established the Southeastern North Carolina Environmental Justice Coalition. When there is an environmental justice issue in their area, one or all of them coordinate working on the issue and empowering those impacted. Unfortunately, there are numerous environmental justice issues in their area, so they stay busy.
Social justice is always on her mind. Deborah was a Moral Monday arrestee exercising her right to be civilly disobedient to focus attention on the wrongs inflicted upon the citizens of North Carolina. Recently she participated in the planning and spoke at a local rally for Families and Children Together which focused on the wrongful separation of immigrant detainees from their children.
Her leadership training has included Focus on Leadership (FOL) and the Duke Health Disparities Fellowship. FOL was a local program that emphasized increasing minorities in leadership positions in Southeastern North Carolina. In the Fellowship Deborah worked on improving the nutritional education of preschoolers in rural Brunswick County establishing vegetable gardens at various local preschools including Headstart.
Voter education and registration is an ongoing, never ending pursuit of Deborah. Wherever she goes there are voter registration forms and information near by along with NAACP memberships. She is a firm believer in the fact that the power belongs to the people and constantly works to remind them that united they can change the educational, political and economic outcome of their lives with the voice of their vote.
Deborah is viewed as an advocate, mentor and link /connector throughout the local community and tri county area. She is a frequent presenter at events promoting social justice. People seek her advice constantly as they attempt to develop grants for non-profits, enhance community projects and establish better educational opportunities and protection for citizens. Deborah Dicks Maxwell remains on the beat fighting for social justice, environmental protection, education and healthy safe communities.
Each month a new Friday Fellow from the 2017-2019 class is featured. This is the ninth feature in the series. Find previous monthly features in our news archives here.