252Buzzworthy - Jermaine McNair Civic Leader

(Photo by Artiisan Photography)

Jermaine, 35, is a community organizer who says he "strives to be a valuable contributor in everything that makes Greenville a community."

He is Outreach Specialist for Pitt Community College, serves as the Mayor’s appointee to the Police Community Relations Committee for the City of Greenville, is a United Way of Pitt County Board Member, a 4th year student in East Carolina University's B.S. Sociology program, and Founding Director of the local nonprofit NC CIVIL.

He is the 2016 recipient of the Best-Irons Humanitarian Award, and a proud, active father of a 13-year-old daughter, Jantrel. He was born in Danbury, Conn., but moved to Greenville when he was young.

“I grew up in Greenville, in the sort of economically depressed neighborhoods that most of society works hard to avoid. There was very little presence of mainstream businesses and professionals, so to grow up and take part in that kind of environment meant that you would likely be involved in street hustling and other social ills that plagued it. I accepted this as the norm and never really questioned it until around age 28, after several felony convictions and a federal prison sentence. "Many of our young people today are still facing these realities and accepting it without question. When I work with young at-risk groups, my aim is to provide some clarity on the chaotic environments where they live, and to raise questions about the accepted norms there. I believe it is that questioning that may lead them to seek actionable answers in the same way my unsolved questions led me to an active role in my community.

"People often ask me what changed me?

"It's the same ‘me.’ I was always active in my community, as most troubled youth are. I was just only active in the day-to-day dysfunctions of a troubled neighborhood. I still seek to be active in my environment, but I finally found the courage and maturity to step into the larger society outside my neighborhood that had much more to offer. I find that with all its benefits, the larger mainstream world requires a great deal of honest questioning as well.”

2 things that inspire me:

1. History, because understanding what has happened and how it happened gives great power as to the greater things we can make happen.

2. Networking and meeting new people with different skills and passions always opens doors to greater collaboration and new possibilities.

5 things on my bucket list:

1. Earn my Phd

2. Open a school for urban arts

3. Write my first of many books

4. Take a year off and travel

5. See my daughter reach her milestones, college, business, etc.

2 reasons I like living in Greenville:

1. It's the center of eastern North Carolina, so it challenges us to be leaders in our area.

2. All the great people that are here to see, touch and talk to.