11. Frank Gilliam
The public reception for Frank Gilliam, the newly appointed chancellor at UNCG, in May drew dignitaries like US Rep. Alma Adams and former Greensboro mayor Jim Melvin. Considering the autocratic and opaque leadership style of his predecessor, Linda Brady, Gilliam’s arrival was greeted by faculty as a chance for a new start. Gilliam took the job after serving as dean of the school of public affairs at UCLA. Since his first day on the job in September, Gilliam has focused mostly on familiarizing himself with the university’s bureaucracy and student culture.
12. Eric Robert
The downtown Greensboro property owner doesn’t just belong on this list because he purchased a building at the corner of Lewis and South Elm streets this year, with costly renovations already underway, but that’s part of it. More notably, Eric Robert is currently suing the city, with a deposition of Mayor Nancy Vaughan happening in secret this November after a contentious deposition in late October. The outcome of the suit, which revolves around the mill Robert owns a couple blocks from his new property, is yet to be determined.
13. Wayne Scott
What a year for Wayne Scott. In March, Scott was named chief of the Greensboro Police Department, where he had served as deputy chief. He was selected over Danielle Outlaw, who at the time served as a deputy police chief in Oakland, Calif. Later in 2015, after the publication of an article highlighting the department’s practices in the New York Times (see item No. 57), Scott decided to temporarily suspend vehicle stops due to vehicle equipment infractions, a bold move that some critics say does not go far enough but that the TCB editorial staff applauded as a first step.
14. Bernie Sanders, Dr. Ben Carson and Dr. Jill Stein
The contrast between the popular appeal of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who drew an overflow crowd at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center in September, and Green Party hopeful Dr. Jill Stein, who attracted about 40 people as part of a panel discussion at Guilford College in November, could hardly be sharper. Republican presidential Candidate Dr. Ben Carson also visited the Triad in 2015, with a stop at Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem in late September.
15. Jack Bonney
The Greensboro music scene lost a key player in November when Jack Bonney packed up his belongings and moved to Durham to help run the new Carolina Soul record store. Since arriving from Baltimore 18 years ago, Bonney played a seminal if unheralded role in the Triad music scene, managing the UNCG campus radio station, spending time at WSNC, promoting concerts, DJ-ing parties and selling vinyl.
16. Paul Lowe
Winston-Salem got a new state senator in February when the Forsyth County Democrats selected the Rev. Paul Lowe to replace Earline Parmon, who resigned to handle constituent services for US Rep. Alma Adams. Lowe, who serves as pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church, has a long track record of community leadership, taking a position against the marriage amendment in 2012 and speaking out against the county’s handling of the tax revaluation in 2013, among other highlights.
17. Aldona Wos
Dr. Aldona Wos came to prominence by raising funds for various Republican causes and candidates in her Greensboro home, riding her connections to become President George W. Bush’s ambassador to Estonia and later, in 2012, the head of Gov. Pat McCrory’s Department. of Health & Human Services. She resigned in August, about six weeks before the subpoenas came down from a grand jury investigation into hiring practices, compensation and no-bid contracts within the department. No indictments yet, but Thomas Walker, US Attorney for the Eastern District where the investigation began, stepped down last week.
18. Nathan Wilson
As evidence that justice is rarely perfect, the Guilford County District Attorney dropped a murder charge and released a 42-year-old High Point black man named Nathan Wilson in February after he was held for more than a year. The police had built their case around statements by two career criminals who cooperated in exchange for leniency and by many accounts weren’t even at the scene of the crime. The district attorney ultimately decided to free Wilson based on DNA evidence that returned from the state lab with inconclusive results. In many ways, the case illustrates how lack of trust between the black community and the police undermines justice: More than 100 people were present at the nightclub where the murder occurred, and not one of them saw fit to give a statement to the police.
Winston-Salem native and piano-pop notable Ben Folds performed in Winston-Salem for the first time in more than a decade. The guy who cut his teeth with Evan Olson in Majosha took the stage this time with the Piedmont Wind Symphony in December.
20. Tony Wilkins
The councilman’s hair went white during the summer months when he was defending Senate Bill 36, likely at the behest of the woman whose campaigns he’s managed. But his adamant position and allusions to “big daddy” didn’t cost him anything in the election. Running unopposed in District 5 gave him the green light to continue as the cantankerous conservative on city council, which apparently suits him just fine. Whispers of a state House run against Rep. John Blust turned out to be just that: wind.
21. April Parker
A primary voice of Greensboro’s Black Lives Matter movement and a principal in the Queer People of Color Collective had a big year, including an appearance on a February cover of TCB. With protest actions against police violence, in support of inclusion among the LGBT community and election work for Thessa Pickett in District 1, she escalated her presence for revolutionary causes. In November, as part of a city work-group convened to facilitate better relations among citizens and police, Parker called for the removal of the city manager and police chief, demonstrating that the next generation of activists is coming out swinging.
22. Tiger Woods
He didn’t win, but disgraced golfer Tiger Woods made a pretty strong showing during his first-ever appearance at the Wyndham Championship, Greensboro’s PGA event, coming into Day 4 at 13 under par and bringing in record crowds. But after a disastrous fourth round, including a triple bogey on the 11th hole, his season ended at Sedgefield.