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February is Black History Month. There has been a lot of talk about President Barack Obama, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and other distinguished African-American leaders.
Brunswick County has many prominent African-American leaders who have made their mark nationally and internationally, but none is more impressive than Shallotte native Ellis Stanley. He is the brother of Elroy, Elwood and Glen Stanley, and the son of Mae Bell and the late Lewis Stanley, who served as vice chairman of the Brunswick Community College Board of Trustees during the 1980s and early 1990s.
Ellis graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1973 with a degree in political science. He and his wife Iris have two successful sons, Ellis Jr. and Chris. Both graduated from North Carolina State University with degrees in computer science.
I first met Ellis in the early 1980s. He was confident and impressive then, and nothing has changed. He remains the same.
Ellis began his emergency service career in Brunswick County in 1975. I was told he is responsible for changing rural routes to streets in many parts of the county, which has made it easier for emergency services vehicles to find and identify homes and businesses in the area.
According to Ellis’s personal profile information listed on the DRI Institute for Continuity Management Web site (https://www.drii.org/about/staff/staff_stanley.html): After serving as Brunswick County Emergency Services director from 1975 to 1982, he moved to Durham and served as director of Durham County Emergency Services until 1987, then relocated to Atlanta, Ga., and served as director of Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency until 1997, the same year he became general manager of the City of Los Angeles, Department of Emergency Preparedness where he served until his retirement in 2007. He is now out of retirement serving with Dewberry LLC as director of emergency management at its West Coast office.
Ellis’s accomplishments are too numerous to list in this column, but some notable milestones deserve recognition. He helped with security management of the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, Ga., and the Republican National Convention in New Orleans in 1988 and assisted with security management of the 1994 World Cup games, which was hosted in nine cities.
He also oversaw Atlanta’s welcome of Nelson Mandela in 1995, led a group of professionals to China and Japan during an emergency management exchange program, conducted seminars in Trinidad and Tobago, and oversaw security management for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colo.
Ellis is considered one of the foremost emergency management professionals in America. He is nationally and internationally respected as having one of the best and brightest minds in the field of emergency and security management.
According to The Washington Post, he is a front-runner for the (FEMA) directorship position within the Obama administration.
Consideration for such a position is one the most distinguished achievements for any Brunswick County citizen. I salute Ellis Stanley for his dedication, his confidence and his persistence to excel to the top of his profession, and I express a debt of gratitude to his parents for guiding and nurturing one of Brunswick County’s most distinguished native sons.
Ellis needs to be added to the long list of African-Americans who somehow transcended and broke through barriers of race and class to leave an indelible mark on history.
Thanks again, Ellis, for your great contributions to the safety and the welfare of this great nation.
I recommend teachers and church workers who teach black history include Ellis, who being considered for the top FEMA position in the Obama administration; Emerson Fullwood, who recently retired as vice president of Xerox Corp.; and Wanda Bryant, who is now serving as a North Carolina appeals court judge, in black history lectures and presentations.
Each of the mentioned Brunswick County natives has major profile Web sites. Many others are worthy to be added to this list, but they are not mentioned at this time.