WakeEd Partnership’s Annual


Celebrating Wake County’s Stars of Education

October 20, 2022


Raleigh Convention Center

Stars of Education


Stars of Education is WakeEd Partnership’s annual awards gala dinner to celebrate and honor those who have made lasting contributions to public schools in Wake County. The event is WakeEd’s largest fundraiser of the year, with proceeds going to support our mission and programs.

Since our founding in 1983, WakeEd Partnership has served in a unique position in the education space. We are an independent nonprofit committed to improving public education and advocating for excellent educational opportunities for all students. Through our business and community partners, we bring the best minds and ideas to the table to focus on excellence for Wake County students.

This year WakeEd will honor Ralph Capps, President & CEO, Wake County Boys & Girls Clubs with the Vernon Malone Friend of Education Award. Ralph is being honored for 50 years of leadership and service to the children of Wake County.

Additionally, seven outstanding Wake County educators, alumni, and community leaders will join the Wake County Public School System Hall of Fame. Each member of the Class of 2022 has has deeply impacted public education or the quality of life in North Carolina through the Arts, Athletics, Business, Community Service, Education or Entrepreneurship.

Stars of Education


Vernon Malone Friend of Education Award 

The Vernon Malone Friend of Education Award is given to someone who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to public education and shares the personal qualities of the late Senator Vernon Malone, who passed away in 2009. Learn More

Ralph Capps

President & CEO, Wake County Boys & Girls Clubs

After beginning his career in Chattanooga, Ralph moved to Raleigh in 1973 to become Executive Director of the Raleigh Boys Club. The Raleigh Boys Club had approximately 200 members and one building on Lane Street. Today, seven full-service clubs serve nearly 5,000 young people each year through the organization now known as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County. 

The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The clubs provide youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds a safe place to learn and grow, ongoing relationships with caring, adult professionals, life-enhancing programs, character development experiences, hope and opportunity.

WakeEd has been presenting this award since 1990 to an individual who has made significant contributions to our community and shares qualities of the late Senator Vernon Malone who advocated tirelessly for every child to have equitable opportunities. Recipients of this award set a high standard for selfless dedication— moving from words to deeds that have a lasting impact. Ralph Capps is being honored for his incredible 50+ years of leadership serving the children of Wake County.

Wake County Public School System Hall of Fame

The Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) Hall of Fame honors outstanding educators, alumni and community leaders who through their lives have either deeply impacted WCPSS or, as an alumnus, dramatically added to the quality of life in our city, state or nation. Learn More

Ariana DeBose


Raleigh native Ariana DeBose is an award-winning actress known for her varying roles onstage and in film and television. DeBose is best known for her groundbreaking performance in Steven Spielberg’s reimagining of WEST SIDE STORY, for which she received Oscar, BAFTA, Critics Choice, and SAG Awards for her star turning role as Anita. Her performance has received universal critical acclaim, with Variety calling her a “radiant force of nature”. In winning her Oscar, she became the first openly queer Afro Latina to win an Academy Award. In 2015, DeBose appeared alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda in the groundbreaking, Tony-winning musical Hamilton as a member of the original cast in both the Broadway and off-Broadway productions, as well as the Emmy Award winning film version. She is a graduate of Wake Forest – Rolesville High School.

James “Twiggy” Sanders


James “Twiggy” Sanders spent 17 years with the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters, touring with the basketball club from 1974 to 1991. Sanders played collegiate basketball at Johnson C. Smith where he was one of the leading scorers and rebounders in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). A graduate of then John W. Ligon High School in Raleigh, in recent years Twiggy has both coached and been a substitute teacher in Wake County Public Schools. 

Jim Hansen


James “Jim” M. Hansen, is the regional president of Eastern Carolina and Southeast territory executive for PNC Bank.  As senior regional territory executive, he is responsible for PNC’s business, implementing the company’s strategy and delivering the brand in the region. He also leads all sponsorship and philanthropic efforts for the region. In addition to his PNC Bank responsibilities, Hansen is actively engaged with North Carolina CEOs focused on increasing 3rd-grade reading proficiency. He is board chair of the North Carolina State University Board of Visitors and Vice-chair of the North Carolina Bankers Association.  He serves on the executive committee of the North Carolina Chamber and the Dix Park Conservancy.  

Caitlin Gooch

Community Service

Caitlin is an equestrian, mother of four, self-published author and the founder of Saddle Up And Read, a nonprofit program committed to encouraging youth literacy based in Wendell, NC. Caitlin Gooch is passionate about sharing her horses and experiences growing up with them. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from East Carolina University, where she was able to put academic context to the social cycle of systemic racial inequality. While working with youth in her community, Caitlin was exposed to the educational disparities plaguing communities of color and decided to take action, starting with the literacy gap. Leading with equestrian culture, her first passion, Caitlin uses her horses to incentivize reading, making it more fun! In addition to Saddle Up and Read, Caitlin is the co-leader of a 4-H horse club in Wake County, she is an advocate for equestrian helmet safety, and the host of North Carolina Public Radio’s (WUNC) newest podcast show, The Story Stables.

Peggy Barfield Churn


Peggy Barfield Churn was passionate about public education, and more specifically equity, diversity, and excellence in schools. She taught for many years in Wake County Public Schools (WCPSS) at Boylan, Frances Lacy, Douglas, Hunter, and Underwood Elementary Schools. She completed her Masters in Education at Duke University while she continued working full time and began serving in several leadership roles within WCPSS. Peggy was the first WCPSS Director of Magnet Programs and in that role, she became known as a champion and torch bearer for desegregation and equity in public education Peggy Barfield Churn passed away earlier this year and will be honored at this year’s Stars of Education event.

Victor Lytvinenko and Sarah Yarborough


Victor Lytvinenko and Sarah Yarborough started Raleigh Denim Workshop in 2007 in their hometown of Raleigh, NC and were inducted to the CFDA(Council of Fashion Designers of America) in 2013. The husband-wife team learned the techniques of traditional American jeans-making through seeking out a series of informal apprenticeships with factory workers, patternmakers, and mechanics throughout the state. Raleigh Denim Workshop’s products are all produced with a focus on design, process, material, and craft. 

Sarah and Victor have collaborated on projects with OMA, Patagonia, Kate Spade, John Patrick Organic, Pilsner Urquell – exhibited at Art Basil Miami, and has been designing furniture and upholstery with Bernhardt Design for many years. Sarah Yarborough and Victor Lytvinenko both attended Wake County Public Schools.

Stars of Education

Event Sponsors

Presenting Sponsor

Vernon Malone Friend of Education Award Sponsor

Wake County Public School System Hall of Fame Sponsors

Reception Sponsor

Photobooth Sponsor

Public School Champions

Stars Among Us

Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard LLP

Honor Roll

















In Kind Sponsors

 WakeEd Partnership

  3101 Industrial Drive, Suite 100

  Raleigh, NC 27609 | (919) 821-7609

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WakeEd Partnership

3101 Industrial Drive, Suite 100

Raleigh, NC 27609 | (919) 821-7609