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Local councilman Derwin Montgomery inspires PA students

The Wake Forest PA Program recently welcomed Winston-Salem City Council member Derwin Montgomery to campus as a guest speaker on leadership. Councilman Montgomery shared his personal journey and discussed how he has applied leadership in his own life; he also challenged those in attendance to apply leadership skills in their personal and professional lives moving forward. The experience was both informative and inspirational.

In 2009, as a 21-year-old senior at Winston-Salem State University, Montgomery made history as the youngest person ever elected to the Winston-Salem City Council as the representative for the East Ward. He was inspired by his studies at WSSU and the problems he observed in the community, so he decided to put his name into the local election. At first he wasn’t sure if he was a serious candidate, as he was running against a 16-year incumbent, but as he spoke to those within the community, he realized he could help to create positive change. He was re-elected in 2013 and will run unopposed in the upcoming election cycle.

Councilman Montgomery spoke on two items he was most proud of during his tenure: increasing wages and benefits for Winston-Salem city employes and passing a law that requires all new housing projects within the city to contain affordable housing for low-income tenants. He credits his fellow council members for showing him the ropes of public office and being collaborative on initiatives that have a positive impact on the community. Councilman Montgomery is also a leading representative on the Winston-Salem Poverty Thought Force and is working with other local leaders to address local inequalities.

Derwin Montgomery-Zach Hartsell

In addition to representing the East Ward on the City Council, Mr. Montgomery, seen above with PA Program Director Zachary Hartsell, is the executive director of the Bethesda Center, a 24-hour homeless shelter in Winston-Salem, as well as the senior pastor at the First Calvary Baptist Church. Taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with PA students displays his dedication to making a positive impact on the community. During the Q&A session at the end of his talk, the focus was how PAs can impact the local community to improve access to care. Montgomery challenged students to think outside of the box to address the issues they see and to use their platform as providers to make a positive change. His visit was an inspirational experience for all those in attendance. [written by J.T. LaBruyere, PA2017]



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