Gov. Roy Cooper recently named Robin Myer, the soon-to-be retired executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina, to The Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
Myer retires May 15, 2020 after 36 years with Big Brothers Big Sisters, the last 28 of them in WNC. Surrounded by his family, he was presented the award on May 5, 2020 by Dorian Palmer, chairman of the BBBS of WNC Board of Directors.
“I can’t think of a more deserving person to receive the distinction of The Order of The Long Leaf Pine,” said Palmer, a former “Little Brother” who lives in Burke County. “Robin has fought for the lives of young people all across Western North Carolina for 28 years.”
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, created in 1963, is among the most prestigious awards conferred by the governor of North Carolina. It is awarded to people who have demonstrated “exemplary service to the State of North Carolina and their communities that is above and beyond the call of duty and which has made a significant impact and strengthened North Carolina,” according to The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society’s website.
“While in college,” Myer recently wrote on BBBSWNC’s website (bbbswnc.org), “a professor of mine once remarked that he believed there were only two types of people in the world – those who made your day easier and those who made it harder. I took this to heart and decided then and there to be a person who made life easier for others.
“It’s so easy to do that it quickly became a habit, and then a career. Respect others through politeness, listen to their stories, be open and honest, and try to share laughs together.”
Myer has worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters since 1984, beginning in Charlotte as a caseworker before becoming director there. An avid outdoorsman, Myer leapt at the chance to apply for the executive director’s position in Asheville in 1992.
In Myer’s 28 years leading the regional office, BBBS of WNC has increased the number of children served annually from 110 to 3,016 children (fiscal year 2018-19). Within the 11 counties served by the Asheville regional office, 716 children were enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters and 2,300 benefitted from Project MARS (Mentoring, Academics and Resources for Success), an AmeriCorps program.
A native of Fairborn, Ohio, Myer has an undergraduate degree in criminal justice.
“I have always been proud to be a part of this program,” Myer wrote in his comments at bbbswnc.org. “I believe that ‘Friendships with a Purpose’ (a BBBS slogan) is not only a lofty goal for this program, but for each of us as a person. In closing, thank you for allowing me to live this with you for all of these years.”
BBBS of WNC’s new executive director is Lelia Duncan, a Brevard resident who for more than three decades has managed and led nonprofit organizations. A Mississippi native, Duncan attended the University of Southern Mississippi and London School of Economics. Most of her adult life has been spent serving children, youth and their families.
“Having the opportunity to join the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization is a dream come true,” she said. “What I find most inspiring about Big Brothers Big Sisters is the focus on forming intentional relationships with a purpose, a purpose to help children and youth achieve their potential. That’s something so critically needed and something we all can support and strive for.”