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  • Writer's pictureCameron Cochran

Beyond 21 Plan to be Unveiled at Annual Meeting

Posted April 28, 2016

By Rochelle Moore, Wilson Daily Times Staff Writer

The executive director of the Institute for Emerging Issues at N.C. State University will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Wilson 20/20 Community Vision annual meeting.

The event will also include the unveiling of the Beyond 21 Plan, which focuses on the needs and interests of adults in the Wilson community.

The Wilson 20/20 annual meeting is May 12, from 9 a.m. until noon, at Hardy Alumni Hall at Barton College. The invitation-only event includes advanced registration. About 15 tickets are available to others interested in attending, and registration can be made online at or by emailing

Anita Brown-Graham

Anita Brown-Graham, Institute for Emerging Issues executive director, will provide the keynote address, near the end of the program. Years ago, Brown-Graham was instrumental in helping local leaders structure and design Wilson 20/20 from its inception. Today, she plays another role in working with InnovateNC communities, including Wilson.

“The insight and guidance that Anita provided in the early stages of development for Wilson 20/20 have been referenced on many occasions, and we consider it quite an honor to have her return to Wilson for the keynote comments in our 2016 annual meeting,” said Paula Benson, Wilson 20/20 executive director.

“Her experiences and her perspective can certainly help all of us establish a clear path and a stronger plan for the growth and the improvements we want in Wilson.”

Youth Master Plan

The meeting will start with an update on the progress of the Youth Master Plan and the efforts of the plan’s five focus areas will be discussed.

The Youth Master Plan, a collaborative effort between Wilson 20/20 and Wilson County Schools, provides goals and actions to improve the outcomes of all area youth. Some of the accomplishments stemming from the plan include substantial improvements to the safety of area schools, improved connections between youth and out-of-school programs, numerous collaborations to improve the health of Wilson youth, and the Wilson Academy of Applied Technology, Benson said.

“The implementation of the Youth Master Plan provided a unique opportunity for Wilson to engage in a true collaborative effort to improve the outcomes of our youth,” Benson said. “We have tremendous ongoing partnerships between our governmental entities, nonprofit agencies, educational institutions, the faith community, and our local business community.

“We are eager to share some of the great success stories that have evolved through this plan.”

Beyond 21 Plan

The meeting will also provide the community with the results of a year’s worth of work in developing the Beyond 21 Plan and its five areas of focus.

Five teams have studied, reviewed and explored the needs of adults age 21 with a focus on health and wellness, the elderly and aging population, civic engagement and community leadership, underemployment and unemployment, and talent retention and attraction.

The teams have identified some of Wilson’s most significant challenges and developed action steps to elevate and enrich the adult population.

“The teams of our Beyond 21 plan certainly benefited from the enthusiasm and commitment of so many community partners established in the development and implementation of the Youth Master Plan,” Benson said.

The Youth Master Plan and Beyond 21 Plan are complementary, with the Beyond 21 Plan continuing work beyond the initiatives of the youth plan.

“Perhaps, the most successful outcome for both initiatives will be the commitment we have to work together, share resources, and improve our communication so we can offer the best services to our entire community,” Benson said. “Wilson has truly demonstrated the ability to work together to help us move forward. It is exciting to have a community of leaders who are finding ways to define our challenges and create a shared vision to solve them.”

State of County Health

Teresa Ellen, Wilson County health director, will provide a brief overview of Wilson County’s health statistics. She will also provide information relative to the demographics and socioeconomic indicators of the community.

Beyond 21 teams have utilized the data in the development of actions proposed in the Beyond 21 Plan.

The teams have also leaned on information provided during Wilson 20/20’s annual meeting in 2015, when a Kenan-Flagler Business School professor, James Johnson, challenged local leaders to consider the changing demographics of the area.

“The data shared by Dr. James Johnson in last year’s Wilson 20/20 Annual Meeting clearly identified some changes in our demographics,” Benson said. “Dr. Johnson’s presentation and comments highlighted the need for our community to address these transitions, and our leadership has incorporated his message in the planning and implementation of both plans.”


Grant Goings, city manager, will provide an overview of Wilson’s involvement as an InnovateNC community. Wilson was one of five cities named as an InnovateNC community in the fall. The Institute for Emerging Issues program is an intensive two-year, cross-city learning collaborative and an effort to spark innovation-centered economic development. The program seeks to stimulate economic growth in North Carolina. Wilson’s participation is being co-chaired by Goings and Benson.

Wilson 20/20’s annual meeting is a sought-after event, with close to 180 people attending in 2015.

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