Master of Ceremonies
ESPN, College Basketball Analyst
Jay Bilas, known for his extensive knowledge of men’s basketball and insightful analysis about the sports industry, joined ESPN in 1995. Bilas, who is featured on ESPN’s game and studio coverage, calls the top men’s college basketball games involving the nation’s marquee teams and conferences. He joined the ESPN’s Saturday Primetime game-of-the-week telecasts in 2015, adding to his role on the popular Saturday morning and evening college basketball program, College GameDay. He has been an analyst on the show that originates from the site of the Saturday Primetime telecast since its debut in 2005. Bilas is also present at the Men’s Final Four through studio coverage as well as game telecasts on ESPN International.
Bilas also writes for ESPN.com, and contributes to SportsCenter and ESPN Radio. Since 2003, Bilas has provided in-depth player scouting and analysis for ESPN’s coverage of the NBA Draft.
In 2007 and 2008, Bilas was nominated for an Emmy as Outstanding Studio Personality, and in 2008 Bilas was honored by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) for the Best Column of the Year. Sports Illustrated has twice named Bilas the best analyst in college basketball.
A prep All-American from Los Angeles, California, the 6-7 Bilas was a four-year starter at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski from 1982-86. As an undersized center, Bilas scored 1,062 points, grabbed 692 rebounds, and helped lead Duke to the 1986 ACC Championship and NCAA Championship game. Bilas’ 1986 Duke team held the NCAA record for the most wins in a single season with 37.
While a player at Duke, Bilas was one of only two student-athletes in the nation appointed to the NCAA’s Long-Range Planning Committee, and served from 1984-86. He appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation in 1985 to discuss academics and athletics and was a panelist, along with Howard Cosell, John Underwood and Dr. Harry Edwards, on the prestigious 1986 National Sports Forum.
Executive Director | Read Charlotte
Munro Richardson is the executive director of Read Charlotte, a community wide initiative to double the number of third graders reading on grade level in Mecklenburg County from 40 percent in 2015 to 80 percent by 2025.
Richardson comes to Charlotte from Kansas City, Missouri, where he’s spent the last few years founding start-up companies in the education arena. He was most recently co-founder and CEO of LigoSphere, a communication app for college students. Before that, he built teacher recruiting tool myEDmatch and sold it to a private equity firm. Prior to the start-up world, Richardson spent a decade at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City-based group that supports education and entrepreneurship.
He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, master’s degrees from Harvard University and Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. In 2010, Richardson was named by Ingram’s Magazine as one of “Forty Under 40.” He and his wife, Teresa, have three girls, Melina, Kara, and Neela.
Guard | Charlotte Hornets
Kemba Walker’s presence has been felt on the court here in Charlotte since his rookie season in 2011, but his contributions off the floor are the reasons for honoring him as this year's Sports Hero.
Despite his rigorous schedule, Walker makes sure to find the time to give back to the community through the sport he loves. In the summer of 2015 alone, he hosted basketball camps in both Charlotte and New York, while also assisting with the Crossover Elite Training Camp in Pennsylvania. Through outlets like these, he not only teaches kids about the finer points of basketball and having fun, but he also stresses valuable principles like hard work and health and wellness.
Though he now calls the Queen City home, Walker is still a regular visitor to his native New York. In 2013, he helped completely refurbish the basketball court at Sack Wern Houses where he grew up in the Bronx.
In addition to taking the time to support and participate in his own initiatives, Walker is also a regular at Hornets community service programs. Over the past year, he could be found helping Food Lion staff stock fresh produce during the Hornets Tipoff Tour, distributing Thanksgiving meals to families in need at the fourth annual Cornucopia event, helping put together over 10,000 care kits for troop around the globe at the team’s annual Military Care event or taking part in basketball clinics for various groups.
For his dual role as both an outstanding point guard and a dedicated member of the community, we honor Kemba Walker as this year’s Sports Hero.
Paulette Bryant, MD
Pediatric Hematologist-Oncologist | St. Jude Affiliate Clinic at Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital
Paulette Bryant is a pediatric hematologist-oncologist at St. Jude Affiliate Clinic at Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital and is the clinic’s principal investigator for Children’s Oncology Group. She graduated from Harvard Medical School and trained at the Naval Hospital of Oakland and Children’s Hospital of Stanford. Dr. Bryant is also a retired Navy captain and spent 13 years at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Dr. Bryant is actively working to improve the health of the Charlotte community through her work to secure clinical trial advancements in pediatric oncology, bleeding disorders and sickle cell disease. She serves on several local boards such as Project Life, Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte and the Girl Scouts, Hornet’s Nest Council.
She has earned numerous awards, including:
- Girl Scouts 15-year service award
- Charlotte Magazine Top Doctors recognition
- Charlotte Business Journal Physician of the year 2014
- Charlotte Business Journal award for education in health care 2013
- Girl Scouts Women of Distinction award 2012
- Charlotte Business Journal Women in Business achievement award 2011
- Meritorious Service Award – United States Navy 2001, 2005
Dr. Bryant is a passionate advocate for children facing cancer or blood disorders. She works tirelessly to educate patients and their families about their disease and to expand access to life-saving clinical trials. As a team, Dr. Bryant and the entire St Jude Affiliate Clinic offer cutting edge treatments in a setting of holistic support for patients and families facing this frightening journey.
Former Chief of Police | Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
Chief Rodney Monroe, a recognized innovator and practitioner of community policing has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement. He was appointed chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) in 2008 and retired in 2015. In this role as chief of police, he led the largest municipal police department in the state of North Carolina.
Under his leadership, the department refocused its efforts on crime fighting and crime prevention through a more accountable organizational structure, new technology and an enhanced strategy of community policing. As a result, the department experienced a significant reduction in its crime rate, which continues today.
Prior to joining CMPD, Chief Monroe served as chief in Macon, Georgia and Richmond, Virginia. While serving in Richmond, his efforts led to the lowest number of homicides in over 25 years. Chief Monroe also worked in a variety of leadership positions within the Washington D.C. Police Department.
Chief Monroe holds a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies from Virginia Commonwealth University and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Phoenix. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the National Executive Institute.
He serves as an executive committee member for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He also is a member of Major Cities Chiefs and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. Chief Monroe is a recipient of The Order of the Long Leaf Pine—highest civilian honor bestowed by the governor—for proven record of service to the state and community. He and his wife have two children and one grandchild.