New Member: Cora Cole-McFadden

Please introduce yourself and welcome new member Cora Cole-McFadden, Mayor Pro-Tempore of the city of Durham. Below is a biography.

Cora Cole-McFadden is a past member of the West Durham Baptist Church where she had been since childhood.  She served as Sunday School Superintendent, a member of the Board of Trustees, the Celestial Choir, and the Board of Christian Education.  On July 9, 2015, she became a member of St. Mark AME Zion where she sings in the Inspirational Singers Choir, a member of the Missionary and R.L. Speaks Ministry.

Cole-McFadden, a native of Durham, has been a member of the Durham City Council since 2001. She retired from the City of Durham in 2001 after holding public service positions for 32 years in the state retirement system.   She served as the first African-American woman department head in the City of Durham and is the first African-American woman to be named Mayor Pro Tempore.

Cole-McFadden has served as a champion for uplifting our youth and including them in the decision-making process for matters that pertain to them and issues of interest to them.  Cole-McFadden’s zest and zeal for youth resulted in the creation of the first City of Durham Youth Council [now Durham Youth Commission], the Hillside High School Drama Club’s first production and appearance at the Carolina Theater, “Perilous Times,” “Youth Teen Scene” a monthly television production by youth.  She now advocates for Lakeview Lakeview Middle/High Alternative School.

Her efforts to change the way the City did business were recognized throughout the region for Durham having the reputation of strong commitment for inclusion of underutilized groups in its conduct of business and employment opportunities.

Cole-McFadden serves as City Council liaison to numerous boards and committees including the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors; the Upper Neuse River Basin Board of Directors until 2005; Housing Appeals Board; Joint City-County Planning Committee; Homeless Services Advisory Committee; the Mayor’s Committee for Persons with Disabilities; Carolina Theatre Board of Directors; and the Durham Cultural Master Plan Advisory Board.  Cole-McFadden also serves on several City Council subcommittees, including chair of the Audit Services Oversight Committee; Chair, Insurance Subcommittee; chair, Passenger Vehicle-for-Hire Committee; Chair,  Personnel and Council Procedures Committee; Chair, Northeast Central Durham Committee,  Co-chair of the Housing Task Force of the Mayor’s Poverty Reduction Initiative and the Durham Public Schools Leadership Team.

Her community service has included 1st Vice-Chair of the Durham Branch NAACP; Past Chair, Durham County Democratic Party; Charter Member, and Past Chair, Ebonettes  Service Club; United Negro College Fund, Star Panelist;  1st Vice-Chair, Durham Chapter, National Council for Negro Women;  2nd Vice-Chair, Top Ladies of Distinction;  Chair, Civic Committee, of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People.  Cole-McFadden was the first woman to serve as Chair of the Durham Community Martin Luther King Steering Committee, the first African-American woman department head in City of Durham government, and the first recipient of the City of Durham’s Diversity Change Agent Award, now named in her honor and awarded annually at the City of Durham ‘s Employee Recognition Luncheon.

She was featured in the March/April of Southern City, a publication of the North Carolina League of Municipalities.  She is one of three alumni of North Carolina Central University named as a “Living Legend” to be honored at the Living Legend Scholarship Gala in August.

Cora is the proud mother of two children – Lori McFadden and Larry McFadden, Jr and the proud grandmother of three granddogs – Faith, Frankie and Dallas.


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