NCDAC Public Servants Honored at Governor’s Women’s History Month Celebration

Five agency staff members were honored during NC Governor Roy Cooper's Women’s History Month Reception today at the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh. All were selected as a result of their positive impact as public servants and their meaningful efforts in support of the agency's mission.

Author: Ashley Thornton, Digital Communications Specialist

Thornton and Langley shaking hands with Gov
Gov. Cooper shakes hands with honorees Cynthia Thornton and Valerie Langley at Women's History Month Celebration, March 20, 2024

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper hosted a Women’s History Month Reception today honoring remarkable women who have “made North Carolina state government work for all.” 

The North Carolina Department of Adult Correction (NCDAC) nominated 32 staff members to attend the event,  held at the Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh. Five were selected to attend. All were nominated because of their positive impact as public servants and their meaningful efforts in support of NCDAC’s mission. 


“These remarkable women embody resilience, perseverance, and an openminded, innovative mindset – helping our agency make a positive impact in every corner of NC,” said Secretary of Adult Correction Todd Ishee. “Today, we celebrate their invaluable contributions and salute their unwavering dedication to our mission.”

NCDAC honorees at the reception were joined by the NCDAC Deputy Secretary of Workforce Development Stephanie Freeman, who represented the agency and its substantial diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

Attendees selected to attend today’s event included:

  • Keyta House

    Keyta House, Correctional Case Manager, Eastern Correctional Institution

House has been with Eastern Correctional Institution since 2019. A firm believer in the importance of powerful employee engagement, she routinely organizes events to boost morale, increase retention and enhance recruitment efforts. While caring for the needs of offenders, she also has expanded her role to include facilitating religious services, managing community volunteers and events, and leading the State Employee Combined Campaign program.  Her efforts have made a “lasting impact on the facility and the community.”

  • Stephanie Johnston, Judicial Services Coordinator, Community Supervision, Division 1

In her 26-year career in state government, Johnston has served in many roles across several agencies, and has been a judicial services coordinator for more than a decade. Since  becoming a member of the Peer Support Team in 2013, she has been called upon to defuse difficult situations and has often lent her expertise to other agencies in need. Her skills have provided needed support to NCDAC staff, public safety staff, emergency responders, and their families after life-altering events, such as line-of-duty deaths and workplace incidents. She is well-known for “going above and beyond in her role including those new to the agency,  and is the epitome of being “All In.”

  • Valerie Langley, Chief Nursing Officer, Division of Rehabilitative and Correctional Services

Langley has served the state of North Carolina for more than 27 years and currently oversees comprehensive clinical oversight for thousands of patients at 55 correctional facilities. While managing a team of more than 1,300 healthcare staff, she has led efforts to incorporate technology improvements to enhance care for patients, while ensuring complex accreditation standards and healthcare regulations are followed. Langley is said to “embody what it means to be a leader in correctional healthcare, while striving to make the department even better with her nursing passion and knowledge.”

  • Cynthia Thornton, Deputy Secretary, Professional Standards

A  33-year veteran of NCDAC, Thornton began her career as a case manager in 1991, then rose to several key positions within the agency’s leadership. She was appointed warden at Neuse Correctional Institution in 2011 and, then two years later, was named as Harnett Correctional Institution’s warden. In both cases, Thornton was the first woman to serve in the role. Appointed deputy secretary of professional standards in 2022, she currently directs the complex statewide efforts to achieve agency-wide American Correctional Association accreditation for the first time in state history. Throughout her career, she has been known to “remain optimistic and devoted to bringing positive change to the department.”

  • Letitia Wright, Correctional Sergeant III, Pasquotank Correctional Institution

Wright is an 14-year correctional veteran at Pasquotank Correctional Institution, having begun her career as a correctional officer in 2010 and later promoted to correctional sergeant III in 2017. As manager of the large  and complex warehouse and canteen for Pasquotank, she has a reputation for problem-solving unique challenges that have resulted in increased efficiency and boosted morale. She is known for “going above and beyond for the offender population and fellow staff members” and as an “exceptional employee who is loyal, hardworking and goes the extra mile for those around her.”

Twenty-seven women, in addition to those selected, were also nominated to attend today’s celebration, including:

  • Crystal Allen - Critical Incident Stress Manager, S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Patricia Alston - Grievance Examiner, Inmate Grievance Resolution Board
  • Kelley Brandon - Program Director I, Pender Correctional Institution
  • Nancy Bromberg - Nursing Supervisor II, Craven Correctional Institution
  • LaDonna Browning - Western Region Director
  • Tara Brown-Williams - Controller,  DAC Administration
  • Wendy Bryant - Correctional Officer I, New Hanover Correctional Institution
  • Tina Cannon - Correctional Officer III, Eastern Correctional Institution
  • Kelly Elkins - Human Services Program Manager, Lumberton Correctional Institution
  • Jennifer Garcia - Administrative Specialist I, Community Supervision Division 1
  • Jaqueline Gordon - CE Manager II at Tabor City Sewing, Tabor Correctional Institution
  • Mary Grillo - Social Work Services Director, Division of Rehabilitation and Reentry
  • Sonya Harris - Clinician/Human Services Program Manager I, S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Kim Hodges - Administrative Officer III, Craven Correctional Institution
  • Pamela Jenkins - Deputy Director of Application Development 
  • Teresa Jordan - Administrative Officer, Division of Rehabilitation and Reentry
  • Tracey Matthews - Assistant Director of Administration, Raleigh Headquarters Office
  • Claudia Nicholson - Senior Clinician, S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Kristin Petrie - Assistant Plant Manager, Printing Services, Nash Correctional Institution
  • Susan Powers - Administrative Specialist, Harnett Correctional Institution
  • Jessica Sayles - Certified Dental Assistant, Pasquotank Correctional Institution
  • April Shoup - Warden, Western Correctional Center for Women
  • Loris M. Sutton - Deputy Secretary, Division of Internal Affairs and Intelligence Operations
  • Carol Torres - Security Officer, South-Central Region Office
  • Sarah Turpin - Correctional Officer I, Carteret Correctional Center
  • Mary Wallace - Correctional Housing Unit Manager II, Pasquotank Correctional Institution
  • Cynthia Williams - IT Project Manager


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