Most good causes feature their share of unsung heroes – people who work behind the scenes without much attention, but who regularly do the lion’s share of the work. In the North Carolina progressive advocacy community there is no better example of such a person than the General Counsel of the North Carolina Justice Center, Bill Rowe. For more than 25 years, Bill has been one of the state’s smartest, most dedicated and remarkably tireless champions of the underdog. A gifted attorney, an enormously able and effective lobbyist, and an all-around fantastic guy, Bill has made a huge difference for the better in the lives of hundreds of thousands of low-income North Carolinians. The state is truly better off because of his skillful and dogged advocacy.
Recently, in an extremely happy development, Bill became just a little bit less “unsung.” In a move that showed great (if overdue) wisdom, the North Carolina Housing Coalition honored Bill at its annual conference. More importantly, not only did the group honor Bill, they actually named the award after him. From now on, the Coalition will present Bill Rowe Award each year to a special North Carolinian for his or her contribution to the cause of affordable housing (one of Bill’s special passions and areas of greatest accomplishment).
There can’t be that many people around in our state (or anywhere for that matter) who are special enough to have an award named after them — especially while they’re still young enough to be in the midst of their career and at the pinnacle of their talent and effectiveness. In this case, however, it’s timely and richly deserved.