PEMBROKE — The Lumbee Tribal Council members on Tuesday rejected a recommendation that Freda Porter be named tribal administrator, rejecting Chairman Harvey Godwin Jr.’s pick in a 12-6 vote.
The vote came after Porter spent two-and-a-half hours being interviewed by the council.
Godwin touted Porter’s education and “stellar reputation” as a businesswoman in a recent YouTube video recommending her for the administrator job. Porter is the president and CEO of Pembroke-based Porter Scientific Inc. Godwin recently made her tribal director, a position that was created for her.
“She has proven herself time and time again of being a successful businesswoman,” Godwin said. “This is the talent that the Lumbee people deserve.”
Her company, Porter Scientific, provides environmental consulting services, research and support to clients, including the United States Departments of Defense and Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Porter holds a doctorate in Applied Mathematics from Duke University, a master of science in Applied Mathematics from North Carolina State University, and a bachelor’s in Mathematics from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
She has worked as a research associate, an assistant professor, a research assistant, a defense contractor and as a consultant for UNCP, North Carolina A&T, the EPA, the NASA Langley Research Center and more.
Porter Scientific received the 2010 Stellar Award from the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. Porter was named the 2009 N.C. Minority Business Person of the Year and the 2007 UNCP Business Person of the Year. She was appointed Chairwoman of the North Carolina Advisory Commission on Military Affairs in 2012.
She is a member of the N.C. Defense Business Association board of directors, was a trustee of Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, served as the chair of UNCP board of trustees, and founded UNCP’s American Indian Science and Engineering Society.
Tribal Council Speaker Bill James Brewington said that Porter is highly qualified for the position, but said that council members want more information from the chairman before they approve his recommendation.
“The interview was good and very informative. She is good and well-qualified,” Brewington said. “But the council wants more information. There has been no communication between the chairman and Tribal Council members.”
Brewington said that some council members are unhappy with the chairman’s decision to hire Porter as “tribal director,” a staff position which he created.
“This is a new position which the chairman created without the council’s input or knowledge,” he said.
According to Brewington, more could be accomplished for the good of tribal members if the chairman and executive branch of government would communicate with council members.
“All we are asking is that the chairman sit down with the full council and discuss this situation,” Brewington said, referring to issues beyond just the administrator job. “We’re not talking about a formal open meeting. We’re talking about a meeting that’s like a family get together.”
In the video, Godwin said Dock Locklear, who had been interim tribal administrator, “served the Lumbee people well” for the past six months.
Brewington said that Locklear’s recent exit from the administrator’s position was expected.
“His position as tribal administrator was approved by the council for only six months,” Brewington said. “He was never hired permanently for the position.”
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165. Managing editor Sarah Willets contributed to this report.