Robertson is first woman named local Boy Scouts' man of the year
When the Alamance County Boy Scout Man of the Year selection committee met recently to choose this year’s recipient of that honor, something went awry.
They chose a woman.
That’s right. The individual they chose to honor as Man of the Year for 2010, the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scout program, is a woman. A former Miss North Carolina, in fact. Yep, Jeanne Robertson is the Boy Scout Man of the Year.
Robertson will be honored at the annual Man of the Year Awards Banquet at Alamance Country Club at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27. Committee members are making contacts now to sell tickets to the event, which is a major fundraiser each year for the Old North State Council, Boys Scouts of America.
Those interested in buying a table for the event may call either Bob Lewis at 214-1799 or Fairfax Reynolds at 260-5148.
The funds raised are used to help support the council’s eight-county program, which involved more than 10,000 young men in Scouting programs this past year.
The banquet will be an evening with “Jeanne and Friends,” and master of ceremonies will be Ty Boyd of Charlotte. He is a hall of fame broadcaster and award-winning speaker as well as a close friend of Robertson. He now heads Ty Boyd Executive Learning Systems, teaching speaking skills to business executives.
La Donna Gatlin of Dallas, Tex., sister of the singing Gatlin Brothers, will be part of the entertainment. She is also a hall of fame speaker and is a member with Robertson in Platform Professionals.
Why a woman for the Man of the Year honor? Committee members said the idea is not new, that consideration has been given in the past to women who have made major contributions in the community in a variety of ways. It has been the feeling for some years that recognition should not be limited just to men. The committee decided that since this was the 100th anniversary of Boy Scouting that it would be a unique opportunity to make a special event even more special with the selection of a woman.
When asked why she thought she was selected as Man of the Year, Robertson quipped, “Oh, I think it’s obvious. They ran out of good men.” But then she said she was most pleased with the honor.
“The Boy Scout movement was started a century ago to instill in young men values that are timeless. The original goals of good citizenship, character and physical fitness, along with a duty to God and country, are as important today, possibly even more important, than ever before. It is an honor to be the first woman named as the Alamance County Boy Scout Man of the Year and to have the opportunity to lend my efforts toward continuing these programs into the second hundred years.”
She has twice been the featured speaker for this event, once when Avery Thomas was chosen, the other when Don Bolden was honored.
While this is probably her most unique honor, Robertson has received numerous awards in her public speaking career, which began in 1976. In that year, she gave up her teaching career to become a full-time member of the speaker’s circuit, offering a brand of humor that poked fun at herself, at her family and friends and urged her audiences to look for the humor in their everyday lives.
Her material is consistently hilarious, and with stories like “Don’t send a man to the grocery store,” and “Don’t bungee jump naked”, she continues to spread laughter across the country.
The seed for this career was planted in 1963, when she was named Miss North Carolina, representing Graham in the state pageant. As Miss North Carolina, she gave more than 500 speeches in a single year. She taught and coached basketball for a few years and continued to give speeches. Finally, she said either the teaching or the speaking had to go, so she left teaching and went on the speaking circuit full time.
Since then she has won every award in the speaking profession, including being the first woman to win the “Cavett Award”, the top award in professional speaking given by the National Speakers Association. She was the first woman to win the Toastmasters International Golden Gavel Award, an honor that has also gone to speakers such as Walter Cronkite, Art Linkletter and Zig Ziglar.
Robertson is a Certified Professional Speaker, the highest speaker designation, is a member of the Speakers Hall of Fame, past president of the National Speakers Association, and a member of the Platform Professionals, a group of seven Hall of Fame Speakers.
For the past 46 years she has traveled the nation 10 months of the year, averaging 20 days per month on the road. She is recognized as one of the busiest speakers in the business and one who constantly writes new material for her appearances.
She has released six CD/DVDs in 11 years and is on satellite radio’s Sirius and XM family comedy channels. She recently had a clip on YouTube that received over two million hits in two months. It is now over three million, and another clip has passed the two million mark. She recently signed to do 35 “ticketed” arena events over the next two years along with her regular speaking appearances.
She was named by the Southeastern Athletic Conference as Auburn University’s Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000, has been interviewed on 60 Minutes and has spoken at the White House. She is on the Board of Trustees of Elon University, and she and her husband, Jerry, were honored by the Southern Conference in 2007 with the Distinguished Service Award representing Elon University. The couple has contributed to many areas of the community, particularly Elon University and the Arts Council.
Wherever Robertson appears, she always mentions here hometown of Graham, Alamance County and Elon University.
Robertson recently did a program at Williams High School to benefit victims of the Haiti earthquake. That is just one of many benefit programs she does each year, most of them here in Alamance County, and she has lent her time and energy to a number of local charitable programs. In 1996, she took off nine weeks to appear in “Steel Magnolias” to kick off the drive to remodel the Paramount Theater and the Captain White house in Graham.
Four years later, she took off again to appear in the remodeled Paramount Theater in “Legends” to support the Arts and close the fund-raising drive. She is especially proud of establishing the Christmas Pride Store held for young people at the Positive Attitude Youth Center in December for the past seven years. This is a no-budget project made possible by re-gifting items she obtains from friends here and from speakers across the nation.
In the past year in Alamance County, there were 1,512 young men involved in scouting, 34 of them attained Eagle Scout rank, 1,328 merit badges were earned, and 54 Cub Scouts received the Arrow of Light award. There are 586 adults registered in the program, and there are a total of 60 Scouting units in the county.
In the eight-county North State Council area, there are 4,500 adult volunteers involved with the 10,000 youth in the various programs. There are some 400 Scouting units
The Boy Scouts are a member agency of Alamance County United Way.