2010 Director’s Community Leadership Awards
|Knoxville||Avon William Rollins, Sr.
Avon William Rollins, Sr. is known for his sustained exemplary service in the civil rights arena as well as his leadership in promoting collaboration among ethnic and minority groups. Mr. Rollins currently serves as the director and CEO of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, Inc., and is a member of FBI Knoxville’s Community Engagement Council and the East Tennessee Civil Rights Working Group.
Mr. Rollins retired in 1994 from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) as manager of Minority Resources and Development, where he directed TVA’s investments in the minority community and leveraged those funds to generate over $30 million from federal, state, and foundation sources. His leadership in developing successful economic and financial initiatives to benefit African-Americans has included founding Magnolia Federal Savings and Loan, serving as the former chair of the Knoxville Communications Cooperation, and acquiring the first black-owned cable radio and television station in America.
Mr. Rollins serves as an adjunct professor to historically black colleges under the auspices of the National Urban League’s Black Executive Exchange Program. He has also served as a member of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus Brain Trust.
As one of the co-founders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, he counts the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X as personal friends. As a result of his civil rights advocacy across the South, more than 20 minority leadership programs have been created for grassroots community development organizations.
Due to his tireless dedication in advancing civil rights, Mr. Rollins has received numerous national, state, and local accolades from organizations such as the National Business League and the Booker T. Washington Foundation. He was bestowed the Heritage Award from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and the East Tennessee Minority Professional Association. He has twice been honored with the Minority Business Advocate Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 1993, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators presented him with the National Builders Award. In 1994, Mr. Rollins was honored by the National Association of Human Rights Workers.