This March, during Women’s History Month, we are highlighting four Community Superstars. These incredible women are local leaders in North Carolina who have been doing amazing work in their communities and with the North Carolina Council of Churches.
Our next Community Superstar this Women’s History Month is Sandy Irving, most recently a Volunteer Program Associate for the Council and lifelong activist. She has been involved with the Council’s work for over twenty years. In this time, she has served on the Council’s Legislative Program Committee and Peace Committee. She then assumed leadership positions on the Governing Board, first as a member of the Executive Committee and then as the Secretary. Upon her retirement from UNC-Chapel Hill, she became a Council Volunteer Program Associate, focusing on economic justice and access to healthcare. In this role she coordinated the Council’s legislative campaign to educate people of faith about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and covered the subsequent Supreme Court challenge. She followed up this work by being the Council’s point person on Medicaid expansion (a reminder that some issues go on for many years).
Sandy, now a Presbyterian who was raised a Quaker. She is a retired research associate from the Biostatistics Department of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Public Health who always finds time to show up for a good protest. In the mid-to-late 1990s she became particularly interested in economic justice and peace. Additionally, she is the mother of three children and grandmother of six, continuing to plant seeds into the following generations.
Sandy encourages and teaches others by example through her own life. She and her husband, Deane Irving, purchase locally sourced food and fair trade products, and buy used clothes or clothes that are union made to avoid supporting oppressive work practices. Sandy advocates and works for policies that ensure people receive a living wage for their work and inform whoever will listen to the issues. She has stood on picket lines with farmworkers and fast food workers, boycotted businesses and products where the profits are used to oppress Palestinians, the LGBTQ+ community, or suppressed the ability of poor people to vote. She and Deane participated in the Moral Monday movement and Sandy was among one of the 900 or so folks who was arrested at the legislature.
Sandy has also tactfully encouraged us all to speak more intentionally. Around the office we no longer say “bullet points” or “target areas,” having been taught by Sandy that these words connote violence. We now say, “bulletin points,” which is the original version of the phrase, and “focus areas.” Sandy knows the importance of showing up – at rallies, protests, marches, legislative committee meetings, board meetings, etc. We are honored to highlight one of our own and are grateful for her dedication to the Council and for her lifelong advocacy working towards peace and justice for all.