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Futuristic Journey To Create A Better Future

Legacy Bridge NC, formerly Challenges of the 21st Century, was conceived and incorporated in 1996, with the aim of addressing the needs of the African American Community and other historically oppressed communities in Winston-Salem and North Carolina in the areas of Education, Entrepreneurship and Housing.

Legacy Bridge identified education as its initial endeavor, which came after North Carolina passed its first charter school law in 1996. The new law gave non-profits the right to organize and operate public charter schools with funding resources the state traditionally allots for each student to receive in traditional public schools.

Legacy Bridge birthed its initial endeavor to focus on Winston-Salem’s K-12 African American children determined to be “at risk” and under threat of entering the “school to prison pipeline.” This concern was and is the greatest threat to African American children and their communities. 

hand holding graduation cap
animated swinging tassle

Birthed Out Of Education Focused On Disrupting the 
School to Prison Pipeline


Legacy Bridge’s Carter G. Woodson School was formed to ameliorate the treatment of student miseducation and provide viable holistic educational paths for students and their families.

For over twenty seven years, Legacy Bridge NC has expanded its educational initiative under CGWS to develop flagship projects -- introducing students to study abroad opportunities in Africa;

providing them with experiences in urban farming Winston-Salem; training them on the finer parts of legal advocacy through mock trial competitions; partnering with local colleges and universities to peak their curiosity in STEM paths for professional development; providing viable paths towards civic engagement in all levels of American government; and building lifelong character development.

Legacy Bridge’s Carter G. Woodson School (CGWS) was formed


32 Acres Of Land  On The East Side Of Winston-Salem

Legacy Bridge NC owns 32 acres of land that it intends to leverage for the furtherance of its missions. Legacy Bridge NC is now poised to further its missions of Education, Entrepreneurship and Housing by continued use of the land. The land is nestled on the south east side of Winston-Salem, between the intersection of I-40 and Highway 52 and a neighboring residential area. 

We teach the history of and respect for the land as we expand upon our mission to educate our children, to facilitate entrepreneurship and engage innovative thinking around housing as we collaborate with like minded members of the community.

When Legacy Bridge NC initially acquired part of the property, it had one building that was repurposed to house CGWS. Later, Legacy purchased all 32 acres of the Butler estate. 

Because of the abuse by industrial uses, we carefully monitor our use of and engage in restorative care of the land.

In order to make the land productive, and to be good caretakers as we move forward, we are mindful of the history as we restore the land for productive, just and peaceful use for the future. Educationally we use knowledge of the past as teachable moments for our children and community, in hopes that we will learn not to abuse our environment.

As we teach our children Urban farming, we also teach them how to adapt the land to what we need. (As an example, we do raised bed farming, using a raised bed method designed by our very own farm manager, Curtis McLaurin.) 

hazel mack headshot


Board Member

Hazel Mack, a dedicated native of Winston-Salem, committed her life to service, influenced by her early experiences in the Black Panther Party's survival programs. After earning her law degree from Temple University, she worked with The Legal Aid Society, later becoming Executive Director of Eastern North Carolina Legal Services. Hazel's leadership included significant litigation post-Hurricane Floyd, and she played a crucial role in saving homeowners during the 2008 housing crisis. Beyond her legal career, she founded educational initiatives like Challenges of the 21st Century and The Carter G Woodson School, continuing her community service even after retiring from Legal Services in 2016.

Ruth Mack-Hopkins, M.Ed


Board Member

Ruth Mack-Hopkins, the inaugural Executive Director of Carter G. Woodson School (CGWS) from 1997-2017, has come out of retirement to join the Legacy Bridge NC board. Recognized for transforming CGWS into a community-centered institution disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline, she is celebrated for her dedicated and loving approach to educating children. With a master's degree in Elementary Education, Ruth Mack-Hopkins, a recipient of the Sojourner Truth Award for Leadership, is known for demystifying educational systems and advocating for historically oppressed communities.

Larry D. Little Headshot


Board Member

Larry Donnell Little, a passionate advocate for freedom, justice, and equality, emerged as a prominent leader in the fight for African-American rights and the liberation of oppressed communities. From organizing successful statewide efforts to free individuals wrongly accused, such as Joann Little and Darrell Hunt, to his role as a founding member of the Winston-Salem Black Panther Party, Little dedicated his life to community service. Larry Little received a Masters Degree in Public Administration from UNC-Greensboro and his Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest University School of Law. His impact extended beyond activism as he later served as an Alderman, earned multiple degrees, and ultimately became a distinguished Political Science Professor now Professor Emeritus.

Pamela Thombs headshot


Board Member

With over two decades of legal expertise, Pamela Thombs is a distinguished professional admitted to the North Carolina State Bar in 2000. She began her career at  The Land Loss Prevention Project. She is a Certified Housing Development Officer. While at Experiment In Self Reliance she directed Community Services Block Grants (CSBR) and developed Site Based section 8 and Self Sufficiency  Programs.  She also has experience in administering HUD Home Funds, Community Development Block Grants and other federal  programs.  As the Managing Attorney at Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc., she led a dynamic team, providing crucial legal services to thousands in landlord-tenant, foreclosure, and bankruptcy matters. Pamela directed the Consumer Financial Transactions Clinic at North Carolina Central University School of Law, emphasizing student instruction in bankruptcy and foreclosure. A recipient of the Defenders of Justice Award for Litigation in 2013, she co-managed the Mortgage Foreclosure Defense Project, demonstrating a commitment to justice and advocacy. 

Sue Perry Cole


Board Member

Susan Perry Cole, President and CEO of the NC Association of Community Development Corporations (NCACDC), brings a wealth of experience, having served as the former Assistant Secretary for Community Development in the NC Department of Commerce. Recognized for her significant contributions, she received awards such as the Lifetime Champion of Justice from the NC Justice Center in 2019 and the Abdul SM Rasheed Economic Justice award in 2022. In 2023, Ms. Cole was honored with the Dr. Vivian Burke Community Leadership award from the North Carolina Black Elected Municipal Officials.



Dr. Johnnie C. Larrie is a “community lawyer” and community economic development specialist. With over 28 years of legal experience in consumer and community economic development initiatives, she has led a dynamic role in community development and civil legal initiatives that helped shape the lives of thousands of vulnerable homeowners in their communities. Dr. Larrie joined Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) in 2004 where she became the recipient of the Deborah Greenblatt Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award (2021). Dr. Larrie serves as the consumer practice manager for LANC’s statewide consumer practice group and manages the Economic Justice Initiative (EJI), which initiative strives for financial stability and economic security for vulnerable North Carolina populations.
Johnnie received her M.A. and PhD in Public Administration from North Carolina State University, focusing on J-12 Public Education Policy. She also received a J.D. from Boston University School of Law and her B.A. from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.



Sharon Bey-Christopher, licensed in North Carolina (1998), New Jersey (1983), and Georgia (1994), is a Cornell University graduate with a Juris Doctorate from Rutgers University School of Law. Initially, Sharon gained valuable experience in commercial litigation for corporate law firms. Transitioning to her true passions, Sharon entered private practice where she championed the legal rights of vulnerable children in North Carolina K-12 public schools, and now represents low-income clients across North Carolina in foreclosure prevention & homeownership preservation and general consumer practice work. Sharon's extensive background in commercial litigation uniquely benefits the most vulnerable North Carolinians. Her practice encompasses general consumer litigation, education law, and economic development/community lawyering.

Those Who Built The Bridge

Meet our dedicated team of professionals, each bringing a unique blend of expertise to the table. From legal advocacy and community development to education and economic justice, our diverse backgrounds converge to drive positive change and empowerment. Together, we are committed to making a lasting impact on the communities we serve.

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Legacy Bridge has expanded its vision to embrace housing, entrepreneurship and other initiatives vital to at- risk North Carolina communities and continues to seek capacity building and other financial opportunities to support its vision.


Forward Thinking Grantors And Investors 

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