2019 Champions of Pride Awards

The Charlotte Pride Board of Directors is pleased to honor these Champions of Pride Award recipients in 2019.

The Champions of Pride Awards seek to recognize those whose work and dedication exemplify the spirit of Pride. Our Champions endeavor to empower and unite LGBTQ and allied people through their leadership, service and support. Champions understand the importance of celebrating our past, present and future while advancing LGBTQ rights and visibility.

Harvey Milk Award

Given annually to honor exceptional leadership, service to the community and those who champion LGBTQ causes that impact the Charlotte community and beyond.

James Rice III


James Rice III has served Charlotte’s LGBTQ community in various roles over the past seven years, including as a board member and director of communications for the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Charlotte Black Pride. James currently serves as assistant director of programs and service for Time Out Youth — a position he calls his “dream job,” having worked his way from intern in 2013 to full-time employee in the fall of 2017. James is only the second black gay male to hold a full-time position with the agency. When not working with LGBTQ youth, you will find James ministering at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church or hosting events as Semaj The Real M.C., his drag alter-ego. James is engaged to his “African Prince” Warren Radebe and together they have adopted one son Mduduzi.

Outstanding Ally Award

Given annually to honor those who do not identify as LGBTQ, but who have stalwartly supported the LGBTQ community with a demonstrated, ongoing passion and commitment to better LGBTQ lives.

Ashley Nurkin


For the past two years, Ashley has served as the president of PFLAG Charlotte. Under her leadership, the chapter was recognized among 400 chapters nationwide as the 2017 “We Are The Change” Outstanding Chapter Award. Ashley also co-founded Transparents of PFLAG Charlotte, helping local parents navigate the unique healthcare, social, educational and safety issues associated with raising their transgender children. Since its inception four years ago, this group has grown to support more than 70 Charlotte families. Ashley has worked with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System, Atrium Health, Novant Health and others to educate and advocate for transgender youth. Ashley, a native Charlottean, and her husband Matt are the proud parents of daughters Taylor (10) and Harris (12).

Young Catalyst Award

Given annually to recognize a young adult leader under the age of 30 who is an “up-and-coming” leader within the community and/or whose contributions to the community have carried significant impact over the last year.

Audrey Ansel


Audrey Ansel is 15 years old and identifies as a lesbian. Originally from Ohio, she has lived in Charlotte for three years. Over the past year, she has strived to create change within the LGBTQ community. She is a part of Time Out Youth’s speaker’s bureau and has appeared on their podcast, “Out With It.” She is active within her school’s GSA and will serve as an officer this coming school year. Audrey has also created and facilitated an event in her church where members of the congregation can learn more about the LGBTQ community and how to be better allies. Audrey will continue to endeavor to create a better world for everyone. She wants all LGBTQ youth to be heard and loved for who they are. Audrey’s goal is to see a world where LGBTQ youth are not afraid to be themselves.

Past Champions of Pride:
Inaugural Champions of Pride, 2013
Second Annual Champions of Pride, 2014
Third Annual Champions of Pride, 2015
Fourth Annual Champions of Pride, 2016
Fifth Annual Champions of Pride, 2017
Sixth Annual Champions of Pride, 2018