New NCC Trustees Bring Extensive Public Safety Leadership Experience
Nash Community College’s leadership is poised to steer continued growth in public safety training. Two new recent Board of Trustees appointments bring decades of experience in first responder and emergency management leadership to the College’s governing body. Both community college alumni, James A. Mercer of Nashville and Chief J. Keith Harris of Rocky Mount, will serve four-year terms. Mercer was appointed by the Nash County Board of Commissioners and Chief Harris was appointed by Governor Pat McCrory. With the addition of the new Continuing Education and Public Services Building slated to open on the south end of campus next spring, the new NCC leaders will enhance the College’s ability to meet the needs of the public services sector, and the local and regional communities.
Mercer completed his Associate in Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice at Nash Community College, and transferred to Shaw University to earn his Bachelor of Science degree in Behavioral Sciences. He has 25 years’ experience in fire service and emergency management, including North Carolina certifications as Emergency Management Coordinator Type I, Certified Hazardous Material Responder, Certified First Aid Instructor, Level II Fire Service Instructor, Fire Service Methodology Instructor, Level II Fire Inspector and has had extensive Incident Command and Hazardous Material (HazMat) training.
Mercer is a 30-year veteran of the United States Army, North Carolina National Guard and the United States Army Reserves having served in the United States Army during combat in Iraq. He is the Senior Army Instructor for the JROTC at Wallace-Rose Hill High School in Teachey, North Carolina. His professional experience also includes service as a police officer and firefighter in Rocky Mount and Director of Emergency Services for Edgecombe County. He led Edgecombe County’s emergency response and disaster recovery during Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and has held the positions of Director of Emergency Management for the City of Raleigh, and Director of Public Services for Nash Community College during his career. In 1999, he received the Emergency Manager of the Year ‘Edward Griffin Award’ from the North Carolina State Emergency Management Association and was named Nash Community College’s Outstanding Alumnus in 2003.
Chief J. Keith Harris worked in the fire, rescue, and emergency medical fields for over 31 years and retired as the Rocky Mount Fire Chief in April 2010. From 1999 until 2003 he served as Rocky Mount’s Hurricane Floyd Flood Recovery Manager. He has assisted in many other areas of North Carolina as well as other states aiding in recovery from disasters, including the Gulf Region following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Throughout his career Chief Harris was involved with local and state-level emergency management and homeland security programs, federal disaster response, and recovery, mitigation, and preparedness programs. He has lectured nationally and provided training on emergency preparedness, severe weather and flooding at many venues across the United States. Chief Harris assisted the National Weather Service in the development of nationwide hurricane drills, and served on numerous local and state committees associated with emergency management and homeland security. In 2011 and 2012, Chief Harris served as the North Carolina Long Term Recovery Manager for the American Red Cross, helping communities throughout North Carolina recover from the 2011 tornado outbreak and damages sustained down east from Hurricane Irene.
He is a strong proponent of regionalized approaches whenever possible, and he is most proud of working relationships forged between city, county, and state agencies following 9/11 and during his tenure as Rocky Mount Fire Chief. Harris earned an Associate in Applied Science degree in Fire Protection Technology from Wilson Community College and completed the Municipal Administration Program through the University of North Carolina School of Government.
For more information, please call 252-451-8235.