2013 Legislative Leadership Award | Tricia Cotham

Now in her fourth term in the State House, Rep. Tricia Cotham has quickly distinguished herself as a champion for equality and LGBT issues. Representing the 100th District (Mecklenburg County) in the N.C. House of Representatives, she was a leading opponent of Amendment One, North Carolina's ban on relationship recognitions for gay and lesbian couples. In 2011-2012, Cotham joined fellow representatives from the General Assembly to speak at press conferences, rallies, and forums about the harms of this discriminatory rewrite, even holding her own house party to raise money to defeat the measure on our Race to the Ballot.

In 2013, Cotham upped the pro-equality ante, sponsoring historic House Bill 647 - Nondiscrimination in State/Teacher Employment. A landmark effort to implement statewide workplace protection policies for gay and transgender workers, Cotham's bill introduced protections for North Carolina state employees *and* teachers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Cotham is also a leading voice for strengthening and reforming North Carolina’s public schools.

Before her election to the House, Tricia served as a middle school and high school teacher in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system, twice being recognized as “Teacher of the Year.” She soon became Assistant Principal at two of the State’s largest high schools, making her the youngest school administrator in the State.

In 2007, Tricia sought election to a vacant House seat. She handily won, becoming the youngest member of the House – and the youngest woman ever elected to the House. She was re-elected in 2008 with 74% of the vote. She was re-elected in 2010 without opposition.

As one of only a handful of K-12 educators in the legislature and the only member of the legislature to have served as a principal within the past decade, Tricia’s expertise proved invaluable. By her second term, Tricia was appointed to Co-Chair the House’s K-12 Education subcommittee. She now serves as Vice-Chair of the House Education Committee.

In 2011, Gov. Bev Perdue appointed Tricia to represent North Carolina on the Southern Region Education Board. In 2010, she was one of only three legislators to be honored by the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) as an “A+ Legislator.” In 2009, Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson appointed Tricia to serve on the North Carolina Business and Education Task Force. From 2003 to 2007, she served on the Board of Trustees for the N.C. Teacher Academy, which provided advanced training to help teachers become better teachers.

A small business owner, Tricia is widely regarded as an expert on such issues as at-risk students, low performing schools, bullying and school discipline, school leadership, accountability models, curriculum, and instruction.

Tricia was raised in Charlotte and educated in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg public school system. After completing a B.A. in History from UNC-Charlotte, Tricia graduated with distinction from UNC-Chapel Hill with a Masters of School Administration.

Tricia has traveled as far away as Singapore to study innovative education initiatives being adopted abroad. She has also spoken at state and national conferences on education issues, including bullying in schools. In her spare time, she teaches other teachers on how to better assist children of poverty and children of color.

Tricia is married to Jerry Meek, a business and tax attorney at Poyner Spruill LLP and former Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party. They have two sons.

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