Marcia Webster Retiring as Executive Director of Davidson Housing Coalition
Marcia Webster grew up in High Point, North Carolina, under the watchful eyes of her paternal grandparents. She knew early on that they were people who gave back to the community, through their church, their neighbors, and their business, Gibson’s Ice Cream. They encouraged in Marcia the importance of the love of family and sharing what they had with others.
Marcia’s grandfather grew up in South Carolina without many material possessions, or even food on the table on some days. During WWII, he and his wife moved to High Point and started the ice cream business. One of his biggest customers was the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg, where Gibson’s Ice Cream Truck would make weekly runs, a welcome sight to the soldiers. As successful as the business became, eventually sold to Borden’s, the Gibsons never forgot their roots and felt fortunate that they had enough to share. Mr. Gibson chaired the board of the Lake Waccamaw Boys Home, along with being an active member of his church, and Marcia’s grandparents made sure she experienced these important pursuits along with him.
As a teenager, Marcia attended Mount Vernon Seminary School for Girls in Washington, D.C., where she got her first taste of the world of politics. Several of her classmates had parents who were members of Congress, and one was the daughter of Nixon’s Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird. Marcia attended Nixon’s inauguration in 1968 with the Laird family. Though she might not have shared the political leanings of that family, she became fascinated by the machinations of politics, which served her well in her adult life.
She attended Stratford College in Danville, Virginia, married, moved to Charlotte, and had two sons, all in short order. Her then husband’s work took them to Greenville, South Carolina, for two years with their two young sons. She worked for Dick Reilly’s first winning campaign for governor in 1976. She traveled and coordinated the ten counties in the upstate of South Carolina for Reilly, meeting with local coordinators and other volunteers, helping them learn how to mount a campaign.
“There I was, a 20-something woman, trying to tell the wizened, older local leaders what to do,” she said. “Needless to say, I had a hard time getting their attention. I made countless trips between Greenville and Spartanburg, carrying bags of money for campaign expenses!”
Marcia moved back to Charlotte in the early ‘80s and got to know Harriet and D.G. Martin as neighbors and friends. When Martin ran for Congress in what was then the 9th Congressional District, stretching from Charlotte to Iredell County, she was his scheduler, lining up his campaign events for months. Martin lost by only 324 votes, a number that Marcia remembers to this day.
Marcia remained in Charlotte for five more years and moved to Davidson in 1990 with her second husband. She quickly became involved in Davidson College Presbyterian Church, where she served two terms as an elder, chairing the Community Missions Committee both times. That work allowed her to become aware of Davidson’s areas of need, and she saw the startling disparity in some of the town’s neighborhoods. More recently, she has been an active member of the church’s Social Justice committee.
She has also participated in Davidson Lifeline, which came together after the suicide of a Davidson teen and rising suicide attempts in our area. Davidson Lifeline works to support suicide prevention and mental health awareness in our community.
In 1995, at the suggestion of a friend, Marcia became the campaign manager for Margo Williams’ first run for Davidson Town Board. Later that same year, Marcia began work, along with Margo and Randy Kincaid, among others, to address the lack of affordable housing in Davidson. She was one of the founding members of the Davidson Housing Coalition (DHC). a 501(c)3 nonprofit since 1997. From then on, she has been active in the life of DHC, serving as its first secretary of the board before becoming its first executive director in 2004.
During her tenure, Marcia saw DHC receive the nation’s highest award for affordable housing for the Bungalows, an affordable rental development for those who make 50 percent or less of area median income.
“We were so thrilled and proud that the Fannie Mae Foundation honored us with its Maxwell Award for excellence in affordable housing design. We were certainly the smallest town and agency whose work was recognized. The Bungalows also received North Carolina’s Multi-Family Housing of the Year and the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Partner Award. We knew that we needed to do things right the first time if we were to garner the support of the town. And we did!”
DHC has built or renovated over 60 units of affordable housing rentals and created its land lease program for single-family home ownership.
“We also created support programs offered without charge to anyone who seeks them, from home-buyer education to financial literacy counseling, job search, and down-payment assistance. We work closely with other agencies to be sure our clients’ needs are met locally. Our collaborations with the town, Davidson College, and other nonprofits contribute greatly to our success.”
As Marcia steps away from being DHC’s executive director and into retirement, she knows that the organization is being led by a strong board of directors and staff members.
“DHC has been a part of my life for 25 years, and though I am not going to be a full-time staff member, I will always work in the community to bring understanding and support to the work of DHC and the need for more affordable housing in Davidson.”
Marcia Webster has made Davidson a better place. Best wishes to her upon retirement.