Kathy Rawls will discuss her work as director of the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries during the second History for Lunch program in March at the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City.
She is the first woman to head the agency since the Fisheries Commission Board became the Division of Commercial Fisheries in the late 1920s.
The virtual program starts at noon March 16 and will be offered in-person at the museum, 501 Water St., Elizabeth City, and via Zoom. Register in advance through the museum’s Facebook page or the website for the link to attend the talk virtually. The program is supported by Southern Bank and Biggs Cadillac Buick GMC of Elizabeth City.
Rawls has been with the division for more than 25 years. Before taking on the role of director May 1, 2021, she served for seven years as the fisheries management section chief.
“There are already a number of women in pivotal roles at the division, and I do feel a responsibility to represent them and other female colleagues, but I also know that gender is not part of the job description,” Rawls said in statement when the division announced her taking on the role in April 2021. “The best way for me to represent women in the science field is to be a darned good director of the Division of Marine Fisheries and being a good director will involve doing the best I can for the division, the marine fisheries resource, and the people of North Carolina.”
Rawls, 53, was born and raised in Windsor and graduated from Lawrence Academy in Merry Hill. She earned a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 1989, , according to the division.
She began with the division is 1990 as a river herring technician, which she held for three years. She left then to work on her family’s farm but returned in 1999 to be a technician on a striped bass project. She then held the position of biologist supervisor for eight years until May 2011, when she was promoted to manager of the division’s Northern District, based in Elizabeth City. She became fisheries management section chief in April 2014.
This History for Lunch complements the exhibit in the museum “Women Breaking Barriers in Northeastern North Carolina,” that focuses on women of northeastern North Carolina and how their experiences, stories, and challenges have factored in history. The exhibit that commemorates the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in
America in 2020 opened in November 2020 and tells how women broke barriers in areas such as women’s suffrage, public service, literature, journalism, activism, religion and entertainment. The exhibit is expected to close at the end of 2022.
Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed Sundays and state holidays.
The northeast regional history museum serves Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hertford, Hyde, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell, and Washington counties. The museum is under the North Carolina Division of State History Museums within the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.