Born and raised in Goldsboro, Selena Worrell has dedicated her life to making Goldsboro and Wayne County a better place to live for all of its residents.
As the new chairwoman of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors and the chamber’s first African-American chairwoman, Worrell said she is prepared to lead the organization and Wayne County into a prosperous and historic new year.
“Coming in as the first Black woman, I want to make a difference,” Worrell said. “I want to be able to do something that’s remembered. I want people to know that this happened while Selena Worrell was chair of the board of directors.”
Worrell, vice president of operations for Worrell Contracting Co., will officially take over from outgoing chairman Kevin Johnson, director of the Wayne County Cooperative Extension, on Jan. 27 at the chamber’s 125th Annual Gala and Banquet.
“To become the chairperson, your nomination is presented to the board of directors, and they vote, and from what I understand it was pretty unanimous,” Worrell said.
Worrell attended Eastern Wayne Junior High School, where she met her future husband, Adrian.
After graduating from Eastern Wayne High School in 1987 and marrying Adrian, who joined the U.S. Navy after graduating, the couple moved to San Diego.
The Worrells spent four years in San Diego before Adrian left the Navy, and the couple and their two children returned to Goldsboro and started their business, Worrell Contracting Co.
Before joining Worrell Contracting Co. full-time, Worrell earned a double bachelor’s degree in business administration and computer and information systems from North Carolina Wesleyan University.
She started teaching at Eastern Wayne High School but wanted to continue her education, so she earned a master’s degree from East Carolina University in counselor education, but she decided to work for the family business full time.
“After all of that, I went to work for the family business full time, but I accomplished the things I always wanted to accomplish,” Worrell said. “I didn’t use those degrees in the areas they are used in, but everything I gained from the degrees I still use on a daily basis.”
Founded in 1998, Worrell Trucking Co. changed its name to Worrell Contracting Co. in 2000. The business had three locations over the years and moved to its current location, 201 N. Center St., in July 2016.
“I’ve been a part of Worrell Contracting since its inception, which was about 25 to 27 years ago, but I’ve been working here full time since 2008,” Worrell said. “My husband owned dump trucks and did work for the state of North Carolina’s Department of Transportation.
“He wanted to expand, and we knew the name would limit us, so we changed the name in around 2000 to Worrell Contracting. That opened the door for us to be able to do the kind of work we do now. So, from doing contracts with the state of North Carolina, we now do federal contracts.”
Worrell Contracting Co. maintains national cemeteries throughout the United States, Worrell said.
“That maintenance can be total renovations of national cemeteries, which could be headstone renovations, turf renovations to daily maintenance of the cemetery, where we take care of the entire grounds from mowing, trimming, burials, janitorial services, anything on that facility, we maintain it,” Worrell said.
Her involvement with the Chamber of Commerce started in 2012 when she was asked to serve on the chamber’s board of directors, but her involvement in Goldsboro and Wayne County goes beyond the Chamber of Commerce.
Since 2017, the Worrells have provided a Back to School Bash for children and their families to help provide some of the essential items students need to have so they can start out the new school year on the right foot.
“To be truthful, at that time, we were like, what is a Chamber of Commerce? Because it’s not something we even thought about,” Worrell said. “Since our business is so unique, and just our office is in Goldsboro, so we were like, OK, we’ll join the chamber.
“Our purpose in the chamber truly is to give back to our community, and we just want Goldsboro to be the best place it can be.”
Scott Satterfield, Wayne County Chamber of Commerce president, said he’s proud of the chamber’s accomplishments in 2022 and is excited to see what Worrell can accomplish this year.
“It’s her character,” Satterfield said. “She’s a person of deep integrity, and she speaks the truth, and she’s just as smart as a whip, and she’s compassionate. She cares about our organization. She cares about the community, and her family successfully runs a business. I think her perspective has added so much. This is the first minority female that’s been the chairperson of the Chamber of Commerce, and I think that’s substantial and newsworthy.
“I just have a deep amount of respect for her.”
Some of the chamber’s accomplishments in 2022 include Satterfield succeeding Kate Daniels as the chamber’s president, and helping organize LaunchGOLDSBORO, and outreach into the faith, agriculture and health care communities, he said. LaunchGOLDSBORO seeks to develop entrepreneurs by expanding access to comprehensive business training and financial and business resources.
“We just tried to extend some focus into areas that were just areas of opportunity for us, and I think we’ve been able to find strong collaborations there, which we do through a committee structure,” Satterfield said. “We created a small business and entrepreneurship committee. We created a faith committee, so those are all new committee assignments and work.”
Worrell said she hopes to increase diversity in the chamber and for its leaders and members to make Wayne County a better place for all of its residents.
“I’m coming in as the first Black woman chair, and my husband and I are minority business owners, so I want the diversity to grow, and I want to see more minority businesses involved in the different things the chamber has available, such as building meaningful relationships,” Worrell said.
She wants the general public to be more aware of what the chamber does for the public and local businesses.
“The chamber does such a wide variety of things,” Worrell said. “From a new startup business to a veteran business, the chamber makes it where they have something to give to everyone. So, if you’re a new business, the chamber can point you to financial resources, possible accounting resources, the kind of things you need to have to make sure your business flourishes.”
The chamber’s new chairwoman also acknowledged the role of agriculture in Wayne County and pledged to continue to work to promote the development of that industry.
She said the chamber’s growth in 2022 was outstanding, and she can’t wait to help the chamber grow even more in 2023.