Dr. La Sonya Hall was presented with the Dr. C.P. Boyd Award for Leadership at the 2023 WestStar graduation ceremony held June 20 at the Boling University Center on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Martin.
The winner of the annual Boyd Award for Leadership is selected from WestStar graduating class members as the one whose leadership best represents ownership and respect for each other.
Hall is the deputy chief administrative officer for Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, a position she has held for five years. She earned her doctorate in higher education and administration from the University of Mississippi.
“I am both honored and humbled after receiving this prestigious award,” she said. “It reminds me that when you walk in a spirit of humility, people recognize it. I am grateful to my classmates for seeing those special characteristics in me that caused them to bestow upon me this honor.”
Hall said she would send thank-you notes to each speaker from each WestStar session for their contribution to the leadership program.
She also wrote notes to her classmates over the holidays to tell them how thrilled she was to be taking part in the WestStar Leadesrhip Program.
“A couple of weeks ago, as we were nearing the end of our sessions, I realized that I would miss the last session, which was in Pickwick,” she said. “So, I wrote each of them a letter saying how much I had enjoyed this experience and, while I would miss the Pickwick session, I would see them at graduation.
“While at graduation, Dr. Charley Deal mentioned that part of the reason that a lot of my classmates nominated me for this prestigious award is because it represents my commitment to continuing to bridge the relationship with all parties involved with this experience.”
Hall said she was born and raised in Mississippi and spent most of her professional life in Tennessee, and credited her upbringing for instilling “Southern qualities and social etiquette that is sometimes overlooked but still is very important.”
Hall said she was honored to join the legacy of Dr. C.P. Boyd Award for Leadership recipients.
“These are people who represent the state of Tennessee and the ideas of loving their country and loving mankind,” she said. “I’m just grateful to be a part of this distinguished group of people.”
The award is named for Dr. Currie Porter Boyd, an inspirational educational leader in West Tennessee. He earned his doctor of education degree from the University of Tennessee and taught at colleges and universities – including Lane University and Jackson State Community College – for 38 years.
Boyd was a quiet but forceful presence and a tireless advocate and role model of leadership in Haywood County. He served on the county commission, founded the Haywood County Civic League and served as its executive secretary for 32 years.
Boyd worked diligently to save and restore many of the historical and cultural artifacts of Black history in Haywood County and was a persistent champion for more African-Americans to run for public office and serve on community committees and boards.
Boyd was a graduate of the first WestStar Leadership class in 1990.