MPA Alumna Rochelle Small-Toney Recognized as a Tar Heel Trailblazer

Tar Heel Trailblazer Rochelle Small Toney, graphic courtesy of Carolina Athletics

On February 3, 2018, UNC Master of Public Administration alumna and current City of Rocky Mount Manager Rochelle Small-Toney was recognized and honored as a “Tar Heel Trailblazer” at the halftime of the UNC men’s basketball game.

Small-Toney was the first African-American women's varsity basketball player at UNC-Chapel Hill, playing on the 1977–78 team. The award, given by Carolina Athletics during Black History Month, “recognizes individuals who paved the way for success in all aspects of the student-athlete experience, shining a spotlight on pioneers who have made memorable and lasting contributions at UNC and beyond.”

A 1978 graduate of the of the UNC MPA program, Small-Toney’s career in public service spans more than three decades.  She was the first female and first African-American city manager of Savannah, Georga.  She became manager of the City of Rocky Mount in July 2017 and is the first woman ever to serve in the manager role.

“For such a great university as UNC to look back on my past and to select me as a Trailblazer, it's just one of the greatest highlights of my life at this point,” Small-Toney said. “I'm extremely proud, as I've always been, to say that I'm a Tar Heel and that I wear my blue very proudly. But to be recognized by the University is just beyond my wildest dreams or imagination.”

Read Carolina Athletics’ story on Rochelle Small-Toney at