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Former state Sen. Clark Plexico honored for service to N.C.

Clark Plexico Clark Plexico

Former state Sen. Clark Plexico, who represented Henderson County in the state Senate for eight years, has been awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Gov. Roy Cooper in recognition of Plexico’s many years of service to North Carolina.

The award is considered to be the highest honor that a North Carolina governor can bestow, and is made to those who have made significant contributions to the state through their exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments.

The ceremony was held earlier this year via Zoom in order to include family, friends and former colleagues from a dozen countries scattered across four continents from places in Plexico’s varied and international career, including England, France, Spain, Finland, Egypt, Tunisia, Georgia, Nigeria, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Mexico, as well as five different states in the U.S. Participants included Plexico’s children, all living abroad, and other family members, some who live in Hendersonville, namely his sister Sandie Salvaggio-Walker, nephew Bart Salvaggio and niece Dale Bradshaw and their families.

Elected to four terms, Plexico chaired both the Education Committee and the Education Appropriations Committee with responsibility for two thirds of the state budget. Plexico was also a leader in energy conservation, election reform and economic development.

He continued advocating for these issues as State President for Law & Government Affairs for AT&T, working successfully to convince the company to contribute over $1.5 million to Smart Start, the state’s early childhood initiative. Also, Plexico accompanied Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. to Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Israel, Japan, China and Mexico to expand the state’s international economic ties.

Later as founder and president of International Strategies, Inc., he served on many boards, including the N.C. Public School Forum and N.C. Center for International Understanding, and was a delegate on educational missions to India, Denmark, Mexico, Japan and China to learn the positive aspects of their educational efforts and to share these lessons learned in North Carolina.

In 2009 Plexico became the Country Director in Uzbekistan for the National Democratic Institute (NDI), leading efforts to build democratic practices in the former Soviet Union, including Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. He brought a delegation of members of the Uzbekistan parliament to North Carolina to meet with state political leaders, including then Attorney General Roy Cooper. Plexico believed the Uzbek delegates could learn a great deal from watching democracy at work in his home state, and that North Carolina elected officials could share their experiences with leaders from one of the world’s newest emerging democracies.

He later led NDI efforts in Afghanistan including working with former warlords to encourage their participation in legitimate political efforts. Recently he has been working to evacuate and resettle Afghans who spent years working on behalf of U.S. organizations.

Plexico is a founder, facilitator and faculty member of the Central Eurasia Leadership Academy and facilitator at the Middle East Leadership Academy and the Southeast Asia Leadership Academy, working with the next generation of global leaders, helping them make connections with leaders in the US, always serving as an advocate for North Carolina.

Plexico continues to lead seminars worldwide on effectively managing cross-cultural challenges and conducting business in different parts of the world, and is a Tutor for Oxford University’s International Negotiations Program in Bangkok, Thailand. Plexico serves as a political commentator for various news organizations, including Al Jazeera English News Network, and writes guest columns for US newspapers from his perspective as a Tar Heel working and living abroad. He currently resides in Tulum, Mexico with his wife, Juleigh Sitton.