Knox County Coalition Chair Claudia Gibson Greenwood was presented Operation UNITE’s first “Hometown Hero” award during their coalition meeting in Barbourville February 6, 2024. From left are UNITE Coalition Coordinator Lynnell Fields, Field Representative for Congressman Hal Rogers Tamra Wilson, Greenwood, and UNITE President & CEO Tom Vicini.

BARBOURVILLE – Knox County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Claudia Gibson Greenwood has been named the first recipient of Operation UNITE’s “Hometown Hero” award.

UNITE President & CEO Tom Vicini, UNITE Coalition Coordinator Lynnell Fields, and Tamra Wilson, Field Representative for Fifth District Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-5th), presented the honor during the Knox County UNITE Coalition’s monthly meeting on February 6.

The “Hometown Hero” award was created to show special appreciation to community members who go above and beyond to assist their community in battling the drug epidemic.  In addition, the award recognizes community members who volunteer so much of their time to promote Operation UNITE’s mission and goals without any expectation of recognition for their work.

“Claudia Greenwood is the epitome of community service, impacting all of Knox County with her dedication, passion, and energy,” said Vicini. “Operation UNITE is blessed to have Claudia as Chair of the Knox UNITE Coalition overseeing our mission and work against substance misuse in this county. She is truly a ‘Hometown Hero’.”

“Claudia was one of the first community coalition leaders in Eastern Kentucky who helped educate local students, rural communities and families dealing with addiction at the height of the war on drugs, and she never backed down,” said Congressman Rogers, who launched Operation UNITE in 2003. “Claudia is truly a local hero, who helped develop a coalition that has been a model of success for communities across the country. I applaud her life saving efforts here at home that have made a lasting difference in our region.”

Greenwood has been actively involved with the Knox County UNITE Community Coalition since its inception in 2004, initially serving as Co-Chair for the Grant Writing & Fundraising Committee. She has served as Coalition Chair for the past decade.

After retiring from the Knox County Public School System after a 27-year teaching career, Greenwood moved into a grant writing, public relations, and clerk position at the Knox County Attorney’s Office. It was under the direction of the late County Attorney Charley Greene Dixon – the Coalition’s first Chairman – that Greenwood became so involved with the Chamber and Knox County community.

In 2010, Greenwood became the Chamber’s Executive Director and has spearheaded the effort to increase support for the Chamber across the community.

Understanding that prevention is a critical component of substance use prevention, Greenwood has been a vocal advocate for UNITE and its three-pronged approach at the local, state, and national levels. Under her leadership, the Coalition has involved all sectors of the Knox County community in support of prevention, treatment, and recovery initiatives.

In 2015, Congressman Rogers and former Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Michael Botticelli presented the Knox County UNITE Coalition with the Operation UNITE “Youth Service Award” for offering programs that both mentor and educate youth in the dangers and destruction of substance use.

In 2019, Greenwood was part of a UNITE team that shared about youth prevention efforts and community coalition building in rural Appalachia with a delegation from the Philippines, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program.

Greenwood was also selected to be a participant in a roundtable discussion with then-U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf during his 2016 visit to southeastern Kentucky to hear concerns and comments about the growing prescription opioid epidemic.

In addition, Greenwood has represented both the Coalition and Commonwealth of Kentucky at numerous Rx & Illicit Drug Summits. Created by Operation UNITE, the Rx Summit is the most influential annual gathering for stakeholders to discuss what is working in prevention, treatment, and law enforcement.

Currently, Greenwood serves as Historian for the Dr. Thomas Walker Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, is Chair of the Barbourville Tourism Commission, and is Second Vice President for the Barbourville Woman’s Club.

In addition, Greenwood serves on the Knox Association of Baptist Women’s Ministry Union (WMU) Leadership Team, Kentucky WMU Executive Board, and teaches Ladies Sunday School at Locust Grove Baptist Church. She serves on the Boards for Leadership Tri-County; Upper Cumberland Community Foundation; and CASA of Clay, Knox and Laurel Counties. She is a member of the Barbourville ARH Local Advisory Council,, Barbourville City Schools FRYSC Council, and Girdler Elementary School Council, among others.

Her goal is to make Barbourville a better place to work and live. She said she pursues this challenge daily with the patience and understanding of her husband, David, and with her “right-hand helpers” Marcia Dixon, Brenda Moses, and Dwight Davis.