Chamber Presents 2016 Citizen of the Year Award to Phil Freelon; Family Launches ALS Campaign

The Durham Chamber of Commerce presented Phil Freelon with the 2016 Duke Energy Citizen of the Year award at the Legislative Forum and Holiday Reception. During the event, the Freelon family, through the Freelon Foundation announced its Design A World Without ALS fundraising campaign which will take place on Thursday, April 20, 2017, at the Carolina Theater.

Created by the family of architect, educator, and business leader Phil Freelon following his ALS diagnosis earlier this year, the Freelon Foundation will support ALS research, raise awareness for those living with ALS, and one day hopefully find a cure for this disease.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – ALS – is a fatal neuromuscular disease with no known cure. Often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS was in the national spotlight in 2014 when millions of Americans participated in the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to increase awareness and fund clinical research.

Among the goals of the Design A World Without ALS campaign is to raise $250,000 towards an endowment to benefit the ongoing and critical research of the Duke University ALS Clinic to support ALS patients and families, with the possibility of establishing a professorship in ALS research. The Freelon Foundation will host a celebration of music and art on Thursday, April 20, 2017, at the historic Carolina Theater in Durham, NC.

Phil Freelon is an architect and a nationally-known leader in his profession. He is equally known as a committed mentor, friend, parent, grandparent, husband, artist, and educator. Phil is Managing and Design Director of the North Carolina practice of global design and architecture firm Perkins+Will and founder of The Freelon Group, which joined forces with Perkins+Will in 2014. He recently led the planning and design team for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in September on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Phil is also the lead architect for several significant cultural, education, and civic projects including the International Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Emancipation Park in Houston, and the Motown Museum in Detroit. In 2012, President Obama appointed him to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts where he currently serves as Vice Chairman.

“Phil’s achievements provide an inspiring example of what happens when we apply our talents to create opportunities for interaction, learning, and problem-solving,” said Lew Myers, Phil’s longtime friend, and business associate.

“The work of the Foundation reflects his generous legacy, and the Design a World Without ALS campaign offers a tangible way for all of us to strive together to erase this disease by improving research and treatment.”

To learn more about how you can make a gift, please contact Holli Gall, Executive Director of Development at or (919) 385-2406. For information about volunteering and in-kind gifts, please visit or email

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