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Arnita Dula stands in the law library at City Hall

Deputy City Attorney Arnita Dula to retire after 37 years of public service

After 37 years of public service, City of Hickory Deputy City Attorney Arnita Dula will officially retire on June 30.

“It has been a privilege working for the City of Hickory,” said Dula. “I’m truly grateful for the friendships I’ve developed with many coworkers over the years. Most importantly, I’m thankful I’ve had the opportunity to grow professionally and personally in my life, which has been devoted to public service.”

Dula started working for the City of Hickory in August 2006 and has devoted almost 18 years of her professional career to advising and representing the City of Hickory in various legal matters as its Deputy City Attorney. 

In this role, Dula reviews, drafts, and revises City contracts, ordinances, policies, and legal opinions. She represents the City of Hickory in minor court matters, including the collection of delinquent fees and various motions, and sits on the Hickory Regional Planning Commission that meets monthly to discuss zoning and other land use requests.

“Arnita has been a valuable member of the City Manager’s Office and leadership team for the City of Hickory over the years,” said City Manager Warren Wood. “She is a dedicated public servant that has always shown great care for her community and respect for the laws that govern it.”

Prior to her time with the City of Hickory, Dula spent almost two decades serving the public in the North Carolina public school system. She was an administrator at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute and an English language arts teacher at Granite Falls Middle School and West Caldwell High School. She went on to become an assistant principal at College Park Middle School and then the principal of Jenkins Elementary School. 

Dula dedicated many years to serving the public as an educator and public school administrator, but her dream had always been to study and practice law. She went back to school in 1998 to pursue a career in law.

While attending law school, Dula served as a law clerk for the Principals’ Executive Program Legal Services Division at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and then for Cranfill, Sumner, & Hartzog, LLP. She also worked for the Attorney General’s Office in the Education Division. 

After earning her law degree, she served as the Hearing Officer for Guilford County Schools for five years, adjudicating long-term suspension appeals, before transitioning to local government service.

Dula holds a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law, a master’s degree in Public School Administration from Appalachian State University, and a bachelor's degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has been licensed to practice law by the North Carolina State Bar since September 2001 and is a member of the 36th Judicial District. She is also a graduate of the Assistant Principals’ Executive Program at the UNC School of Government.

In addition to her professional contributions, Dula has demonstrated her devotion to public service, education, and leadership by volunteering with various organizations. She served on boards for the Children’s Advocacy & Protection Center, The Chamber of Catawba County, North Carolina Association of Police Attorneys, Exodus Homes, North Carolina Bar Association, North Carolina State Bar, North Carolina Municipal Attorneys Association, Catawba County Bar Association, and Catawba County Department of Social Services.

Her service to the public has earned her several honors and awards. The American Business Women’s Association selected Dula as Business Woman of the Year in 2003. She was recognized in March 2016 with the City of Hickory Women’s History Month Phenomenal Woman Award. Dula received the North Carolina Bar Association’s Citizen Lawyer Award in June 2016. 

Mayor Hank Guess commented on behalf of the Hickory City Council, “We greatly appreciate Arnita’s service to the City of Hickory and the Hickory community during her tenure as Deputy City Attorney. Through her volunteer leadership on various local boards, she demonstrated her commitment to public service and improving the lives of others. We wish her well in retirement and her future endeavors.”

Dula is a native of Caldwell County and resides in Hickory. In retirement, she plans to spend more time with her family and become more involved in her church.