Erin Barbee, Co-Chair
Chief Strategy Officer - DreamKey Partners
A native Charlottean, Erin Barbee is an executive operations professional with over 13 years of experience in the management of varying levels of senior housing. Throughout her career, Erin excelled in revenue growth and management, talent recruitment and retention and the creation of operational efficiencies. Erin joined the Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership as their Senior Vice President of Programs and Services for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Project. In that role she was responsible for overseeing the programs that impact economic mobility for the clients served. This includes the financial literacy program, digital literacy program, home buyer education and management of the House Charlotte program for the City of Charlotte. Erin was recently promoted to Chief Strategy Officer. Deeply embedded in the community, Erin has been challenged with making large community concerns tangible and easily understood to the everyday community member. These community concerns include but, are not limited to affordable housing, food insecurity, lack of upward mobility and building trust across lines of difference. Through the creation of innovative programs and partnerships, Erin most notably lead in the efforts to create the Urban Farm at Aldersgate, Camino Community Center site 2 and the Eastside Rising organization. Outside of work, Erin has been a dedicated community member that focuses on building equity in the City of Charlotte through her volunteer services on various boards and commissions. Erin believes that every person should have access to opportunities and programs that lead to economic mobility, a voice at the table and enjoy a fulfilled life in the place they reside. In her free time Erin enjoys traveling with her wife, deep sea fishing and DIY projects. Erin Barbee, a native of Charlotte, received her degree in Sociology and Gerontology from UNC Charlotte in 2006. For eleven years, she served as Executive Director of several different entities within the senior living field that ranged from free standing memory care communities to independent living facilities. In September 2017, she returned to Charlotte after living in Atlanta for five years, to serve as the Director of Mission Advancement with Aldersgate Retirement Community, her most rewarding position yet. In this capacity, she works with community partners to bring programs to the Aldersgate campus and the city tackling community issues through the lens of aging including transportation, education, economic mobility, food deserts, political connectivity, social justice, diversity, inclusion and equity. Outside of work, She is extremely involved in the community, serving on various board and leadership roles including the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce Board; Charlotte East Board; Eastside Rising Council Community Liaison; Simmons YMCA Board Member; Co-Chair of Charlotte LGBT Elders Group; Charlotte Mecklenburg Age Friendly Cities Steering Committee; Habitat for Humanity Neighborhood Revitalization Committee; NC Human Rights Campaign Steering Committee and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Aging Coalition Leadership Team Member. As a woman of color, her perspective as a Charlottean who advocates for the elderly, East Charlotte and the LGBTQ community, along with her desire to help build intergenerational community bridges, brings an important community perspective to the work of Leading on Opportunity. In her spare time, she enjoys being an amateur food photographer, kayaking and spending time with her family and friends.
Mike Rizer, Co-Chair
Executive Director, Corporate Affairs - Ally Financial
Michael (Mike) Rizer is currently Executive Director, Corporate Affairs at Ally Financial. He previously served as Executive Vice President Head of Community Relations for Wells Fargo & Company and Vice President of the Wells Fargo Foundation. In these roles, he managed the community development and philanthropy teams across the country that are responsible for community outreach, stakeholder engagement, charitable contributions, and reputation risk. He has more than 25 years of experience in advancing affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization initiatives, having started his career as an attorney representing low- and moderate-income families. He is active in the community and serves on the board of Queens University and the advisory board for the University of Dayton College of Arts and Science, as well as boards of the National Center for Healthy Housing and Leading on Opportunity. Rizer received his Bachelor of Arts cum laude from the University of Dayton and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Jo. They have two daughters, Clare and Rachel.
Clarence D. Armbrister
President - Johnson C. Smith University
Clarence D. “Clay” Armbrister became the 14th president of Johnson C. Smith University on January 1, 2018. Armbrister, who brings over 35 years of experience in the private and public sectors, has an extensive background at all levels of education, including time in senior administrative and leadership positions at Temple University, Johns Hopkins University, the School District of Philadelphia and Girard College. In addition to his background in education, Armbrister has held executive positions in law, government, and finance. Armbrister began his professional career as a lawyer in the Public Finance Department of Saul, Ewing Remick & Saul, leaving as a partner in 1994 to serve as Philadelphia City Treasurer, where he managed the city’s funds, investments, and debt. In 1995, he coordinated the presentations of city officials which convinced the rating agencies to restore the City of Philadelphia’s debt ratings to investment grade from “junk bond” ratings. He went on to become the Managing Director of the Philadelphia School District, which at the time was the fourth largest school district in the country. Serving simultaneously as its chief financial officer and chief operating officer, Armbrister addressed head-on the issue of inadequate funding to urban schools compared to their suburban counterparts and significantly advanced the debate. His return to the private sector as an investment banker at PaineWebber (subsequently UBS) saw him advance quickly, from a Vice President to a Director in the Municipal Securities Group, where he led nationwide efforts in underwriting transactions for issuers in the K-12 public education market. Armbrister’s strong belief in the transformative powers of education was the primary factor in his return to the field of education. Armbrister joined Temple University, and for the next five years, he progressed from Senior Vice President for Administration to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. During his tenure, Armbrister was responsible for $400 million in capital projects on several campuses and managed the campus through a rapid conversion from primarily a commuter school to a residential campus. He also led Temple’s management, planning and coordination of student affairs, facilities management services, campus safety services, intercollegiate athletics, computer and information services, affirmative action, enrollment management services, and management analysis. Armbrister has also taught in higher education. He served as an adjunct faculty member at Temple, developing and teaching a municipal finance curriculum in the Beasley School of Law. Additionally, he served as Chief of Staff to the President and Senior Vice President at Johns Hopkins University and more recently, President and Chief Executive Officer at Girard College, a 170-year-old historically unique Philadelphia boarding school. Armbrister has been successful at the highest levels of municipal government, working with some of the most well-known politicians in the recent history of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was appointed Philadelphia City Treasurer by then-Mayor Ed Rendell, who was subsequently elected Governor of Pennsylvania. Armbrister also served as former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s first Chief of Staff. He has a long history of volunteer service. Currently he serves on the boards of Charlotte Regional Business Alliance – Executive Committee, Charlotte Center City Partners, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health and Health Partners Plans, Inc., Charlotte Executive Leadership Council, Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association – Vice President, Go Red for Women, North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, and All In 2040 Center City Vision Plan Steering Committee. He is the former President of the Board of the National Adoption Center, and recently completed service on the board of the Community College of Philadelphia. A native of Miami, Florida, Armbrister received Bachelor of Arts degrees in political science (concentrating in public policy) and in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School. He and his wife, Denise, have five children and four grandchildren.
Laura Yates Clark
President & CEO - United Way of Central Carolinas
Charlotte native, Laura Yates Clark, serves as United Way of Central Carolina’s President and Chief Executive Officer. She joined the United Way team in 2016 as Executive Vice President and Chief Impact Officer and led the transformation of the organization’s community impact strategy to more directly address the economic mobility challenges across the Charlotte region, including the recently announced the investment of $24.5 million into the community, with $16.3 million going toward the organization’s community impact strategy and $8.2 million in donor directed funding. United Way has launched two major community initiatives under her leadership – United Neighborhoods to drive neighborhood transformation and revitalization and Unite Charlotte to improve racial equity and increase social capital. She also led the development of a new grants funding process that supports more than 110 local nonprofit partners and programs. A proven leader and longtime advocate for children and families, Laura previously served as CEO of the Renaissance West Community Initiative and was formerly Director of The Larry King Center at Charlotte’s Council for Children’s Rights. Prior to that, she was United Way’s director of evaluation and community impact from 2004-2008. She currently serves as Chair of the Charlotte Branch of the Richmond Federal Reserve and is a member of the UNC Charlotte Cato College of Education Advisory Board. Laura has been engaged with a variety of other civic committees and nonprofit boards, including the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Advisory Board. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Appalachian State University and a master’s degree in clinical/community psychology from UNC Charlotte.
Dr. Kinneil Coltman
Senior Vice President and Chief Community & Social Impact Officer - Atrium Health
Kinneil Coltman, DHA, is senior vice president and chief community & social impact officer for Atrium Health, one of the most comprehensive and highly integrated not-for-profit healthcare systems in the nation. As a member of the senior leadership team, Dr. Coltman is responsible for developing a unified social impact strategy to advance the well-being of communities that Atrium Health serves by improving healthcare access, addressing social determinants of health, and advancing health equity. Dr. Coltman’s areas of responsibility include Community Health, Community Engagement & Corporate Responsibility, Health Equity and Social Strategy & Impact. Dr. Coltman has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry, having devoted most of her career to leading health equity and diversity initiatives. She joined Atrium Health in 2016 and, prior to her current role, served as vice president and chief diversity officer. Before joining Atrium Health, Dr. Coltman held dual appointments as Chief Diversity Officer for Greenville Health System, now known as Prisma Health, and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. Dr. Coltman earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, a Masters in cross cultural studies from the University of Houston – Clear Lake, a Doctorate of Health Administration from the Medical University of South Carolina and was a Fellow in the Health Research and Educational Trust’s Cross Cultural Leadership Fellowship, sponsored by the American Hospital Association.
Executive Vice President & Chief Consumer Officer - Novant Health
Jesse Cureton is chief consumer officer and executive vice president for Novant Health. In this executive role, he is the visionary who directs strategic planning, marketing, public relations, community relations, the foundations/outreach, corporate health and other business functions. He is credited with unifying the system through a rebranding initiative that showcases Novant Health’s commitment to building a culture of wellness and consumer engagement. The brand, which was launched four months after his start with Novant Health, elevates corporate presence and exemplifies remarkable patient experience. He is a former Presbyterian Healthcare and Novant Health board trustee. He joined Novant Health after retiring from a laudable tenure with Bank of America, the Charlotte-headquartered industry giant. Recognizing banking as a comprehensive and multidimensional industry, he explored and became a specialist in various disciplines. During his twenty-five year financial industry career, he successfully led the local merger efforts in North Carolina for US Trust and Bank of America, developed training for 2000+ wealth management advisors in Premier Banking and Investments, and implemented tactics that greatly improved staff satisfaction, retention and productivity. Recognized as a national leader with strong lifelong connections, he is highly sought after for board representation. He embraces the beliefs that there is great reward for making a positive difference in the life of a young person and that lives can be changed through art, education, and financial literacy. He currently serves as a board member with Queens University of Charlotte, Charlotte Mint Museum, Carolina Thread Trail, and the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. He holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and a Master in Business Administration, and Financial Planning Certificate from Queens University of Charlotte. He is also an executive program graduate from Harvard Business School and The Wharton School (of Business). He and his wife, Angela, who has been actively involved with the local Junior League and Jack and Jill of America organizations, have three daughters
Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer
President - Central Piedmont Community College
A native of Hollywood, Florida, Kandi W. Deitemeyer attended Polk Community College and the University of South Florida where she graduated in 1988 and 1990 respectively with an undergraduate degree in mass communications. She then earned master's (1996) and doctoral (2002) degrees in Counselor Education and Educational Leadership at the University of South Florida. Deitemeyer began her academic career in 1992 at Polk Community College. Over the next 11 years, she rose through the staff and administrative ranks while completing her graduate work. Upon completion of her doctorate she became dean of student service at Sandhills Community College (2003) and earned a promotion to vice president during her tenure. In 2006, she was recruited to the administrative post of provost at Gateway Community and Technical College with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. As provost, she worked to ensure the institution gained candidacy and eventual regional accreditation to ensure regional workforce transformation and success for students. She returned to the North Carolina Community College System (2008) as vice president for academic programs at Davidson County Community College (DCCC). At DCCC, she brought a collaborative approach to academic programs and workforce development initiatives resulting in innovative and expansive program offerings. With a focus on faculty engagement, she brought an intentional focus on student success through integrated program and course delivery approaches. In 2010, she was named president of the College of The Albemarle, in northeastern North Carolina. In that role, she led the development of the college’s fourth campus, the Regional Aviation and Technical Training Center, a strategic partnership with Currituck County. The collaboration would result in the unprecedented awarding of the Distinguished Partners in Excellence award from the North Carolina Community College System, to a municipal entity and college. She is further credited with bringing a strategic focus on student success, enrollment management and aligning academic programs to increase access for students across the college’s seven-county service area. During her six-year tenure, she led a comprehensive strategic plan which included capital construction and renovation plans for the multi-campus college; and significantly increased philanthropic partnerships and gifts to the college. Her success and passion garnered her successive nominations for President of the Year. She was honored twice in 2014 as both a Woman of Excellence by the Elizabeth City Chamber and as the Strong, Bold, Smart Person of the Year by Girls, Inc. In September 2016, she was named Central Piedmont Community College’s fourth president and assumed the role in January 2017. She has focused her efforts on building relationships across the college’s six-campus footprint and throughout Mecklenburg County. During her tenure, she has led an intentional scope of work that is future focused which developed a new vision and strategic plan for the college. The strategy phase has been built on her collective engagements with faculty, staff and students. She is committed to a vision that is advanced, college-wide, constituent-engaged and student-centered. She brings her high-impact energy and engagement to many local, statewide and national efforts. Locally she serves on the Leadership on Opportunity Council and the Charlotte Region Collaborative for a Global Workforce. She is an active member of the North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents, currently serving as treasurer. After many years of service as a board member, she currently serves on the Executive Council for the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges. Nationally, she serves as a board member for the League of Innovation and the American Association of Community Colleges. She and her husband, Gary, and their daughter, Zoe, reside in Charlotte.
County Manager - Mecklenburg County Government
Dena Diorio is the Mecklenburg County Manager. She is responsible for executing the policy decisions of the Board of County Commissioners and leading the County organization by overseeing the administration of County departments. She also advises the Board on operational and financial matters, services and other issues, and submits an annual operating and capital budget for the Board’s consideration. She is currently a member of the following boards and committees: Levine Museum of the New South Executive Committee; Blumenthal Board of Trustees; North Tryon Vision Plan Committee; Charlotte Regional Partnership Board of Directors; Early Childhood Development Executive Committee; Read Charlotte Governing Board; Charlotte Center City Partners Board; Trees Charlotte Board and the United Way Board of Directors. She joined Mecklenburg County in 2007 as director of the Department of Financial Services. In 2013, she was promoted to assistant county manager for fiscal control, policies and standards compliance where she provided executive management oversight of the County’s Financial Services Department (comprising Central Finance, Human Services Finance, and the Office of Tax Collector) as well as MECKLINK Finance and the Assessor’s Office. Raised in Westchester County, N.Y., she started her career in New York City, eventually working for then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Later, she took jobs in Stamford and Danbury, Conn., until moving to Mecklenburg County. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Social Services from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
Director of Community Engagement - Raydal Hospitality
Miriam Espaillat, MSW LCSW is Director of Community Engagement for Raydal Hospitality LLC managing company for Sabor Latin Street Grill. She is an immigrant Latina from El Salvador who grew up in Queens, NY and migrated to Charlotte, NC in 2006. She married in 2008, is mother of two boys, and has support from extended family of origin and in-laws who have migrated to Charlotte within the last 10 years. Miriam graduated with a master’s in social work degree from the University of NC at Charlotte in 2013. She holds a clinical social work license and is a member of the National Association of Social Workers - NC Chapter (NASW-NC). She has completed trainings through NASW-NC that focus on access, segregation, advocacy, ethics, and cultural awareness. Miriam is passionate about the immigrant community and other vulnerable populations who experience hardship and have barriers to access employment, education, and other services that hinder community members from thriving and achieving personal goals. She is also passionate about the social determinants of health that impact Latinos in Mecklenburg County. As Director of Community Engagement and co-founder of Sabor Latin Street Grill, she is building relationships with community agencies who work with young and older adults who are experiencing barriers to access employment – including disconnected youth. Through these relationships she has been able to employ candidates who are reentering the workforce or have limited access to higher education – supporting upward economic mobility and being socially responsible to its community members.
Executive Director - Charlotte Works
Danielle is a lifelong public servant with more than 20+ years of workforce development experience. As President and CEO of Charlotte Works, she focuses on the cultivation of a thriving local economy through education, training and upskilling of jobseekers creating sustainable talent pipelines for businesses. Danielle has experience in nearly all facets of workforce development. Prior to her current role, she served in a variety of capacities in program development and administration, organizational development, and strategic planning. Under her leadership, Charlotte Works exceeds multiple goals in workforce development programs supporting youth, adults, and businesses and is continuously recognized for innovative initiatives and partnerships. Danielle serves on several national, state, and local boards and committees. She holds a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in business administration. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family, traveling and being outdoors.
Dr. Sharon L. Gaber
Chancellor - University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Sharon L. Gaber, Ph.D., is the fifth chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Known as North Carolina’s urban research university, it leverages its location in the state’s largest city to offer internationally competitive programs of research and creative activity, exemplary undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, and a focused set of community engagement initiatives. UNC Charlotte maintains a particular commitment to addressing the cultural, economic, educational, environmental, health, and social needs of the greater Charlotte region. With a student population of more than 30,000 (due to a 33% increase in enrollment since 2009), it is the fastest-growing — and second largest — institution in the 17-member University of North Carolina System. Its diverse student body, 37% of whom are first-generation college students, comes from 47 states and 105 countries. A native of Southern California, Gaber earned an A.B. in Economics and Urban Studies from Occidental College, an M.P.L. in Urban Planning from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in City & Regional Planning from Cornell University. Prior to her arrival at UNC Charlotte, Gaber served for five years as the President of the University of Toledo, where she was nationally recognized for her efforts to increase enrollment, improve graduation and retention rates, keep education affordable, increase research funding, improve connection to the surrounding metro region and make the campus environment diverse and inclusive. Earlier in her career, she served as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Arkansas. She has also served as an interim provost at Auburn University and a faculty member and administrator at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. An academic with a background in city and regional planning, Gaber has written numerous articles on regional and urban planning, public policy and the social dynamics that affect community decision-making. She is also co-author of a book on planning research methods. She was recently named to the Business North Carolina 2021 Power List, and in 2020 she received the YWCA Northwest Ohio Milestone Award for women’s leadership. She was designated by Education Dive as one of five higher education leaders to watch in 2018 and beyond. Deeply engaged in community and regional activities, she has served on multiple NCAA committees, and she was recently appointed to the Executive Committee of Conference USA. She is a member of the Charlotte Executive Leadership Council, Women Executives, and the International Women’s Forum – Carolinas. Officially the first woman to serve as chancellor of UNC Charlotte, Gaber follows the trail blazed by founding educator Bonnie Cone, who led the institution from 1946- 1966 through several stages of growth. Dr. Gaber is the proud mother of three adult children.
Dr. Devonya Govan-Hunt
CEO & Master Trainer - Govan-Hunt Staff Development, LLC & Critical Curriculum Consulting
Dr. Govan-Hunt is a committed community advocate and education leader. After moving to Charlotte from Ohio over ten years about, she served as a site coordinator for the Dell Curry Foundation, a high school challenge tutor for Communities In Schools, and assistant director for Wesley Child Development Center. She then became a child development specialist with one of the lead resource and referral agencies in Charlotte. That is where she fostered her passion for improving early care and education. Dr. Govan-Hunt earned her PhD in Early Childhood Education at Walden University in 2011. She’s presented her research at numerous educational forums, including: the National Smart Start Conference, the National Afterschool Association, The National Association for the Education of Young Children, and the National Black Child Development Association. Her research focuses on cultural competency, addressing the preschool to prison pipeline, mass incarceration, and race matters. Dr. Govan-Hunt holds numerous leadership positions, including the President of the Mecklenburg Child Care Association, BCDI-Charlotte Board Member, Co-chair of READ Charlotte’s ‘Ready for School’ committee, and President of the Reedy Creek Elementary School PTO. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and music. She is a wife and the proud mother of two young daughters, McKenzie and Madison.
City Manager - City of Charlotte
Marcus D. Jones is the City Manager for the City of Charlotte. He began his new role on Dec. 1, 2016. Before moving to Charlotte, he served as the city manager of Norfolk, Va., a role he began in February 2011 after serving the city from 2004-2009 as the director of budget and grants management and as an assistant city manager. As the city manager of the second largest city in the Commonwealth of Virginia, he helped Norfolk build on its competitive advantages as the urban core of a region of more than 1.7 million people. He has 23 years of public service experience, which includes serving as a deputy secretary of finance for two governors in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In each case, he played a major role in protecting the Commonwealth’s coveted AAA bond rating and streamlining government operations. He has experience managing complex budgets ranging from $1.2 billion (local) to $50 billion (state). While serving with the state government, he gained a strong reputation for his ability to negotiate complex financial and legislative issues across party lines. He earned his bachelor's degree in Public Administration from James Madison University and a Master in Public Administration degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. Jones and his wife, Jillian, have three children.
President & CEO - FORCLT
Rob Kelly serves as the founding President & CEO of FORCLT. In this role, Rob is the primary directional leader and architect of the FORCLT network platform and the lead author of the Charlotte State of the City Report. FORCLT is a convening organization operating as a platform to connect all churches, denominations, nonprofits, and organizations working toward positive, community transformation. Prior to this, Rob served 13 years as a pastor, along with numerous other leadership positions, including co-founding CLT/ONE and lecturing at Gordon-Conwell Seminary. Rob is a graduate of the University of Washington and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary-Charlotte and is pursuing doctoral studies from Bakke Graduate University. Rob is married to Ani, and they are the proud parents of Addison and RJ.
President - Queens University
Daniel G. Lugo, J.D., began his service as president of Queens University of Charlotte on July 1, 2019. He was named president after serving in key leadership positions at three top-ranked liberal arts institutions. These roles included vice president of college advancement at Colby College, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid at Franklin and Marshall College, and associate dean of admissions at Carleton College. As vice president for college advancement at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, Lugo orchestrated the strategy, launch and execution of a $750 million fundraising campaign, the largest of its kind for any liberal arts college in history. In the first two years of the campaign, Colby secured $415 million in philanthropic commitments including 40 gifts that exceeded $1 million. In addition to overseeing Colby’s fundraising, Lugo worked to strengthen the campus and alumni communities, both individually and collectively. He co-chaired the diversity, equity, and inclusion task force, partnering with faculty members on Colby’s inclusivity efforts. Lugo also initiated innovative technology and programmatic solutions for alumni to mentor current students and impact the student experience through philanthropy. These efforts led to Colby’s top 10 national ranking in alumni participation. At Franklin & Marshall, Lugo collaboratively developed a global talent strategy that led to a 45 percent increase in applications and yielded a more academically talented and diverse—socioeconomically, ethnically, and geographically—incoming class. Earlier in his career, Lugo supervised the admissions process and enrollment marketing strategy, as well as helped to develop cultivation and solicitation strategies for leadership donors at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. President Lugo models Queens’ motto non ministrari sed ministrare, “not to be served, but to serve,” by actively serving on the boards of The New American Colleges and Universities (NACU), North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU), North Carolina Campus Compact, and College Possible. A first-generation college graduate, Lugo strongly believes in the transformative power of education. He earned his B.A. in political science from Carleton College, and his juris doctorate from the University of Minnesota School of Law, where he was an editor of The Journal of Law & Inequality. Prior to his career in higher education, Lugo was an intellectual property and entertainment attorney, representing national music artists.
Dr. Michael Marsicano
President & CEO - Foundation For The Carolinas
Michael Marsicano is President and Chief Executive Officer of Foundation For The Carolinas. Managing assets, owned and represented, of $2.5 billion, the Foundation holds 3000 charitable funds and ranks as the 6th largest community foundation in the United States. Since Dr. Marsicano has been at the helm of FFTC, contributions to the Foundation have totaled more than $4 billion and grant awards more than $2.6 billion. The Foundation leads a variety of civic leadership initiatives in multiple subject areas. Dr. Marsicano joined the Foundation in 1999 after serving as President and CEO of the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte, North Carolina for 10 years. During his tenure, the united arts fund moved to the nation’s highest in per capita annual giving. With Dr. Marsicano at its helm, the Arts & Science Council became one of the largest endowed arts councils in the United States. Dr. Marsicano has been active in several national and local organizations. He currently serves on the Governing Boards of Duke University, Duke University Health System, Charlotte Center City Partners, Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and is immediate past Chair of the Queens University Board of Trustees. He has previously chaired the Board of the National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and has served on the Boards of Americans for the Arts, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Discovery Place Science Museum, Nasher Museum of Art, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Foundation, Winthrop University Foundation, the Vann Center for Ethics at Davidson College as well as the Board of Community Foundations of America. Dr. Marsicano has received several honors and awards. On the national level, he was the recipient of the Selina Roberts Ottum Award given annually to the top arts administrator in the nation. On the local level, he was the inaugural winner of the Innovator of the Year award, which is sponsored by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. He has received the Distinguished Service Award from The University of North Carolina-Charlotte; the Vision Award from Charlotte Center City Partners; Excellence in Management Award, sponsored annually by Charlotte Rotary, the Charlotte Business Journal and the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce; as well as the recipient of the Medal of Honor in the Arts from Winthrop University and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award from the Urban League of Central Carolinas and Johnson C. Smith University’s Arch of Triumph Award. In 2017, Charlotte Magazine ranked Dr. Marsicano as the #1 most important person in Charlotte. In 2018, the Washington D.C. based Non-Profit Times ranked Dr. Marsicano in the top 50 most important non-profit leaders in America. A native of New York, Dr. Marsicano received his Bachelor of Science, Masters of Education and Doctor of Philosophy from Duke University. He is married to the Reverend Leslie Montfort Marsicano, also a graduate of Duke University and the Duke University Divinity School. Leslie is an ordained Methodist Minister serving Davidson College as Associate Dean for Academic Administration. The Marsicano's have three sons.
President - The Pomfret Financial Company, Inc.
Edwin Peacock is a Charlotte native and the President of Pomfret Financial, an insurance & business planning firm. He served on the Charlotte City Council from 2007-2011 as an At-Large member. In 2013 and 2015, he was the Republican nominee for Mayor. He served as a trustee for the Blumenthal Performing Arts from 2011-2017. Edwin earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Certificate of Global Studies from The University of Georgia. He and his wife Amy have been married for 25 years and have two children.
Dr. Carol Quillen
President - Davidson College
Carol Quillen has led Davidson College in developing among its students the qualities desperately needed in our world today: leadership, integrity, curiosity, and empathy. Under her guidance, Davidson is creating a new model for higher education in an increasingly interconnected world. The college’s students cultivate deep skills and capacities, such as critical thinking and problem solving, heightened by studies in the uncharted areas where disciplines overlap, and discoveries are made. Combined with experiential learning, at home and abroad, they leave equipped to have a disproportionate impact in the world. Quillen's "Transition to Impact" initiatives and her support of student-and-faculty collaborative research allow students to produce new knowledge, whether working with scholars in the classroom or entrepreneurs in the community. She inspired and has overseen the building of the E. Craig Wall Jr. Center, which weaves together physical sciences, social sciences, and public art. She led the creation of the college’s Jay Hurt Hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the town of Davidson, a nexus for community entrepreneurs, faculty research and student initiatives unprecedented among liberal arts colleges. She has affirmed Davidson's commitment to educational excellence by cultivating partnerships that help identify students from all backgrounds whose talents enrich the community and whose leadership as graduates will transform the world. An historian by training, Quillen often guest lectures in a variety of courses and is teaching a course in the Humanities program during the fall of 2019. A respected scholar and an accomplished administrator, she arrived at Davidson from Rice University, where she served as vice president for international and interdisciplinary initiatives. She grew up in New Castle, Delaware, a small town where she says, "it was second nature to support the community and look out for other people." She earned a B.A. in American history from the University of Chicago, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with special and general honors, then received a Ph.D. in European history from Princeton University. In 2018, Princeton awarded her the James Madison medal, given in recognition of an alum’s distinguished career, advancing the cause of graduate education or record of outstanding public service. She emphasizes that equal educational opportunity must be real and meaningful. On campus, she has strengthened the Davidson Trust through which the college practices need-blind admission and meets 100 percent of demonstrated need for all students through a combination of grants and campus employment, with no packaged loans. In national leadership, she is a founding member of the American Talent Initiative, aimed at graduating 50,000 additional high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students from the nation’s top schools. President Obama appointed Quillen to the Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans, and her peers have placed her on the board of directors of the American Council on Education and in leadership roles with the NCAA and the National Humanities Center. She serves on the board the Levine Museum of the New South.
Chief Talent & Responsibility Officer - Deloitte LLP
Dave Rizzo is Deloitte LLP’s national managing principal for talent strategy and operations (TSO). Dave leads a global team of more than 4,000 professionals with an annual budget of $650m that is responsible for talent acquisition, learning and development, total rewards, performance management, workforce analytics, human resources technology and contact center support for more than 150,000 professionals. As TSO, Dave is also responsible for the multi-year digital transformation of the human resources function, and Deloitte’s workforce strategy to grow the business, meet diversity, equity, and inclusion goals, improve the well-being of its professionals, and achieve environmental, social and governance commitments. Dave joined Deloitte LLP in 2001 and previously held roles in business and client leadership and was Deloitte Consulting LLP’s Chief Talent and Purpose Officer. Under his leadership, Deloitte has been recognized by numerous organizations such as Fortune, LinkedIn, Seramount, and Brandon Hall for fostering a culture of inclusion, collaboration, development, well-being, high performance, and opportunity. Dave has been intensely focused on career and college readiness and workforce development to achieve economic mobility since his advanced degree studies at Cornell University, where he graduated with a master’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations in 1998. He has published research on the subject with the National Association of Manufacturers and the Aerospace Industries Association. Dave is currently contributing to efforts such as Deloitte’s US RightStep that is supporting high school students to get into college, One Ten that is helping a million Black Americans secure family-sustaining careers, and several programs, in partnership with the world’s leading technology companies, to help those without a four-year college degree acquire the skills and certifications necessary to access quality jobs in high-growth segments of the economy. Dave joined the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community five years ago and became the executive sponsor for Deloitte’s Step-Up Charlotte, through which hundreds of Deloitte professionals have volunteered their time to advance the missions of more than a dozen, local social impact organizations, including Leading on Opportunity. He is the father of three teenage children with whom he enjoys exploring Charlotte’s many vibrant neighborhoods, visiting the beach and mountains, and contributing to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in remembrance of their strong, inspiring mother.
Founder - Applesauce Group
Winston Robinson is a native of Charlotte’s Wilmore community. Over time, he’s witnessed firsthand how disinvestment can profoundly shape neighborhoods and how displacement of long-term residents’ leaves individuals feeling unheard and powerless. After serving as the President of the Lockwood Neighborhood Association and learning more about the systemic impact of unequitable housing policies – he committed to reducing the destructive deprivation that is so prevalent in Charlotte’s neighborhoods. To that end, Winston transformed an annual cookout that he hosted with a group of friends, into a festival celebration that encourages viable homeownership. Winston spearheaded an annual festival named a Vibe Called Fresh (a humorous nod to the legendary hip-hop trio, A Tribe Called Quest). The event utilizes fun to connect disenfranchised residents to information, introductory education, tools, and homeownership resources. In 2020, to keep up with growing interest in the event, Winston founded a 501c3 non-profit organization – the Applesauce Group – to develop and provide more amazingly fun, empowerment-based community events. The Applesauce Group’s name derives from the old parental trick of masking the taste of medicine with applesauce. Utilizing an enjoyable experience as a resourceful method to deliver uneasy essentials is the founding principle of Applesauce Group.
Ebony A. Thomas
Senior Vice President, ESG and Racial Equality and Economic Opportunity Executive - Bank of America
Ebony A. Thomas is senior vice president of ESG and Public Policy and the Racial Equality and Economic Opportunity Initiatives executive responsible for delivering Bank of America’s $1B, four-year initiative to accelerate work to help drive racial equality and economic opportunity for people and communities of color. Thomas works to identify and build partnerships with internal and external community leaders, business leaders, local elected officials, and others in the communities Bank of America serves to drive economic opportunity and upward mobility through programmatic initiatives. Previously, Thomas was a global human resources executive leading teams in enterprise diversity recruiting strategy and market and site HR. In addition to her executive career, Thomas serves as a board member at Central Piedmont Community College and is a member of the Board of Visitors for the School of Business at Howard University in Washington, DC. Thomas’ service to these organizations is rooted in her commitment to transform approaches to student achievement, career success, and improving generational socio-economic status in underserved communities. Thomas is a proud graduate of North Carolina A&T State University.
Superintendent - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Earnest Winston was named superintendent for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools August 2, 2019. He brings the experiences of a teacher, a parent, a communicator and a chief of staff to the role. Winston joined Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in 2004 as an English teacher at Vance High School, where he also taught journalism and served as adviser to the school’s student newspaper. After two years in the classroom, he moved into administration, joining the district’s communications department as an external communications supervisor. In 2008, he became executive coordinator/communications liaison for then-Chief Operating Officer Hugh E. Hattabaugh, who became interim superintendent in July 2011. He served as chief of staff to the two superintendents who followed Hattabaugh. In 2017, he was named chief community relations and engagement officer. He began his career as a reporter for the Mansfield News Journal in Ohio, later moving to the Cincinnati (Ohio) Enquirer where he covered local government in the city and nearby towns, as well as education in Northern Kentucky. He left Cincinnati to join the Charlotte Observer, where he covered government, development, general news – and wrote about his cousin Jennifer Hudson’s rise to fame on “American Idol.” In addition to serving on the Leading on Opportunity Council, he also serves on the board of Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, where he is chairperson of the Program Evaluation Committee. Previously, he served on the Freedom School Advisory Board at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, where he is a member. He has also served on the boards of Charlotte Works Youth Council, Stratford Richardson YMCA, Children’s Scholarship Fund and the Ohio Wesleyan University Alumni Board of Directors. He is a 2010 graduate of Leadership Charlotte and a 2016 graduate of the Leadership Development Initiative (Community Building Initiative). He has been recognized as an Atrium Health Martin Luther King Jr. Growing the Dream Award recipient (2019) and a YBM Leadership Alliance Success Leader (2016). He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.’s Beta Nu Lambda Chapter. A native of Chicago, he holds a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Ohio Wesleyan University. He is married with two daughters who are CMS students.
Dee O'Dell, Council Emeritus
Regional Executive - U.S. Bank
Dee O’Dell is a Regional Executive in U. S. Bank’s Consumer and Business Banking Group. He is responsible all retail branches and small business banking in the metropolitan markets in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. In this region, U. S. Bank has approximately 300 branches in the cities of Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Louisville and Nashville. He has recently been named to this new role, building on an extensive banking career that has included experience in investment banking, corporate banking, capital markets, credit underwriting, and leadership at various levels. He is an active member of the Charlotte community. From 2014 through 2017, he served as the Co-Chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force whose findings have shaped the dialog on economic mobility, affordable housing, early childhood development and college and career preparation in the Charlotte community. He currently serves on the boards of the United Way of the Central Carolinas, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, the Leading on Opportunity Council, and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Foundation. He also serves as an advisor to Opportunity Insights and as a mentor with the Friedland Foundation. His previous service includes Heart Math Tutoring, The American Red Cross, The American Diabetes Association, and Habitat for Humanity. He was born and raised in Oxford, Mississippi. He graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia and received an MBA from The University of North Carolina’s Kenan Flagler School of Business. He and his wife Christina have three teenage daughters.