EmpowerCon Speakers

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Aaron Dodge

He/Him/His

@aaron_dodge

Director of Brand Management, EmpowerCon's Hype Man

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Aaron Dodge

Originally from Upstate NY, most of Aaron’s professional career has been spent in the NBA as well as multiple Marketing Roles with local Charlotte businesses. When he’s not producing projects for the Littlefield team you can find him working game nights at the Hornets, Emceeing the Checkers Hockey games, dancing in his mirror or working out at bloc.clt.

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Aithyni Rucker, Esq.

She/Her/Hers

@duke_energy

Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager, Duke Energy Owner, The Career Design Lab

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Aithyni Rucker, Esq.

Aithyni Rucker Robinson is a Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager with Duke Energy. During her tenure with the company, she has been responsible for managing enterprise wide D&I programs and initiatives in support of the company strategy and specific D&I goals including the HBCU strategy, Communications, Employee Resource Groups, and D&I Councils. She also serves as a the D&I Consultant to the business, HR partners, and Recruiting. As an attorney, she is trained to see the big picture while applying strategy, logic, and creativity. Aithyni spent a total of six years in private practice –at a large law firm practicing Employment Law, with a focus on anti-discrimination, and at a mid-sized firm with a construction/ personal injury based practice. She also served as a Career Counselor and Diversity Career Opportunity Consultant, with the Center for Professional Development, at the Charlotte School of Law, Aithyni is the owner of The Career Design Lab. Over the past 7 years, Aithyni has helped hundreds of job seekers rocket their careers to the next level. With a keen eye for career strategy, she has helped clients pivot to new industries, leverage their power, negotiate promotions, and land their dream jobs. Aithyni possesses a Bachelor of Arts from Spelman College and is a cum laude graduate of Western Michigan Thomas Cooley Law School. On the weekends, she can be found hanging with her husband or curled up with a good book. She is from Las Vegas and currently lives in Charlotte.

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Alan Chavez

He/Him/His

@bitforth

Software Engineer at Microsoft.

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Alan Chavez

Alan is a Software Engineer at Microsoft. He immigrated from Mexico when he was 20 years old, and has extensive experience working with startups, medium and large corporations.

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Alex Weaver

She/Her/Hers

@al_weave

Reporter and Senior Coordinator of Digital Content and Strategy at NASCAR

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Alex Weaver

Alex Weaver is an experienced Multimedia Journalist with a demonstrated history of working in the broadcast and social media industry. She is currently a Reporter for NASCAR. She is a strong arts, multimedia and brand partnership professional with a Bachelor’s Degree focused in Communication and Sports Broadcasting from Clemson University. Born and raised in the Queen City, she is proud to call this growing city home. If she’s not talking about left turns at the race track or cheering on her National Champion Tigers, she is drinking sweet tea at a local Chick-Fil-A.

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Alexandra Arrington

She/Her/Hers

@AACareerCounsel

Education/Equity/Empowerment Generator

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Alexandra Arrington

Alexandra's working philosophy can be summarized as “if I have taken one step, that’s one step I can teach someone else how to take.” As a career counselor and consultant, with experience in corporate, education, non-profit and government organizations, and whose clients are of diverse backgrounds and abilities, education, empowerment and equity are the drivers of her work. Alexandra has a graduate degree in Career Counseling North Carolina Central University (Durham, NC). She is a provisionally licensed professional counselor in the state of North Carolina, a National Certified Counselor, and a Board Certified Tele-Mental Health Counselor. Her training and experience in communications and counseling, coupled with her value of education and strengths-based methods, have culminated in roles such as Career Counselor, Director of Community Impact, Lead Trainer and Training Manager and Adjunct Faculty,nas well as in tested processes that are thorough, yet brief and solutions-focused.She has worked with secondary and post-secondary students (both traditional and non-traditional), adults in all stages of their career in an array of industries, as well as with students and adults with various barriers (e.g. mental illness, lack of basic needs, little to no work experience, etc.). For the last 3 years she has focused on education the public about the importance of the local courts through Justice Initiatives, and on developing children’s interest in entrepreneurship through the #MoneyMagnetsClub.

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Alison Welcher

She/Her/Hers

@alisonwelcher

Vice President of School Turnarounds and Transformation at Public Impact

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Alison Welcher

Alison Harris Welcher has served as a teacher, school leader, and district administrator in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (NC). Alison has been recognized at the local, state, and national level for her ability to lead school transformation. Her work as a principal leading a middle school transformation has been profiled in “Getting Smart: 100 Schools Worth Visiting” in 2014 and in the book, Breakthrough Principals: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Stronger Schools, which inspires principals across the country to value and invest in teacher leadership. She is also a contributor to the book, “Research-based Instructional Practices of Effective Principals” which features a chapter entitled, “Opportunity Culture: Maximizing Teacher Leaders to support Instructional Culture.” In 2016, she spoke before the Senate HELP Committee regarding the ESSA legislation regarding the importance of the role of school leaders to improve student outcomes.

In addition to her work as a school and district leader, she has coached and developed school leaders and principal supervisors from North Carolina, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, New York, Massachusetts, California, and Nairobi, Kenya. Alison is currently the Vice President of School Turnarounds and Transformation at Public Impact.

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Amy Jacobs

She/Her/Hers

@amyjacobsCLT

Executive Director of SHARE Charlotte

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Amy Jacobs

After earning her Bachelors of Business Administration from Ohio University, Amy began her career at Bank of America in in Global Technology and Operations. In her nearly 15-year career in financial services she held various roles leading large-scale, transformational change initiatives in the areas of technology, mortgage, deposits e-commerce and quality and productivity.

Amy left financial services in 2015 to pursue her passion for philanthropy and bring her talent for operations and marketing to the Charlotte nonprofit community. Amy was introduced to SHARE Charlotte through her involvement with Women’s Impact Fund and volunteered to manage SHARE’s second annual #GivingTuesdayCLT community-wide giving campaign. Amy joined the SHARE Charlotte team full-time in 2016 to lead their annual community-wide giving campaigns, and in January 2018 became Executive Director.

Amy has been honored by the Charlotte Hornets with the Walmart Playmaker Award for being "a force for good in her community”, recognized as one of The Mecklenburg Times 50 Most Influential Women, and featured by Scoop Charlotte as a leader in Charlotte’s nonprofit community.

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Andy Carlson

He/Him/His

@merchantandtrade

Director of Food & Beverage

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Andy Carlson

Andy Carlson first joined Kimpton Restaurants & Bars in 2011. His successes in the Mid-Atlantic led to his appointment to director of food and beverage for the first Kimpton restaurant in Charlotte, N.C. In this role, Carlson oversees Angeline’s, an Italian-influenced modern American restaurant, Merchant & Trade, a 19th-floor rooftop lounge, and all of the catering and in-room dining for Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel.

Prior to moving to Charlotte, Carlson served as general manager for two Kimpton restaurants and bars in the Mid-Atlantic: Radiator in Washington, D.C. and Jackson 20 in historic Old Town Alexandria. And prior to that, from 2011 to 2015, Carlson was bar manager at Poste Moderne Brasserie, a Kimpton restaurant in Washington, DC.

Carlson has a service philosophy “where empathy and hospitality come first,” he says. He’s also a really likable guy; he won the Personality Award at the 2017 Kimpton Chef and General Manager conference.

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Alyssa Sharpe

She/Her/Hers

@ammsharpe

Digi-Bridge CEO

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Alyssa Sharpe

Alyssa began her career in education as a Teach For America corps member with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. After three years in the classroom, Alyssa transitioned to Trinity Episcopal School and served as their Director of Extended Day and Summer Programs. During her four year tenure, Alyssa uncovered her passion for out-of-school time programming and was able to develop a diverse lineup of course offerings that emphasized self-directed exploration and STEM learning. Shortly thereafter, Alyssa was recruited to join Project Scientist as their national director. In her role with the nonprofit, Alyssa focused her energy on increasing the number of women in STEM while leading program expansion into new markets throughout the US. During this time, she was selected to serve as a SciGirls Trainer to bring gender-equitable teaching strategies to communities and as a Hero Elementary Trainer, an educational media initiative focused on improving school readiness in science and literacy.

In early 2019, Alyssa joined Digi-Bridge as their Director of Strategic Initiatives and is thrilled to transition to the Chief Executive Officer role, leading the organization to achieve success in preparing scholars for 21st century learning skills through STEAM opportunities.

Alyssa and her husband love calling Charlotte home and are humbled daily as they raise their two-year-old STEMinist daughter. Alyssa enjoys being a part of several book clubs and spending time outdoors.

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Arlethia Hailstock

She/Her/Hers

@CTCharlotte

Community Initiatives Leader & Children's Theatre of Charlotte

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Arlethia Hailstock

Arlethia Hailstock serves in the newly created role of Community Initiatives Leader at Children's Theatre of Charlotte. She previously worked as the School Performance Coordinator at CTC. She has also worked as the Non-Profit Coordinator at Bank of America Stadium, where she helped non-profits earn money for their organizations through concessions sales. However, her most important and rewarding role is that of mom to two teenage boys. Arlethia is an active volunteer at her sons' schools and at church. If there is any such thing as spare time, Arlethia spends hers as an actor and voice-over artist in local theatre as well as local and regional commercials. You may have seen her on stage in Actor's Theatre of Charlotte's production of Nina Simone: Four Women. Originally from Winston-Salem, Arlethia received her degree in Communications from Wake Forest University and she has worked in professional theatre for 17 years. She and her family have called the Charlotte area "home" since 2006.

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Avery Primis

She/Her/Hers

@averyjprimis

Student Leader

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Avery Primis

Avery Primis is originally from Charlotte, NC but is now a sophomore at Fordham University at Lincoln Center in New York City majoring in Communications and Culture. Avery spent her time in Charlotte advocating for her generation though service and public speaking on matters such as Social Media and Inclusion. Avery is an accomplished leader after receiving the Honor Leader Award at Blue Ridge Leaders’ School and the Horner Award at Myers Park High School.

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Betsy Mack

She/Her/Hers

@hornetsgive

Director of Corporate Social Responsibility & Executive Director of the Charlotte Hornets Foundation HORNETS SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT

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Betsy Mack

Betsy Mack, with Hornets Sports and Entertainment, is the Executive Director of the Charlotte Hornets Foundation and the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility. At the Hornets, Mack leads all community and philanthropic efforts. Annually, Mack and her team executive over 100 events and activations that engage the team in philanthropic efforts. She helped to coordinate and lead the 2019 NBA All-Star NBA Cares Community efforts, orchestrating over 30 events in three days. Mack also worked at United Way for five campaigns, with a sole responsibility of fundraising for over $15 million annually.

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Blair Primis

He/Him/His

@orthocarolina

Marketing and Talent Development

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Blair Primis

Blair Primis is a leader in Strategic Marketing, the Senior Vice President of Marketing & Talent Management at OrthoCarolina, Co-Director OrthoCarolina, and a mentor. He is on the Board of Directors for the Isabella Santos Foundation, NoDa Brewing Company, Charlotte Cobras Football, SkillPop, and College of Health at Queens University.

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Brittney Ball

She/Her/Hers

@brii_toe_knee

Software Engineer, Skookum

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Brittney Ball

Brittney Ball currently works for Skookum (a digital consulting agency located in uptown charlotte) as a software engineer. Her unique path into her tech career proves that you don't always have to go the traditional route in order to have a successful career in tech. Brittney has spent the last year advocating for equality in tech through varies diversity and inclusion initiatives and is very involved in the Charlotte Tech scene. Brittney spends most of her free time in the community volunteering, speaking, and mentoring others on tech-related issues. Brittney currently serves as an organizer for QC Bytes, a staff member for the Charlotte Devs, mentor at The Relatives Crisis Center, board member and Alumni for YearUp, and Chapter Leader for a new nonprofit called Tech By Choice. Brittney's motto is that in order to see a change you must be the change, so I will continue to pay my blessings forward in order to make tech a more inclusive place for future tech professionals.

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Brittney Bogues

She/Her/Hers

@brittbogues

CEO/Founder of Bogues Consulting Group

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Brittney Bogues

Brittney Bogues, Co-Founder of Bogues Consulting Group is an influential communications executive for several brands, personalities and concepts with a proven track record of securing positive press, engaging public interest and generating significant social media buzz. As a dis-tinguished public relations executive and advocate for women and minorities rights, Brittney Bogues has furthered her scope in communications by entering the realm of political communications with the hope of utilizing her strong media relations locally, regionally and nationally to make a real change.

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Caitlin Sellers Castevens

She/Her/Hers

@caitesellers

Co-Founder of Carolina Women in Tech

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Caitlin Sellers Castevens

Bringing over a decade of experience leading digital sales and bringing inbound marketing expertise to teams, leaders and entrepreneurs, I have been dubbed a “digital marketing therapist" by colleagues and clients alike. I build effective solutions and solves sticky problems, all with an eye to ensuring data-focused growth and community at the core.

In addition to leading my small business, I joined HubSpot Partner Clariant Creative in 2019 as an inbound marketing specialist. We guide small and medium-sized businesses to grow with Inbound Sales and Marketing.

I am a board member for my neighborhood Merchants’ Association where I took on the opportunity in 2017 to co-found and organize the Charlotte Student Entrepreneur Summit with local non-profit Ultreia Society. May 2019 will be the third annual serving 150+ high school students and community leaders.

As a dedicated champion for local entrepreneurs and small business owners, I am a co-host and co-founder of podcast Lady Tech Charmers, focused on women in technology and female leadership and a founding board member of Carolina Women in Tech (CWIT). CWIT serves over 1300 women regionally with a mentorship program, scholarships, job board, and monthly events.

I also launched the Charlotte chapter of Levo League in 2013, one of the largest international networks for female-identified early- and mid-career professionals growing to nearly 1000 members locally and working with dozens of community organizers world-wide.

I'm a believer in the importance of empowering women to utilize technology to build a career of her dreams.

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Carianna Hebert

She/Her

@cariannalynne

CEO + Founder of The Remedy

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Carianna Hebert

Carianna Hebert is creativity, spirit, leader, wisdom, grace, power, nurture and passion. A professional coach and meditation leader, The Remedy was born from Carianna’s commitment to creating a lifestyle that supports humans in accessing their fullest potential through transformation and self discovery. Modern meditation for humankind, The Remedy teaches the art of stillness and self-healing through the mind.

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Chris Elmore

He/Him/His

@thechriselmore

Founder & Community Evangelist, AvidXchange

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Chris Elmore

Chris was a millionaire at age 28…For six weeks. The first tech company he started fell like a lead balloon. He dusted himself off and with four other guys started a tech company that went from $0.00 in revenue, three product failures to thousands of employees and a $1.4 Billion-dollar value. His out of the box approach of putting people first and concentrating on selling value has helped thousands.

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Christine Sperow

She/Her/Hers

@christineontv

Anchor/Reporter, WBTV News

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Christine Sperow

Christine Sperow is an award-winning journalist and anchors WBTV News This Morning from 4:30-7 a.m. as well as WBTV News at Noon. The news experience, warm personalities and chemistry of the morning team have helped make WBTV News This Morning the top morning newscast in the Charlotte market, and a two-time Emmy winner for Best Morning Newscast. In February 2019, Christine celebrated 10 years with WBTV News, coming from sister-station KLTV in Tyler, Texas. Christine has anchored coverage of many breaking news events in Charlotte, from devastating hurricanes and ice/snow storms, to news events that made national headlines like the funeral of Reverend Billy Graham and the Charleston Church shooting where nine parishioners were senselessly murdered at a weekly bible study. Christine’s reporting has also earned her a Midsouth Regional Emmy Award and Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists. Her anchoring, reporting and covering breaking news also earned her recognition from the Midsouth Regional Emmy Awards, Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas (RTDNAC) and Texas Associated Press Broadcasters.

At WBTV, Christine leads the campaign to help raise money for children fighting pediatric cancer at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. In the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway one lucky person gets a chance to win a custom-built home in the Charlotte area through a raffle, and the home is given away live on WBTV at the end of the campaign. Since Christine’s partnership with St. Jude, millions of dollars have been raised and in recent years tickets to win the Dream Home sold out in a matter of days! Christine loves volunteering in the Charlotte community and speaking to young people. For her work with St. Jude and in the community at large, Christine was named in the 2018 class of the 50 Most Influential Women by The Mecklenburg Times. Christine is married and has two children. She and her family attend Calvary Church in Charlotte. Christine is also a member of the Junior League of Charlotte, the Charlotte Area Association of Black Journalists (CAABJ), the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Christine is a native of Miami, Florida, and is the youngest of six children. Most of her immediate family now resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Christine had a decorated high school volleyball career, receiving a full athletic scholarship to the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!). She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, with a minor in Theatre. Christine loves watching sports, especially football and basketball!

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Claire Simmons

She/Her/Hers

@ClaireHosSimmons

Senior Manager, Corporate Communications at Atrium Health

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Claire Simmons

Claire Simmons is a senior manager with the Corporate Communications department; specifically, on the clinical public relations team. Claire leads communications strategies for Levine Children’s and Levine Cancer Institute, while overseeing PR efforts for the Neurosciences Institute and Behavioral Health service lines. This work includes the development and management of annual communications plans, incorporating internal stakeholders and external organizations to promote new programs, facilities, services and other activities for world-class service lines.

Claire’s favorite part of her work includes finding the most compelling, unique medical stories out there- and sharing them with reporters to elevate the awareness and reputation of Atrium Health.

Claire’s love of storytelling stems back from her years at the University of Miami, where she graduated from the School of Communication with a double major in broadcast journalism and psychology and a minor in marketing. Her first job out of school was as the producer for the number one rated morning show on WECT News, in the Wilmington, North Carolina viewing area. From producer, she worked her way up to reporter, anchor, and ultimately as the live morning reporter where she covered breaking news and was live on the scene of fires, hurricanes, snow storms, educational meetings, courthouses, and more. Claire lives in Lake Norman with her husband, Mike, their two-year-old son, Max, and a second baby boy will be joining the family in December.

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Claudio Ortiz

He/Him/His

@cloudy_ohhhh

Musician & Organizer

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Claudio Ortiz

Claudio Ortiz is a musician and organizer who has been based in Charlotte, North Carolina for 20 years. Claudio is a firm believer that the arts are a catalyst for change. He aims to create music that disrupts pre-conceptions and challenges his audience to be more aware of how they interact with the world around them. His current musical projects include Chócala, Lxs Ortiz, Sangre Cabrona, and Moa.

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Corri Smith

She/Her/Hers

@corriasmith @blackwedco

Owner of Black Wednesday

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Corri Smith

Corri Smith is the owner of Black Wednesday, a Charlotte-based Marketing and PR company focused on personifying brands through creative, innovative and organic strategies. With community-building as a focus, BW helps brands tell their stories in unique ways, specifically through use of PR, consultancy, social media, influencer marketing and events. Black Wednesday works with small to large size businesses, boasting clients like Chopt Creative Salad Co., Elior North America, La Belle Helene, Gibson Mill and Constellation Culinary.

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CT Anderson

She/Her/Hers

@BofA_News

VP, ESG Program Manager, Bank of America

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CT Anderson

As ESG Program Manager for Bank of America, CT Anderson is responsible for the bank’s environmental sustainability strategy for consumer clients, including business activities. She also helps to manage environmental and social risk and employee programs. Prior to joining Bank of America, she led the sustainability team at Belk Department Stores, a privately held department store chain based in the south eastern region of the U.S. She has consulted for major corporations and worked in real estate development and sustainability at Walmart Stores, Inc. Prior to Walmart, she held a number of policy-related roles including working on Capitol Hill for the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee.

CT is a proud alumnus of Howard University, where she received a bachelor of arts in political science. She also did graduate work at The New School in community development finance. An environmental advocate, she currently sits on the board of the Catawba Lands Conservancy and Springclean, an organization she founded in 2019. She has traveled to over 40 countries, understands several languages and enjoys meeting people all over the world.

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Daniel Valdez

He/Him/His

@welcomingusa

Network Director, Welcoming America

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Daniel Valdez

Daniel is a Network Director with Welcoming America, an international organization that supports the many diverse communities and partners who are leading efforts to make their communities more vibrant, equitable, and welcoming places for all. He has more than 10 years of nonprofit management experience and is passionate about helping advance the mission of organizations and communities working on systemic changes to bring greater prosperity and opportunity for everyone. Daniel was born in Acapulco, Mexico and grew up in North Carolina. He holds a B.A. in History and Latin American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. Daniel serves on the Board of Directors of the Latin American Coalition, and is the President of the Charlotte Pride Board of Directors.

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Davita Galloway

She/Her/Hers

@thedavitagalloway

Creative Entrepreneur

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Davita Galloway

Davita Galloway is an owner of DUPP&SWAT, a change agent, a creative, a host, speaker, influencer, costumer, a doer, disruptor and a creator of all things dope. She attended The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she received an MSPH, as well as Parsons The New School for Design in New York. Galloway is adamant about the need for expression—further evident in her various ventures such as CrownKeepers, a nonprofit, and SPREAD, a publication. More, as a proponent and champion of building community, social equity, entrepreneurship and economic opportunity, Davita enjoys collaboration with impact on those outputs.

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David "Dae-Lee" Arrington

He/Him/His

@daeleemusic

Producer, Recording Artist & Entrepreneur

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David "Dae-Lee" Arrington

David “Dae-Lee” Arrington is a GRAMMY Nominated producer, recording artist and creative entrepreneur. He is the founder of Fair Play Music Equity Initiative and currently serves as the Emcee of Creative Mornings Charlotte along with other Charlotte based music events.

With the division that exists in our society today ― and his unique experience on many sides of the cultural walls that divide us ― David believes that we are better together and his vision is fixed on utilizing his influence to create spaces where diverse people groups are brought together via the power of music.

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Dimple Tansen Ajmera

She/Her/Hers

At-large representative

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Ajmera Dimple Tansen

Dimple Ajmera, City Council At Large is proud to have lived the American dream. With little means, her parents immigrated from India when she was 16 to provide their children with greater opportunities. She spoke no English. Proving her tenacity, she went on to graduate from the University of Southern California and later became a Certified Public Accountant. After joining City Council, Ajmera left her lucrative six-figure career in order to devote her full attention to a position and mission she valued – helping to make Charlotte a place where everyone has a chance to succeed and prosper, regardless of background or geography.

During her tenure on City Council, she has been a fighter with a proven record. Ajmera’s platform includes, but is not limited to Public Safety, Affordable Housing, the Environment, Women’s Equality, Economic Development, and Infrastructure. She is widely known for chairing the Environment Committee and helping Charlotte become a global leader in sustainability with bipartisan support. The adoption of the Strategic Energy Action Plan (SEAP) is the city’s first-ever framework to transition to a low carbon future. Within 24 hours of its passing, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited Charlotte to announce a $2.5 million grant from his foundation toward Charlotte’s efforts to fight climate change.

Ajmera also has a record of bold accomplishments on affordable housing. She played an integral role in securing the funding and neighborhood support for the St. John’s Place affordable housing development. She continues to advocate for expanding access to affordable housing, increasing local awareness and action on school safety, and bringing traction and economic opportunities to the 69-acre Eastland site, an area left undeveloped for years.

Ajmera broke the glass ceiling with her historic victory in 2017. She continues to be a role model for women and immigrants. Ajmera was also given the 2018 Global Service Award by Rotary International and one of Longleaf Politics' 54 Top Young Political Stars in North Carolina. She has been recognized as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Mecklenburg County by the Mecklenburg Times. Most recently she was named Charlotte Business Journal’s 40 under 40.

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Diamond Nurse

She/Her/Hers

@diamond.nurse

Chief Social Media Strategist of The Diamond M.I.N.E. Group

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Diamond Nurse

Chief Social Media Strategist of The Diamond M.I.N.E. Group, leverages 15 years of digital strategy, customer relationship management and integrated marketing communications expertise to lead suc-cessful social media campaigns for small, medium, and large businesses. She is a dual-degreed social media expert whose experience includes Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and startups.

Diamond’s results-driven reputation proceeds her, which is why word-of- mouth has driven much of the company’s growth. She is a passionate professional who loves working in the ever-changing social media landscape, saving clients time and money with optimized social media solutions, providing edu-cation and resource tools that empower clients, and delivering a positive return on their investment.

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Dr. Philip Otienoburu

He/Him/His

@otienoburu

Director of Food Systems Financing at Self-Help Credit Union

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Dr. Philip Otienoburu

Dr. Philip E. Otienoburu is Director of Food Systems Financing at Self-Help Credit Union. In this role, he works as part of a team dedicated to ensuring that business owners working across the food systems value chain, especially minority-owned businesses, have access to finance to support the growth of their enterprises. In this role, Dr. Otienoburu is especially excited about the mission of Self-Help to promote ownership and economic opportunity for all. Prior to joining Self-Help, "Dr. O" as many know him was Associate Professor of Biology and founding Director of the Center for Renewable Energy & Sustainability at Johnson C. Smith University. At the university, Dr. Otienoburu directed Sustainability Village to address food insecurity in the community, and represented the university as a founding partner, together with Mecklenburg County Health Department, of the Rosa Parks Farmers' market which is now owned and managed by the community. Dr. Otienoburu obtained his PhD from The Ohio State University and is currently an MBA student at UNC Kenan-Flagler School of Business. Dr. O loves to cook and host dinners at home, play soccer with his two sons and ride his bike. His wife Sabina - the other Dr. O - is a bioinformatics professor at JCSU.

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Fannie Mae

She/Her/Hers

@djfanniemae

DJ & LGBTQA+ Advocate

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Fannie Mae

“A purveyor of deep, infectious southern sh*t mixed with feel-good energy.” That’s how Fannie Mae describes herself as a dj. Never afraid to take you on an audible journey though time and space, her emotive musical selections are her own therapy. Having grown up in the church playing instruments and singing, she has an eclectic music combination of funk, gospel, hip hop, soul, afrobeats, and more. With such a mixed spectrum of influence this makes her hard to pin down musically. Originally from North Carolina, Fannie has spent her life writing songs, spinning records, and being an advocate for the arts. With a deep love of music she is looking forward to sharing energetic moments of love with beautiful people around the world.

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Fly Ty

He/Him/His

@flytyonair

V101.9, WCCB, Hornets Arena Host

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Fly Ty

Derrick "Fly Ty" Jacobs is a national radio, television and event host. He is a veteran in Charlotte Radio and started back in 1995. He currently produces the Steve Harvey Morning Show and hosts his own show, the FlyTy and Jacinda show every Sunday morning on V1019. His passion in radio took him to Dallas Texas working on the #1 stations K104 and KNRB 105.7. Five years later returning home to Charlotte to work with My92.7 and 105.3. In 2014 "Fly Ty" joined Charlotte’s NBA franchise, The Charlotte Hornets as the in-game Host. He also works very closely with the Charlotte Hornets Foundation emceeing the Hornets literacy program called "Hugo's House of Reading". He is most proud of being a husband to his best friend, partner in life and in ministry- Jacinda Jacobs.

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Francene Marie Morris

She/Her/Hers

@franmariemedia

Host & Producer of the Francene Marie Show

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Francene Marie Morris

After a short stint in the modeling industry Francene Marie became an award winning syndicated radio host after cutting her teeth on a CBS Top 40 radio station microphone in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Francene Marie Show is a weekly lighthearted show featuring 4 topics within one-hour packed with experts, community leaders and neighbors caring and sharing issues that matter to a varied demographic; from New Country to Hip Hop listeners.

Francene Marie is known as an Audience & Esteem Enhancer on the speaking circuit facilitating lifestyle enhancement workshops. Morris raves about raising 2 children born 17 years apart steering both into the Arts & Sciences. You’ll find her philanthropic efforts across the Carolinas centered on the self-worth of youth & adults. Morris is a Board Member for BARVE STEP and Doug Herbert's Put On The BRAKES nonprofit organization. Francene Marie says, “we create the condition of our life by the quality of thought, beliefs and action.”

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Fred LeFranc

He/Him/His

CEO & Chaos Strategist, Results Thru Strategy, Restaurant Consulting

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Fred LeFranc

In a fast-paced restaurant industry with new technology, competition, and laws changing the game each day, Fred LeFranc brings order to disorder and helps businesses thrive. He is a well-respected industry veteran who has advised many of the industry’s most significant executives and companies – from startups to billion-dollar global chains – to deliver long term sustainable success.

Fred is a change agent, assisting brands in reinventing and evolving to stay relevant to their current and potential customers. He combines direct knowledge of operating a restaurant with an inherent talent for business and acute vision for growth. He leverages his passion for business, understanding of human behavior and knowledge of technology to provide corporate counsel and make a lasting impact. As a corporate strategist, he has turned around many declining businesses, helping significantly improve sales.

Currently, Fred holds the position of CEO & Chaos Strategist with Results Thru Strategy, a restaurant consulting company he founded in 2006.

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Fred Shropshire

He/Him/His

@therealfredshropshire

Evening Anchor for WCNC

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Fred Shropshire

Fred Shropshire anchors the 5pm, 6pm and 11pm newscasts at WCNC-TV NBC Charlotte. Fred has also field anchored the station’s coverage of the Keith Scott shooting and the Carolina Panthers Super Bowl 50 appearance from San Francisco. Fred’s career began at WTCI-TV in New Bern, NC and includes stints at WXII in Winston-Salem, NC and WGN-TV in Chicago. When he’s not on TV, he can be found spending time with his family or working out!

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Garrett Tichy

He/Him/His

@garretttichy

Founder of Hygge Coworking

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Garrett Tichy

Garrett Tichy is the Founder and Owner of Hygge Coworking. A strong advocate for Charlotte, Tichy is well-known for his natural ability to build diverse and inclusive communities of professionals – both online and in-person – who appreciate and thrive on the power of connection to elevate an initiative, a workplace and a city.

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Greg Schermbeck

He/Him/His

@schermco

Founder and Principal, SchermCo

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Greg Schermbeck

Greg is the Founder and Principal of SchermCo, a social-impact implementation firm that offers services to dramatically change public education. He has previously served as a high school science teacher at West Charlotte High School and has helped open a charter school in an underserved neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee. Greg hopes that one day Boyz II Men and Bruce Springsteen will tour together.

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Hank Patterson

He/Him/His

@henryconrad

Entertainment Consultant

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Hank Patterson

Hank Patterson is one of those magical unicorns of Charlotte, born and raised in the Queen City. He is proud to call Charlotte home! Hank attended High Point University on a baseball scholarship. After graduating in 2012 with a degree in being awesome (just kidding - it was communications), he landed his first job in Washington DC as an account manager for one of the premier home furnishing companies in the world. In 2014, the stars aligned, and he found himself back in Charlotte and with East Coast Entertainment. ECE is the largest, full-service entertainment agency in the country, booking entertainment and producing custom events from not only coast-to-coast but around the globe. Hank has been with ECE for the past 5 1/2 years as an Entertainment Consultant. When not at work he can be found cheering on The Knights at BB&T ballpark, catching live music around town, brewing hoping with friends or being a wing connoisseur.

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Holly Drummond

She/Her/Hers

Director of Development and Communications

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Holly Drummond

Holly has over 10 years of non-profit experience, which is bolstered by two master's degrees in business leadership and education enabling her to provide extensive skills in strategic leadership, fundraising, establishing long-term partnerships, and organizational goal setting. Her fundraising experience extends to large healthcare systems, universities and small nonprofits located in Florida, United States Virgin Islands and Charlotte, NC. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and currently teaches courses at Pfeiffer University. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of Fundraising Professional Charlotte Chapter.

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Jacinda Jacobs

She/Her/Hers

@justjacinda

Hornets Arena Host, Author of Uniquely Qualified

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Jacinda Jacobs

Author, Motivational Speaker, Radio and TV. Jacinda started her media career on morning radio which later propelled her career into television, as a reporter, weather forecaster, and morning cohost. Jacinda is a motivational speaker and author of, “Uniquely Qualified.” She believes you are Uniquely Qualified to walk into your destiny no matter where you are in life. Serving is her peace— Jacinda is the founder of Stolen Lunches, which is a nonprofit Global Bible Study Community created to inspire, motivate and empower people to strengthen their faith walk. Jacinda is the Arena Host for the Charlotte Hornets. She also hosts Sunday Morning Inspiration on V1019-FM. Both roles she works alongside with her husband and best friend, Derrick “FlyTy” Jacobs. She is the bonus mom of three boys and they share three dogs together.

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Jake Fehling

He/Him/His

@jakefehling

VP of Marketing for Movement Mortgage

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Jake Fehling

Jake has led a diverse career in marketing, public relations and talent development since 2002, spanning the sports business, life sciences and financial services industries. In 2018, he was finally able to leverage his obsession with social media and personal branding into the role of Vice President, Marketing, for Movement Mortgage in the Charlotte area.

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James E. Ford

He/Him/His

@JEFordNCTOY

Executive Director of the Center for Racial Equity in Education (CREED)

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James E. Ford

James E. Ford s a consultant and principal at Filling the Gap Educational Consultants. He is also the executive director of a new organization called the Center for Racial Equity in Education or CREED. CREED has just released two reports that specific look at how race has historically and currently shaped education access and outcomes for students of color in North Carolina. James is an appointed member of the North Carolina State Board of Education, a former high school teacher at Garinger High School, a former CMS teacher of the year and former North Carolina teacher of the year.

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Jamie Brown

She/Her/Hers

@jamie_making

Owner/Marketing Director

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Jamie Brown

Jamie Brown is a graduate of Davidson College, and has two Masters degrees -- her MA from the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California and her MBA from the University of Arizona. Jamie and her husband, Jeff Tonidandel, own several restaurants in Charlotte, NC including Haberdish, Crepe Cellar, Growlers Pourhouse and Reigning Doughnuts. Their restaurant group is also working on a fifth concept, Supperland, coming to Plaza Midwood in 2020.

In the restaurant group, Jamie handles the marketing and communications, along with their new concept development.

Jamie is also the co-author of Bea is for Business -- an educational platform that teaches elementary kids about business. As a mom of three, in her free time, Jamie enjoys long walks, cooking, spending time with her kids, trying new restaurants and writing.

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Janeen Bryant

She/Her/Hers

@Facilitatemovement

Project Director for On The Table CLT

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Janeen Bryant

An advocate and catalyst for building community capacity since 2000, Janeen Bryant is an intersectional educator, facilitator, trainer, and agitator. A graduate of Davidson College with a B.A. in Anthropology, she completed her Master of Science degree in Leadership and Management in 2010. Formerly, Vice President of Education at Levine Museum of the New South and Regional Director (South) of LEE, Ms. Bryant is known widely as a facilitator and community-centered program developer both regionally and nationally. She currently serves as the Director of Operations for CREED-NC, Center for Racial Equity in Education.

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Jason Hausman

He/Him/His

@sonic_samurai

General Manager

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Jason Hausman

Award winning composer, producer and sound designer, Jason Hausman, is the owner of Hot Sakē, a creative sound boutique that specializes in scoring, foley and sound design for film, TV, radio and new media. Jason’s recent work includes projects for PBS, General Electric, SHEETZ, and Socccer.com as well as producing R&B and hip hop songs feat. Snoop Dogg, Emily Sage, Yung Citizen and Maria Howell. Jason is also the General Manager of Groundcrew Sound, who’s clients includes Disney/PIXAR, HBO, Cinemax, AMC, Cartoon Network and NETFLIX.

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Jennifer Shiley

She/Her/Hers

@seeherlead

Founder & CEO, See Her Lead

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Jennifer Shiley

Jennifer Shiley is the Founder & CEO of See Her Lead (formerly Young Elites), an MBA-style program designed for teenage girls. Through the centerpiece one-week Summit and year-round programming, young women form the foundation of leadership to build a life on and practice community service, personal awareness, engagement, and confidence. The vision of the organization is for all girls to live with the courage to lead.

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Jenny-Jaymes Gunn

She/Her/Hers

Charlotte Trans Pride organizer

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Jenny-Jaymes Gunn

I have been in marketing and entertainment for over 24 years. Spanning from the auto industry with Honda America to major resort chains to independent small businesses. I began my transition in 2015 with a social transition and medical transition began in April of 2016. I was co facilitator of Amarillo Area Transgender Support Group and was on the marketing and at large board of Amarillo Housing First and Panhandle Pride respectively. I moved to Charlotte in September of 2018 and soon got involved with Charlotte Pride and NOW CLT. In May of 2019, I was elected to the board of NOW and became the first transgender woman to be elected the board of NOW CLT in their history.

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Jerry Yelton

They/Them/Theirs or He/Him/His

@astoldbyjerry

Programs & Events Director, Charlotte Pride

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Jerry Yelton

Jerry Yelton joined Charlotte Pride in November 2017 and has worked for the past two years as the Programs and Events Director. Jerry is a passionate advocate for intentional, intersectional community organizing and development. Throughout their time in undergraduate studies and in community roles, they have worked with a variety of LGBTQ organizations and programs to develop inclusive, thoughtful community actions. Jerry works actively with the Charlotte community at large to create unique, inventive programs to incorporate all LGBTQ voices, stories, and faces.

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Jessica Hodnett

She/Her/Hers

@thesweetseoul

Founder of Sweet Seoul Media

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Jessica Hodnett

Korean Chick with an Alabama twang!

Jessica grew up in Pelham, Alabama and has always had a love for food and fashion. After college at The University of Alabama, she moved to Atlanta, GA scoring an internship with Neiman Marcus where my career in Fashion began! She worked for huge luxury designers such as Chanel and Oscar de la Renta and moved to NYC. After working in the Big Apple for 6 years, and getting engaged, it was time to move closer to family and Jessica moved to Charlotte. Moving to Charlotte was a huge catalyst in starting her own business. She took her love of food and fashion and started a blog, an instagram platform, and became a local influencer as @thesweetseoul. After getting recognized for her work in the community, she started her own small media company, Sweet Seoul Media, where she focuses on consulting, marketing, events, and social media management services to her clients.

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Jocelyn Keung

She/Her

@fleurixconf

Software Engineer

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Jocelyn Keung

Jocelyn is a full-stack developer with a focus on web technologies. She is the founder of Fleurix, Charlotte’s first conference for women in tech, and also serves as a co-organizer of local Java and Google Developer Group meetups. She is passionate about helping women and minorities thrive in tech-related careers, especially those with non-traditional backgrounds. Jocelyn studied Statistics and Environmental Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her free time, she enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, rock climbing, creating illustrations, and spoiling her cats, Toothless and Belle.

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Joe Bruno

He/Him/His

@joebruno

WSOC Reporter

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Joe Bruno

Joe Bruno covers politics and breaking news for WSOC-TV. The Elon University graduate has been a reporter in Charlotte since 2014. The Charlotte Agenda named Bruno to its Top 30 under 30 list. He has twice been named a media mind to watch by the Charlotte Agenda. Bruno is a two-time Emmy winner and his reporting on election fraud in the 9th Congressional District was recently honored nationally with Polk and Cronkite awards.

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Jordan Dollard

She/Her/Hers

@jordansgrid

Chief Retail Strategist

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Jordan Dollard

At age 24, Jordan Dollard was let go from her position with a brand rep group in Charlotte, shortly after starting her "side hustle", Elsa Fine. Jordan started EF as a creative outlet and through the three years the boutique was open, she dressed some of Charlotte's most influential women. When the boutique was at its height, Jordan was presented with the option to plan Front Porch Sundays and two years after that, she closed her shop to focus full time on creating opportunities for Charlotte's retailers to get their products in front of the growing Charlotte market. A year ago, EF pivoted to become Esther and Elsa Retail, a retail event and consulting firm focusing on non-traditional efforts. Since then, Dollard has created many consistent opportunities for businesses, including Uptown Flea and Nebel's Alley Night Market, while continuing the ever-growing Front Porch Sundays, in addition to large scale festivals across the region.

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Juan Rios

He/Him/His

@fedesimonr

Analytic Consultant & Harris YMCA Young Emerging Leaders Chair

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Juan Rios

Juan Rios is a Consultant in the financial services industry and community organizer originally from Bogota, Colombia. After living in Colombia, Ecuador and Miami, Juan made Charlotte home in 2016. Having exposure to multiple cultures and ideas ignited curiosity and improved his ability to understand different ideas and believes. Relating to people is one of his passions and volunteering has been a great outlet to use his skills helping others. Juan Currently serves as chair of the Young Emerging Leaders of the Harris YMCA with the main objective of raising awareness of volunteer opportunities within the young professional community in Charlotte. Juan also supports the Private Bank Product Strategy team at Wells Fargo.

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Judith Brown

She/Her/Hers

@judielise

Executive Director of Project 70Forward

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Judith Brown

Judith Wilson Burkes, nonprofit founder, former internet radio host and disability activist was born in New York City. Moving first to Baltimore, MD in the late 1990s, and then to Charlotte, NC in 2010, Judith worked in corporate America, coming out in her mid-30s, due to increasing disabling health conditions.

Also, mother of two sons on the autism spectrum, Judith took all her years of dealing with the medical, insurance, education and social services industries, and started Project 70Forward; a 501c3 nonprofit organization, whose mission is to support and advance the lives of people with disabilities. Working with other disability advocates, organizations and agencies, she coordinates support for the community on- and offline as well as through the Foodie4Access events a neighborhood food distribution event. Judith also speaks and represents the disabled community on important issues, such as housing, food security, and economic mobility.

Online, she is a consummate advocate and moderator of the outreach Facebook group, The KiNGDOM. With over 550+ members, Judith is committed to connecting grassroots organizations and groups; helping them get exposure for their work in and around Charlotte as well as connect them to possible volunteers, venues and other collaborating parties. She is also a seasoned moderator/administrator/member of over 200 FB groups dealing with disabilities.

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Justin Perry

He/Him/His

@justinperrycounseling

MSW, LCSW, LCAS Founder, Perry Counseling Healing and Recovery, PLLC

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Justin Perry

Justin Perry, MSW, LCSW, LCAS is the founder of Perry Counseling Healing and Recovery PLLC where he and his clinicians specialize in treating individuals who struggle with shame, insecurity, and personal relationships. He has over 14 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and adults who have experienced trauma, and/or are managing mental health and substance use disorders. Perry has provided clinical services at a multitude of mental health and substance use disorder facilities around the greater Charlotte region.

He has recently run groups at West Charlotte High School offering support to freshmen and sophomores who need extra support with communication, conflict resolution, and healthy relationship skills. Additionally, he has provided trauma informed training for teachers, administrators, and support staff at various Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.

Perry is a proud Charlotte native and graduate of West Charlotte High School while having been a Student Leader Intern at Charlotte’s first freedom school in 2002. He earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Sociology as well as his Masters in Social Work, all from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

As an advocate for social justice, he does speaking engagements around the region, has been published in multiple local publications, and currently does a monthly column as a Guest Columnist for the Charlotte Observer. He is the co-founder of OneMECK, a grassroots organization which focuses on increased equity and integration in education and housing. He also serves as a Board member and mentor for Wayfinders (formerly) Bruce Irons Camp Fund and as a board member of the Foundation for the Carolinas on the Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Foundation Family Stability Committee. Perry, also is involved in the Black Political Caucus education committee and on the board of the Center for Community Transition. Perry was named one of the Charlotte Observer's Seven to Watch in 2016. He was also awarded a 2016 UNC School of Social Work Distinguished Alumni Award. Finally, in 2016, he also was selected as a Playing For Others Night of Gratitude honoree and named one of Southern Living Magazine's Top 50 Southerners of the Year. He is happily married and a father of 6 year-old son and 3 year-old daughter.

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Kate Gatterdam

She/Her/Hers

@checkershockey

Director of Corporate & Community Programs, Charlotte Checkers

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Kate Gatterdam

Kate Gatterdam is the Director of Corporate & Community Programs for the Charlotte Checkers Hockey team. In her role, she manages and implements all corporate partnership elements, community event planning as well as the execution of all the Checkers’ corporate and community programs.

Gatterdam came to the Charlotte Checkers organization after spending time in Washington, D.C., working with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign as well as the regional St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Charlotte.

Originally a Columbus, Ohio native, she has been in North Carolina since attending Queens University of Charlotte as a Biochemistry major.

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Kenneth Bell

He/Him/His

@kbholdings

CEO, Managing partner - KBHoldings and NowProConstruction

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Kenneth Bell

Kenneth Bell has 20+ years of direct experience in planning, leading, and building urban infield development properties in both residential and commercial projects.

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Keyona Osborne

She/Her/Hers

@keykeythatsme

Applied Research & Development Specialist at FORCLT, YP CEO Advisory Committee for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte

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Keyona Osborne

Keyona Osborne is passionate about data, people, and serving God, and has the privilege of tapping into all of these passions as the Applied Research & Development Specialist at FORCLT. Keyona also serves on the YP CEO Advisory Committee for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. She has gained professional experience in most industries imaginable – corporate, higher education, government, religious, and non-profit. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Statistics with a concentration in Social Science from Elon University and has lived in Charlotte since graduation.

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Kristi Thomas

She/Her/Hers

@katsnc1

Community Relations Consultant at Wells Fargo

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Kristi Thomas

Kristi Thomas is a Community Relations Senior Consultant for Wells Fargo in the Greater Charlotte region. She has been with the company for 22 years primarily in various marketing roles throughout the bank including Wealth Management, Consumer and Student Lending, and Corporate Marketing.

Through the Wells Fargo Foundation, Kristi supports community investments in the areas of public education, community development, and arts and culture. She also encourages team member volunteerism and community engagement with close to 26,000 Wells Fargo team members in the Greater Charlotte market.

Kristi is an active community volunteer and currently represents Wells Fargo on the Board of Directors for Read Charlotte, a collective impact initiative to double the number of 3rd graders reading on grade level by 2025.

Kristi has a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. She graduated from Miami University with a BA in International Studies and Spanish and studied abroad in Costa Rica through the University of Kansas.

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Leslie Riggs

She/Her/Hers

@belk

EVP, Chief Human Resources Officer, Belk

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Leslie Riggs

Leslie has had multiple roles throughout HR over her career predominantly in Learning, Organizational Effectiveness, Talent Management and as a Business Partner. She currently leads the HR function for Belk as Chief HR Officer reporting to the CEO. In this role Leslie has responsibility for all aspects of human resources throughout the employee lifecycle. She and her team are focused on investing in Belk associates, so they can invest in their teams, their work and their communities.

Prior to joining Belk, Leslie assisted leaders and organizations to advance their human capital strategy, identify and develop talent, and focus on the organizational health at their company. Leslie has been an entrepreneur as well, having launched and led her own consulting business where she leveraged her passion for coaching to work with executives on understanding the shadow they cast and leading through change.

Leslie has volunteered in the local community by serving as the President, Board of Directors for Teen Health Connection which is a non-profit healthcare practice that provides medical and mental healthcare, prevention and health education services for adolescents ages 11 to 22 with a mission of empowering every adolescent to be healthy, safe and successful and as a board member for the Mecklenburg Youth Drug-Free Coalition. In addition, Leslie has been an active participant in Shoulder to Shoulder medical brigades in Ecuador, South America working with teams of physicians to provide free medical care in high poverty, remote areas.

Leslie holds a BA from North Carolina State University and a MSW from Norfolk State University.

She and her husband Jason have three amazing children, a labradoodle named Waldo and newest addition Stuart the cat. Leslie enjoys traveling, trying new foods and spending time with friends and family.

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Lindsey Haaser Braciale

She/Her/Hers

@lhaaser

Founder and CEO, Advocations, Disability Employment Firm

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Lindsey Haaser Braciale

Lindsey (Haaser) Braciale, is a social entrepreneur and disability disruptor. In 2009, at the age of 25, she started Advocations, a disability recruiting firm. In 2015, Advocations narrowed their focus to autism and expanded their services to their Fortune 500 customers including Wells Fargo, Meijer, Boston Scientific, Quest Diagnostics, Ally Bank, etc. In 2017, Advocations won the National SBA/SCORE Award “Outstanding Job Creator” as a result of placing more than 4,300 people with disabilities in jobs. Lindsey plans to scale her efforts to transform “not” “able” into notable with technology and a new workforce development 1-stop/coffee shop in Uptown (opening this summer). Lindsey holds a Computer Science degree from the University of Virginia, Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling from the Medical College of Virginia, and attends the Executive Program at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

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Lindy McDaniel

She/Her/Hers

Consultant & Coach, Considerate Classroom

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Lindy McDaniel

Lindy McDaniel is a consultant and coach for special education teachers who serve students with significant challenges. She has a masters degree in Adaptive Special Education preschool through 12 th grade. Her creativity and innovation has helped teacher across the country create more effective classroom spaces that support students in becoming independent and successful. The passion she shares with her field empowers teams of teachers, parents, paraprofessionals and special service providers to work collaboratively using a student first approach. Her student first approach has transformed her local special education cooperative in such a way that has been recognized at the state and national level. She shares her work through the Considerate Classroom Facebook page and blog.

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Lorri Lofton

She/Her/Hers

@lorriashly

Creator of Gracefully5417 Event Consulting & EmpowerCon's "Blue Carpet" Host

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Lorri Lofton

Lorri is the former Creator and Co-Founder of Prosocialites, an events, media, and marketing company. She has led or facilitated over 50 events. She recently launched Gracefully 54:17 that focuses on helping those execute their ideas successfully while she continues to launch innovative events for all to enjoy. In March 2018, Lorri was chosen by Charlotte Five as one of the Most Influential Women of Charlotte on Instagram. In the same month, she was chosen as one of Radio One’s Top Women of Excellence. In April 2018, she orchestrated the first ever Charlotte Brunch Festival that took place at The Fillmore which had over 800 in attendance. She has recently added Morning News Contributor to her resume as she is a frequent guest on WCCB News Rising. She is a proud of graduate of The University of Alabama and will served as the Social Media Chair on the Charlotte Alumni Chapter Board. In her downtime, she enjoys time with her family, college football and networking as she quickly learned it’s all about who you know and most importantly who knows you.

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Madi Palermo

She/Her/Hers

@madipalermo

Director of Strategic Client Delivery, Tresata

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Madi Palermo

Madi is currently the Director of Strategic Client Delivery for Charlotte’s tech unicorn, Tresata. Prior to this, she launched KrogerCLT, a digital innovation hub where her team focused on building new, innovative eCommerce experiences like Google Assistant, Kroger Fresh, and Kroger Rush, a 30 minute delivery platform in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Madi is an avid fan of soccer and hiking and loves to experience new places with her hubby. She has a big passion for the tech community and mentorship, and serves as the Mentorship Board Member for Carolina Women in Tech.

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Manuel "Manolo" Betancur

He/Him/His

@manolosbakeryclt

CEO and Owner - Manolo's Bakery

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Manuel "Manolo" Betancur

Manuel Jose Betancur Montoya was born on May 8, 1976, in EL Carmen De Viboral, Antioquia, Colombia. He is the third son of Jose Ramon Betancur and Alba Luz Montoya.

He went to the public schools in his hometown, his family was poor and they could not afford to pay for private education. Manuel never knew what is was to be hungry but he considers himself in some ways a Colombian version of Tom Sawyer, running around his town and playing with his friends. When he was a kid, his older brother clothes and shoes were passed down to him, wearing pants with patches in the knees and holes in the shoes. He lived in a rustic house with concrete and soil floors, he had to clean the house and worked as well in his father's business with his three brothers.

When he was a teenager, at fifteen, he became the first Colombian teenager to earn a black belt in two different martial arts. His passion for martial arts started young and still remains. In 2008 Sensei Iwata in Japan elected 25 people from around the world to go to practice with him the Katana, Samurai Sword, and Manuel was elected.

In 1994 Manuel was accepted into the most prestigious and difficult academy in Colombia. 35 people were accepted at the Colombian Navy academy of Colombia by 1998 from those 35 people just 13 graduated and Manuel was one of them becoming a second lieutenant and a civil engineer.

In 1999 he was promoted to commander of 400 soldiers of the Colombina military forces and also commander of Special Forces platoon. He lived and fought the Colombian war until he realized that war was not for him and so he decided to leave his dear Colombia and immigrate to the United States.

Year 2000 Manuel arrived to Miami with nothing but 2 pants, 2 shirts, one pair of shoes, $900 dollars in his pocket and a million dreams. Without knowing English, he got a scholarship to study at King College in Bristol, TN. By fall of 2001, Manuel started college and also started as a dishwasher at the same school, by the spring of 2004 he graduated with Magna cum Lade majoring in modern languages and working as an international broker for a company in Bristol Tn.

He was a part of Americorp during his college years where he worked with farm workers. It was during that time when he learned about the reality of the immigrants of this country. He knew he had to do something so he started fighting for immigrants rights. After he graduated, he left his job as a broker and started working full time with the immigrants in Virginia as an ESL teacher and taking them from the farms to the hospitals and local clinics when needed. Year 2005 he decided to move from Virginia to NC . As he settled into North Carolina he was notified that there was a deportation order for him made by the USA immigration system. His attorney in Virginia did not notify Immigration about Manuel’s move. Two years and twenty thousand dollars was what it took to fix that situation. In 2008, Manuel went to federal court in Washington DC. The judge asked Manuel to tell his personal history, after the judge heard his history he said “I want to thank you for everything that you have done for this country, you are an example for many Americans to follow and I am ordering the immigration system to make you an American Citizen.” By December of 2008, Manuel became an American citizen in Charlotte, NC.

In 2011 he bought 50 percent of Las Delicias bakery, the bakery sold to almost 100 stores and restaurants in NC and Virginia, was recognized by the critics as the “best place to get desserts in 2014 in Charlotte” according to Creative loafing It also named as one of the “50 places that you must visit in Charlotte” according to Charlotte magazine, as well as“one place to get an international desserts and bread” by the Charlotte Observer. Las Delicias Bakery’s cakes and desserts were sold in several Harris Teeter of the Queen University during that time. Manuel has always believed in the American dream, he says “the American dream still there, it is a little harder to find now than before but its still there. However, the American dream is important for him, the real source of Manolo’s happiness in his life is his son Emanuel Gael and his daughter Julia Sofia.

In 2018 he bought the other 50% of Las Delicias Bakery from his business partner and decided to start a new chapter with his bakery by renaming it Manolo’s Bakery. Manuel in the last few years has been nominated and received different awards in the community. He is the winner of Hispanic Achievement and Business Leadership Awards as entrepreneur of the year (2013). Winner of the Spirit award by The Latin American Chamber of Commerce (2014). Winner of the business of the year by La Noticia newspaper (2015). Also, in the same year he was appointed by the mayor of Charlotte to be part of The Business Advisory Committee of the Queen City and become the president of the Hispanic Americans Democrats of Mecklenburg County and by 2017 he become the Hispanic American President for the NC State. In 2016 was selected by SBA to take the Emerging Leaders Training. In 2018 he was elected by Stanford University to take the Scaling Up training for Latinos CEO’s where he was awarded with first place in his video and presentation. Recently he was awarded with the 2019 Cesar Chavez Liderazgo Award as well as the Mayor’s International Community Award and has been nominated for the North Carolina Small Business of the year award which we will find out the results in a few weeks.

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Mark Weber

He/Him/His

@markweberqc

Board Member, Social Venture Partners Charlotte

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Mark Weber

An entrepreneur at heart, Mark promotes the power of social innovation as a Partner and board member with Social Venture Partners Charlotte. He serves on the nonprofit’s steering committee for SEED20, the annual QC pitch contest for social entrepreneurs. Mark is past board chair with ourBRIDGE for KIDS, an award-winning afterschool program that supports Charlotte’s refugee and immigrant communities by offering a one-of-a-kind enrichment program. Mark serves as media relations volunteer with the Charlotte Affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN).

Additionally, Mark is a managing partner and co-founder of Croixstone Consulting, a boutique management consulting firm that connects the brightest minds in the Charlotte region.

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Marissa Jade Willinsky

She/Her/Hers

@shopjadesky

Owner of Shop Jade Sky

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Marissa Jade Willinsky

Marissa Jade Willinsky is a visionary of all things creative. As a Brooklyn native, growing up in New York City paired with her many years of travel around the world, Marissa has developed her impeccable eye for art, fashion and unique style.

From graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology, to working with the elite MAC PRO Cosmetics team in NYC, Working sleepless seasons of New York Fashion Week, Marissa is best known for her work with Lady Gaga and Britney Spears.

With a decade as a world touring make-up artist, her travels have taken her creativity and expertise to another level. Marissa has drawn inspiration from her life long passion for art, fashion & style to cultivate a fashion line that is distinctive but playful—sophisticated yet raw.

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Matt Comer

He/Him/His

@cltpride

Communications Director, Charlotte Pride

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Matt Comer

Matt Comer joined Charlotte Pride in 2008 and has served in several volunteer and board roles, primarily overseeing the organization’s media and marketing efforts. In November 2017, Matt transitioned from his role as a board member to become the organization’s Communications Director. Matt is a native of Winston-Salem, N.C., and has nearly two decades of experience in local LGBTQ community advocacy, community organizing, journalism and media/marketing work. Matt attended the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. He has worked or volunteered with several LGBTQ organizations regionally and nationally. From 2007 to 2015, Matt worked as editor of QNotes, the Charlotte-based LGBTQ community newspaper of North Carolina. His writing has appeared in a variety of local and national news outlets. Matt’s advocacy work and reporting has been widely cited by community and mainstream news-media, as well as several academic writers.

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Mel Roy

She/Her/Hers

@therealmelroy

Founder of @therealmelroy, LGBTQ+ Influencer

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Mel Roy

Mel Roy, owner of @therealmelroy, is a public figure within the LGBTQ community who openly speaks about relationships, motherhood and everything in between. Her “nothing can stop me” energy lead her to create a beautiful family through at-home artificial insemination. Mel has inspired so many to not only step out of the box society tries to keep us in but also to be our most authentic selves, always.

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Melissa Chanel

She/Her/Hers

@melissachanel

Lifestyle Content Creator

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Melissa Chanel

Melissa Cantey is a MelissaChanel.com has grown into the girls-next-door’s ultimate one-stop-shop for all things hair, fashion, travel, beauty, and even a little business.

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Meredith Kyle

She/Her/Hers

@movewithmeredith

REALTOR/ Broker

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Meredith Kyle

Meredith Kyle was born and raised in Charlotte, NC the home of her beloved Carolina Panthers. Meredith is on Charlotte’s Top 30 under 30 Future Leaders of Charlotte. Meredith owns Meredith Kyle Realty with Realty ONE Group Properties and started her 501c3 charity, Feed Your Net, in 2018 which helps serve Charlotte neighbors experiencing homelessness.

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Michelle Hamilton

She/Her/Hers

@cltsymphony

Interim President & CEO, Charlotte Symphony

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Michelle Hamilton

Michelle is Interim President & CEO at the Charlotte Symphony, an orchestra bucking the trend of symphony orchestras serving a narrow slice of society in its belief that sharing music should be a right and not a privilege. She has more than 27 years’ experience as a non-profit leader, including work with the Houston Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Arts Council of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Michelle is a Lafayette, Louisiana native and holds a BA in communications from the University of Louisiana. She is a past president of the Charlotte Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, an international organization inspiring global change and supporting efforts that generate billions of dollars in philanthropy. She was recognized as Charlotte’s Outstanding Fundraising Professional by AFP Charlotte in 2013.

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Olivia Chisholm

She/Hers

@to.liveincolor

Inclusion Consultant

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Olivia Chisholm

Olivia founded To Live in Color, LLC , a company that provides Inclusion Consulting services for business, organizations , and people of all-abilities. By building partnerships with corporations such as Microsoft , in addition to working with individuals in private sessions , she bridges the gap between individuals who are historically marginalized and opportunities needed for upward social mobility. Olivia believes that when foundations are built on including others- we evolve, and we sustain.

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Page Fehling

She/Her/Hers

@pagefehling

Morning Anchor for Fox 46

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Page Fehling

If you’re an insomniac, the parent of a newborn or just a bleary-eyed lover of local morning television in Charlotte, Page is your new best friend. She hangs out with residents of the Queen City, weekday mornings from 4:30 – 9:00 AM, as Co-Anchor on the Fox 46 morning show, “Good Day Charlotte!”

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Rachel Brown

She/Her/Hers

@queencitychic

Blogger & Founder of Queen City Chic

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Rachel Brown

Rachel Brown is a major social media force, lifestyle blogger, and influencer in the Queen City. Perhaps better known as her Instagram moniker, Queen City Chic, the native Charlottean started her brand from scratch in college with little more than a few creative visions and a passion for the city.

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Rachel Smookler

She/Her/Hers

@rsmookler

Rabbi of The Ruach Experience

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Rachel Smookler

Rabbi Rachel Smookler moved to Charlotte in August 2017 from Rochester, NY where she served as Rabbi to Temple Beth David, a conservative synagogue. Before moving to Rochester, Rabbi Smookler lived in Tokyo with her husband and three kids, serving as Chief Rabbi of Japan One month after moving to Charlotte, Rachel suffered a massive stroke that left her paralyzed on her left side and in a wheelchair. Through physical therapy, , Rachel was able to ditch the wheelchair and walk unassisted. As fate would have it, a local Jewish Rock Band,The Ruach Experience, began performing Sabbath services in the South End and when they met Rabbi Smookler, they offered her the position of Rabbi of The Ruach Experience. Rachel lives in Matthews with her husband Harrison and her youngest daughter, Mayim, an 8th grader who attends Providence Day School. Rachel and Harrison also have twins, Talia and Zachariah who are currently seniors in College in the Northeast.

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Reginald Bean

He/Him/His

@cocacolaconsolidated

Vice President-Culture, Engagement & Stewardship Coca-Cola Consolidated

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Reginald Bean

Reginald Bean is Vice President of Culture, Engagement & Stewardship for Coca-Cola Consolidated. In his role, Reginald is responsible for providing strategic direction and planning while promoting a purpose driven, values based culture through effective employee engagement. Additionally, Reginald’s responsibilities include developing external relationships with strategic outreach organizations designed to enhance the experience for employees, customers and partners.

Reginald began his career with Coca-Cola Consolidated in 1999, when he joined the company in territory sales. He’s held several positions within Coca Cola including Director of Multicultural Marketing, Director of Finance-Operations, Director of Sales Analytics and Strategic Planning Analyst. Prior to joining Coca-Cola Consolidated, Reginald also served his country in the US Army for 7 years where he participated in several international desert and urban training missions.

Reginald holds an MBA in Leadership from the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte. Reginald enthusiastically serves the community holding several Board of Directors positions including The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Samaritan’s Feet and Anuvia Prevention and Recovery Center. Reginald is a published author of the books UNFINISHED-40 Lessons on Purpose, Self and Becoming a Man and A Year and Some Change-Revealing Your Full Potential through Purpose and Perspective; where he inspires emerging men and young adults to discover themselves while positively impacting their families and communities.

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Ricky Singh

He/Him/His

@mrrickysingh

School Designer In-Residence, Charlotte Lab School

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Ricky Singh

Ricky Singh is currently a School Designer-In-Residence at Charlotte Lab School, a growing charter school located in the city of Charlotte. As part of his role, he is leading the charge to launch Center City's first high school, Charlotte Lab High School in the Fall of 2020, alongside the support of the organizations leadership team. He was previously a School Administrator at Charlotte Lab School at both the Lower School and Middle School campus with a focus in Exceptional Children. Before Charlotte Lab School, Ricky was a School Administrator at a growing private school in Charlotte, North Carolina and has served as an Educational Consultant for a variety of schools, non-profit organizations and families. Ricky graduated from Brooklyn College with a major in Political Science, and received his first Masters degree in Special Education from the same institution. While serving in a leadership role at his school in Brooklyn, New York, Ricky completed his second Masters degree in Educational Leadership at Brooklyn College. Ricky currently resides in West Charlotte with his wife Liz and their children, Rafael, Elijah, Joziah and Erymiah. For Ricky's full bio, please see charlottelabschool.org/rickysingh.

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Robin Mann

She/Her

@realtorrobincarolinas

Broker/Realtor

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Robin Mann

Robin Mann provides an educated approach to Real Estate while maintaining a personal touch. Robin is a social media "mayor" meaning she utilizes many platforms to meet clients, build relationships and nurture connections for many opportunities in her personal and business life. With Sold in the Carolinas, Robin strives to treat clients as part of her family, which is why 80% of her clients have come from referral and repeat business. Robin Mann founded Sold in the Carolinas in 2014 and that same year was nominated for “Rookie of the Year” in the Charlotte Regional market. For the past 3 years, Robin was named as one of the "100 Most Influential Real Estate Agents" in Charlotte, NC by Real Estate Executive Magazine. Robin has chosen a career as a real estate professional because she honestly loves helping buyers find their dream homes and sell their existing homes to move onto their next phase of life. That's why she works with each client individually and takes the time to understand their unique lifestyles, needs and wishes.

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Roy Brown

He/Him/His

@kissroyboy

Morning Show Host, MRL Show

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Roy Brown

Part of the Maney, Roy & LauRen Morning Show on Kiss 95.1, Roy will entertain you every morning with stories of his life, prank phone calls from the "Senseless Bureau" and busting cheaters with War of the Roses. In 2018, Roy Brown was named Charlotte Agenda's 30 under 30.

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Sammie Kolk

She/Her/Hers

@hullosam

Clean Beauty Influencer

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Sammie Kolk

Sammie Kolk, aka clean beauty makeup artist 'hullosam' is a Canadian¬bred, Ontario native who grew up in Toronto, then moved to the suburbs of Montreal in her later youth. 'hullosam' wishes to enlighten her audience with the joys of products in the clean beauty industry, food, fashion, lifestyle and more. Her platforms showcase authenticity, positivity, style and beautifully branded products and photos. With a background in makeup-artistry, her goal is to make her followers feel as beautiful on the outside, as they are on the inside. Providing one-on-one consultations, hosting makeup masterclass events and lending tips and tricks on how to achieve a specific look, or where to buy products are some of her favourite things to do!

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Sanjay Lohar

He/Him/His

Hindu Community Representative

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Sanjay Lohar

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Sara Colée

She/Her/Hers

@tomcatcolee

Brand Strategist

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Sara Colée

Brand Strategist, Social Media Consultant, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Event Curator, and Music Manager, needless to say, Sara Colée is deeply involved in Charlotte’s creative community. Sara’s passion is breaking the mold and rewriting the script for entrepreneurial artists and she is a strong advocate for collaboration.

Sara is the co-founder of an intimate concert series called the CLT Loft Sessions. This series was created to give musical artists the opportunity to share their stories and songs in a curated listening-room environment while cultivating community by inviting the audience “behind-the-scenes” and into the process of what it means to be an Independent Artist. Sara is also manager to Greg Cox and Emily Sage, two local, rising artists. Sara Colée not only loves what she does, but truly cares about each individual she works with, “I love building relationships and sharing those experiences in very relatable ways. I think the trick is not to miss the moments. In relationships, life, art, and even business... I draw energy from the business relationships I've developed just as much as I do from the work itself.”

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Scott Banks

He/Him/His

President, White Knight Engineered Products

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Scott Banks

Proudest achievement -- raising two strong women. Favorite quote - “Our own dreams give us direction, it is other people’s dreams that give us opportunity.” Learned the most from -- coaching girl’s soccer and basketball and being an Eagle Scout A fun day- Virginia Tech football or Duke basketball victory A productive day - managing a successful company A great day - volunteering with my favorite non-profits

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Sean Rush

He/Him/His

@Realtorrush

Owner / Broker of Link’d Realty Advisors

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Sean Rush

Sean Rush is Owner and Founder of Link’d Realty Advisors, a graduate of UNC Pembroke with over 5 years of Real Estate sales experience, 10 years of property management experience and is well connected throughout the City of Charlotte and surrounding areas of NC & SC.

Sean takes pride in his superior customer service, work ethic, reliability and education to best assist his clients. As a Former Student-Athlete, his passion, drive and eagerness to learn, teach, and grow will keep him ahead of the curve in the industry. In his free time, he enjoys drawing, spending time with his wife, Shaneice, and his 4 month old son Tre. Sean loves watching football, coaching youth football and volunteering in the community with his church and his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Sean is the son of Retired Naval Commander Sean Rush Sr., and Sharhonda Rush, has two younger brothers Shad and Shamar, and an older sister Shanika.

QUICK Career FACTS:
  • Has over 20 MILLION DOLLARS in sales
  • Has completed over 40 home rehabilitations
  • Has managed over 400 units as a Property Manager
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Sil Ganzó

She/Her/Hers

@SilGanzo

Executive Director of ourBRIDGE for KIDS

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Sil Ganzó

Sil Ganzó is the founder and Executive Director of ourBRIDGE for KIDS. Sil moved to Charlotte, NC in 2003 from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sil became involved with refugee and immigrant families in 2010 and recognized the lack of educational and socio-emotional support for newlyarrived children. She was inspired to create ourBRIDGE, a safe, nurturing, and respectful environment where refugee and immigrant children can learn English and be encouraged to achieve academic excellence and cultural pride, and where their families would feel welcome and embraced as they strive to start their lives anew in the United States.

As a strong advocate for love, education, respect, and diversity among cultures and people, Sil has received several accolades for her work throughout the years including Charlotte Magazines 2014 and 2018 Charlottean of the Year and was recognized as a “Social Interruptor” by Community Building Initiative in 2018 and received the 2019 Legacy Award for the work done at ourBRIDGE supporting the education of newly-arrived and 1st generation American children. Both Sil and ourBRIDGE have been widely recognized locally and nationally, with articles published by The Atlantic, NBC News. In 2017 Sil was honored to be invited by Congresswoman Alma Adams to attend the State of the Union address in Washington DC. Most recently ourBRIDGE was invited by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to present on how to ensure English Language Learners equal access to STEM. Sil continues to work as Executive Director of ourBRIDGE for KIDS, driven by her vision to make Charlotte a more welcoming, equitable city for immigrants and refugee families.

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Shannon Binns

He/Him/His

@sustainclt

Founder and Executive Director of Sustain Charlotte

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Shannon Binns

Shannon is the founder and Executive Director of Sustain Charlotte. Prior to moving to Charlotte in 2007, Shannon worked at The Nature Conservancy in Washington, DC where he was part of their climate change science and policy team. Shannon has also served as an agroforestry volunteer with the Peace Corps in Senegal, helped found a tsunami relief organization in Thailand, and served communities across the country as a member of AmeriCorps' National Civilian Community Corps. In the private sector, Shannon has worked as an industrial engineer for Motorola, General Motors, and Trane. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University and a Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University. He has served as a Supervisor on the Mecklenburg County Soil and Water Conservation Board and as an adjunct professor in the Sustainable Technologies program at Central Piedmont Community College. He currently serves on the North Carolina Advisory Board for Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). In 2015, he was named one of Seven to Watch by the Charlotte Observer and one of the Charlotte Business Journal's 40 Under 40. In 2018, Charlotte's NPR affiliate, WFAE, named him one of The Most Powerful Voices in Charlotte.

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Shante Williams

She/Her/Hers

@doctor_shante

Partner, RW Capital Partners/ Black Pearl Global Investments

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Shante Williams

DR. SHANTE P. WILLIAMS MBA Dr. Shanté P. Williams is a Venture Capitalist, Inventor, Intellectual Property Strategist, Innovation Enthusiast, and Private Investor. She is the Founder and Managing Partner of RW Capital Partners, an investment firm specializing in commercial real estate and technology development as well as the Chief Executive Officer of Black Pearl Global Investments a venture capital firm focused in Healthcare Innovation. As a Scientist Dr. Williams helped to discover innovative chemotherapy treatments for high grade invasive brain tumors. She turned that scientific knowledge into a fast-rising career in corporate America becoming the Vice President of Technology Acquisition in the Healthcare sector. The Director of Mergers and Acquisitions in the Consumer Healthcare Industry, finally the Director of Intellectual Property in the Electric Drive Vehicle Industry. As the head of RW Capital, Dr. Williams is committed to ensuring that investors make sound investments in innovating ventures. She uses her technical and financial background to help local entrepreneurs gain access to capital, combat gentrification, build generational wealth and become an integral part of the digital economy. To date, Dr. Williams has helped to build more than three dozen businesses and provides working capital to businesses across the United States. In the venture capital sector, Dr. Williams continues to break barriers with Black Pearl’s $20M fund focused on reducing health disparities across the globe. Black Pearl is an advocate for those that continue to experience inferior outcomes and reduced access Dr. Williams is a proud graduate of Winston-Salem State University (BS, Chemistry), The Ohio State University (PhD, in Integrated Biomedical Science specializing in Neuro-Oncology and Pharmacology), Queen’s University of Charlotte (MBA). Dr. Williams has received numerous awards for her business and entrepreneurship efforts including: 2019 Charlotte 50 Most Influential Women recognition. 2018 Athena International Young Professional Award, 2017 Alumni Achiever Award- Winston Salem State University, 2017 Charlotte Chamber Young Professional Entrepreneur Award Winner, 2017 Charlotte Business Journal 40 under 40 Award. Dr. Williams also serves the Charlotte Community as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce and Heal Charlotte a non-profit dedicated to holistic community change.

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Stacee Michelle

She/Her/Hers

@itsStaceeMichelle

Fashion Stylist & Correspondent

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Stacee Michelle

Stacee Michelle is a published wardrobe stylist and media correspondent. Her magnetic on-air presence has captured the attention of national networks, including E! News, FOX News, CBS, and more. She is routinely tapped by corporate brands and non-profit organization to host special events ranging from conferences and galas, to Super Bowl and Fashion Week. When she's not on-air, you can catch her producing and styling editorials, commercials, or dressing athletes, musicians, business owners, and city influencers as their personal stylist. Her bubbly personality coupled with intimate industry knowledge and perspective makes her the “go-to” woman in all things fashion and entertainment! Learn more and stay connected at www.stacee-michelle.com | @itsStaceeMichelle

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Stacy Cassio

She/Her/Hers

@pinkmentornetwork

Founder/CEO of Pink Mentor Network

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Stacy Cassio

Stacy Cassio is the Founder & CEO of the Pink Mentor Network. Stacy understands the importance of mentorship because her own career was built on the opportunities given to her by mentors.

The Pink Mentor Network “Gives Her Career a Head Start” by collecting the experiences, successes, and lessons learned of accomplished women; and delivering them to women who desire inspiration, support, and encouragement.

Today, the network helps thousands of women who are seeking mentorship through programs like Pop-Up Mentor, Trailblazer’s Breakfasts, and Mentor Dinners.

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Stephen Graddick

He/Him/His

@stephengraddick

Award Winning Environmentalist, Founder & CEO - Graddick Brands

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Stephen Graddick

Award Winning Environmentalist and national sustainability speaker, Stephen Graddick IV is the founder and CEO of Graddick Brands --a family owned boutique communications agency for industry disruptors like Toyota, US Forest Service and Compass. Stephen’s environmental work challenges the idea of the ‘traditional environmentalist” by expanding the conversation to not only recycling, and climate change but also systematic oppression, women’s rights, police brutality. His work examines the living conditions of all living things, while providing strategy for change. Stephen’s inclusive perspective is valued amongst leaders in government, private and public sectors internationally.

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Sydney Cumming

She/Her/Hers

@sydneycummings_

Owner and Co-Founder of Royal Change

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Sydney Cumming

After chasing a "pipe-dream" career with little support, surviving the ultimate heart break of losing her lifelong best friend in her younger brother, and being shot in the foot, Sydney is still building a worldwide fitness community of almost 150,000 YouTube subscribers and a membership community known as the Sydney Squad made up of almost 600 women from all over the globe. Sydney has made it her lifelong mission to show her community how to empower themselves through fitness by staying resilient, pushing to always challenge ourselves, and never forgetting that we are stronger than we think we are.

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Sydney Duarte

She/Her/Hers

@Traveling_Gypsy

Founder of @Traveling_Gypsy

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Sydney Duarte

Sydney Duarte, owner of The Traveling Gypsy, is a change agent, adventure enthusiast, motivational speaker, disruptor and creator of all things magic. As a champion of building community, collaboration and opportunity, Sydney guides others to step out of their comfort zones to embrace new experiences and live a life they love and settle for nothing less than extraordinary.

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Tasha Woodley

She/Her/Hers

@bankofamerica

SVP Diversity & Inclusion Manager

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Tasha Woodley

Tasha Woodley is a Diversity & Inclusion Manager in the Global Human Resources organization at Bank of America. In her role, Tasha is responsible for diversity and inclusion learning for the bank's largest learning program targeting over 117k employees. D&I learning programs are created and designed to build an inclusive culture driving skill-development, competency, and advocacy. She had the honor with her team to be awarded the Brandon Hall Excellence Awards in 2017 & 2018. This award recognizes companies that have successfully developed and deployed programs, strategies, processes, systems and tools achieving measurable results. This D&I work was evaluated and recognized by leading professionals across the globe.

Prior to her current role, Tasha served as human resource manager partnering with Global Technology and Operations and Consumer groups to provide end to end HR support including divestures and mergers, talent management, leadership development, compensation and incentive, resource planning, onboarding, employment visas, diversity and campus recruiting.

Woodley joined Bank of America in 2003, in Global Technology and Operations where she held a series of roles with increasing responsibility. Beginning as a process change analyst supporting requirements involved in driving out software lifecycle methodology within the Design Engineering Center, she moved on to the senior software configuration role where she monitored technology initiatives during Component and System Integration testing.

Tasha earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.

Tasha resides in Charlotte, NC and serves as the Chapter Co-Chair Lead for the Charlotte Black Professional Group at Bank of America. She volunteers with Victory Christian Center Women’s Shelter Ministry of Helps and is also the Founder of Tomorrow’s Future Leaders Movement. This initiative is dedicated to reducing youth violence, life skills training, and professional development to Charlotte’s youth to increase the number of college graduates in underprivileged communities.

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Tracy Montross

She/Her/Hers

@CLT_Tracy

Regional Director of Government Affairs, American Airlines

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Tracy Montross

Tracy Montross joined American Airlines as a Regional Director of Government Affairs in January 2014. While based in Charlotte, Montross serves as the airline’s representative in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Throughout this territory, she is responsible for developing and executing regulatory and legislative proposals that may have a material effect on the company’s business operations; coordinating strategies that support operational efficiencies, tax relief, noise abatement, labor relations, corporate real estate, environmental goals, and corporate philanthropy; and represents American Airlines with various state and local governments, economic development agencies, Airports and Aviation Divisions, and industry associations to advocate for corporate and customer interests. Montross currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, and UNC Charlotte Foundation.

From 2011 to 2013, Montross served as Chief of Staff for the Office of the Mayor in Charlotte, supporting both Mayors Anthony Foxx and Patsy Kinsey on local, state and national issues, constituent concerns, community relations, as well as City-wide planning for the Democratic National Convention in 2012. She began her career in public service in 2005, serving first as the Washington, D.C., scheduler and then executive assistant for U.S. Senator Max Baucus of Montana.

Montross received her master’s degree in public administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a bachelor’s degree in political science and broadcast communications from Appalachian State University. She has been recognized as one of the Charlotte Business Journal’s 40 under 40, Mecklenburg Times’ 50 Most Influential Women, and the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Young Professional’s Public Servant of the Year. Tracy and her husband, Jesse Munoz, welcomed a baby boy in April 2019. Together, they enjoy spending time with family and friends, as well as playing golf, visiting breweries, and traveling.

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William W. Hammill, MD

He/His/Him

@novanthealth

Chairman and Service Line Leader, Department of Pediatrics, Novant Health

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William W. Hammill, MD

Dr. William W. Hammill is a pediatric cardiologist with Novant in Charlotte, NC. He received his undergraduate degree from Wofford College in South Carolina and his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina. He completed his pediatric residency at the Medical University of South Carolina and his pediatric cardiology fellowship at the University of Virginia. Following completion of his training, he was on active duty with the United States Navy. Bill served in the military for 15 years (4 years active duty and 11 reserve duty). In 2009 he joined Novant Health as a pediatric cardiologist. In April 2016 he became the Chairman and System Pediatric Service Line leader and medical director of the Hemby Children’s Hospital at Novant. Dr. Hammill is a volunteer with the American Heart Association. He has worked on the national and international level reviewing the science of resuscitation and first aid and translating the science into courses for the American Heart Association. He is married and has four sons, four daughter-in-laws and 4 granddaughters. He enjoys time with the family and quiet time with his bride of 35 years.

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William Wilson

He/His/Him

@TheClothier

CEO William Wilson Clothing/ NASCAR champion and Speaker

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William Wilson

William Wilson is a former professional athlete and trailblazer. In 2003, after being turned down by numerous NASCAR teams, William got the opportunity to try out for Ultra Motorsports as a jack man on their pit crew. He won the position. But little did he know he had just became the first full time pit crew member in the history of NASCAR. In 2005, he made professional sports history again by becoming the first African-American in history to win a NASCAR championship. After leaving NASCAR in 2007, William founded William Wilson Clothing; a custom clothing firm specializing in the needs of business owners, athletes and professional athletes. Within 18 months, William was designing award-winning suits for the Grammy Awards. Since then, he has become the personal tailor for such celebrities as DL Hughley, Eddie Griffin, and hundreds of others. William has been named “Charlotte’s Best Custom Clothier” 8 times, “Best Men’s Store” 4 times, “Best Men’s Suit” 5 times, and received the acclaimed Plitz Marketing "Fashion Icon" award. In 2018, William once again made history by being inducted in the North Carolina Military Veterans Hall of Fame. William is also an active philanthropist. A staunch advocate against domestic violence. He started the William Wilson Charitable Foundation, and hosts the Clothier Classic, an annual celebrity charity golf tournament to raise funds to provide scholarships for domestic violence survivors and children of survivors. William is also an exceptional and charismatic keynote and public speaker. He credits his success to God, his mother, great role models, and the time he spent in the Navy.