Name: Donna Rogers and Kenn Shrader
Leadership Charlotte (LC) Class: 34 and 39
Title/Company: Premier, Inc.
Hometown: Burlington NC and Washington DC
Education: University of Florida and Ohio University
Current personal or leadership goals: We’re agreed in wanting to leverage whatever privilege we have to improve social conditions for those who are marginalized.
What advice that you would you give to current Leadership Charlotte participants?
Donna: The LC experience is different for everyone. You have to challenge yourself to remain open to other’s perspectives in each session, especially when you begin to feel uncomfortable. That’s when you’re growing.
Kenn: Listen with intent. Don’t accept the first impression or perspective that comes to mind. Keep an open mind, and an open heart.
What do you remember most vividly from your Leadership Charlotte experience and why?
Donna: I love learning new things, so each program day was a treat for me. I have to say, though, my most vivid experience centered around my group’s service project with the YWCA. Their archives brought over a century of Charlotte’s history into focus for me, especially the effects of ‘urban renewal.’ The leadership the YW provided before and during the desegregation era was remarkable.
Kenn: None of the days were “fun” or “enjoyable.” But many were rewarding. My service project with the Center for Community Transition grew into a deeper community involvement after LC39, and that drive is based on a lot of what I took from Justice Day.
Favorite way to spend a weekend in Charlotte:
We’re pretty low-key when we’re home, doing regular domestic things like home and garden chores and hanging out with the dogs. Most weekends we’ll enjoy cooking together and stream something to watch.
What do you hope to be doing (differently) in five years?
Our goal five years from now is to be where we will live for our retirement years. Wherever that is, we will be active in grass roots organizations.
What’re you doing in the community these days?
Together, we had focused on work related to educational opportunity since we moved here in 2010. Then, Kenn’s service project last year was with the Center for Community Transitions, and something else clicked into place for us. (His #1 strength is connectedness) We still retain a residential property in VA and have strong relationships a person who works with ex-offender employment there. Heads were put together to come up with a “one-stop plan” to provide not only housing but also employment and transportation for ex-offenders, the first of its kind in VA. It took almost a year to have the plan approved by the Commonwealth, but we’ve been operational since August 1. (Donna’s #1 strength is achiever) Using those lessons learned, Kenn began working with some local leaders to create Reentry Housing Alliance, a group whose purpose is to coordinate the efforts of existing housing programs with local rental owners/managers to overcome the resistance to reentry housing. Their first landlord’s breakfast was in December.