Name: Mark Peres
Leadership Charlotte (LC) Class: 26
Title/Company: Professor of Leadership, Johnson & Wales University; Executive Director, The Charlotte Center for the Humanities & Civic Imagination
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
Education: J.D., The Florida State University College of Law, A.B., Rollins College
Current personal or leadership goals: To serve my community being true to myself.
What are you doing in the community these days? I lead The Charlotte Center for the Humanities & Civic Imagination (The Charlotte Center – thecharlottecenter.org). Our mission is to help people and communities’ flourish. We do that by bringing people together to explore civic issues through the lens of the humanities. That’s philosophy, history, literature, poetry, religion, music, and the arts. Why the humanities? Because we’re human. We hold forums where we connect people across difference and inspire community engagement. We host an annual Charlotte Ideas Festival that is part of Charlotte SHOUT! It includes presentations, panels, discussions, and gatherings. We look at things seriously but with hope and creativity as the only way forward. I also teach in the College of Arts & Sciences at Johnson & Wales University. I love my time in the classroom. I see myself in my students. I learn from them and work to make a difference in their lives.
How has your life after Leadership Charlotte surprised you and why? I think of myself as a civic entrepreneur. I like bringing projects and organizations to life that add insight and thoughtfulness to our community. Leadership Charlotte helped me understand my community in deeper and broader ways. LC reinforced trust in the city and my desire to make a difference. I haven’t so much been surprised by my life after LC as I have been grateful for it. I made friends during Leadership Charlotte who are part of my life today. I support their efforts and they support mine. While I was in LC, I published and edited Charlotte Viewpoint, a magazine about the arts and civic life of the region. I later launched the On Life and Meaning podcast where I interviewed 100 Charlotte leaders. Many of my guests were LC alumni, all doing amazing things. I’m inspired by so many cultural, business, and community leaders who envision, take risk, and make things happen.
What do you hope to be doing (differently) in five years? I hope to be living a committed life. I hope that’s not different than today. Things change and things remain the same. I want to bring my gifts to the community. That might mean writing, convening, and teaching in new and different ways. I’m concerned about the health of our ecosystems, biodiversity, acceleration of technology, issues of equity, what we learn, notions of wisdom, civil liberties, discovery, and curiosity. I believe in democracy. I want to strengthen it. I hope to live artistically and see more of this planet.
Greatest personal accomplishment and why: My greatest personal accomplishment is one I take very little credit for it happening. I love my wife and my daughter and the life we have together. I’m deeply grateful for my friends who are adventurous and generous. I’m moved and inspired by the richness of the relationships I get to enjoy. It’s the moments I share with the people that matter to me that I cherish the most.