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40 Wonderful Years / 40 Great Stories

This is 40 – a milestone that recognizes an organization that has stood the test of time and alumni who continue to meet the challenges in our city. In honoring the past four decades, the alumni of Leadership Charlotte are the people who embody the core values of the program by leading. These forty stories simply scratch the surface to show the different paths alumni have taken to become instruments of change in Charlotte. Each story illustrates the transformative changes alumni have experienced and the hope of continued impact future classes have on our community. These stories represent your story, the story of your classmates and the other Leadership Charlotte alumni who continue to affect change in our city. 

The Community Connectors

We are the collaborators, the unifiers, and the bridge builders. Setting aside our personal interests, we are putting the community first to make Charlotte work for everyone.
LaPronda Spann
LC Class 36
Owner, Lain Consulting, LLC

The jump into entrepreneurship was daunting for LaPronda Spann, a single parent who left a 21-year corporate career to start her own consulting firm. As her firm gained success, LaPronda saw entrepreneurship as a means to serve others. “LC put a fire under me to follow my passion and purpose: to grow small businesses in Charlotte,” says LaPronda. After graduating LC, she served as a volunteer counselor at CPCC’s Small Business Center, offering small businesses guidance and technical assistance. She became an instructor of the free Government Contracting series, teaching small businesses how to market to government and major corporations to land premium contracts. LaPronda was also appointed Moderator and Leader of the Mecklenburg County Small Business Consortium, a free bi-monthly event that educates and empowers small business owners. “I have come to understand that the growth of small businesses has a significant impact on our community. It keeps unemployment rates down and helps to move Charlotte into a place of upward mobility,” says LaPronda. “I am crystal clear about the work that needs to be done and the work that I must do to continue to change Charlotte for the better. A great deal of this was enhanced and empowered through my experience with Leadership Charlotte.”  

 

The Innovators

We are about the new ideas, the new conversations, the new connections. We are the change seekers and the ones pushing the envelope to ensure our community thrives in the future.
Zaq Morgan
LC Class 35
General Counsel, Entropy Investment Management, LLC

During LC, Zaq Morgan remembers a conversation he had with a classmate during Sustainability Day. It wasn’t just any conversation, but a “soul-searching and course-altering” one about passion, legacy, and careers. That single conversation was the catalyst for Morgan’s career change. After LC, Morgan left his job as a commercial real estate, finance, and land use lawyer and joined Entropy, a utility-scale renewable energy investment and management company, where he currently serves as General Counsel. He founded two companies, Samsara Energy Advisors, LLC and Dogwood Energy Investments, LLC, which provide consulting services and invest in renewable energy, biogas, and battery storage projects throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean. Outside of work, Morgan hosts and moderates forums for LC alumni and others to learn more about renewable energy in the Charlotte region and North Carolina and to educate citizens and regulators about the challenges of installing and constructing utility-scale solar and biogas projects. “Leadership Charlotte provided me with a network of relationships and a self-awareness to pursue a passion as my profession,” says Morgan. Today, he’s currently directing the retrofit of an anaerobic digestion facility near Uptown Charlotte which is designed to take in 450 tons of leftover food waste per day and convert it into 5.2MW of renewable energy for the local power grid. “In my work at the facility, I frequently draw upon my network of Leadership Charlotte alumni for counsel, services, and guidance in the construction and regulatory space.” 

 

The Powerful Pairs

We are the ones who live the adage that 1+1=3. We know that partnership makes us powerful and produces meaningful impact in our community.

Juli Ghazi 
LC Class 32
Owner, Pure Pizza

Manuel Campbell
LC Class 32
CEO, ASPIRE Community Capital

When Juli Ghazi met LC classmate Manuel Campbell, she instantly knew they were like-minded and like-spirited. “As I was exploring the idea of opening a new business, Manuel quickly became part-advisor-part-cheerleader and was 100% supportive of where my ideas for Pure Pizza were headed,” says Ghazi. Campbell helped Ghazi piece together a financial analysis, which is critical for start-ups in a downturn economy. “I’m forever grateful for the work he did,” says Ghazi. Today, Ghazi uses her business to impact communities near and far. “LC gave me a greater sense of what impacts the Charlotte community such as affordable housing, fair wages, and access to healthy food options, to name only a few.” Pure Pizza is committed to paying living wages and offering a variety of benefits. It also provides micro-funds to farmers in developing countries, encouraging entrepreneurial independence through sustainable farming practices. “Through collaboration, volunteerism and business ethos, both myself and our employees have been able to be involved in the fabric of needs within our Charlotte community.” 

The Purpose Seekers

We lived. We loved. We embodied the change that life threw at us. We turned that change into powerful actions for the betterment of our fellow Charlotteans.
Tim McCleary
LC Class 38
Managing Director, The Involvement Practice

When Tim McCleary and his family relocated to Charlotte, he asked around about the best way to get plugged into Charlotte. He wound up in LC’s Encounter program. “After completing that day, I knew I had to apply to participate in the LC program,” Tim says. “LC opened my eyes to the great things that happen in our community, as well as the hidden needs we have every day.” After graduating LC, Tim turned his focus to gun violence prevention. His involvement with the non-profit Sandy Hook Promise led to him becoming North Carolina’s Promise Leader Ambassador. “LC built connections to leaders in our community, many of whom I am working directly with today, on a volunteer basis.”  

 

The Trailblazers

We are the visionaries. We saw the future and its potential and had the courage to turn our ideas into action.
Jim Rogers
LC Class 1
Senior Vice President, Flagship Healthcare Properties

Jim Rogers arrived in Charlotte in 1969 after discharge from active duty with the U.S. Air Force. “LC opened many doors for me to become involved in the Charlotte community and to be a part of and advocate for education, the arts, church, non-profits, and business efforts,” says Rogers. “LC gave me the ability to connect to those areas in Charlotte that make things happen, both business and non-profit, and an opportunity to engage in a responsible way.”