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.
Patrice Funderburg
LC Class 35
Chief Visionary, Educate To Engage, LLC

After 22 years in corporate human resources, Patrice Funderburg left her career to become a consultant and justice advocate and activist. She says, “My work centers on the lived experiences of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people to build and grow transformational change.” In the summer of 2016, she started Educate To Engage, LLC in response to her personal feelings about the state of police violence on black people. “The idea began as a community book club about mass incarceration through the 2010 work in Michelle Alexander’s book, ‘The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.’” Her social justice advisory services company offers a free community book club and consulting services. The goal is to create transformational change and end institutional racism through education and engagement. Patrice says there isn’t any one organization that directly impacted her ability to lead the Charlotte community. “Candidly,” she says, “I think the ability to change Charlotte exists in everyone.”

Chris Dennis
LC Class 30
Founder, Community Dream Builders

In 2010, NeighborhoodScout.com ranked Lockwood neighborhood as the 11th more dangerous neighborhood in the U.S. The story was picked up by local news and gave outsiders looking in a picture of a place plagued by drugs, local shootings, and rising taxes. But things are not always as they seem. When Chris Dennis, resident and president of the Lockwood Neighborhood Association, read an article about the ranking he got an idea. “I wanted to start a 5K that would bring people to the area and let them see how this community was just like other communities in Charlotte. It just needed love,” says Chris. Using his LC connections, he launched Community Dream Builders, a nonprofit that hosted the first AvidXchange Music Factory 5K Rock and Run. “Five hundred people would run through the community in the first year and prove the article’s community assessment to be false,” says Chris. “Ten years later, this is now one of America’s most thriving communities.” Community Dream Builders has since implemented financial, social, and creative services that have greatly contributed to the significant changes in the North End corridor. One of the greatest things to come out of the nonprofit is the Lockwood Legends Arts Initiative, an artist-in-residence program that fosters civic engagement through art. The project, which is located in one of Lockwood’s historic homes from the 1920s, seeks to educate, connect, and empower residents while also preserving the history of Lockwood. “LC provided the platform to enhance and further develop my leadership skills,” says Chris. “LC taught me so much about a city that I have come to love and how to be a heart-led leader to ensure that the future of this city includes everyone working together for positive change.”

Charles Thomas
LC Class 34
Charlotte Program Director, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

How does an Economics major end up working for a non-profit foundation focused on journalism, arts, and community? Charles Thomas explains, “After working corporate for 3 years, I retired early and started a new career as a photographer and educator.” Charles went on to become the education director at The Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and later the executive director of the startup nonprofit Queen City Forward. “I left QC Forward to join a national foundation called the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as their Charlotte program director,” says Charles. “The role at Knight Foundation has allowed me to expand my impact.” The foundation’s investments in Charlotte range from $2-$4 Million dollars annually. Their focus is on journalism and arts, as well as equitable development in the historic West End district. “LC supported my desire to learn more about the challenges and opportunities our community faces. LC exposed me to leaders doing great work citywide and connected me to peers who I’m friends with to this day,” says Charles. “I appreciate the network and the opportunity to continue to discuss how we advance Charlotte.”

Lennie Cox
LC Class 23
Community Volunteer

After graduating from LC, Lennie Cox says she realized how important it was to her that her community leadership encompass the areas of her life she valued most: family and faith. “I had a young daughter and a newborn son at the time and wanted to pursue projects that included them,” she says. Lennie connected with the executive director of A Child’s Place, a nonprofit dedicated to erasing the impact of homelessness on children and their education, to develop an annual program at her children’s elementary school. The goal of the program was to bring greater awareness of homelessness. “We showed them what homelessness looks like, who it affects, how it happens, and what supportive agencies and communities can help individuals and families transition into stable housing,” Lennie says. This program is in its 16th year and was used as a prototype for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. “LC instilled the need for servant leaders and provided the skills and insight to help us become them. I have utilized all of these experiences to lead in a variety of facets in our community for the past 17 years,” Lennie says. “However, the projects that have been the most rewarding are those with longevity where new leaders are developed and whose impact continues. Their success is a direct reflection of LC and all it taught me. LC has shaped our city’s past and I cannot wait to see how it impacts our 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.”

Maurice “Mo” Green
LC Class 23

Executive Director, Z Reynolds Foundation

Community is a crucial element to the LC experience. It’s why opening retreat attendance is required…except if you’re General Counsel for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education and the U.S. Court of Appeals issues an opinion on a desegregation lawsuit the same day as the retreat. Mo Green was called away for an emergency press conference. “I recall members of my LC class and the LC staff kidding with me that I had gone through great lengths to get irrefutable proof to support my reason for leaving.” The next morning, Mo returned to the retreat and went on to graduate. “LC allowed me to develop relationships with leaders in Charlotte, many of whom I likely would have never met, to learn more about Charlotte, to deepen my understanding of my personality traits, and to become more comfortable as a leader of organizations in Charlotte and beyond.” Mo went on to become the CEO and later the Deputy Superintendent/COO for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. After serving as superintendent for Guilford County Schools, he became the executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Reflecting on the impact he’s had, Mo is still the servant-leader that graduated from LC, saying, “I will leave it to others to evaluate whether I changed Charlotte for the better.”

Jonell Logan
LC Class 36
Executive Director, League of Creative Interventionists

Art is a powerful expression of the human experience, although it’s not always accessible to or representative of underserved communities. After graduating from LC, Jonell Logan became focused on creating opportunities for diversity and inclusion in the arts. “After participating in LC, the idea of servant-leadership became even more important to me,” Jonell says. She left her job and worked independently to develop exhibitions and programs that supported diversity in artists and brought art directly into communities. Jonell partnered with big city organizations to bring the work of artist Antoine Williams to Charlotte. Williams’ work, which explores the black experience, was featured at the Mint Museum and installed on newspaper kiosks and private buildings throughout Charlotte. Jonell became the Executive Director of the League of Creative Interventionists, a non-profit developing a national network of artists and leaders invested in transforming neighborhoods from within. “LC not only modeled what servant leadership should look like, but it also connected me with others who are invested in changing Charlotte for the better,” Jonell says. “As a result, I have been able to receive guidance from and develop programming in partnerships with individuals and organizations who are genuinely invested in creating opportunities for others.”