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.
Martha Whitecotton
LC Class 27
Senior Vice President of Behavioral Health Services, Atrium Health
Aaron Whitecotton
LC Class 32
Assistant Defensive Line Coach, Buffalo Bills

Martha Whitecotton and her son, Aaron, have both played the role of a newcomer. When Martha was 29, she moved to Charlotte from Texas. “I was a professional in a new city and I didn’t know where I fit,” she says. Aaron’s career as a professional football coach relocated him to cities throughout the country, eventually landing him in Buffalo, NY. “LC was my opportunity to really know my community and better understand where I fit and how I can impact change,” says Martha. Aaron had a similar experience: “LC made me conscientious about finding a way to help in whatever community I join.” Martha graduated LC and—inspired by her encounter with Classroom Central on Education Day—went on to serve as a board member and chair for the organization. She was on the inaugural board of the Ronald McDonald House, the Council for Children’s Rights, KinderMourn, and the Arts and Science Council. She was a significant part of the fundraising efforts to build the Levine Children’s Hospital, which she ran during its first seven years. Today she leads the work at Atrium Health in behavior health. “Leadership Charlotte takes you on a journey that supports the development of your self-awareness relative to your strengths and the opportunities to use those strengths for good in the community,” she says.

For Aaron, his current passion is supporting Buffalo City Mission, a local homeless shelter that provides three meals a day 365 days a year. “The most important thing about LC is that it opens your eyes.  It takes you out of your comfort zone and it provides opportunities for you to serve in areas that you are passionate about,” he says. “Someone in the community needs you, but they may not have the means to find you.  LC will help you find them.”

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.”

Joe Taylor
LC Class 31
Managing Partner, Centerlane Capital

Carol Hardison
LC Class 31
CEO, Crisis Assistance Ministry

“Invaluable.” That’s how Carol Hardison describes her relationship with classmate Joe Taylor. Carol—the CEO of Crisis Assistance Ministry—wound up sitting next to Joe—the managing partner at Centerlane Capital—during one of LC’s bus tours. The two started talking. “We talked about Crisis Assistance Ministry and its need for basic gently used household items such as furniture, beds, and appliances for customers who were moving from temporary to permanent housing,” says Joe. “Carol and I mapped out a strategy to grow this part of the agency and I started volunteering my time to help make this a reality.” Joe was able to use his real estate connections to find a new furniture bank location that was three times bigger and much closer to the Crisis Assistance Ministry’s main office. Since the relocation, there’s been a dramatic increase in furniture donations and corporate partnerships that have donated brand new appliances. “The number of clients served has grown to over 50,000 and the furniture bank is now an integral, critical, and sustainable part of Crisis Assistance Ministry,” says Joe, who sits on the agency’s board of directors. Adds Carol, “I don’t know how I would’ve met Joe otherwise without LC.”
Toussaint Romain
LC Class 31
Community Attorney and Adjunct Professor
Doug Smith
LC Class 31
Commercial Banking Executive

Despite working in adjacent office buildings, Doug Smith and Toussaint Romain would’ve never met were it not for LC. The two were roommates at opening weekend and during the program they connected. But not “in the superficial way,” Toussaint says. “Connection in its original Latin means ‘to thoroughly join.’ We have created a lasting friendship that has extended well beyond the LC program. We have connected in a way that our families know each other. I’ve been to his house; we talk about work and difficult career decisions; we confide in each other and have prayed for each other.” In 2016, Doug and his oldest son were watching live coverage of the Charlotte protests. “My son asked, ‘Dad, is that Mr. Toussaint?’” says Doug. “Toussaint had decided to step in between protestors and CMPD that night. I was already vested in what was happening in Charlotte that night, but that vesting was multiplied by a million when I saw Toussaint,” Doug says. “I suddenly had a true realization of how torn our city had become thanks to the courage of my close friend! I owe him for further awakening me that night to what was transpiring in Charlotte and how important it is to take a stand for what you believe in.” LC didn’t change the fact that Doug and Toussaint live in two separate worlds. “We were separated by an abyss of differences,” Toussaint says, “but our relationship was bridged through LC.”