I am back at home in North Carolina and at the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation after taking a six month leave of absence in England. Being away allows you to see home with fresh eyes, and so as I have traveled across the State this fall, I have again been heartened to see the level of commitment of so many people who are determined to improve the vitality of their town or city, better the quality of their air or water, or provide educational opportunities that are designed to help each child succeed. North Carolina is a wonderful place to live because we have so many enterprising, visionary, and determined leaders in every region of the State who are committed to working for the common good.
I also came home to a number of retirements of people who have been heroes in the nonprofit community and across the State. Abdul Rasheed has spent decades helping others build resources and increase North Carolina’s supply of affordable housing while leading the NC Community Development Initiative. Ran Coble has spent his professional life giving us clear, objective analyses of North Carolina’s important public policy concerns at the NC Center for Public Policy Research. Andrea Harris has helped thousands of minority businesses and contractors run their businesses more effectively and successfully throughout her many years at the NC Institute of Minority Economic Development (NCIMED). She is now serving as a senior fellow with the organization. George Reed has been an inspiration and a beacon of light for decades as he has led the North Carolina Council of Churches. Melinda Lawrence has spent her career fighting for justice and fairness, including her many years of leadership with the NC Justice Center. They have each in their own way provided me, all of us at ZSR, and people all across the State with inspiration, vision, determination, empathy and leadership. I am grateful to them for their decades of work and am honored to have been a partner in their efforts.
North Carolina is fortunate to have had these dedicated and visionary leaders in the nonprofit sector and will continue to need leaders who are willing to commit themselves to improving the lives of fellow North Carolinians. At ZSR, we are always looking for ways to support strong nonprofit leadership and utilize our resources more effectively. You are the source of good ideas and can help us identify collaborations that make change happen and stories that help people understand what is transpiring on the ground. We welcome your thoughts and ideas and encourage you to share with us stories of your North Carolina heroes.