Apply to get a ‘backstage pass’ to the city through Leadership Charlotte

Elizabeth McKee is the director at Leadership Charlotte, a non-profit organization that has been serving Charlotte since 1978. They offer ENCOUNTER Charlotte and Leadership Charlotte, two interactive and experiential programs, each year. Charlotte citizens have the opportunity to learn about the Queen City from a new perspective.

Graduates of the program have a broader view of Charlotte in terms of education, economics, environments, arts, health and human services.  McKee said, “We are not interested in changing the shape of your frame, but only in widening it. You are going to go out and do good. “

Every Leadership Charlotte program must fulfill at least one of these areas:

(1) Enhance and increase community knowledge

(2) Expand civic network

(3) Have an opportunity to serve


Linnea Williams, 27, got more than she bargained for when she signed up for Leadership Charlotte’s ENCOUNTER last spring. Williams is in the human resources department at Electrolux and was looking for ways to get more involved in Charlotte.

Initially, she thought ENCOUNTER might help her find a place to volunteer. Almost a year after the program ended, William said, “It got a little deeper than I expected. It made me reflect on myself. In two days, I discovered more about myself and how I could fit into the Charlotte community with my set of skills. Now I want to make an impact.”

Williams is in the beginning stages of starting a non-profit. Its mission is to bring awareness to youth and employment.

ENCOUNTER Program Details

– 50 people get accepted through an application that opens in early 2017.

– 1 ½ day program – Dates for next ENCOUNTER – April 5-6 of 2017

– Featured speakers are from Chamber of Commerce, Levine Museum of the New South, Crisis Assistance Ministry and other Charlotte resources

– $450 tuition

Class of 37, opening weekend in Blowing Rock

Leadership Charlotte

Ethan Smith, 28-year-old Leadership Charlotte alum and City of Charlotte employee, said, “Leadership Charlotte broadened my views on the potential for someone who wants to invest in this community.”

Leadership Charlotte program details

– 50-55 people accepted through application process

– 10 month program is August – May 2017. The application opens Dec. 1 to apply for Class of 39. 

– Featured topics every month: education, government, politics, healthcare, justice system, diversity, community trusteeship and sustainability

– $3,000 tuition fee

– Notable alumni include Edwin Peacock, mayoral candidate; Carol Hardison, Crisis Assistance Ministry; Jen Band, Playing with Others; Hyong Yi, City of Charlotte; James Mitchell, City Council; Vi Lyles, City Council; Thelma Byers Bailey, CMS School Board; and Ann Clark, CMS Superintendent

Don’t let the tuition fees scare you off. Sometimes your company may be willing to use professional development dollars to offset the fees. Leadership Charlotte offers scholarships for both programs based on financial need. If your company is a Tuition Partner, there may be a program already setup for employees interested in Leadership Charlotte programs.

Leadership Charlotte Board of Directors on the ligh rail during a scavenger hunt

Photos: Leadership Charlotte