When you move to a new city it can be difficult to get the lay of the land. You often hear names or see the same name on multiple buildings, but have no idea who those people are or why they are important. Plus, it can seem like you are the only person in the whole town who doesn’t know these people.
With that in mind, here are 10 people (in no particular order) that you should know if you are new to Charlotte.
Majority Owner, Charlotte Hornets
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
The former Tar Heel and, arguably, the greatest basketball player ever, has been the majority owner of Charlotte’s NBA team since 2010. While Jordan does spend a chunk of his time in Lake Norman, he does give back to the Charlotte area (he donated $7 million last year to launch two medical clinics).
Chief of CMPD
Putney has been leading the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department since 2015. He was originally hired as a patrol officer by the CMPD in 1992. He gained national attention after the 2016 fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott and the protests that followed. While critics say not enough has been done to change police policies since the shooting, Putney says changes have been made, like improved transparency.
Pastor Furtick launched Elevation Church in 2006, before growing the church to multiple locations and more than 20,000 attendees each week. He also is a New York Times bestselling author for his books “Crash the Chatterbox,” “Greater,” “Sun Stand Still” and “(Un)Qualified.” Elevation’s YouTube channel also has more than 630,000 subscribers, and its Facebook has more than 700,000 followers. While his rise has come with some controversy over the years (like the construction of his 16,000-square-foot gated estate in Weddington), Furtick has a strong influence on many Charlotteans.
Lyles became the city’s first African-American female mayor in November 2017. Before running for mayor against Republican Kenny Smith, Lyles spent three decades in city hall, including time in the city’s budget office and as an assistant city manager. She spent the last four years as a city council member. Some of the major themes of her mayoral campaign were improving economic opportunity for low-income neighborhoods and building more affordable housing.
President, CEO, President and Director of Speedway Motorsports
Smith runs Speedway Motorsports, which owns Charlotte Motor Speedway. His father, Bruton, is the executive chairman of Speedway Motorsports. Smith most recently was leading the way in Charlotte’s attempt to bring a MLS expansion team to the city. He also had been discussed as a possible new owner of the Carolina Panthers, in a group with Charlotte businessman Felix Sabates.
Jones has been the city manager since 2016. He became the first African-American to hold the position. In Charlotte, the city manager is in charge of carrying out policy decisions made by the mayor and City Council, as well as the day-to-day operations of the city. The way Charlotte’s government is set up, many important decisions facing the city go through Jones, instead of the mayor.
Owner of the Carolina Panthers
After Jerry Richardson’s decision to step down in December 2017 and immediately sell the Panthers, the meticulous process of selecting the next team owner began. Hedge fund manager and billionaire David Tepper became the new owner of the Carolina Panthers in May 2018. According to Charlotte businessman Felix Sabates, Tepper is down-to-earth, reflective of his childhood as part of a lower-middle-class neighborhood in western Pennsylvania. His first season with the Panthers is just beginning.
City Council Member
From protestor to city council member, Winston turned his activism into action after the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. Winston became known as a prominent figure after a picture was taken of him during the 2016 shooting protests showing him, hand raised, in front of a line of CMPD officers. He would use the momentum from these protests to run for office in the November 2017 elections. Not only did he win a spot on city council, but received the second most votes for an at-large seat. His election win received national attention from the likes of Chelsea Clinton and Common.
CEO, Duke Energy
Good became the first female to ever run the nation’s largest utility company in 2013. Fortune listed her as the 11th most powerful woman in the U.S. in 2017, citing her decision to acquire Piedmont Natural Gas for $4.9 billion in 2016 and her aim to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent from the 2005 levels by 2030.
Former Bank of America Chairman and CEO
Often described as “the man who built Charlotte,” McColl grew the regional North Carolina National Bank into the most well-known bank in the country, Bank of America. He retired from his top position in 2001, but has remained a fixture in the Charlotte community. He also supported the purchase and refurbishing of an Uptown church, which became McColl Center for Art + Innovation in 1999. He still has a strong voice in both the social and political aspects of the town.