South Charlotte

Betsy Rosen finds way to give back, celebrate heritage

Betsy Rosen has given back in myriad ways.

“I have always had a privileged upbringing and have wanted for nothing,” said Rosen, who is 51. “I feel it is my responsibility and that of my family to advocate for those who aren’t as fortunate.”

Rosen began her life of civic engagement in the political arena. After her 1985 graduation from McCallister College in Minnesota with a degree in economics, she worked on a congressional campaign there before moving to Washington, D.C., to work on Capitol Hill on public policy issues.

“I value people who stand up to make a difference,” she said. “It is a huge time commitment.”

Rosen moved to New York City in 1992 to purse a master’s degree at Columbia University School of Journalism because she wanted to inform people about what she’d encountered during her time in Washington.

“I realized that another way to make a difference is by communicating and sharing stories,” she said. “I wanted to tell people what was going on and what I had seen and experienced so they could know and make educated decisions.”

She worked as a journalist with Bloomberg News covering municipal finance.

“It was perfect for me because I was following the money,” she said. “I was able to convey to readers and taxpayers how we pay for schools and roads and how these decisions are made.”

She met her husband in 1992 and they hit it off right away.

“Our second date was at the Democratic National Convention in New York,” Rosen said.

Rosen moved to Charlotte in 2000 and now lives in Dilworth with her husband Liam Stokes, 52, a Bank of America executive and their sons David, 15, a freshman at Myers Park High School, and Ryan, 8, a second- grader at Charlotte Country Day.

“I am driven by a passion for making the world a better place,” Rosen said. “I know that sounds clichéd, but I believe that every random act of kindness makes a huge difference.”

When they moved to Charlotte, Rosen enrolled their son, David, a year old at the time, in daycare at the YWCA.

“I became passionate about working with women and children and the YWCA’s mission,” Rosen said.

It was the first of many boards she joined.

“It was a great intro to Charlotte and the needs of our community,” she said.

Rosen, who describes herself as “an open-minded Democrat with a keen understanding of fiscal issues,” supports the causes and people who are making a difference with her time and her pocketbook.

She serves on the board at Temple Beth El, where she is a member, and on their executive committee. She also is on the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte and of Shalom Park Freedom School, which she assisted in starting.

“My Judaism is important to me,” she said. “I think it is important to personalize and demystify it.”

She also hosts an annual honey-tasting party for Rosh Hashana and a Passover Seder where many non-Jewish people attend.

“It is such a simple act, but so impactful,” she said.

Rosen also has held fundraising events at her Dilworth home.

Rosen, who sees herself as a bridge builder, tries to reinforce that lesson at home with her sons.

“My goal is to help my children decide how to vote and think for themselves,” she says. “We have a lot of policy discussions in our house about current events.”

Perhaps the most meaningful way Rosen and her husband have made a difference is in the adoption of their son, Ryan, from Mexican-born parents who, Rosen said “wanted a better, more stable life for him.”

“We are all very proud of our now shared Mexican heritage,” Rosen said. “And we know he was meant for our family and we are meant for him.”

Betsy Rosen and Liam Stokes have established a fund at Temple Beth El in honor of Ryan’s birth mother that provides financial assistance to families and children in need.

“It’s for the small things, like glasses or a car repair that could set folks spiraling down,” Rosen said.