We are welcoming a familiar face to United Way’s top seat as Laura Clark becomes the sixth leader in our organization’s 86-year history.
Laura joined the United Way team in 2016 and has led a transformation of the organization’s community impact strategy to more directly address the economic mobility challenges across the Charlotte region, including the launch of two major initiatives – United Neighborhoods and Unite Charlotte.
We sat down with our new president and chief executive officer recently to learn more about her passion for our community, along with a few of her favorite things.
She’s excited about her new position. “The opportunity to lead United Way of Central Carolinas as only the sixth leader in its history is a dream come true for me as a Charlotte native. Having been born and raised in this community and seeing the good work that United Way does, I know that it is one of the most critical health and human service organizations in our community.”
Her motivation is shaped by personal experiences. “My parents moved to Charlotte for opportunity. They left their families, what they were comfortable with and what they knew because they wanted to create a different kind of future for their children. That bet paid off for them because I’m an example of all the opportunities they were able to give me. But the reality is there are children growing up in this city – in the schools I went to and not far from the neighborhoods I lived in – that are not going to have that same opportunity. And I’ve spent my entire career trying to right that wrong. What motivates me every day is for every child born in this community to have the same access to opportunities that I had.”
Her work is influenced by strong community mentors. “Dionne Nelson with Laurel Street Residential has given me tremendous advice over the years. As a female leader in this community, she built her business from the ground up and she’s taught me so much about how to do that. I’ve also had the tremendous gift in my career to be mentored by Hugh McColl, and what I learned from him at Renaissance West is irreplaceable. I feel incredibly lucky to have had his mentorship, his friendship and quite frankly his candid feedback when I needed it.”
One of the best pieces of advice she’s gotten is “nobody can manage your career but you. I think particularly for women and women who have leadership aspirations, we have to be willing to take our career in our own hands and not sit back and expect somebody else to champion for us. We have to be our own best advocate, our own best friend and believe in ourselves.”
When she’s not at work she enjoys several hobbies. “In my head I am the star of a Food Network show and like to create new recipes, test them and try new things. I have two dogs that I spend a lot of time with – a pit bull mix and a lab mix that follow me everywhere. They were rescue dogs and are my joy and my heart. And I love to read fun novels and People magazine. Every Friday when I get home, that’s the first thing I’m reading!”
If she travels outside Charlotte, you’ll most likely find her “at the beach. I start feeling like when I haven’t seen the ocean in a while that I can’t breathe, so I like to get down to the beach when I can. But my husband, Nathan, and I like to travel and go places we haven’t been.”
Favorite music genre. Indie folk.
Her perfect pizza. Margherita.
What she wanted to be as a kid. A teacher.
Favorite family tradition. Watching “Christmas Vacation” with family on Christmas Eve.
Her first choice at the movie theater concession stand. Popcorn.
If you’re interested in having Laura or a member of our team speak at an organization or event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.