An ever-important but timely agenda is leading the League’s re-energized Local Leadership Foundation—set up to enhance municipal leaders’ skills—with economic development in focus along with educational efforts toward racial equity and building up tomorrow’s leaders.
“To inspire, develop, and support existing and future North Carolina municipal government elected officials and leaders” is the Foundation’s 2021 revised mission statement as its board, led by Duck Mayor Don Kingston, sets out with new vision. Serving with Mayor Kingston are Board Vice President Kenny Flowers, Assistant Secretary for Rural Economic Development at the state Department of Commerce; and Board Treasurer Gloristine Brown, Mayor of Bethel. The Executive Committee Appointee is Mark McIntire of Duke Energy. Remaining board members include Allen Atchley of Volvo Finance, Joycelyn Johnson of Wake Forest Baptist Health, and Sen. Mike Lazzara, a former mayor pro-tem of Jacksonville and past League president. Ex-officio members are Mayor Karen Alexander, Salisbury Mayor and League President; Paul Meyer, League Executive Director; Maurice Smith, President of the Local Government Federal Credit Union; and Mike Smith, Dean of the UNC School of Government.
Foundation leaders grouped recently to make their focus areas specific. “In two buckets—economic development and education,” said Julie Metz, NCLM Assistant Director of Business and Membership Development Services and the Foundation Board’s secretary. “The foundation is really interested in helping to support and enhance ongoing education and economic development initiatives.”
The Foundation has long championed the state’s tax credits for historic rehabilitation projects, a topic covered in webinars and produced videos from Leverage NC, a partnership of the League, state agencies, and the N.C. Downtown Development Association.
Leverage NC’s initiatives include a television-caliber series on preservation and the people who make it happen—in the budget for 2021, pending fundraising. Also being coordinated is a partnership with East Carolina University’s Miller School of Entrepreneurship to connect the graduating entrepreneurs with towns they would consider locating to.
The Foundation additionally is working on scholarships to the League’s top-rate municipal official education platform, called Advancing Municipal Leaders, for younger people who express interest in local government or for existing League members who would like to see the platform’s content but find the tuition a hardship.
The Foundation will also raise funds toward important expansions in racial equity education (which would add to the recent release of a report with recommendations from the League’s task force on racial equity—see separate article) and creating future leaders out of our younger residents with direct learning programs.
Group leadership has approved and affirmed to potential grantors a diversity and inclusion statement, as well:
Working as one. Advancing all. Everyone is welcome. We respect and value diverse life experiences and heritages to ensure that all voices are heard and valued. We are embarking on a cultural journey that not only values the differences reflecting the communities that we represent, but also leverages those differences to create and nurture an atmosphere that fosters our best work individually and collectively.