47, President and CEO, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce
Meredith College, B.A.
Appalachian State University, Master’s
Cole burst through the glass ceiling in 2017 by becoming the first woman to lead the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce in the organization’s 129 years. Since then, the Triangle’s largest nonprofit business membership organization has announced more than 20 corporate relocations and expansions totaling more than $250 million in capital investment and creating more than 5,000 jobs.
What is North Carolina’s key challenge?
There is an opportunity to shift the conversation from the rural/urban divide to rural and urban opportunities. North Carolina is an amazing state with thriving urban centers, micropolitan regions that bridge urban and rural, and truly rural areas with rich histories rooted in agriculture, commercial fishing, tourism and manufacturing. The task is how we collaborate across regions to promote economic development, engage the right partners and develop strategies that maximize local strengths.
Tell us something intriguing about Raleigh.
Raleigh has an amazing energy, this innovative vibe that is hard to describe, and you really can’t understand until you visit. It extends beyond Raleigh to include Durham and the rest of the Triangle. It’s an intangible optimism and spirit of creativity that drives our people and our businesses. This community knows the value of human connection and the necessity of collaboration for success. We are a city and a region not without challenges, but we know we have the tools, voices and energy to find new solutions.
What is something people don’t know about you?
I’m a North Carolina native. I grew up in New Bern [in Craven County] and started my career in Pamlico County. Having a career that has taken me from rural communities to urban has shaped my perspective on all we do at the chamber.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Can I say everything? The opportunity to work with our members, the business community, elected leaders and our nonprofit partners. I get up excited every day — I love that no day is the same. Each day represents an opportunity to positively impact our community, our region and even the state.