Sunday, June 16, 2024

Foundation for the Carolinas names Clark as president

The Foundation for the Carolinas named Laura Yates Clark as president, reporting to CEO Cathy Bessant, who joined the group in January. Clark has been president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Charlotte since 2018.

Clark will help set and implement a strategic direction for the foundation, which has a big role in public policy and civic leadership in the Charlotte area. Bessant succeeded Michael Mariscano, who had led the group for 23 years.

“We are re-imagining our leadership model to most effectively set and carry out our future priorities in service to our fund holders, nonprofit community and region,” Bessant said in a release. She resigned last year from Bank of America, where she ranked among the top executives for decades. Recent posts including working as vice chair of global strategy and, previously, leading the operations and technology division for the second-largest U.S. bank.

The foundation ended the 2023 fiscal year with assets of nearly $4 billion, making it the fifth-largest U.S. community foundation. Fund-holders provided a record $961 million in 2022-23.

At the United Way, Clark led efforts to promote economic and mobility and advance racial equity across its four-county area. That included a grants funding process that supported more than 100 local nonprofits, who applied for funding and then were closely monitored for effectiveness.

Funding for the United Way in Charlotte declined over the years as companies de-emphasized employee-giving programs, prompting the group to restructure its approach. The group says it will start a national search for Clark’s successor.

Clark is a former CEO of the Renaissance West Community Initiative and a former board chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Charlotte branch. She has a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University and a master’s in psychology from UNC Charlotte.

In addition to Clark’s appointment, Bessant announced the following leadership team at the foundation:

  • Doug Benson, Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Risk Officer
  • Alyssa Federico, Chief Financial Officer
  • Elizabeth Kiser, Chief Philanthropy Officer
  • Tara Keener, Chief Marketing Officer
  • Bill Lorenz, Chief Operating Officer
  • Jose Rivas, Human Resources Executive
  • Sean Seifert, Carolina Theatre Executive
  • Blair Stanford, Charlotte Executive Leadership Council Executive Director
  • Evan Wolkofsky, General Counsel
David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg is editor of Business North Carolina. Reach him at

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