Margaret and Smoky Bissell are starting the Bissell Ballantyne Legacy Foundation to continue the Bissell family’s longstanding commitment to Charlotte area nonprofits. The foundation will be self-directed and will focus its investments in education, healthcare, and human service organizations based in the Charlotte region.
“Leadership is important and something we look for when evaluating charitable beneficiaries,” the Bissells said in a press release. “We are interested in innovative nonprofits that strive to be the best in class through demonstrated and measurable outcomes.” The amount invested in the foundation was not disclosed.
Howard “Smoky” Bissell is one of Charlotte’s most famous real estate developers, best known for selling Ballantyne Corporate Park to Northwood Investors for more than $1 billion in 2017. It had more than 4 million square feet of office space.
He is the brother-in-law of Johnny Harris, whose family owned land in south Charlotte where the SouthPark and Ballantyne developments exist. Bissell’s first wife, Sara Harris Bissell, died in 2009.
Margaret Gragg Bissell was a longtime head of school at Charlotte Country Day, a K-12 private school in Charlotte.
Whitney Feld will be president of the foundation, effective Sept. 5. She will work closely with board chair Barbara Bissell Kopczynski, the foundation’s board chair and Smoky Bissell’s daughter.
“I will do my best to ensure that it is managed well, remains healthy, and most importantly helps others lead prosperous and meaningful lives,” Feld said in the release.
Feld has been in regulatory relations at Wells Fargo, supporting the Strategy, Digital and Innovation teams. She also spent six years at the Foundation For The Carolinas, leading the Center for Personal Philanthropy, Planned Giving, and Family Office Partners divisions. At the foundation, she was a dedicated relationship manager for the group’s most complex family and foundation relationships.
Feld is a Miami University graduate with a law degree from Charleston School of Law. She started her career as a Special Education teacher in Brooklyn, New York.
Smoky Bissell is a Buffalo, New York native and a graduate of Yale University who served in the U.S. Navy from 1959-61. After teaching school in California, he moved to Charlotte in 1964 and started his real estate career. Bissell Cos. had a major investment in Charlotte and Greensboro before launching the Ballantyne development.