Monday, March 4, 2024

Who’s got the influence: The North Carolina Power 100 list

These are 100 of the most influential business and nonprofit leaders in North Carolina as of February 2018. Business North Carolina selected the names after gathering information and talking with sources across the state. Influence is subjective, and many talented leaders could be on this list, obviously. Political and government leaders were excluded. We look forward to our readers’ feedback.

To read the profiles, see the icons, and a PDF of the feature please click the links at the bottom of the list.


Frank Baird, 61
CEO, Capital Associates
The real-estate firm founded in 1983 by Hugh Little has developed more than 3 million square feet of office space. A University of Texas graduate, Baird joined Capital Associates in 1986 after working for a Dallas development company. His firm is now planning a mixed-use project on the former site of the News & Observer newspaper.

Jack Cecil, 61
CEO, Biltmore Farms
Once a major dairy producer, the company now develops mixed-use projects, residential communities and hotels. Cecil mixes his work with service on influential boards, including the Research Triangle Foundation. The Biltmore name is associated with the famous estate, which Cecil’s father and uncle split from the real-estate business in the late ‘70s. His cousin, Bill Cecil Jr., guides the estate operator, Biltmore Co.

Darryl Dewberry, 56
CEO, Spectrum Cos.
300 South Tryon, downtown Charlotte’s newest skyscraper, was years in the making, but it opened in splashy style in late 2017, raising the profile of the development firm founded by Jim Dulin in 1982. Dewberry, a University of Georgia graduate, became CEO in 2005 and oversees a $1.5 billion portfolio. Spectrum changed its name last year to reflect its broader ambitions as it expands in Charlotte, Charleston, S.C., Nashville and Raleigh.

Ed Fritsch, 59
CEO, Highwoods Properties
The Raleigh native has worked for Highwoods for much of its 40-year history. He joined in 1982 and became CEO in 2004. Among his achievements in recent years was developing three buildings for MetLife’s expansion in Cary. He is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, where he has served on several key boards.

Greg Hatem, 57
Founder, Empire Properties
In 1995, long before downtown Raleigh’s current building boom, Hatem began renovating more than 40 buildings and filling them with stores and restaurants, including Sitti, named for his Lebanese grandmother. The Roanoke Rapids native’s latest proposal is for a 12-story mixed-use building in downtown’s warehouse district.

John Kane, 65
Founder, Kane Realty
When John Kane transformed North Hills Plaza and North Hills Mall, the Wake Forest University graduate changed the face of Raleigh. Kane, who started his company in 1978, was ahead of his time as an advocate for urban lifestyles. His latest project, the 18-story Dillon in downtown Raleigh, is scheduled to open this year.

Greg Keith, 62
President and CEO, Keith Corp.
The real-estate firm founded in 1989 by father-and-son Graeme and Greg Keith is a major developer in the Queen City and the Triangle. Current projects include a second building for Movement Mortgage in Charlotte’s south suburbs. Keith, who has a law degree from Wake Forest University, is the father-in-law of pro golfer Webb Simpson.

Fred Klein, 71
Senior Managing Partner, Childress Klein
Charlotte, Atlanta
The Wharton MBA keeps a low profile, but he’s been one of the largest developers in Charlotte since the late ‘70s. He’s responsible for several downtown towers and dozens of suburban office and warehouse projects. Klein and partner Don Childress, who is based in Atlanta, worked for Dallas-based Trammell Crow before splitting off in 1988.

Marty Kotis, 49
President and CEO, Kotis Properties
If you’ve had dinner or seen a movie in Greensboro’s artsy “Midtown,” it’s because of the developer’s efforts to reinvigorate the neighborhood along Battleground Avenue. Kotis joined his father’s restaurant-development business in 1987 and has gained a statewide profile as an outspoken member of the UNC Board of Governors.

Todd Mansfield, 59
CEO, Crescent Communities
A former Disney exec and Harvard MBA, his company is behind some of downtown Charlotte’s most anticipated developments. One in the ground has the most people talking: The River District west of the Charlotte airport could boost Charlotte’s tax base by almost $3 billion when completed over the next 30 years, Crescent and partner Lincoln Harris predict.

Pat Riley, 66
President and CEO, Allen Tate
The largest residential real-estate firm in the Carolinas is sitting pretty amid an extended housing boom. Its burgundy-and-gold for-sale signs stretch from Raleigh to Greenville, S.C., with agents recording more than 22,000 closings in 2016. Riley, who had run his own real-estate agency in Pennsylvania, joined as president in 1992 and succeeded founder Allen Tate as CEO in 2015.

Steve Showfety, 70
President, Koury Corp.
Legendary Greensboro developer Joe Koury hired Showfety in 1978, just three years after the debut of the company’s best-known holding, the Four Seasons Town Centre mall. Since Koury’s death in 1998, the East Carolina University graduate has continued the developer’s vision for south Greensboro’s 247-room Grandover Resort and Conference Center, which opened in 1996.

Julian “Bubba” Rawl, 65, and Tim Smith, 68
Owners, Preston Development
The developers joke that they may not live to see their biggest project come to completion — Chatham Park is expected to be the state’s largest planned community once its 7,000 acres near Pittsboro are developed over the next 30 years. The longtime business partners developed dozens of subdivisions and office buildings in Cary with backing from software billionaire Jim Goodnight.


Jeffrey Brown, 44
CEO, Ally Financial
A Clemson University graduate, Brown spent 10 years at Bank of America before joining Detroit-based Ally as its treasurer in 2009. Since he was named CEO in 2015, the online-only bank’s shares have gained more than 50%. Brown is moving Ally’s Charlotte offices to a new 26-story downtown tower, expected to open in 2021.

Fred Eshelman, 68
Founder, Eshelman Ventures
The High Point native is one of North Carolina’s wealthiest citizens after starting and selling Pharmaceutical Product Development and Furiex Pharmaceuticals. Eshelman now invests in private health care companies. In 2014, he gave $100 million to the UNC School of Pharmacy, which bears his name. He is a ‘72 grad of UNC and earned a doctorate at the University of Cincinnati.

Tom Finke, 53
Chairman and CEO, Barings
When Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance bought a division of Wachovia led by Finke in 2002, it had assets of $3.6 billion. Now, he oversees the renamed Barings, which has $300 billion under management and employs more than 1,800 in 16 countries, including 400 at its new downtown Charlotte headquarters. Finke is a Duke MBA.

Jim Hansen, 39
Regional president, PNC Financial Services
The UNC MBA graduate took the top regional role for Pittsburgh-based PNC in 2014 after heading its northern Alabama division. PNC gained 100 branches in 54 counties in eastern North Carolina after purchasing Royal Bank of Canada’s U.S. operation in 2012. Hansen is on the executive committees of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Research Triangle Regional Partnership.

Frank Holding Jr., 56
Chairman and CEO, First Citizens Bancshares
Since becoming CEO in 2008, Holding has acquired banks hammered by the recession and merged its affiliate, First Citizens Bank of South Carolina, into the bigger organization that now has more than 500 offices in 21 states. Only the third CEO since the Holding family took over the bank in the 1930s, he’s also chairman of the state’s dominant insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

Kelly King, 69
At the top of the nation’s 11th-biggest bank since 2009, the Raleigh native has spent 45 years at BB&T, including 32 in executive management. He is credited with guiding the bank through the financial crisis, with profitability in every quarter since 2007. His success prompted the board to amend its mandatory CEO retirement age rules. Barron’s named BB&T the top performing large bank in a 2017 report.

Doug Lebda, 47
CEO, LendingTree
A Bucknell University graduate and former auditing consultant, Lebda co-founded a company in 1996 that rebranded two years later as LendingTree, offering loan quotes from competing lenders. He now owns about 20% of the company, which has more than 330 employees in Charlotte and a market value of $4.3 billion in mid-January.

Mary Mack, 55
Senior executive vice president, Wells Fargo
Head of community banking since 2016, Mack in December also was named head of consumer lending. She oversees 115,000 employees of the San Francisco-based bank, which has its largest employment base in Charlotte. A 33-year veteran of the company, Mack serves on the board of trustees at Davidson College, her alma mater.

JAMES “Chip” Mahan, 66
CEO, Live Oak BanCshares
An executive at innovative financial-services companies for decades, Mahan founded small-business lending specialist Live Oak Bank in 2008. In recent years, Live Oak has ranked among the largest originators of Small Business Administration loans. Previously, the Washington & Lee University graduate founded Security First Network Bank, the world’s first internet bank, which was later acquired by Royal Bank of Canada.

Richard Moore, 57
CEO, First Bancorp
Southern Pines
North Carolina’s state treasurer from 2001-09, the Wake Forest University graduate joined the community-banking company’s board in 2010 and became CEO in 2012. He’s led acquisitions that have pushed First Bank’s assets past $5 billion, while earnings per share have increased at nearly 16% annually and the share price has tripled during his tenure.

Andrea Smith, 50
Chief administrative officer, Bank of America
Ranked among the most powerful female bankers by American Banker, Smith is the company’s most prominent Charlotte-based executive. Reporting to CEO Brian Moynihan, Smith oversees $23 billion in annual spending and an 83-million- square-foot real-estate portfolio. She chairs the Charlotte Chamber and co-chairs a leadership group aimed at addressing economic mobility in Charlotte.

Ken Thompson, 67
Partner, Aquiline Capital Partners
The Rocky Mount native led Wachovia Corp. from 2000 to 2008, when financial pressures forced its fire sale to Wells Fargo. His community leadership role faded, but Thompson rebounded as head of banking and credit for the New York-based private-equity group. He helped direct the growth and sale of High Point-based BNC Bancorp and is a director of Insteel Industries and LendingTree.


Edward J. Brown III, 68
CEO, Hendrick Automotive Group
The 30-year Bank of America executive moved to the nation’s largest privately held auto dealership company in 2010. The business had 2016 revenue topping $8.5 billion, according to Automotive News. Brown chairs the board of Carolinas HealthCare System, which is combining with UNC Health Care to form one of the largest U.S. hospital systems.

David Congdon, 61
CEO, Old Dominion Freight Line
Since the UNC Wilmington graduate succeeded his father, Earl Congdon, as CEO in 2008, revenue has doubled and profits have quadrupled at the trucking company started by Earl’s father in 1934. Investors approve: In mid-January, Old Dominion’s stock was up more than 50% from a year ago.

Paul Cozza, 56
Executive director, North Carolina State Ports Authority
The ports have initiated $200 million in improvements since Cozza’s arrival in April 2014, including an expansion to accommodate much larger ships. Before his current post, the West Point graduate worked at private transportation companies including The CSL Group and CSX Corp. N.C. Ports contribute $707 million annually in local and state tax revenues.

Louis DeJoy, 60
President, LDJ Global Strategies LLC
High Point
DeJoy was CEO of New Breed Logistics from 1983 until 2014, when Greenwich, Conn.-based XPO Logistics acquired the company for $615 million. He now leads an investment firm. A leading Republican donor, DeJoy hosted President Donald Trump at an October fundraiser. His wife, Aldona Wos, is a former secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Susan DeVore, 59
CEO, Premier
One of the few women leading N.C.’s largest public companies, DeVore has been named one of Modern Healthcare’s 100 Most Influential People in Health Care seven times. In 2003, she joined Premier after previously working for health care finance and consulting companies. Premier oversees purchasing and other duties for about 3,900 hospitals plus 150,000 other medical providers.

Frank Dowd IV, 62, and Roddey Dowd Jr., 62
Chairman (Frank) and CEO (Roddey), Charlotte Pipe and Foundry,
One of the world’s largest cast-iron and plastic pipe and fitting manufacturers, the 1,400-employee company was started by W. Frank Dowd in 1901 and is now led by the fourth generation of family members. Frank IV joined in 1984, becoming chairman and CEO in 1998. His cousin, Roddey, became CEO in 2011.

Ric Elias, 50
CEO, Red Ventures
Charlotte/Fort Mill, S.C.
Over the last 17 years the Puerto Rico native has built a 2,700-employee internet marketing company based in Charlotte’s south suburbs. Last year, Red Ventures bought Bankrate Inc. for $1.2 billion. A proponent of immigrant rights, Elias runs a nonprofit that provides scholarships for undocumented students. In 2017, he launched an effort to raise $10 million for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island nation.

Don Flow, 61
CEO, Flow Automotive
Long one of the Triad’s most active civic leaders, he oversees about 40 automobile dealerships that employ more than 1,200 people. Flow is instrumental in a $10 million plan to renovate the former GMAC building in downtown Winston-Salem into an entrepreneurship center. Flow is vice chairman of the board of directors at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Lynn Good, 58
CEO, Duke Energy
Fortune magazine lists Good, the first female CEO at Duke Energy, 11th on its list of the Most Powerful Women in Business. She joined a Duke predecessor company in Ohio in 2003 after more than a decade in public accounting and succeeded Jim Rogers in her current post in 2013. A director of Boeing, she has emphasized Duke’s regulated businesses and plans to invest $11 billion in gas and renewable-energy projects.

Jim Goodmon, 74
CEO, Capitol Broadcasting Co.
Goodmon started at WRAL-TV 50 years ago as operations manager. He became CEO of the family-owned parent company in 1979, succeeding his grandfather, A.J. Fletcher. Capitol has expanded into sports and real estate, developing Durham’s American Tobacco Historic District and purchasing the Durham Bulls in 1991. His son, Jimmy, was named president and chief operating officer last year.

Jim Goodnight, 75
CEO, SAS Institute
North Carolina’s richest man — Forbes estimated a net worth of $10.1 billion in mid-January — the former N.C. State University professor co-founded the software company with John Sall in 1976. SAS has sparked constant product innovations in statistical analysis, and revenue has grown annually to $3.2 billion in 2016. About 5,600 of SAS’ 14,000 employees work in North Carolina.

Frank Harrison III, 62
CEO and chairman, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated
Sliding soda sales haven’t slowed growth of the nation’s largest independent Coke bottler, which the Harrison family has run for four generations. The Duke MBA graduate took his post in 1996. Acquisitions pushed revenue past $3 billion in 2016 as the company bought smaller bottlers in other markets. In 2011, Harrison founded a global mission organization called With Open Eyes.

Ralph Huff III, 67
chairman, H&H Homes
Huff and his wife, Linda, started H&H Homes in 1991 to provide affordable homes for Fort Bragg soldiers and their families. Now Fayetteville’s largest homebuilder — Builder magazine pegged its 2016 revenue at $156 million — H&H has expanded to four other N.C. metro areas. Huff also co-owns Coldwell Banker Advantage, a real-estate brokerage, and is a leading promoter of economic development in Fayetteville.

David King, 61
CEO, Laboratory Corporation of America
Revenue at the medical-testing company has more than doubled since King became CEO in 2007, topping $9.4 billion in 2016. LabCorp is expanding its contract-research sector, including its $1.2 billion acquisition of Chiltern in September. A former assistant U.S. attorney, King is also a director of Cardinal Health, a Dublin, Ohio-based health care services company.

Clark Kinlin, 58
Executive vice president, Corning
A Harvard MBA, Kinlin first joined New York-based Corning in 1981 and since 2008 has headed its $3 billion optical-communications division. After decades in Hickory, the division is building a $38 million headquarters in Charlotte. Corning employs about 3,700 people in the state.

David Morken, 48
CEO, Bandwidth; chairman, republic wireless
The veteran Marine co-founded the telecommunications company in 2001 and took it public last year, raising $80 million. He also started Republic Wireless, which offers Wi-Fi-enabled cell phone service, in 2011. A graduate of Oral Roberts University and the University of Notre Dame Law School, Morken was a member of President Donald Trump’s transition team on communications-industry issues.

Pierre Naudé, 59
CEO, nCino
Under Naudé’s leadership since 2012, the software company spun out of Live Oak Bank has proven that Wilmington is a logical place to build a successful tech company. Revenue grew 562% from 2013-16, according to a Deloitte report, and nCino plans to open its third office in the Port City in 2018. More than 175 banks use its software. Naudé is a former division president at software company S1.

Tom Nelson, 55
Chairman and CEO, National Gypsum
Nelson has led the Charlotte-based company, the nation’s largest maker of gypsum board, since 1999. His father-in-law, Charlotte investor C.D. Spangler Jr., bought control of the company for more than $1.2 billion in 1995, two years after it emerged from bankruptcy. The Harvard MBA is a director of the Federal Reserve’s Richmond, Va., branch and a director at Carolinas HealthCare System and Yum! Brands.

Ward Nye, 55
CEO, Martin Marietta Materials
Increased funding for roads and other infrastructure projects has lifted demand for the crushed stone and gravel supplied by Martin Marietta, the second-largest U.S. producer of construction aggregates. Nye, CEO since 2010, led the company through its biggest acquisition, the $3 billion purchase of Texas Industries in 2014. He’s a director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and of Durham-based LED-maker Cree.

Art Pope, 61
CEO, Variety Wholesalers
Pope’s support for conservative causes and politicians helped steer North Carolina in a pro-business, limited-government direction. His day job involves running one of the nation’s biggest family-owned retail chains with about 370 discount stores under banners including Roses and Maxway. The Duke University law graduate has been a four-term legislator, state budget director and chairman of the Golden LEAF Foundation board.

Michael Praeger, 52
CEO, AvidXchange
Co-founded by the former internet-services company owner in 2000, AvidXchange has helped put Charlotte on the financial-technology map. In 2017, the company raised $300 million, inked a partnership with MasterCard and opened an expanded downtown headquarters. The company employs more than 1,000 workers, having added more than 300 in 2017. It was valued at $1.4 billion in mid-2017.

Jim Shuford, 51, and Stephen Shuford, 49
CEO, STM INdustries, and CEO, Shurtape Technologies
From textiles to furniture to tape, Hickory’s Shuford family has helped sustain North Carolina’s strong manufacturing legacy for more than a century. Shurtape’s sales were expected to reach a record $650 million in 2017. An $18 million family gift in 2017 will double the size of UNC Chapel Hill’s undergraduate entrepreneurship program.

Scott Smith, 49
President and CEO, Sonic Automotive
The Rollins College graduate started working in the family business in the mid-1990s and became CEO in 2015, succeeding his legendary father, Bruton. While car sales have hit records in recent years and its annual revenue tops $9.5 billion, Sonic shares have mostly treaded water, hurt by costs of developing a used-car dealership network.

Steven Tanger, 69
CEO, Tanger Factory Outlet Centers
Outlet malls have remained a bright spot in retailing despite a surge in online shopping. Steven Tanger carries on the legacy started when his father, Stanley, opened his first location in Burlington in 1981. The UNC Chapel Hill graduate became CEO in 2009. The company now operates 44 shopping centers in 22 states. In 2013, he pledged $7.5 million to help fund a performing-arts center in downtown Greensboro, expected to open in 2020.

Anderson “Andy” Warlick, 60
CEO, Parkdale Inc.
When Warlick’s father-in-law, Duke Kimbrell, joined Parkdale in 1949, it had one mill and 150 employees. It is now the world’s largest seller of spun yarns with 29 plants in North, Central and South America. The Citadel graduate joined the private company in 1984 and succeeded Kimbrell as CEO in 2000. A newly opened YMCA in Gastonia is named after Warlick’s family.

Jim Whitehurst, 49
CEO, Red Hat
The open-source software company shows no signs of slowing toward Whitehurst’s ambitious revenue goal of $5 billion. It posted a 22% increase in the most recent quarter and is projecting $2.9 billion for the current fiscal year. Whitehurst, a former Delta Air Lines chief operating officer who joined Red Hat in 2008, is vice chairman of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.


Jennifer Appleby, 54
President, Wray Ward
The Penn State University graduate joined the 40-year-old agency as chief creative officer in 1993 and became chief executive officer in 2001. The marketing agency’s staff of more than 100 makes it one of the largest woman-owned companies in the state. She was named Charlotte Business Woman of the Year by Queens University in 2008 and now chairs the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library board of trustees.

Jim Cooney, 60
Partner, Womble Bond Dickinson
Part of a firm with more than 1,000 lawyers, Cooney’s influence is reflected in his clientele: The criminal defense lawyer is helping defend Carolinas HealthCare System against federal antitrust allegations and aiding Duke Energy in coal-ash-related litigation. A native of the Chicago area with a law degree from the University of Virginia, Cooney chairs Womble’s litigation department.

Jill Wells Heath, 53
CEO, Calyx Engineers + Consultants
The Goldsboro native joined what started as Mulkey Engineers & Consultants in 1993 and rose to CFO in 2003, president in 2006 and CEO in 2008. She leads 165 employees at Calyx, one of the Southeast’s largest civil and environmental engineering firms. Heath chaired the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce in 2015-16 and is a director of the Wake Technical Community College Foundation.

James Holmes, 48
Managing partner, Sentinel Risk Advisors
Since 2012, the N.C. State University graduate has built a commercial insurance agency whose employees include two prominent state lawmakers, John Bell and David Lewis. Holmes, who grew up in Johnston County, is a Republican Party donor and member of the UNC System Board of Governors, one of North Carolina’s most influential posts.

Phil Kuttner, 58
CEO, Little Diversified Architectural Consulting
The head of the state’s largest architecture and design firm leads about 400 employees, including more than 200 in Charlotte, with four other U.S. offices and one in Beijing. A 30-year veteran at Little with a master’s degree in architecture from Clemson University, Kuttner is moving the headquarters from its longtime suburban offices to a downtown Charlotte office tower in 2019.

Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, 67
CEO, Pace Communications
McElveen-Hunter has built the 45-year-old magazine publisher into one of the world’s largest content-marketing agencies, with more than 370 employees helping businesses tell their stories through many channels. A former Miss Nebraska, she was U.S. ambassador to Finland from 2001-03. Since 2004, she has chaired the American Red Cross.

Mike McGuire, 58
CEO, Grant Thornton
One of the world’s largest accounting firms, Grant Thornton named McGuire CEO in 2015, leading 56 U.S. offices. Prior to becoming CEO, McGuire was Carolinas managing partner for 15 years, based in Charlotte. The company reported revenue of $1.74 billion in fiscal 2017, a year-over-year increase of 5.3%.

Jim Phillips Jr., 60
Partner, Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard
The former student body president at UNC Chapel Hill later became chairman of his alma mater’s board of governors. The Wake Forest University law school graduate has been active in Democratic Party politics and was co-chair of Gov. Roy Cooper’s transition team. He’s a trustee of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

Ernie Reigel, 60
Partner, Moore & Van Allen
The Davidson College graduate stepped down last month after 15 years as chairman of the 300-attorney firm. Reigel joined the firm in 1980 and has overseen its expansion, including the addition of about 60 lawyers since 2010. Among many civic involvements is a stint chairing the board of Charlotte Center City Partners.

Gerald Roach, 59
Managing partner, Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan
Roach is a go-to securities lawyer at the largest law firm based in the Triangle, having participated in deals topping $50 billion in the last five years. The Wake Forest University law school graduate started a three-year term as managing partner in 2016 after heading its policy and planning committee for 15 years.

Larry Robbins, 66
Partner, Wyrick Robbins
Many of the most significant business deals in the Triangle area over the last 35 years have involved Robbins, who earned bachelor’s, master’s and law degrees at UNC Chapel Hill. He started the firm with four others in 1980 and it has grown to 92 lawyers. Robbins has been active in many entrepreneurial and cultural groups in the Raleigh-Durham area.

Matt Snow, 53
CEO, Dixon Hughes Goodman
Snow spent 21 years at KPMG before moving in 2007 to the largest accounting firm based in the South. He helped lead the 2011 merger of Dixon Hughes with Virginia-based Goodman & Co., oversaw the firm’s Charlotte region and became CEO in 2014. He serves on the board of visitors for Wake Forest University School of Business, his alma mater.


Carl Armato, 53
CEO, Novant Health
The CPA joined Novant in 1998 and was named CEO in 2012. It now operates 15 medical centers and employs more than 25,000 people, including about 1,500 physicians. In 2016, Novant had a $413 million surplus on revenue of $4.3 billion, making it the second-biggest N.C.-based hospital system.

Phil Dubois, 67
Chancellor, UNC Charlotte
The longest-serving chancellor in the 17-campus UNC System, the former UNC Charlotte provost returned in 2005 after leading the University of Wyoming for eight years. During his tenure, UNC Charlotte has completed capital projects topping $1.2 billion, while student enrollment has increased 38% to 29,000 with its tuition ranking among the lowest of large, urban universities.

Carol Folt, 66
Chancellor, UNC Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill
Folt in 2013 became the first female chancellor at the UNC System’s flagship university. While she’s faced academic scandal involving student athletes and controversy over the campus’ Confederate soldier statue, UNC remains among the nation’s biggest research universities, with annual spending exceeding $1 billion for the first time in 2017.

Nathan Hatch, 71
President, Wake Forest University
In his 12th year as president, Hatch has led Wake Forest’s charge to remake downtown Winston-Salem into a biomedical-research, education and technology hub, while remaining one of the nation’s top 30 universities. Wake awarded him a $2.9 million deferred bonus in 2015, making him the nation’s highest-paid college president.

Jennifer Haygood, 43
Acting president, North Carolina Community College System
Haygood gained her title in October after the abrupt departure of former President Jimmie Williamson. The Rice University graduate has gained respect among state political and business leaders since joining the 58-campus system in 2008, serving as chief financial officer and, later, executive vice president.

Ron Paulus, 55
CEO, Mission Health
With a medical degree and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, Paulus has led the $1.4 billion not-for-profit system since 2010. He clashed with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina last year, canceling the hospital’s contract with the insurer In October, then settling in December.

Nido Qubein, 69
President, High Point University
High Point
Stunning is a fair way to describe the Lebanese immigrant’s impact in 13 years as president of High Point University: an investment of $1.6 billion in 90 new or acquired buildings and a tripling of enrollment and faculty. His latest project aims to revive downtown High Point with a ballpark, apartments and a conference center.

Bill Roper, 69
CEO, UNC Health Care
Chapel Hill
Roper has been a power broker since arriving in North Carolina as dean of UNC’s School of Public Health in 1997. He moved to lead UNC’s medical school in 2004 and is a key figure in UNC Health Care’s proposed combination with Carolinas HealthCare System of Charlotte. He also is a director at DaVita and Express Scripts.

Margaret Spellings, 60
President, UNC System
Chapel Hill
The former U.S. secretary of education in President George W. Bush’s administration took the UNC job in March 2016. She’s shown flexibility as UNC’s governing board has turned more conservative and less deferential. Her strategic plan calls for more enrollment by low-income and rural students, greater emphasis on teacher training and limiting tuition increases.

Michael Waldrum, 55
CEO, Vidant Health
A pulmonologist with an MBA, Waldrum came to Greenville in 2015 after senior posts at university-owned health systems in Alabama and Arizona. Vidant operates eight hospitals and had revenue of $1.6 billion in 2016. The system agreed to buy the state-controlled, 370-doctor ECU Physicians last year for $35 million plus $14.25 million annually for 30 years.

Eugene Washington, 67
President and CEO, Duke University Health System
Washington came to Duke in 2015 from the University of California, Los Angeles. A Houston native, he oversees three hospitals in Durham and Raleigh and physician practices in seven counties. The system, which reported a $275 million profit and patient revenue of $3.2 billion in 2016-17, plans $1.7 billion in capital spending through 2022.

Eugene Woods, 53
CEO, Carolinas HealthCare System
Hired in 2016 to run the state’s biggest hospital network, he’s leading a combination with UNC Health Care to create a system with about $14 billion in annual revenue and more than 85,000 employees. He’s also chair of the American Hospital Association.

Randy Woodson, 61
Chancellor, N.C. State University
A plant biologist, Woodson oversees the state’s largest university with 34,000 students and a $1.5 billion budget. He took his post in 2010 after serving as provost at Purdue University. N.C. State is raising $1.6 billion for scholarships, research programs and facilities.


John Chaffee, 65
President and CEO, NCEast Alliance
Chaffee has worked in economic development in eastern N.C. since 1977, most recently leading a group that represents a 24-county region. The alliance includes some of the state’s poorest areas, which have celebrated some recent victories, including a planned 800-employee tire plant in Edgecombe County and a big life-sciences industry expansion in Wilson.

Kit Cramer, 57
President and CEO, Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce
Cramer cut her chamber teeth for 16 years in Charlotte and moved to the mountain town in 2010. Since then, Asheville has seen its popularity spike with tourists spending $2 billion in 2016, bolstered by a large craft-beer industry. As the city’s star rises, others want in: The chamber is in negotiations to oversee economic development in neighboring Haywood County.

Lew Ebert, 59
President and CEO, North Carolina Chamber
A humming state economy has lots of folks taking credit, but the chamber chief has received national attention as Republicans passed a sweeping federal tax bill. State income tax cuts since 2013, which Ebert lobbied for, have helped revive the state’s economy, he says. Ebert took his post in 2006 after working at state chambers in Kansas and Pennsylvania.

Dan Gerlach, 50
President, Golden LEAF Foundation
Rocky Mount
Tobacco giveth and taketh from North Carolina, but Golden LEAF continues to hand out proceeds from a national settlement with cigarette makers, more than $105 million in 2016. Gerlach, who spent seven years as senior fiscal adviser to former Gov. Mike Easley, has led the group since 2008. Its assets total more than $900 million.

Maurice “Mo” Green, 50
Executive director, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation
The former superintendent of Guilford County Schools moved in 2016 to the philanthropy, which has donated more than $550 million since its formation in 1936 and had assets of $421 million in 2016. After a yearlong listening tour, the Duke Law graduate said the foundation would expand beyond its five longstanding focus areas to push for systemic change and “visionary ideas.”

Wayne Holden, 61
President and CEO, RTI International
Research Triangle Park
The research giant is finishing a new building that will serve as the public face of an institution that is one of the largest real-estate owners in Research Triangle Park. About 2,200 of RTI’s global 4,700 workers are based here. Holden, who previously worked for an opinion-research company and as a medical-school professor, has been with the nonprofit since 2005, becoming CEO in 2012.

Stan Kelly, 60
CEO, Piedmont Triad Partnership
After 34 years at Wells Fargo and its predecessor, Wachovia, Kelly retired from the bank in 2014 and the following year was tapped to run the Greensboro-based economic-development group. The N.C. State graduate serves on the board of visitors for Wake Forest University’s business school and Wake Forest Baptist Health, and on the N.C. State board of trustees.

Michael Marsicano, 61
CEO, Foundation for the Carolinas
Involved in virtually every major community initiative since he took his job in 1999, Marsicano celebrated a milestone in 2016 when his organization surpassed $2 billion in assets. It is now the sixth-largest community foundation nationally, leapfrogging from 35th when he arrived. A Duke University Ph.D., he previously led Charlotte Arts & Science Council for a decade.

Bob Morgan, 53
President and CEO, Charlotte Chamber
Morgan has been a consistent cheerleader for North Carolina’s largest city since 2005, lately throwing his support behind winners — a $922 million school bond — and losers — failed bids for a big Amazon complex and pro soccer. The Charlotte native, who previously ran Gastonia’s chamber, oversees 45 employees and a membership topping 3,300.

Scott Satterfield, 52
CEO, Wilmington Business Development
Satterfield is the longstanding face of the region’s primary economic-development group, holding his post since 1995. Though the city of Wilmington and New Hanover and Pender counties provide funding, the bulk of WBD’s annual budget comes from private investors. A Port City native, Satterfield is a graduate of UNC Wilmington.


Scott Avett, 41, and Seth Avett, 37
THE Avett Brothers
Though the folk-rock band hasn’t released an album since 2016, N.C.’s most famous brothers haven’t slipped from the radar thanks to a Judd Apatow documentary that debuted on HBO last month. The group is more of a family effort than ever ­— sister Bonnie played keyboards at their annual New Year’s Eve concert in Raleigh. The Avetts have had three Billboard Top 10 hits and three Grammy nominations.

Brian France, 55
As grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., Brian France’s family name is synonymous with stock-car racing. He has been a director of the family’s Daytona Beach, Fla.-based International Speedway Corp. since 1994 and led the race-sanctioning group since 2003 as it has expanded its Charlotte headquarters. While France has been linked to a possible bid for the Carolina Panthers football team, he has denied interest.

Vivian Howard, 39
Restaurant owner and television personality
Also a cookbook author, Howard has brought national attention to Kinston, which struggled in the double aftermath of tobacco and textile declines. She and her husband, Ben Knight, recently opened a second restaurant in Wilmington. Her PBS show, A Chef’s Life, is in its fifth season.

Michael Jordan, 55
Majority owner, Charlotte Hornets
He hardly needs introduction: basketball legend, businessman and, according to Forbes, highest-paid athlete of all time with career earnings of $1.85 billion. A chunk of his wealth stems from his majority stake in the NBA team, which Forbes valued at $780 million last year. Last fall, Jordan donated $7 million to launch two medical clinics in troubled Charlotte neighborhoods.

John McConnell, 67
Founder, McConnell Golf
Golf participation rates are dropping, but one of the largest owners of private clubs in the state is growing. McConnell owns 10 courses and manages another two from Asheville to Myrtle Beach, employing more than 1,000 people. He previously was CEO of two medical-records software companies in the Triangle that sold for a combined $1.2 billion.

Cam Newton, 28
Quarterback, Carolina Panthers
A Heisman Trophy winner who led Auburn University to a national championship in 2011, Newton’s every move or comment tends to make big news in Charlotte. The NFL team’s Super Bowl appearance in 2016 raised expectations. So did a $103 million contract signed in 2015 that runs through 2020. He reportedly makes another $10 million a year on endorsement deals.

John Swofford, 69
Commissioner, Atlantic Coast Conference
As conference chief since 1997, he’s endured NCAA scandals, an FBI probe and the controversial HB2 “bathroom bill” that briefly pushed ACC tournament games out of the state. Conference membership has almost doubled to 15 under Swofford, a North Wilkesboro native who worked in athletics at UNC Chapel Hill for 17 years before moving to his current post.

Fred Whitfield, 59
President, Charlotte Hornets
Former owner Bob Johnson named the Greensboro native president and chief operating officer in 2006. Whitfield previously had managed endorsements and marketing for Nike’s Jordan Brand division — he is a longtime friend of current team owner Michael Jordan. A graduate of N.C. Central University’s law school, he oversaw the team’s rebranding and recent arena renovations.

Click the links below to read more:

The intro
Roy Carroll II

Dale Jenkins

Leah Wong Ashburn

Robert E. Barnhill Jr.
Frank Emory
Mark Bellissimo

Icons and change agents

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