You don’t have to be elected to make a difference: a note to those who lost yesterday

You don’t have to be elected to make a difference: a note to those who lost yesterday
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After yesterday’s primary elections, some of our best political talent will be without elected office. It’s a good thing you don’t need to hold public office to make a difference. Here’s a list of people I admire in Charlotte who don’t hold elected office. They work tirelessly, often quietly, to push the conversation, challenge the status quo and make lasting impact.

Carol Hardison


Executive director, Crisis Assistance Ministry

They provide advocacy and assistance to people in financial crisis. As executive director, Carol provides leadership, faith, vision, and delightful quirkiness that brings it all together.

James E. Ford


Public education advocate and 2014 North Carolina Teacher of the Year

A word of caution if you attend an event where he is speaking – it will make you want to get up and do something. Public education is lucky to have his voice among the many that are working to improve the system. Charlotte is lucky that he calls this place home.

Shannon Binns


Executive director, Sustain Charlotte

Their mission is to inspire choices that lead to a healthier, more vibrant community for generations to come. Years from now, when future Charlotteans have greenways, bike lanes, and a smart growth plan that balances development with healthy living, they will have Shannon and his team to thank, in part, for pushing that conversation.

Charles Thomas


Executive director, Queen City Forward

QCF serves as a hub for social entrepreneurs who have business ideas that address social needs and work to balance a triple bottom line – people, planet, and profits. Charles is constantly thinking about how to make Charlotte better and how to support those who want to do the same.

Molly Shaw


Executive director, Communities In Schools

CIS Charlotte surrounds students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. Molly brings the community together to support some of the most vulnerable students in our schools to prevent them from dropping out. I admire their consistent success over the years under Molly’s leadership.

Cat Bao Le


Executive director, Southeast Asian Coalition

SEAC serves the Southeast Asian American refugee community and focuses on building community power through advocacy and civic engagement. North Carolina has the third-fastest growing Asian and Pacific Islander population the U.S. and Cat and her team are there for them.

Crystal Richardson


Director of advocacy, Equality NC

Equality NC is dedicated to securing equal rights and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) North Carolinians. Crystal is based in Charlotte where she organizes, advocates and educates. She also manages to fins time to work out which I think is impressive because I don’t.

I hope that the candidates that didn’t make it past the primary will join them (and many others) and continue to be a part of shaping the city for years to come.

Of course, you can also run again. Filing for 2016 opens on Monday, February 8, 2016.

(Photo credits: Crisis Assistance Ministry Facebook page, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Sustain Charlotte Facebook page, Queen City Forward, Digital Charlotte, Equality NC Twitter)

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