The twenty volunteer members of the Task Force serve in three important ways:
a) to achieve balance among a mix of skills, expertise and knowledge of the community;
b) to bring a variety of perspectives that reflect Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s diversity into the process;
c) to inspire commitment to action for all residents of Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
See the members of the Task Force below!
Opportunity Task Force co-chairs Ophelia Garmon-Brown (Novant Health) and Dee O'Dell (US Bank)
Mrs. Crandall Bowles
Retired CEO, Springs Global
Crandall Bowles is Chairman Emeritus of The Springs Company, a private real estate and investment company based in Fort Mill, South Carolina. She previously served as Chief Executive Officer (1997-2006) and Chairman of the Board (1998-2013) of Springs Industries, Inc., a textile manufacturer. Crandall also serves on the boards of JPMorgan Chase (since 2006) and Deere & Company (since 1999 and previously from 1990 to 1994), and is a trustee of the Brookings Institution and on the governing boards of the Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins and The Wilderness Society. Crandall received an undergraduate degree in economics from Wellesley College and an MBA from Columbia University.
Dr. David Chadwick
Pastor, Forest Hill Church
Dr. David Chadwick is a native of North Carolina, graduated from UNC Chapel Hill where he played basketball, and was a member of a NCAA Final Four Basketball Team. In addition to his undergraduate degree in Communications, David has a graduate degree in counseling from the University of Florida, and a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Columbia Theological Seminary. David has been Pastor of the Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, North Carolina since 1980. He hosts a local weekly radio program, “The David Chadwick Show,” the purpose of which is to intersect contemporary issues from a faith and values perspective. Having gleaned from his years of playing basketball for Dean Smith, David has authored a book entitled, The Twelve Leadership Principles of Dean Smith. He has written other books one entitled, My Father, My Friend, reflects on what David’s father taught him about life, relationships, marriage and faith and others entitled, Moments of Hope, a devotional which was written after the attacks of September 11th, which continues to give messages of hope. David and his wife, Marilynn, have three children, Bethany, David Banner, Michael, Son-in law, Ryan, Daughter-in law Jessie, and three grandchildren, Anna Grace, Caleb and Emily Joy.
Mr. Jeff Conway
Franchise Owner, Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Jeff Conway is an entrepreneur/restaurateur. He and his wife own Charlotte Prime, LLC d/b/a Ruth's Chris Steak House and are franchisees for Ruth's Chris in Charlotte (2), Savannah and Biltmore Village. They also own Napa On Providence, an independent restaurant, as well as a Smoothie King franchise in Charleston. Jeff currently serves on the Mecklenburg County Board of Directors for the North Carolina Restaurant Association. He and his wife Paula reside in Ballantyne and have 3 daughters (Kelli, 29; Kourtney, 21; Kayce,19). Jeff is a member of Harrison United Methodist Church.
Mr. Esteban Echeverria
Attorney at Law
Esteban Eccheveria was born in the state of Guerrero, Mexico and moved to North Carolina with his family in 1979. The youngest of four boys, Esteban grew up as a migrant and seasonal farm worker. He started working at the age of eight during the summers picking cucumbers and cropping tobacco in Eastern North Carolina. Following his graduation from South Lenoir High School, Esteban enrolled at Appalachian State University (ASU) in Boone, N.C. He studied Anthropology and Latin American Studies at ASU. He was selected to be a Ford Fellow with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) and assisted Congressman Jose Serrano’s office. Esteban was also selected to be Public Policy Fellow with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) and served his fellowship with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). Esteban received his juris doctorate from North Carolina Central University (NCCU) School of Law in Durham, N.C in 2006. While at NCCU, Esteban was elected to serve as President of the Student Bar Association (SBA). Esteban was the first Latino in the school’s history to serve in this capacity. Following his admittance to the North Carolina Bar in 2006, he practiced criminal defense with Velasquez & Associates in Durham, North Carolina. He is one of the founders and managing partners of Central Law Group. He is a board member of both the ACLU of North Carolina and The Latin American Coalition. He participates in the following organizations: UNC Institute for the Study of the Americas, Vietnamese Association of Charlotte, Uniting NC, North Carolina Coalition for a Moratorium, Consejo Local de los Mexicanos en las Carolinas, Ty's Toy Box, FIB, Kim Ratliff for NC House of Representative ( District 102 ), Charlotte In 2012 - Democratic National Convention.
Dr. Michael Friedland
Founder, Friedland Foundation Physician, Carolinas HealthCare System
Michael Friedland grew up in Brooklyn, New York. After leaving NYC for college, he returned to live in Manhattan for seven years before moving to Charlotte in 1995. He has been a physician with the Charlotte Medical Clinic for the last 20 years. In 2008 Michael created a foundation with a primary mission of providing hope of a college education to middle-school students attending Title I schools within CMS. This mission is achieved by providing college scholarships to students when they are in the seventh grade. In addition, the foundation provides many scholars with mentors for five years from the time they receive the scholarships until they graduate high school. The foundation currently has scholars in college, as well as every grade from 7th through 12th. Michael lives with his wife, Angela, in South Charlotte.
Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown (Co-Chair)
Physician, Senior Vice President of Community Outreach, Novant Health
Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown has spent decades caring for others in Charlotte and around the world. Dr. Garmon-Brown earned a bachelor degree in biology from North Carolina Central University and upon encouragement from one of her faculty members decided to pursue a medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After graduation, she began her residency and internship at Carolinas Medical Center where she was the first African American female resident in family medicine. Dr. Garmon-Brown began her career in family medicine, eventually joining the physician team at the prestigious Nalle Clinic where she first moved into a leadership position as the medical director of the Nalle Clinic Urgent Care. As she continued to excel, she became the medical director for all Presbyterian Urgent Care Centers and in 2007 was promoted to her current position of vice president of business and community partnerships, where she serves on the executive committee of both Presbyterian Hospital as well as Novant Medical Group. Along the way, Dr. Garmon-Brown returned to school to obtain a master’s in divinity from Union Theological Seminary. In addition to her professional responsibilities, Dr. Garmon-Brown has roles in several organizations. She serves on the board of directors of the Mecklenburg County Medical Society, as a trustee for Queens University of Charlotte, on the board of the Charlotte Chamber, and as a member of the Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation board. She has been recognized for her dedication and commitment to the community through numerous awards including the 2009 Women in Business Award from the Charlotte Business Journal, the 2011 Thurgood Marshall Award, the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from Wells Fargo and the Charlotte Business Journal, and the 2012 Charlotte Catalyst Award.
Mr. Dale Gillmore
Chief Financial Strategist, Make an Impact Consulting, Inc.
Dale Gillmore co-founded the Make an Impact Foundation in 2010 which has a mission of serving projects that support local underprivileged children. http://makeanimpactnow.org/. Dale is founder of Make an Impact Consulting where he works closely with business owners on the financial projects that affect their life goals. Dale resides in Davidson with his wife Laurie and his 3 daughters.
Dr. Tisha Greene
Principal, Oakhurst STEAM Academy
Dr. Tisha Greene has lived in Charlotte for the past 18 years and moved to Charlotte from Jacksonville, NC to attend UNC Charlotte. She has lived in many different areas of Charlotte including the University Area, South Charlotte, and Northwest Charlotte, where she has lived for the past 12 years. Tisha taught high school English at Waddell High School in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system for four years before becoming a district Resource Teacher for High School English. She has been an elementary principal since 2009 first as Interim Principal at First Ward Elementary, then of Hidden Valley Elementary and now reopening Oakhurst Elementary. Tisha is married and has a Bachelor's Degree in English, a Master's Degree in English Education and a Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership.
Mr. Alvaro Gurdian, Jr.
Vice-President of Operations, La Noticia
Alvaro Gurdian, Jr. is Vice President of Operations of La Noticia, the leading Spanish-Language Newspaper in North Carolina. La Noticia covers almost the entire state of North Carolina with four papers: La Noticia Charlotte, La Noticia Raleigh, La Noticia Greensboro and La Noticia Asheville. La Noticia also organizes two major events to serve the Latino community and the community at large in both Charlotte and Raleigh: the Latin American Excelente Awards and the Latino-American Women's Conference. Alvaro is also Vice-President of La Noticia Foundation a 501(c)3 organization which is the charitable arm of La Noticia, Inc. La Noticia Foundation was created in 2003 to help outstanding Latino students obtain a college education. Its mission is to help Latino students with the grades and the desire to go to college but without the financial means to do. Alvaro served on the Board of Directors of McColl Center for Visual Arts and he is a former member of the Board of Directors of Loaves & Fishes. He is a current member of the program Leaders Under 40 of Community Building Initiative and Leadership North Carolina. He is also a recipient of the Hispanic Contractors Association of the Carolinas "Outstanding Community Service" award. Alvaro was born in Venezuela, came to the US when he was 11 and has been a member of St. Gabriel Catholic Church for 21 years. He is a graduate of Charlotte Catholic High School and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Ms. Grazell Howard
Strategic Business Consultant, King Kairos
Grazell R. Howard, Esq., is the founder and CEO of King & Kairos, Inc., a strategic consulting firm. With wide-ranging experience in both the public and private sectors, Ms. Howard has worked for the Honorable Charles Rangel, as a former prosecutor for the Queens District Attorney's Office and as a lawyer for a major insurance company where she developed strategy and managed litigation cases. Grazell has advised, coached and partnered with some of America’s top executives and their organizations. She has worked with senior leadership at NICHD in designing and mobilizing diverse people around reproductive health issues and sudden infant death syndrome, which disproportionately impacts black women. As a health advocate, she has been the architect of community engagement initiatives that have changed the awareness trajectory of major health concerns, including the “Back to Sleep” campaign that is still considered one of the most successful NIH/NICHD community partnerships. Grazell serves as the legal advisor and ethicist to the NIH Cancer Health Disparities Commission established by President George W. Bush and as Chair of The Black AIDS Institute, the only black domestic think tank focusing on HIV/AIDS, with special emphasis mobilization, information dissemination, science and treatment training for the non-clinical workforce. She is past National First Vice President of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and an Advisory Board member to the Capital One Coaching council. Grazell is a graduate of the North Carolina Central University School of Law. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Grazell and her family cherish her Thurgood Marshall Award of Excellence.
Ms. Marianne Lyall Knusel
Senior Coordinator, Adult ESL, Central Piedmont Community College
Marianne Lyall-Knusel is the Senior Coordinator for Outreach and Staff Development for the College and Career Readiness Department at Central Piedmont Community College. She is the Director of CPCC’s Refugee Education Project and the English Literacy Civic Education program at CPCC. She is also a member of the Mayor's Immigration and Integration Task Force. Marianne Lyall-Knusel spent some of her childhood in Mexico, and so is both bilingual and bi-cultural. She holds a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Florida and a M.Ed. in Teaching English as a Second Language from University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Marianne is married and has two daughters. She enjoys remodeling, gardening, and travel.
Mr. Ron Leeper
President & Owner, R.J. Leeper Construction
Ron Leeper has been in the construction industry for 30 years and is President of R.J. Leeper Construction, LLC. Ron is a former 10-year member of Charlotte City Council and has been active in the Charlotte community for 45 years. He has served on the Charlotte Chamber Board, Z. Smith Reynolds Advisory Board, Charlotte Regional Partnership and Project LIFT Study Committee. He is founding President of United Minority Contractors of NC, Men Who Care Global, Save the Seed and Focus on Leadership. Ron is married to Dorothy Leeper and they have 4 adult children. He is an active member and Elder at Steel Creek Church of Charlotte.
Mr. Matt Martin
Regional Executive, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
Matt serves as the regional executive for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, and started with the bank in Charlotte as a regional economist. In both roles, he has helped build understanding of the economic structure and current conditions of the Carolinas economy. Matt has responsibility for the Bank's community development program, which works to understand issues and develop capacity in LMI communities. He currently serves as the board chair for Community Link, a housing non-profit, and serves on the board of Charlotte Bridge Home, an agency that helps veteran's transition to civilian life in the region. Matt is a West Point graduate and received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Delaware after completing military service. He and his wife, Leslie have lived in Charlotte for over nine years with their two children (Grant, 13 and Delaney, 11), who think of Charlotte as home.
Rev. Clifford Matthews
Pastor, St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church
Rev. Clifford Matthews has been the Pastor of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church for 15 years. He is passionate about leading the Church to be a place of radical affirmation and acceptance for all people, a place where all are invited to be authentic, transparent, venerable, and human. He believes that this is the essence of community and the foundation for real and lasting personal and societal change. He states that he has “lived long enough to have experienced great joy as well as painful sorrow. I am husband, father, friend, neighbor, leader, follower, mentor, mentee, faithful and fickle. Each day I ground myself in the words of an old Pentecostal hymn whose audience is none other than God, "Where I am-You brought me. What I know-You taught me. What I have-You gave me, and What I am-You made me, Lord, I'm depending on You.”
Ms. Felicia McAdoo
Chief Deputy, Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office
Felicia McAdoo is a native of Charlotte and is married with 3 young adult children, two of whom have graduated college and embarked on careers, while the third is a senior in college. She has worked for the Sheriff's Office her entire adult life, working her way through the ranks from a part time employee to second in command. Felicia serve on several committees, is a member of several professional organizations and serves as a mentor. She is passionate about this community because it is her home.
Ms. Symone McGee
Symone Mcgee is a Charlotte native and 2007 graduate of Myers Park High School. She serves as the Association manager of High School Initiatives at the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. In this role, she specifically oversees Y Achievers, a nationally ranked college/career readiness program. She also helps to drive the development of teen strategies and programming across the association. Soon after graduating from Spelman College in 2011, she began her career as a classroom teacher. Passionate about transforming the lives of young people; she has served as a multi-year mentor to groups of middle school aged girls, who grapple with pressures at home and school. Symone is a volunteer HEART Math tutor, serves as an out of school time program coordinator for underserved youth, and was an Obama for America Campaign Fellow. She attends Elevation Church.
Mr. Dee O’Dell (Co-Chair)
Senior Vice President, US Bank
Dee O’Dell has been a banker for 25 years, is a CFA charter holder, and is SVP and Group Head with US Bank. Dee is an avid runner and community volunteer leader, serving as Chair of the Board of Advisors for YMCA Camp Thunderbird and in leadership and teaching roles with youth at First Presbyterian Church. He is a native of Oxford, MS, has an MA from Hampden-Sydney College and an MBA from UNC Chapel Hill. Dee and his wife, Christina, have three daughters and have lived in south Charlotte for 12 years.
Mr. Andrew Plepler
Global Corporate Social Responsibility Executive and Consumer Policy Executive, Bank of America
Andrew D. Plepler is Bank of America’s Global Corporate Social Responsibility Executive. In this role, Andrew engages with a broad range of consumer and community stakeholders to help inform and shape the bank’s strategies, policies, practices and programs. He is chair of the bank’s National Community Advisory Council, which brings together public and private sector leaders to provide external perspective and advise the bank on products, services and responsible business practices. Prior to joining Bank of America, Andrew served as senior vice president of Housing and Community Initiatives with the Fannie Mae Foundation. Before joining the Fannie Mae Foundation, he was a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Tax Division and served on Capitol Hill as counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in government from Franklin & Marshall College and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Miami School of Law. Andrew founded and continues to serve on the board of the Washington, DC-based Urban Alliance Foundation. He also serves on the Boards of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Living Cities Inc. and Levine Museum of the New South. Andrew has three children and resides in Charlotte, NC.
Mr. Barry Sherman
Social Worker, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools
Barry Sherman is a school social worker with Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools and has worked in this capacity for 15 years. He is currently assigned to a Project LIFT school. He is also a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), and as a trained musician, has a passion for bringing music and the arts to his role as a school social worker. Barry designed and founded a program called the Integra Creative Arts Program (I-CAP, www.INTEGRAforKIDS.org) that utilizes the creative arts to help kids know themselves, celebrate differences and care for the world. He currently volunteers his time to offer I-CAP as an afterschool program, has established a spoken word poetry program that is the subject of a documentary film, and is a member of the Community Advisory Board for the Social Work Program at Johnson C. Smith University. Alongside his CMS work from 1991-2011, he helped develop and served as the Assistant Director of a Charlotte-based non-profit organization devoted to leadership development and community building. Barry studied classical and jazz saxophone, earned his bachelor's degree in music education, and is a guitarist/singer/songwriter and who has released three albums of original songs. He volunteered my musical abilities as the co-producer and project manager for a Charlotte Urban Ministry Center (UMC) fundraising album released in April 2015 featuring seven homeless/formerly homeless musicians. He has donated his musical talents to many fundraising events for various non-profit organizations. Barry is married to Dr. Lyndall Hare, a South African political exile, who has afforded him insight into a number of community-based projects in that nation. He and Lyndall live on Charlotte’s north-west side.
Dr. Ricky Woods
Minister, First Baptist Church West
Dr. Ricky A. Woods is the Senior Minster at First Baptist Church West. His previous work experiences include Senior Minister of Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, NC; Senior Economist for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics; and Instructor for the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education. A graduate of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics, Dr. Woods graduated Cum Laude with a Master of Divinity Degree from Virginia Union University School of Theology in Richmond, VA, and then earned the Doctor of Ministry Degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton.
Dr. Woods’ community and civic involvements include service as Past Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Economic Development Partnership between First Union Bank and the National Congress of Black Churches, and Vice Moderator of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Association. He was a member of the Task Force Committee of 33 for Charlotte-Mecklenburg School’s Pupil Reassignment Plan, and a board member of Charlotte Advocates for Education, the United Way, HELP and the Minister’s Conference. Dr. Woods also is a member of the World Baptist Alliance, serving on the World Aid Committee. He currently is an author for the National Baptist Convention Publishing House, as well as a contributing author to the Academic Publication Homily. He is a member of the Academy of Homiletics, which is a professional organization made up of persons who teach preaching in North America. Dr. Woods is married to the former Laura Annette Hill and they are the proud parents of one daughter, Lauren Adelle, a student at Hampton University.