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Morrisville's Steve Rao


‘I believe that Morrisville can be one of the smartest, most sustainable, and livable towns in our state and nation.’

STEVE RAO Morrisville Resident, Town Council Member


Steve Rao is Enthusiastic, Energetic, and Committed To Town of Morrisville, North Carolina and Family

By G. CLEVELAND KILGORE, 919 Magazine Writer

To some, it may seem like Steve Rao is everywhere.

Whether it’s at a Morrisville Town Council meeting, a Morrisville Chamber of Commerce event, a guest on the radio, greeting friends and associates at a local charity event, or at many other gatherings and happenings – Rao appears, participates and converses.

As the 18-year Morrisville resident and married father of two explains, it’s what his life is all about.

“I get the most inspiration from interacting with people from different cultures, and all walks of life,” Rao said. “My greatest reward is to help others, and to put a smile on someone’s face every day, if I can. I love people, and I love to make others laugh, and enjoy learning their unique story.”


May/June 2019


919 Magazine Photos by CATHERINE DAVIS Photography

‘My greatest reward is to help others, and to put a smile on someone’s face every day, if I can.’

STEVE RAO Morrisville Resident, Town Council Member

It’s an understatement to refer to the 48-year-old Rao as “involved” in his community; uber-involved might be a better description.

In addition to his position as the Director of New Business Development at Alphanumeric Systems, Rao – the first Indian American elected to government office in the state – has served more than eight years on the Morrisville Town Council

(including a term as Mayor Pro Tem). He’s also a threeterm delegate to the Triangle Council of Governments; works on Smart City and Technology initiatives across the region and state; and shares with colleagues around the state how to leverage emerging technologies to provide better service to citizens and to create new jobs in the new economy.

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RESIDENCE: Morrisville (17 years) AGE: 48 POSITION:

Council Member, Town of Morrisville

PROFESSION: Business Development Executive, Alphanumeric Systems

EDUCATION: Emory University, West Virginia University College of Law HOMETOWN: Charleston, WV AFFILIATIONS: Board Member,

New American Economy


Wife, Dr. Komal Parekh; 2 children, Sonia (18), and Rayan (13)

INTERESTS: Tennis, (former high school State Champion, college player), reading, writing, acting/impersonations


May/June 2019


Rao also is working to establish a “Technology Cluster” for the Research Triangle Clean Partnership, which can enable Towns and Governments to share best practices in Innovation and Smart City case studies so others can get started with these programs (he also co-chairs the Triangle J Smart Growth Committee). And he’s a board member of New American Economy, a bi-partisan coalition of mayors and business leaders, all focused on achieving Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

“I also volunteer for the EDM Support the Troops Golf Tournament, which last year raised $400,000 for Wounded Warriors, and work with North Carolina Military for Employment (NC4ME) to help put veterans back to work,” said Rao, who also plans to host events in Morrisville this year with Wake Technical Community College and regional technology employers.

As busy and involved as he is, Rao is fully committed to

family – and that’s where he draws his primary inspiration. “My parents left India in 1968 to begin a new life in the United States, so my father could be a surgeon. He and my mom settled in West Virginia where we lived for 31 years,” Rao explained. “They taught their children to always look for the best in others, and to always do our best, and make a difference in our community.”

Growing up, Rao’s hero was his late grandfather, Maj. S.V. Rao, who went from humble beginnings in India to serving as an officer in World War II for the Indian Army – and then run a huge multinational company as CEO. “I am also very inspired by my in-laws, who immigrated from India and served in the U.S. Air Force for 25 years as physicians,”Rao said. “My father-in-law, Col. Parekh, passed away passed away recently, and was a real mentor for me to enter politics and played a key role in my election and re-election campaigns.”

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Growing up in West Virginia, Rao was a very competitive junior tennis player, winning two state high school championships (being named to the Prince All American High School team in 1988) – and later playing collegiate tennis at Emory University, where he graduated with a political science degree. He served as a Fellow at the Carter Presidential Center, led by the 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, and received his law degree from West Virginia University College of Law. And, now, his focus is on his family and on Morrisville. Though Rao admits he would one day consider serving North Carolina in the U.S. Congress or in a statewide capacity, he stressed that he wants to continue serving the citizens of Morrisville and Wake County.

“I believe that Morrisville can be one of the smartest, most sustainable, and livable towns in our state and nation,” Rao said. “We already have been recognized as a top Town to live in by USA Today, Money magazine and a number of top journals. We can be a destination for the brightest minds and greatest ideas from all over the world!”

Morrisville Officials a Part Of India Business Summit

In early 2019, Morrisville Town Mayor TJ Cawley and Morrisville Town Council member Steve Rao joined a special North Carolina delegation to the Global Bengal Business Summit in West Bengal, India.

Organized by Swadesh Catterjee of Cary – perhaps the most influential Indian American diplomat in America, and the Chair of the U.S. India Friendship Council – the NC team also included North Carolina Secretary of State Marshall

Elaine Marshall, UNC Associate Provost Ray Farrow, and Ajit Sidivasan, Vice President of Global Sales at Lenovo.

The trip was sponsored by the USIBC and the Government of India, with the purpose to educate and inform global delegates of investment opportunities in energy, agri-science, biotechnology, and to explore foreign direct investment in North Carolina – for any companies looking to expand their operations in our region and state, according to Rao.

“During the trip, at the request of Mr. Chatterjee, I established strong relationships with the Chief Ministers Cabinet – most notably, the Minister of Trade, Technology, and Finance, Dr. Amit Mitra (who previously was a Professor at Duke University),” Rao indicated. “I am working on arranging meetings and introductions to Minister Mitra for North Carolina leaders (in the target industries).”

Rao noted that he and the delegation also arranged introductions with the various Cabinet Ministers in the areas of education, agriculture and technology, to make introductions to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and his Cabinet, including Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.

“This trip was an amazing experience,” Rao said. “Our next steps is that I am now managing the follow up with Mr. Chatterjee, and organizing with him a larger delegation next year – with possible stops in other cities, where we can also do more recruiting of companies to our region. My future expectation is that we will identify investment opportunities for energy, clean tech, and also open the doors for other pharma, life science companies, and tech companies who are looking to grow their global markets.”


May/June 2019