Pride Magazine - 2022 May/June "Busines" Issue

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May-June 2022

The Business Issue

Designing a Dream Pride Award winner Quintel Gwinn masters interior design

The Color of Money

The barriers Black business owners face

Elevating Black Entrepreneurship in N.C. Three businesses soar with funding support

The Joy of the Feast

Chef Lisa Brooks makes national TV debut

Charlotte’s African-American Magazine

Feel less like a patient, more like a friend.

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It’s not just business. It’s personal. Your business means everything to you—it’s your passion, your family’s income, your employees’ livelihood. And that’s why it means so much to us. The critical work you do as a local business owner is essential to helping our community thrive. And we’re here to support you. Whether you need a simple business checking account, lending options, or advice on business and personal finances, we’re here for you. And, we’re here for the long-haul. Truist Bank, Member FDIC. © 2022 Truist Financial Corporation. Truist, the Truist logo and Truist Purple are service marks of Truist Financial Corporation. Loans and lines subject to credit approval.




May – June 2022

Departments 8 From the Publisher



10 Notable Names 11 By Faith 12 Book Review 52 FYI News & Notes

Business Restaurants to Watch in Charlotte From shrimp and grits to specialty drinks


ob Market Shifts J The talent shortage of 2022


levating Black E Entrepreneurship Charlotte businesses grow with funding support

40 Entrepreneurs

Tackle Stress Finding ways to relax while running a business


est of the Best 2022 B Recognizing outstanding professionals

Features 14


Interior Designer Quintel Gwinn Designing spaces for everyday life &A with Q Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner Making Charlotte’s libraries more accessible



Log on to for more features.


Influential Black Lawyers Highly respected attorneys in Charlotte


en and Manicures M Real men take care of their hands


he Write Brothers T Black men authors lead the way


he Joy of the Feast T Chef Lisa Brooks gets national attention

Cover photo by Joshua Galloway


On the Cover: Quintel Gwinn, winner of the Pride 2022 Minority Business Breaking Barriers Award

Correction: An article on p. 50 of the January/February 2022 issue omitted the name of the artist that created the Genesis Park Neighborhood mural. The artist’s name is Sala Faruq. May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine


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Copyright© 2022 Pride Magazine All rights reserved. Copying or reproduction, in part or in whole, is strictly prohibited. Pride Magazine reserves the right to deny any advertisement, listing or feature that does not meet Pride Magazine standards or that is outside the scope or mission of our magazine. Pride Magazine assumes no responsibility for information, products, services, or statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors.

Pride Magazine prints with soy ink. Vol. 30 No. 3 May-June 2022 All rights reserved for PRIDE Communications Inc. Find us on Facebook: Find us on Instagram: @pridemagazinenc Find us on LinkedIn: Pride Communications, Inc. May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine


FromTheCEO Hi there! Welcome to the May/June business issue. Continuing the

conversation around the racial wealth gap, I asked the Founder and Executive Director of City Startup Labs, Henry Rock, to share his thoughts about the barriers Black business entrepreneurs face when trying to grow successful businesses. I'm pleased to share his column with you below.

The Color of Money:

Barriers for Black Business Owners Henry Rock, Founder and Executive Director of City Startup Labs


o understand the barriers for small minority (more specifically, Black) businesses, one needs to start with an appreciation for the context that created the circumstances that challenge these businesses in the first place. We could say that deck was stacked against us from the very beginning – including the decks of the ships that carried us here. The barriers originated then. In a 1619 Project essay, Matthew Desmond wrote, “In order to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation.” He continued, “Nearly two average American lifetimes (79 years) have passed since the end of slavery — only two. It is not surprising that we can still feel the looming presence of this institution, which helped turn a poor, fledgling nation into a financial colossus. The surprising bit has to do with the many eerily specific ways slavery can still be felt in our economic life.” Throughout the 20th century, whenever there was an opportunity for Black folks to amass wealth, especially within our more insular communities — for some strange reason, doing our thing was considered either a threat, the subject of envy, looked upon with distain or dismissed as lacking “real intrinsic value.” This perspective was supported and often designed, in large part, by the Federal government, where policymakers wrote off and even bulldozed these same communities and with them, the prospects of creating the intergenerational wealth available to their white counterparts. While other “minority” communities have also experienced inequities, injustices and marginalizing policies — Black communities (in particular) have received the greatest oppressive blows to our attempts at building wealth. In fact, in his book “The Color of Money,” Mehrsa Baradaran wrote, “Black racial segregation was so complete and so entrenched, that it is the defining characteristic of racial inequality in the 20th Century and the major roadblock to economic progress.”


Pride Magazine |

During the past 60 years, one presidential administration after another has trotted out a re-branded version of “pulling oneself up by their bootstraps” messaging — placing the onus of overcoming systemic barriers to wealth creation on the very people victimized by the system. Generation after generation of Black people have believed that new forms of capitalism and ownership meant them too. Yet, what Black entrepreneurs have discovered is that the largest barrier they face is a lack of capital. According to the United States Federal Reserve System data, banks deny loan applications from Black business owners more often than any other racial group. These businesses had a loan approval rate of 46.6 percent compared to an approval rate of 75.3 percent for white business owners. This statistic reveals Black entrepreneurs face fewer chances of success than a coin’s toss of being approved for a bank loan, with the odds overwhelmingly against them. Mehrsa points out that Black banks face the same barriers to capital, “Relying on these banks to do the work of achieving wealth equality without changing the economic environment in which they operate is unfair, cynical, and fruitless,” he wrote. “The Black community needs banks to grow and prosper, but the banks cannot achieve that growth and prosperity alone. Self-help microfinance cannot overcome macro inequality and systemic racism.” A 2018 Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis analysis concluded, “The historical data reveal that no progress has been made in reducing income and wealth inequalities between Black and white households over the past 70 years.” While the majority of banks in Charlotte are making genuine overtures to support Black-owned businesses, until they commit to closing the lending gap, and bolster those businesses that have traction and show promise, I’m afraid another average American lifetime will have passed, and folks will still be wondering — what now? P

NotableNames By Ryan Kouame



Kendrick Cunningham is a youth leader and political savant running for Charlotte City Council District Two. Born and raised in West Charlotte, Cunningham is focused on upward mobility and systemic transformation to increase the capacity for change. As a contributor to the Biden Housing Plan, Cunningham has worked to build youth power and advance housing for all in Charlotte since 2017. He believes that this is the viable pathway forward to eliminating De Facto Segregation in America to remove a lot of barriers for the city across all areas, industries, and income levels. “I am dedicated to ensuring housing options for all as a human right and basic necessity. Together we can transform Charlotte into a world-class city where everyone can succeed and achieve prosperity,” says Cunningham. Cunningham received his master’s degree in international relations and affairs from Norwich University and his bachelor’s degree in political science from Saint Augustine University. Visit to learn more about his ballot and efforts for equitable housing.

Dr. Timothy Brown is the new president for the Greater Charlotte Healthcare Executives Group (GCHEG), a local resource that promotes the advancement of healthcare executives. Dr. Brown is a dynamic healthcare leader known for his visionary thinking, passion for people, and aptitude to reimagine healthcare processes. Dr. Brown holds over 11 years of experience in healthcare leadership and program management. In his current role as an employee engagement manager at Cape Fear Valley Health, Brown leads the employee experience and recognition efforts to build a culture of engagement and appreciation. Prior to this role, Brown served as the senior human resources consultant of employee experience at Atrium Health. Dr. Brown’s passion for education led him to serve as an adjunct professor in the Master of Health Administration college at Belmont Abbey College. Brown earned his Doctor of Health Administration and Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and his Bachelor of Science from East Carolina University.



Maxine Swayne is a financial services executive and the new chief administrative officer (CAO) of diversity, equity, and inclusion for U.S. Bank. Swayne has years of diverse leadership experience defining business problems and executing integrative solutions in consensus building, risk management, and relationship building across diverse teams with multiple Fortune 100 and 500 companies. Swayne has been with U.S. Bank for over five years and held positions such as enterprise management director, enterprise money portfolio lead, and diversity, equity, and inclusion champion. In her current role as a chief administrative officer, Swayne leads strategy and operations for U.S. Bank’s unified vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion for the employees, businesses, and communities that they serve. Swayne earned her master’s degree in e-commerce and bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Maryland. She is a board member for the Genesis Charitable Fund for Catastrophe Relief and on the Counting Ministry at Missionary Baptist Church.


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Sherrie Jones is an entrepreneur, educator, coach, and the new workforce development manager for the city of Charlotte. In her new role, Jones is responsible for managing the broader and collaborative workforce programs such as U.S. Department of Labor apprenticeships, sponsored career training, internships, and talent mobility as the key developer and point-person for internal and external stakeholders. As an entrepreneur, Jones has extensive experience from being a former CFO and director of marketing for a real estate development project. Her experience as a career coach stems from her diverse experiences as a professional ready to educate staff in any industry from veterans to doctors. Jones earned her master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Lincoln University. She is a board member with National Heritage Charter School and is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. P


Transforming Life and Work By Rev. Dr. Dwayne Bond


aving a relationship with God should not only change us and impact how we interact with others, it should also radically alter how we work. The Bible teaches us that if someone has become a Christian, he has become a new creation. The old has passed away; and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). How does a person become new? God gives us new hearts which is where character overflows from. Thus, we are changed from the inside out.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as to the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.” —Colossians 3:23

A direct outcome of having a new heart is a complete transformation in how we relate to others. When a person gives his life to the Lord, his character becomes more aligned with who God is. This shift gradually allows a person to display God-like character (or godliness). Kindness, compassion, mercy, love, tenderness, forgiveness, patience and joy begin to exude from the person’s life. God causes the person to bear fruit that is consistent with His own character. Relationships improve. Marriages are enhanced. Family dynamics get better. After a person surrenders his life to God, his work life should radically change as well. Prior to living for God, we are typically inclined to selfishly live for ourselves. Everything is about us. We live to please ourselves. This can even be reflected in our purposes in, goals for and attitudes about work. Although our reasons for working are multi-faceted, within all the layers is usually a focus on pleasing ourselves.

Yet, the Bible teaches us that “Whatever you do, work heartily, as to the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward” (Colossians 3:23). The verses leading up to this passage address the importance of having healthy relationships with those closest to us. Colossians 3:23 emphasizes our relationship with work and how Christ changes the focus of work. Anything that we do shifts from being about us to being for God. Whatever we do in life should compel our hearts to work diligently toward glorifying and demonstrating honor to the Lord. We become more motivated in recognizing that people aren’t our emphasis and aim for working and achieving. God’s glory is our aim. He is who we seek to please. He is the one who we work for. Centering our lives upon Christ comes with great rewards. We are changed inwardly and outwardly. Socially, we relate more positively with the world around us. And we begin to diligently work heartily for the Lord and not for man. Therefore, whether we are working remotely or in the office, our gracious, kind and merciful God should receive our affection, effort, focus and worship as we work. Living with this mindset is a game-changer when we face difficult bosses, challenging co-workers, troublesome employees and seemingly impossible tasks. Especially in hard times, we need to be reminded that we ultimately work for God and not men. As you think about your life, consider surrendering it to God. He changes everything. He blesses with abundant generosity. He rewards the undeserving. May you be encouraged as you live and labor for His glory. P The Rev. Dwayne Bond is the lead pastor of Wellspring Church.

May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine



Books to Enjoy in the Late Spring and Early Summer

Profit First for Minority Business Enterprises by Susanne Mariga Susanne Mariga accomplished many firsts in her life. She was the first Black woman in her family to go to college, the first to become a Certified Public Accountant, the first to work at a Big Four accounting firm, and then start a business. Now she’s the first to write a book! Through “Profit First for Minority Business Enterprises,” she shows business owners how to use tax strategies to obtain their business and personal goals. Guided by the popular Profit First method, she purposefully targets minority businesses to help eradicate business poverty.


The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living with Less by Christine Platt Christine Platt was always intrigued by the minimalist lifestyle, wanting to pare down her things to only what she loved and needed. She did not feel at home among those who espoused neutral interiors and stark white backgrounds. Platt wanted to combine minimalism with the flavor of her family history and her African roots. This led her to create her own aesthetic, coining the term, Afrominimalist. Through the pages of her book, she shares the nuts and bolts of her discovery.

Spike Lee: Director’s Inspiration

by Tara M. Stringfellow

by Spike Lee Spike Lee lovers will rejoice in the pages of his new book. Here Lee shares from his private collection of film posters and objects, photographs, artworks, and more—many inscribed to Lee personally by filmmakers, stars, athletes, activists, musicians, and others who inspired his work in specific ways. Anyone who has followed Lee’s illustrious career through the decades may find themselves also inspired as they learn more about Lee’s genius and his phenomenal success through these specially curated items.

For the Young Adult reader Survive the Dome by Kosoko Jackson This futuristic novel finds Jamal Lawson eager to cover a story about police brutality so he packs up everything and heads to Baltimore. Things get out of control, forcing the city to implement a new protective technology called The Dome. Jamal’s investigative skills lead him to the middle of a controversy about who stays and who leaves P .

Pride Magazine |

Memphis In this epic novel, a family history intertwines with the present to paint a complex story that leads the main character, Joan to a place of understanding and healing. Unearthed through masterful storytelling by newcomer, Tara M. Stringfellow, Joan comes face to face with family secrets that had long been buried. The journey to peace is riveting, readers will be glad they came along for the ride.

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Quintel Gwinn Manifests Her Dream By Angela Lindsay

Quintel Gwinn's design for a Philadelphia client


he road to becoming a business owner is often complicated. Minority entrepreneurs can face particularly onerous obstacles when trying to access the resources necessary to make business ownership more than just a good idea. Interior designer Quintel Gwinn knows all too well how rocky the road to entrepreneurship can be. After graduating from Georgia Southern University with a degree in interior design and completing an internship at an architectural firm, she landed a job with a Black architectural firm in Columbus, Ga. But when the economy took a downturn, she lost her job. After moving to Charlotte with her family in 2010, Gwinn worked a couple of part-time jobs, earned her Master of Arts degree in Interior Architecture from Queens University of Charlotte and then created her own design firm, Quin Gwinn Studio, in 2014.

Photo by Joshua Galloway

Quin the winner

Quintel Gwinn, owner of the interior design firm Quin Gwinn Studio, is the winner of the Pride 2022 Minority Business Breaking Barriers Award. 14

Pride Magazine |

Gwinn accomplished another notable achievement in February by winning the Pride Minority Business Breaking Barriers Award at this year’s Pride Magazine›s Pride Awards luncheon at The Westin Charlotte. Gwinn and several other local small business owners participated in a creative pitch contest on stage during the program. Audience

Photo courtesy of Quintel Gwinn

Pride Award Winner

“The knowledge that there was a person and creative process behind the design of everyday objects and household items really intrigued me. I knew then, at 16, that I wanted to be a designer. I wanted to explore color, form and art in ways that made everyday life interesting.” —Quintel Gwinn

Photo by Tye Feimster

Photo courtesy of Quintel Gwinn

Photo courtesy of Quintel Gwinn

Photo courtesy of Quintel Gwinn

connect a need they might have with the service I offer.” The approach clearly worked, though Gwinn said she was surprised and excited to win. “I wasn’t expecting it at all. Winning gave me a good feeling and filled me with gratitude,” said Gwinn, who won a marketing reward package that includes a photo shoot and coaching — professional services that will elevate her business this year, she added. “Being able to amplify the work I do and represent an industry in which Black designers only make up 2 percent was really important.” Having opportunities to network and build connections with potential clients during the awards event aids in her continued success as a small business owner, Gwinn said. “Relationships are key.” Gwinn, a Georgia native, became interested in design after a high school field trip to Atlanta’s High Museum of Art where she was inspired, specifically, by the iconic modern furniture made in the 1940s and

Photo courtesy of Quintel Gwinn

members voted for the pitch they liked the most. Although she said she’s not comfortable talking about herself, Gwinn plowed through her nervousness during the competition and successfully presented her two-minute winning pitch. “My concept was to perform the pitch as a live TikTok clip and hope the perks of selfpromotion would liberate my nerves,” she said. “I decided to incorporate my basket of tools – paint color deck, measuring tape, fabric swatches, floor plans – as a way to illustrate the creative solutions I explore in my profession as an interior designer.” Gwinn said she knew she needed a strong ice breaker to engage the audience. She decided to highlight how much the pandemic changed the way many people experienced being at home and the ways their personal environment impacts their daily habits. “So, I started my pitch by asking the audience to shout, in unison, which room they spent the most time taking Zoom meetings in. It made us all laugh!” she shared. “And it was a great way to instantly

Top left: Another design for Gwinn's Philadelphia client; Bottom center: Another of Gwinn's designs. Bottom right: Dee Dixon (left), Quin Gwinn (middle) and Pride Awards 2022 honoree, Kieth Cockrell, President, Bank of America Charlotte (right)

May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine


“Being able to amplify the work I do and represent an industry in which Black designers only make up 2 percent was really important.” —Quintel Gwinn

1950s, including signature pieces by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. “This sparked my interest in architecture, furniture design and interiors,” she said. “The knowledge that there was a person and creative process behind the design of everyday objects and household items really intrigued me. I knew then, at 16, that I wanted to be a designer. I wanted to explore color, form and art in ways that made everyday life interesting. I wanted to create new experiences in places that were familiar to me and, through thoughtful design, make them more enjoyable.” To complete her Quinn Gwinn Studio design team, Gwinn hired all Black women. “This is my attempt at putting a tiny dent in the gender gap, diversifying the profession, and exposing more young professionals and communities to the industry,” Gwinn told Charlotte Magazine in 2019.

Obstacles to Black entrepreneurship

According to the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau statistics, only 4.8 percent of interior designers are Black, 72.7 percent are white, 8.9 percent are Asian, 3.2 percent are Hispanic, 2 percent are mixedrace and less than 1 percent are American Indian. The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) reports that less than 2% of their membership identify as Black. Also, a 2021 report from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Urban Institute said although small business ownership plays a large role in our economic and financial wellbeing, stark racial differences in ownership persist. Businesses and financial assets (bank accounts, mutual funds, etc.) make up only 15 and 8 percent of wealth for Latino and Black households, respectively, while these assets make up a third of overall assets for white and Asian households. The disproportionate distribution of these assets contributes to the racial wealth gap, which means that people of color have less access to personal capital to start and maintain a business.

Looking ahead

Moving forward Gwinn said she would like to open a public location that will allow her to continue to offer interior design services working out of a studio and also incorporate a retail showroom where she can sell furnishings, housewares and decorative accessories. “I have enjoyed curating art, textiles and decor for my private clients and would love to share that experience with a broader clientele. I want to share my love of color, pattern and modern design with more people and be a resource for home enthusiasts throughout the Southern region,” she said. In her March 25 Instagram post @quingwinn, Gwinn gives inspiring advice to hopeful entrepreneurs: “Hold the vision. Trust the process … Believe that you can do it, even when nobody else does.” P


Pride Magazine |

A Q&

with Charlotte Mecklenburg Library CEO and Chief Librarian

Marcellus Turner Tatiana Akhmetgalieva /

By Valerie Hubbard

CEO and Chief Librarian of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Marcellus Turner


arcellus Turner, or “MT” as he prefers, celebrated his first-year anniversary last month as the new CEO and chief librarian of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library system. Turner, originally from the Jackson, Mississippi area, earned a bachelor’s degree from Mississippi University for Women (a co-ed university) and later a master’s degree in library science from the University of Tennessee. As his first-year anniversary approached, we talked with Turner, an avid reader since childhood, to learn about his passion for helping libraries and communities thrive. We asked him about his momentous career and some of his goals to help Charlotte Mecklenburg libraries excel. When and how were you attracted to the field of library science? I started working in libraries in the fourth grade, so it probably started there; though I never thought of it as a profession at the time.

When did you decide on it as a profession? I went to graduate school at the University of Tennessee to study speech pathology and audiology. I had a couple of housemates who were library science majors. I had the only car, so I ended up driving them to and from school from time to time. I started looking at what they were doing and realized I might want to do the same thing. So, I got my master’s degree in library science from the University of Tennessee in 1988. Afterward, I worked in academic libraries for six years. I then switched to public libraries. It’s exciting work. I’ve really enjoyed it. Now, it has been about 34 years. During your career, you’ve worked in libraries across the United States. Beginning in 2011, you spent nearly 10 years as executive director and chief librarian of Seattle’s Public Library (SPL) system, and the SPL won a Public Library of the Year award in 2020. After such a major accomplishment,

what inspired you to leave Seattle to come here? One, I wanted to live in a different place for a while. I like moving around geographically, and I hadn’t lived in the South in a long time. So, I wanted to do so again. Also, because Charlotte Mecklenburg Library was a leading library system many years ago. They were still doing great things, but I don’t think people realized that, so I was happy to come here and try to amplify some of the great work they are doing. What are some of your plans for Charlotte’s libraries? We have several projects going on now. First, we’re opening a new main library in Uptown, and we’re turning the building around so the main entrance will be on Tryon, to make it more easily accessible. The project was well underway when I joined the system and is tentatively scheduled to open in fall 2025. Plus, we’re opening new libraries in Pineville and University City.

May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine


What goals do you have to help the underserved, digitally destitute and those with limited transportation? One of our bigger goals for Charlotte Mecklenburg libraries is we’re going to do a lot more work in the area of reading proficiency for kids, for parents and caregivers. We’ve observed that many of our kids who can’t read have parents or caregivers who don’t read at a proficient level to be able to help their kids. So, we’re going to try to address that issue. We have computers and digital hotspots that patrons can come in and freely use, and we’re adding much more technology in the new main Charlotte Library in Uptown; yet it’s still going to feel like a library. The Public Library System also set a goal years ago that every resident would be within 15 minutes of a public library to relieve transportation concerns.

growing up. I want to liberate people’s ideas of what a library can be. And we’re going to do that by providing great program opportunities for patrons to engage with our business, educational, informational and recreational partners within their communities and Uptown. When you live in one of our neighborhood library communities, you rarely get to the main library. But we want Charlotte’s main library in Uptown to be a “must-visit destination” for all. That’s great! Finally, what is your most important, personal goal for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library system? My job here is to ensure that the Charlotte Mecklenburg libraries make a difference in the lives of our users and the community. If patrons need to borrow books, need to use computers, or if they need assistance finding information—my goal is to make sure we’re doing that through programs and services that are accessible to everyone in our communities P

Tatiana Akhmetgalieva /

How do you plan to draw people who are tech savvy and may think they no longer need to visit a library? We’re definitely bringing in more technology than before. There still will be places for independent study. There still will be books, other materials and staff, but we want to show the public that libraries are more than just books or just what you may remember

Black Jack /

We’re also working to provide needed resources to the public by engaging more in our neighborhood communities and partnering with many organizations to deliver great services.

Marcellus Turner and Debra Sharp, Hickory Grove Branch Community Neighborhood Manager


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May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine


By Rosanny Crumpton

The next time you’re looking for food that will excite your taste palate, try one or more of these notable and, in some cases, new eating spots.


Black-Owned Restaurants to Watch in Charlotte

Hippin Hops Brewery CEO, Clarence Boston

While Hippin’ Hops doesn’t focus on sour beers, they are excited to bring some of their sours and new flavors to town along with their specialty craft beers. The brewery opens occasionally and offers free beer, Boston said. “We don’t promote it on social media. We sit a sign outside that reads ‘Free Beer Today.’” Charlotteans can look forward to a soft opening before the Grand Opening. Boston said they’ve offered free beer at their other locations sometimes and the community joins in the excitement.

Clarence Boston, CEO of Hippin’ Hops Brewery, is one of the less than one percent of Black-owned brewers in the U.S. Boston has three Hippin’ Hops Brewery locations in Atlanta, and his fourth is coming to Charlotte in August 2022. While it was difficult for Boston to find real estate in Charlotte, he ultimately found the right space in NoDa. Each of his breweries offers a unique culinary experience. Boston said: “Our vibe and the service we provide is what attributes to our success.” With encouragement from his friends in Charlotte and being a North Carolina native, “it was only right to bring Hippin’ Hops to Charlotte.” Boston’s inspiration to brew beer came from his grandmother, a winemaker. He jokes that making wine was not his forte, so he experimented with his first beer kit at 22, and the rest is history. Boston said he’s looking forward to being one of three Black-owned breweries in North Carolina and one of two in Charlotte.


Pride Magazine |

Photo by Peter Taylor

Hippin’ Hops Brewery

Interior of PARA restaurant


Yashira “Yoshi” Mejia is the bar manager at Charlotte’s PARA. This South End innovative restaurant and bar offers globally influenced small plates and whimsical cocktails. The eclectic atmosphere and R&B sounds round out the pleasant PARA experience.

Mejia proudly represents women and Afro-Latinas as a manager and leader in the industry. She’s passionate about her role as she explains the continuous work and studying that goes into being a mixologist. Her cocktail creations are the product of ongoing dedication and invention, from the PARA Old Fashioned that is smoked table-side to the thoughtful tropical cocktail, Tropic Like It’s Hot, which she calls “a vacation in a cup.” Interested in non-alcoholic options? Ask for one of Mejia's creations made with alcohol alternatives. “I’m proud to be put in a position to lead … I’ve chosen to lead with compassion,” Mejia said. Working behind the bar and in the service industry, one literally pours out [drinks], but she also considers the teamwork it takes to “pour back in,” she added. She encourages members of the PARA team to make sure self-care remains important in each of their lives. This helps create an overall pleasurable experience for everyone.

Cuzzo’s Cuisine

Known for their “world famous lobster mac and cheese,” Cuzzo’s is also popular for its shrimp and grits, chicken and red velvet waffles, and several other lowcountry style delicacies. When Chef Andarrio Johnson graduated from Johnson & Wales University, he dreamed of opening a food truck. “It took me 14 years to put it together. I kept pushing and pushing and never quit until I got it,”

Photo by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.

Every dish created and served by Jimmy Pearls has a story. Co-owners and Chefs Daryl “Coop” Cooper and Oscar Johnson are doing what they set out to do. They not only want to offer tasty meals, they also want guests to develop a personal connection with the food at their casual street food truck. The two chefs bring a fresh new take on regional seafood. “We offer our story with our southern seafood. The African American culture and influence on seafood has been forgotten,” Coop said. “Not too many people are telling our story when it comes to the African American food of coastal Virginia, so we decided to pick up that baton and become storytellers through our food.” Their menu, inspired by the Tidewater and Piedmont Foodways of Virginia, gives an “ode to Virginia soul.”

Photo by Natasha Hartley

Jimmy Pearls

he said. The Cuzzo’s Cuisine food truck business started in 2014. In November 2016, Johnson’s first brick-and-mortar restaurant opened on Tuckaseegee Road. In February 2022, Cuzzo’s Cuisine opened its second location in University City. Andarrio explained that his goal is to offer quality food at affordable prices with

Shamika and Roberto Brooks, Hip Hop Smoothies Owners

their smoothie truck. After experiencing success with their traveling smoothie business, they opened their first storefront in 2020 on Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road and another in March 2022 on N. Sharon Amity Road. Unlike many other smoothies, Hip Hop Smoothies have no artificial flavors, added sugar or ice. The only sweetener in some smoothies is honey, which is optional. There are two cups of fruit for every 20 ounces of smoothie. In other words, these smoothies are packed with fruit, nutrition and flavor. After much research and loads of tastetesting trials, the Brooks came up with unique offerings that support a healthy lifestyle while honoring the Hip Hop era of the 80s and 90s. Among their appropriately named smoothies are I Got 5 On It, which tastes like peanut butter and jelly; Nuttin’ but Love, which resembles a Reese’s cup; and Gin and Juice, named for its main ingredients of ginger and orange juice. Their number one selling smoothie is Gangsta’s Paradise, the Brooks’ take on a traditional strawberry-banana smoothie. Shamika said customers often sing the songs when they order or “choose a smoothie based on the name alone.” P

Jimmy Pearls co-owners, Daryl Cooper (left) and Oscar Johnson (right)

On the menu you can find items like fish bratwurst, smoked chicken sausage, steamed oysters, fried catfish, stewed greens and more. Follow Jimmy Pearls on Instagram @jimmypstreetshackclt and @jimmypearlsclt for food truck updates and hours.

Photo by Morgan Robinson

Hip Hop Smoothies

The Fried Crocker plate available at Jimmy Pearls

Shamika and Roberto Brooks, the husband and wife owners, launched the Hip Hop Smoothies trailer in Charlotte in 2018. They began the business to bring healthy options and choices to customers. They visited schools, churches and YMCAs with

Photo by Natasha Hartley

exceptional customer service. He wants customers to feel like they’re at home, or better yet “at grandma’s house … like they’ve been there before, eating food that touches your soul.” Johnson realized this profession was his calling and purpose at age 14 when he first entered the restaurant business. Johnson and his close cousin Anglee Brown have worked side-by-side in business for many years. The name Cuzzo’s Cuisine honors their partnership. As a way of paying it forward, Cuzzo’s Cuisine offers children 12 and under free meals from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays. He began this practice at the start of the Covid pandemic and it still continues.

Photo by Jonathan Cooper

Cuzzo's Cuisine Chef Andarrio Johnson

Hip Hop Smoothies

May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine



The Unexpected Mental Health Impact of Parentification Black women now have a place to focus on themselves with Myers-Galloway Counseling


or someone who has a substance abuse issue).

How to Heal:

Photo courtesy of The Scout Guide Charlotte

arentification’ is a little-known term to the public, but it is a phenomenon that is pervasive throughout the Black community. In general, our community embraces strong cultural values of family reciprocity and role flexibility. Due to external factors, racial and economic disparities being the most prevalent, black children are often forced to complete instrumental and emotional tasks around their home as a means of survival. Black women are parentified and adultified at higher rates than their male counterparts and by unfair circumstances, have been groomed to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. According to a 2017 study done by Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality (Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood) American adults think that black girls as young as 5 need less protection and less nurturing than their white peers. Later a follow-up study was conducted in 2019 (Listening to Black Women and Girls: Lived Experiences of Adultification Bias) and concluded that adultification bias can lead educators and other authorities to treat black girls in developmentally inappropriate ways.

What is parentification?

Parentification is the process of role reversal and/or distorted boundaries within the parent child relationship. In other words, children take on adult responsibilities before they are developmentally ready to do so. There are two types of parentification. First, instrumental parentification is when a child physically cares for a parent or a family member who is disabled, ill or struggling with addiction. Emotional parentification is when a child becomes responsible for the emotional well-being of a parent or others in the family. For example, being a secret keeper or confidant. In these environments, often the parent(s) tend to check out of


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Montina Myers-Galloway - Owner & Creator

their parental role, leaving the child to feel abandoned and neglected. Benefits: Research has shown that parentification in single parent households can be a source of support, contribute to an increase in family function, promote independence, increase self-esteem and allow children to develop a high degree of empathy and altruism. Parentified children gain valuable life experience on how to navigate the world. Depending on the context, you probably have an inner motivation, tenacity and resilience that has gotten you through difficult times. Black women remain highly ambitious despite many obstacles and unrealistic expectations placed on them over the course of their lives. Many times, black women find themselves in careers like nursing, counseling, childcare or other support roles. Drawbacks: However, when parentification occurs in an unsupportive family dynamic, the expectations go beyond a reasonable time frame and what the child is capable of, it can cause long-term negative effects lasting well into adulthood. A few common issues in adulthood include chronic fear and self-doubt, financial strain due to family responsibilities, lack of preparation and readiness for college and/or professional work environments and ending up in codependent relationships with those who need care (i.e., alcoholics, workaholics,

Grieve. Allow the woman you are today to be sad and disappointed for your younger self. Explore some inner child work with a licensed mental health provider. Understand Your Personal Needs. Take some time to make a list of the things you really enjoy doing and do them. It may take some trial and error but it’s worth it. Create a support system. Research has shown that groups like “sister circles” or communities have a positive impact on the mental health of Black women. Myers-Galloway Counseling understands the unique yet valuable experiences of Black women. The company nurtures the positive aspects of parentification and works with clients to address areas like boundaries, assertive communication and creating core values. Since 2016, Myers-Galloway Counseling has been dedicated to treating anxiety and depression in Black women forced to grow up too soon. The company provides online counseling for women across the state.

Book Your Appointment or Join our Team To learn more about Myers-Galloway Counseling visit 1218 East Blvd., Suite A Charlotte, NC 28203 (704) 750-1889

Influential Black Lawyers in Charlotte By Ryan Kouame


lmost everything we do, from making a purchase to starting a business, is affected by the law, so it’s important that we are covered and protected in the event of a disaster, misfortune, or even financial planning. These respected and influential attorneys are ready to support and guide you through any legal issues you may face.

Chaz Beasley

Chaz Beasley, an attorney with Moore & Van Allen’s business and banking law firm in Charlotte, focuses on capital market transactions representing financial institutions in corporate and structured debt financing. Before joining Moore & Van Allen, Beasley was elected to serve as a member of the North Carolina State House, representing the people of District 92 twice in 2016 and 2018. Beasley earned his juris doctor degree from Georgetown University and bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University.

Alesha Brown

Alesha Brown is an attorney at Hall & Dixon PLLC, a criminal defense firm that provides litigation for everything from traffic citations to felonies. Brown fights for her clients through civil rights advocacy, civil litigation, personal injury and contract disputes. Prior to relocating to Charlotte, she practiced insurance defense at a firm in New York City and served as counsel to the New York City Council Committee on Civil Rights and Contracts where she played an intricate role in drafting, passing and implementing anti-discrimination legislation. Brown earned her juris doctor degree from New York Law School and her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of South Carolina.

Cheyenne Chambers

Cheyenne Chambers is an attorney with Tin Fulton Walker & Owen. She focuses on appellate and trial litigation in the areas of civil rights, criminal law, constitutional law, employment law and immigration law. Chambers earned her juris doctor degree from Ohio State University and serves as co-chair of the American Bar Association’s appellate practice subcommittee on young lawyers, membership and diversity. She is also the founder of the Chambers Scholarship which nurtures the careers and diversity pipeline at Moritz College of Law.

Jasmine Gardner

Jasmine Gardner is an attorney at McGuireWoods, a full-service firm providing legal and public affairs solutions to corporate, individual and nonprofit clients. Gardner focuses on complex commercial litigation, corporate clients, construction, trucking and healthcare industries. She is experienced in the litigation process and has represented Fortune 100 companies through a range of disputes in federal and state court mediation and arbitration. Gardner earned her juris doctor degree from Wake Forest University and her bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University.

Ticora Davis

Attorney Ticora Davis is a prominent attorney, entrepreneur and the founder of The Creator’s Law Firm –– a Black-owned and woman-empowered boutique law firm specializing in intellectual property (IP) law and consulting services. She has worked with stellar brands that include VH1, Black Enterprise and Facebook. She was also recently named an honoree on the Forbes Next 100 List. Davis has a remarkable story of overcoming adversity. She started The Creator’s Law Firm out of her home with a seven-week-old baby on her hip, 300 dollars and a dream. Davis earned her juris doctor degree from Charlotte School of Law and her bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University.

Kenneth Snow

Kenneth Snow is the managing partner of Snow Legal Group, a criminal defense practice based in the Carolinas. Snow’s areas of practice include homicide, drug charges, federal crimes, sex offenses, human trafficking, manslaughter, child abuse, fraud, and more. Snow began his career as a college admissions counselor after receiving his bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Johnson C. Smith University then went on to receive his juris doctor degree from North Carolina Central University School of Law where he served as president of the Black Law Students Association and established the National Association of Black Lawyers.

Dexter Benoit

Dexter Benoit is the founder and managing partner of Benoit Law Firm, a personal injury practice. After moving from Chicago where he spent years representing insurance companies and corporate defendants accused of negligent behavior, Dexter realized that his true passion was in helping those who have been harmed instead of the companies or people who harmed them. As a result, in 2011, Dexter opened the doors to a small, boutique law firm whose sole focus was to serve as a voice to those whose voices would otherwise not be heard. Benoit earned his juris doctor degree from the University of Illinois and bachelor’s degree in political science from Miami University. P May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine


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Real Men Get Manicures and Pedicures


magine being in a nail salon, receiving your normal service, and two strapping construction workers venture in. They’re not there to meet their significant others but proceed to plop down in chairs at the pedicure station. Subsequently, they peel off their dirt-caked construction boots, then place their feet in the awaiting bubbling foot water bath. The technicians not only cater to the blue-collar workers’ footcare needs but extend their services with accompanying manicures. All this brings to question, “Do real men get manicures and pedicures?” Yes, they do. It seems like an odd combination but one that’s becoming more popular in today’s culture. Although many men are known for their rough exteriors and equally rough hands and feet, more men are discovering the pleasures of being pampered. Men from all industries are partaking in this pampering. With this new male patronage, the personal care market is expected to reach $81 billion within the next three years, according to a recent article on This culture shift of male self-pampering and possibly alleviating any social stigmas is happening in Charlotte too, thanks to Andrico Thompson, owner of Manny’s Nail Spa. Opening its doors in November 2021, Manny’s Nail Spa is Charlotte’s first nail salon owned by a Black man.

Andrico Thompson, owner of Manny’s Nail Spa in Charlotte

Becoming a nail salon owner was not in Thompson’s life trajectory. A former producer and songwriter, Thompson pivoted his music career after acquiring a free pedicure chair for his partner at a salon. It wasn't until he had a conversation with a friend in his garage, where the chair was stored, that his inspiration hit. His friend teased, “It would be crazy if someone who looked like us were to do women’s nails,” Thompson told Travel Noire in January. This is especially true for Thompson who is 6’4” tall. After that talk, Thompson researched and later enrolled at the Academy of Nail Technology & Esthetics. After passing his state board exam in February 2021, Thompson realized breaking into a femaledriven industry would be difficult. “No one really takes you seriously. My first time asking for a job at a salon, I was told they only hire people who look like them,” Thompson said. Determined, Thompson persevered opening Manny’s in 2021. The name “Manny” isn’t a nickname or named after someone. It’s a play on the word “manicure” — “manny cures” for men. The spa’s motto is, “We are truly Kings and Queens providing exemplary services for other Kings and Queens.” When walking into Manny’s, customers can expect to be whist away by an array of services and techniques while being soothed by amazing talks and tunes. “I love having fun conversations

Photo courtesy of @mannysnailspa on Instagram

By John Burton Jr.

with customers and listening to good music and having a good time while I give a great service,” Thompson said. Thompson, like so many others in the nail industry, said more men should indulge in this pampering, not just for vanity’s sake but equally for the health benefits. According to the Minnesota School of Cosmetology, manicures and pedicures can: • Support healthy nails and hands • Decrease stress and alleviate anxiety • Reduce signs of aging in your hands and feet Men can go to the salon alone or make it a quality time opportunity with special someone or friends. “I went last month for the first time,” said musician Brian Pettis, 34. “My wife encouraged me to go with her and I enjoyed it — especially spending time with her.” Whereas others use it as a form of me-time. “I go solo,” said management leader Neal Franklin, 54. “It’s relaxing to me and self-care. Plus, I like my hands and my feet looking nice,” he said. Joe Steele, a student at Prairie View A&M University said, “I got interested in it – pampering, because I like to listen to music, and one of my favorite artists, hip-hop artist Lil Yachty, actually launched his own nail polish brand.” Getting a nail treatment for the first time for a guy might feel a little awkward in the beginning. But they can be reassured that they are not the only gent to walk into a nail salon, and they certainly won’t be the last. “Women go through a lot of work to look good for us, and doing nails takes a lot of time,” Thompson said. “Why not return the compliment?” P May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine


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What’s Driving the Current Talent Shortage? By K evin Loux, Chief Impact Officer, Charlotte Works and Raquel Lynch, Chief Program Officer, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont


ith over 43 million Americans quitting their job in 2021, the “Great Resignation” is no longer a trend, but a paradigm shift. Many employers lament this as a signal that no one wants to work. The recent narrative has focused on unemployment benefits replacing wages and portrayed this as a matter of “lazy and entitled” workers, when in fact, the behavior of today’s workers is not caused by laziness but by rational decision-making. While employers are used to having leverage, the reality is that the same market forces driving the success of a business’s product or service are now impacting their ability to secure talent. Businesses are familiar with the impacts of economic globalization through

e-commerce but are now seeing these same forces impact their workforce. With the increased availability of remote work, the demand for talent isn’t geographically limited, meaning employers have more competition. Just as e-commerce has benefited adaptable companies and put others out of business, the shift in the job market has the same power. Even companies without remote positions must consider that someone with the skills to work remotely may do so, reducing the supply of local talent. This is also complicated because the labor market has a backward bending supply curve, which means that beyond a certain level of pay, most workers will value increased leisure time over increased wages. This effect also extends to the quality of position in terms

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May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine


GuestColumn of flexibility and culture, where individuals may take pay cuts for companies that provide a better lifestyle. While this is an overly simplistic analysis, it is illustrative of today’s labor market. The reality is that the talent shortage is disproportionately affecting employers with lower-quality positions. This could mean low wages, difficult working conditions, a toxic company culture, or all of the above. Many employers were quick to increase wages, but still struggle as they overlook other factors. Workers have more options now, and attracting and retaining talent is about more than just pay and location. A recent talent survey by Charlotte Works and Goodwill of over 200 local individuals found that while wage was important, an opportunity for career advancement was more critical. Even 58 percent of currently employed individuals were actively looking to leave their job. Many see the talent shortage as an opportunity, leaving lowerpaying jobs for higher-paying careers. With quit rates at a recent high, how do you retain talent? The top factors from our survey were flexibility, culture, and


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workload balance. Embracing remote work when possible, looking at preventing burnout, and keeping workers safe are all critical parts of a multi-pronged talent retention strategy, validated by our findings. What does this mean for employers struggling to attract or retain talent? Almost a century ago, Henry Ford faced similar issues, cut his workweek in half, and doubled his workers’ pay, improving productivity and setting a new standard. Today increased pay, and shorter workweeks are also being revisited and yielding similar results. Instead of competing in today’s red ocean of talent poaching, maybe it is time to find a blue ocean of talent. A recent study from Harvard University found there are 27 million latent workers nationally. This is a talent pool that wants to work, but they are currently not able to. This includes part-time workers that want full-time work and workers that have stopped looking for work, even if they want to work. If they want to work more, why are these latent workers not applying? In the study, 84 percent found the application

process too difficult, and many had to submit 20 to 40 job applications to get a single offer. Employers willing to rethink job descriptions, streamline their applicant tracking system, and remove excessive experience requirements will have a competitive advantage. Removing unnecessary barriers helps employers tap into the talent Charlotte Works and Goodwill work to upskill and prepare for careers. As an employer seeking commitment from job seekers, what are you willing to commit to in return for loyalty and productivity? We invite you to look at your talent development and recruitment efforts, but most of all, look at your core values. Those lived values will drive job seekers to you and to stay. Money is an essential factor initially, but culture and a commitment to your workers are equally important. Before you renew your employee-focused efforts, take time to analyze the number of quality jobs you offer, consider updating your staffing plan, but most of all, don’t be a “lazy and entitled” employer in the eyes of job seekers. P

We We Want Want You! You! We Want You!

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Visit Visit Visit Visit and and and and click click click click on on on on “Civil “Civil “Civil “Civil Rights” Rights” Rights” Rights” to toto to Visit and click on “Civil Rights” toQR learn learn learn learn more more more more about about about about the the the the DBE DBE DBE DBE program. program. program. program. Scan Scan Scan Scan the the the the QR QR QR Visitmore click on “Civil Rights” to learn about theand DBE program. Scan the QR code code code code to to to to see see see see all all all all available available available available contract contract contract contract opportunities opportunities opportunities opportunities learntomore about the DBE program. Scan the QR code see all available contract opportunities with with with with the the the the City City City City of ofall of of Charlotte. Charlotte. Charlotte. Charlotte. code to see available contract opportunities with the City of Charlotte. with the City of Charlotte.••••704-336-RIDE 704-336-RIDE 704-336-RIDE 704-336-RIDE(7433) (7433) (7433) (7433) • 704-336-RIDE (7433) • 704-336-RIDE (7433)

Photo courtesy of Pam Ancrum

Known as the Write Brothers, these men are connected by the values of family, faith, inspiration and wisdom and work together to enlighten readers about the power of hope.

The Write Brothers (Left to right): Patrick Diamond, Dr. Augustus Parker III, Reverend Reggie Tuggle and Ron Ancrum


Inspire the Next Generation of Leaders By Anders J. Hare


hese four Black men — Rev. Reggie Tuggle, Dr. Augustus Parker III, Patrick Diamond and Ron Ancrum — didn’t form their writing collective just to tell their individual stories. They wanted to teach readers that no matter where they come from or what their circumstances are, they have the power to accomplish their goals.


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Known as the Write Brothers, these men are connected by the values of family, faith, inspiration and wisdom and work together to enlighten readers about the power of hope. They came together in Charlotte where they were motivated to work hand-in-hand after realizing each of them had written a book that inspired people to dream big. “We all wrote [books] during the pandemic, and it was the first time that

any of us became authors,” writer and philanthropist, Ancrum said. “Coming together was an opportunity, initially, to share those experiences. Then we realized we have something in common, and that might be an interesting idea coming together and working in a collaborative way.” The men formed the collective after they read one another’s books casually, and they realized their respective works told tremendous stories of grit and perseverance, despite facing adversity along the way. Ancrum’s book, “Keep On Moving: My Journey in the Fourth Quarter,” details his health struggles. He wrote the book during the two years after his third hospitalization. “I’ve always talked about how God has always created a path for me,” Ancrum said. “I always found out moving on to my next thing because that’s where he wanted me to be.” In his book “Mining Diamonds,” Parker shares his wisdom and journey in becoming a father and a physician, focusing on his journey of love, faith, family, and perseverance. Starting as an obstetrician-gynecologist, he was an early adopter of robotic surgery and developed surgical techniques. In the

book he also describes how he rose to become a hospital administrator and eventually a senior medical director for an insurance company. With his work, the Columbus, Ohio, native emphasizes the importance of legacy, pointing to the several physicians in his family, including all of his children. He believes his family is one of the few African American families with four medical doctors spread across two generations. “I used to be known as Dr. Parker, and now I’m known as Dr. Parker’s father because my real claim to fame is my legacy that all my children are physicians,” he said. Diamond’s book, “The Incredible Joy of Collecting African American Art – My Journey from Frogtown, S.C. to the National Gallery,” examines the challenges and feats of gathering a collection of art over nearly 50 years. Through the experience of writing the book, Diamond and his wife Judy were able to develop strong friendships with many of the artists in the collection. They’ve collected 120 to130 images from 40 to 50 different artists. “Through the book, I attempt to communicate two important points: the MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WORTH WATCHING

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critical relationship and special role that grandmothers play in our lives and the incredible cultural treasures and American history that can be found in African American art,” Diamond said. “By loaning artwork to museums, galleries and art centers, we’re able to help expose children and adults to the significant and historical contributions that African Americans have made to American art and culture.” Tuggle’s book, “A Journey Through Grace,” focuses on his journey from the depths of poverty to becoming a lauded and inspirational figure in Charlotte. In the book, Tuggle describes living in an attic with his unwed mother for the first nine years of his life in Colorado. “A Journey Through Grace” recounts the growth of Memorial Presbyterian Church in Roosevelt, N.Y., from 50 members to more than 1,000 members, where Tuggle served as pastor for 38 years. He details his journey from his early adversities through his faith and firm relationship with God.

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“God [kept] opening up doors everywhere you looked. When I thought a door was closed, another one would open,” Tuggle said. “It’s that kind of narrative — going through one difficult situation after the other and emerging on the other side. I’m better off than when I entered that moment of ambiguity and was endowed in darkness.” With each of their unique stories, the Write Brothers are sharing their journeys with the world, reaching out to youth and higher education institutions to reach the next generation of great thinkers and doers. “I think we can basically share the story about our lives and other people can resonate with it,” Ancrum said. “It’s also about what we’re doing in terms of our gift back to the community. And one of those gifts is to have that opportunity to share these stories, and to share … how we got to where we are, professionally, career-wise and with our families.” P

Celebrating and supporting Black-owned small businesses in 2022 By AJ Barkley, Head of Neighborhood and Community Lending, Bank of America


mall business owners have continued to face numerous challenges running their businesses since the outbreak of the pandemic more than two years ago. After enduring shutdowns, uncertainty and business disruptions, entrepreneurs here in Charlotte and across the country continue to navigate a rocky recovery. According to a recent National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) report, 48% of business owners are struggling to fill job openings, and 26% of entrepreneurs cited inflation as the single most-important problem in operating their businesses, the highest percentage in over 40 years. Nationwide, the pandemic has disproportionally affected Black/African American small business owners, who have reported significant challenges and distress greater difficulty recovering from the impacts of pandemic-related restrictions and shutdowns. In 2021, Bank of America’s Black Business Owner Spotlight found just 44% of Black/African American small business owners expected their local economies to improve in the coming year. Likewise, fewer than half of respondents expected to increase their revenues and hiring. The impact of this challenging business environment has caused ripples throughout local communities, including right here in Charlotte. I’m sure almost all of us know a local restaurant, shop or other small business that unfortunately had to close its doors during the pandemic. Despite these challenges, Black/ African American small business owners in Charlotte and across the country remain committed to rebuilding their businesses and investing in their local communities. Black/African American business ownership is on the rise nationwide, and our survey found that 48% of Black/African American entrepreneurs reported retooling their business operations to better serve their customers – double the national small business owner average. Another 55% reported donating their time, products and/ or services to benefit relief efforts within their local communities. Black/African

American small business owners also recognized this community support is a twoway street, with many feeling an increased connection to their local community. At Bank of America, we are committed to helping Black/African American and minority-owned businesses grow and thrive. In 2020, we announced a four-year, $1 billion commitment to provide local communities with support to address economic, social and racial inequalities accelerated by the global pandemic. In 2021, we expanded that commitment to $1.25 billion over five years. With so much uncertainty still facing Black/African American and minorityowned small businesses, being able to depend on community support and a trustworthy financial partner is critical for small business growth and recovery. Bank of America is committed to partnering with small business owners of all backgrounds to help position them for expansion and success in the fundamentally changed postpandemic economy. We offer a variety of financial products, resources and services designed to support the unique needs of

small business owners, and we’re constantly working to ensure we’re adapting to the ever-shifting business environment. Recently, we launched new innovations, including our Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured credit card and Business Advantage Secured Credit Line options to provide small business owners with credit services and cash-back programs that enable them borrow and spend carefully and confidently. Additionally, our new Start a Business Center digital experience provides clients with a guide for starting, running and growing a small business. At Bank of America, we are committed to supporting, investing in and partnering with Black/African American and minorityowned small businesses across Charlotte, our official home and headquarters, and in communities throughout the country. We are eager to partner with you and help grow your small business to its fullest potential. P Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC Equal Housing Lender ©2022 Bank of America Corporation

May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine


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“That’s just my way of showing love. I love that feeling of just being together with people and feeding them.” — Chef Lisa Brooks

A Full Plate

Chef Lisa Brooks Cooks Up Faith By Sasha Manley


hef Lisa Brooks, a Charlotte native, is an example of what it means to step out on faith and bet on yourself. Brooks decided to leave corporate life at the age of 40 and get back to doing what she ultimately loved. Now she is building a successful empire with personal chef services, a cookbook, mentorship, cooking classes and more. Growing up in the kitchen with her great grandmother played an instrumental part in Brook’s culinary career. It was her classroom. When she was 3 years old, Brooks recalls learning everything there was to know about making delicious meals. Along with cooking came family gatherings of 60 family members every Sunday. She thought cooking was something everyone did. Looking back, she realizes this was her foundation. This future chef carried the love of cooking for others to college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, making breakfast for her college friends. After she graduated and started her corporate career, this trend continued with one-of-a-kind dishes for social gatherings. “I always was cooking for people. That’s just my way of showing love. I love that feeling of just being together with people and feeding them,” she said. People often asked one common question: “Why don’t you do this professionally?” Although she said it never really crossed her mind to cook for a living, “God speaks to us through other people. It was a recurring theme. So, I had to listen.”

A new plate

After four years of insomnia and panic attacks, Brooks realized the stress from her 17-year corporate job was taking a toll on her, and at 39 she got the itch. Reflecting on those times, she said, “I asked God, I said, ‘Look, you gotta get me out of here.’ So, I

Photos courtesy of Facebook @cheflisabrooks

The main ingredient

ABOVE: Charlotte Chef Lisa Brooks appeared on the Food Network’s show “Chopped” in February 2022. LEFT: Chef Lisa Brooks’ book published in 2021, “The Joy of the Feast,” shares a journey through Black Southern food with storytelling and delicious recipes.

May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine


In the public eye

Over the years, the opportunities have been rolling in. Chef Lisa’s consistency has taken her to the big screen. She’s been a guest on The Tamron Hall Show, and in February 2022, Brooks starred on the first-ever Black History Month Edition of the Food Network’s Chopped (Season 51, Episode 8). The All-Black cast featured four competing chefs and a judging panel. The goal was to honor Black traditions in the kitchen. Overall, Brooks explained the bigger picture behind the show. “We all felt a responsibility once we knew it was historical. There was no real competition between us. We all felt like we already won when we got there,” she said. “It was an awesome experience. I felt like I was moving further into my purpose.”


Pride Magazine |

Photos courtesy of Facebook @cheflisabrooks

begged him, ‘You gotta show me.’ I heard him tell me to cook, and I was like, wait, what? How am I going to leave a six-figure salary and go cook?” Even with uncertainty and being a single mom, Brooks pressed on and began researching food jobs and found the perfect match — a personal chef. It sounded like what she has been doing all her life — creating intimate moments cooking for family and friends. When she left her corporate job, Brooks enrolled at Central Piedmont Community College, earning an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts. Before moving back to Charlotte, she had her first client, and shortly after graduating, made her first sixfigure year in 2013. During her time in school, Brooks connected with other students that would eventually be a part of her team. “I resonated a lot with Black women. All of my interns were Black women,” she said. Growing a team from scratch, she took new chefs under her wing. This came full circle and reminded her of being in the kitchen with her grandmother. Now she was wearing her shoes and teaching others how to cook from the heart. Brooks company, Heart and Soul Personal Chef Services, consists of 10 Black women chefs who provide upscale food experiences. The services the company provides include date nights, dinner parties and meal prep. As a personal chef, Brooks takes pride in her ability to make an array of global cuisines, but her specialty is southern coastal cuisine, low country meals. She said, “I am southern through and through. I can do all this stuff with my eyes closed.”

Charlotte Chef Lisa Brooks appeared on the Food Network’s show “Chopped” in February 2022.

The next serving

The matriarchs in her family — her mother, grandmother and greatgrandmother. serve as inspiration for Brooks. Her grandmother was a maid, and now Brooks is honoring her legacy with her own business by stepping back into the neighborhoods her family once served. “I’m doing it for my family because they didn’t get to see the fruit. They did the planting; they didn’t get to harvest,” she said. Brooks continues to keep her focus and purpose strong. “I’m going out here to empower every Black woman I can before I leave this earth to do the same thing.” Brooks offers a virtual cookbook, online zoom classes, chef services and more at and Other future projects include a chef coat line for curvy women, a restaurant and a summer edition of “An Evening with Lisa” pop-up dinners. Follow Brooks on social media @ ChefLisaBrooks on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. P

“I’m going out here to empower every Black woman I can before I leave this earth to do the same thing.” — Chef Lisa Brooks


Join Our Team.

Be a Hero A

Recruitment Incentive Program New employees who fill vacant eligible positions will receive a $2,000 sign-on bonus that will be paid in two equal installments. The first installment of $1,000 will be paid after a new employee is successfully hired and completes their first full week of employment with CATS. The second installment of $1,000 is paid to the employee after completing six months of employment. The Recruitment Incentive Program is for employees with a start date before June 27, 2022.

re you passionate about serving your community? Does enhancing the lives of fellow citizens motivate you? A career with the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) will provide you with daily opportunities to do so! CATS employees are essential, front-line heroes who provide connectivity for thousands of community members in the greater Charlotte region each day. CATS is the largest transit system between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, G.A, offering bus, light rail, streetcar, vanpool and paratransit services. Joining the CATS team will allow you the opportunity to grow your career and further expand your leadership potential. CATS is currently hiring bus operators, rail operators, supervisors and administrative positions. Join our team now, and you may be eligible for a $2,000 sign-on bonus! CATS operators keep the Charlotte region moving and are vital for regional development. Operators provide mobility options and play a key role in improving the local environment and creating a walkable city. CATS connects the community places beyond their destination and provides safe journeys to families, workplaces, entertainment venues and essential services. CATS believes in investing in its employees by providing training and career development. All new employees will receive an intensive paid training facilitated by fellow team members. During the onboarding process, employees will spend several weeks gaining knowledge about their CATS job duties. This allows for all employees to be confident that they have the necessary skills to perform their job and be prepared for promotional opportunities in the future. In addition to paid-training and a sign-on bonus, CATS offers employees a comprehensive benefits package. This includes insurance (medical, dental, vision), paid leave, sick leave, pension, a retirement savings plan and much more. The citizens of the Charlotte region value public transportation as an essential service that benefits the community. You have the opportunity to be a part of a team that continues to make this possible! Follow the QR code to apply for a job with transit.

May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine



Elevating Black Entrepreneurship By Sonja Whitemon


hree Charlotte startup companies were selected to receive grants from NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment in North Carolina. The foundation awarded $75,000 grants to seven companies in North Carolina. The recipients of the awards were all companies founded by Black entrepreneurs.

Desmond Wiggan, co-founder of BatteryXchange

Aubrey Yeboah, co-founder of BatteryXchange


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Desmond Wiggan and Aubrey Yeboah began working on their plans for BatteryXchange in 2018. While studying abroad in China, the two Charlotte MBAs found themselves stranded with no way to call the school, home or even a rideshare when their cell phone batteries died. BatteryXchange was born out of the anxiety of this experience. The company provides a new charging option for people on the go. The mobile application allows for quick access to batteries through an easy rental process that frees users from being dependent on wall outlets. The batteries are offered in downloadable form, through a portable device and through kiosks located in businesses around a city, and can be used any time and any place. The batteries are compatible with all Android and iOS devices, and can bring devices from 10 percent to 75 percent charged in less than 30 minutes. Wiggan’s connections in manufacturing helped them navigate their start. He spent two years immersing himself in the manufacturing world in China. Since 2018, the pair has been laying the foundation for the company, building and developing their products. They launched the company in 2021 and now have 20 operating kiosks and counting —14 in businesses in Charlotte and 6 in Winston Salem. The company is expanding into event venues now that entertainment events are restarting with a new partnership with the Charlotte Convention Center. “There were 40,000 people in town this weekend for T.D. Jakes,” said Wiggan. “We have seen more

Photos courtesy of BatteryXchange


The BatteryXchange Live Life Charged! battery for cell phone charging on the go

users at the convention center in the last few days than we see in smaller locations for weeks. People are using it.” In addition to event venues, the company is focusing on health care systems with a new partnership with Atrium Health. They are currently in Atrium Mercy and are working on the next three Atrium locations. “With the eco-system that we are trying to create, we have to have anchor locations,” Wiggin explained. Hospital systems and the small businesses around them can make up that ecosystem where the batteries can be picked up at one location and conveniently dropped off at another. The funding from NC IDEA will help BatteryXchange continue to build its products and expand into new locations, such as Atrium Health. “We were able to place our largest order yet,” said Wiggin. The funding also allowed them to build new software features into their products. The company plans to expand throughout Charlotte, the country and ultimately, globally.

Calvin Williams started Freeman Capital in response to his own personal experience trying to get financial planning services. After running a business after college and selling to his partner, he tried to find financial planning services. “I thought I had a little bit of money until I tried to find a wealth manager,” Williams recalls. “They told me that if I didn’t have a million dollars, it wasn’t worth their time. I knew there had to be a better way to get [wealth building] advice.” In 2015, Williams founded Freeman Capital, focused on helping people who make $50.000 to $200,000. “We formed this company to help folks who are just like me. Regular folks who are working good jobs and trying to do their best and yet have no one to help them out. We help everyday people get the help they need for less than the cost of a cell phone bill,” he said. Starting out, Williams surrounded himself with highly experienced experts who had been working in financial services for a long time. “I formed an advisory board of certified financial planners who were diverse, with men and women and Black and white, to help me get a foundation on what this company needs to do and how to reimagine building wealth for people who are not yet wealthy,” said Williams. “Now that we have proved that our customers improve their net worth, they want to stay with us and grow,” Williams added. The NC IDEA grant will help Freeman Capital market to more people with its message, “you can build your wealth now.” Visit for more information on Freeman Capital.

Photo courtesy of Calvin Williams

Freeman Capital

Calvin Williams, founder of Freeman Capital

Photo courtesy of Abi Olukeye

Abi Olukeye, founder of Smart Girls HQ

Smart Girls HQ Smart Girls HQ also was awarded a $75,000 grant from NC IDEA. Smart Girls HQ creates engaging online content and facilitates exciting online experiences that enable girls aged 3 to 12, preschool to preteen, to achieve STEM literacy. The company also helps parents of girls within the target age with tips and guidance on helping their girls get interested and succeed in STEM activities through a weekly newsletter and a newsfeed that curates parenting and educational topics. The company will use the NC IDEA funding to add a product development position to help scale the business. Smart Girls HQ was founded by Obi Olukeye, an MBA graduate of Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Visit for more information on Smart Girls HQ. P

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May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine


Entrepreneurial Success Finding Ways to Manage Stress By William Carter, Jr.

Taking a break is the most basic yet valuable stress management advice for entrepreneurs. Taking a slight pause can sometimes be all you need if you’re constantly racking your brain but not making any headway.


Pride Magazine |


ow sales numbers, excessive debt, low funding, staff problems, supplies and management issues — all can stress you out when running a small business, keeping you awake and worried at night. The strain of always looking for opportunities to strengthen your company’s net income continuously mounts. It’s impossible to avoid the stress of running a business, and the sooner you understand how to manage it, the better. Here are some ways you can deal with stress as a small business owner.

Use some time to relax

Taking a break is the most basic yet valuable stress management advice for entrepreneurs. Taking a slight pause can sometimes be all you need if you’re constantly racking your brain but not making any headway. Even as little as 10 minutes away from your source of stress may help recharge and soothe you. Scheduling regular breaks might help you avoid becoming burned out. You should do something that calms you when taking a break. Take a stroll, make a call to a buddy, get a cup of coffee, or browse social media for a while. Do not engage in any business-related activities.

You’ll have a clear and fresh mindset when you return to your work, and you’ll be able to face your assignments with renewed vigor. Furthermore, taking a break may help you discover a different and improved method to finish your work. Pride Magazine’s CEO, Dee Dixon, explains how she relaxes from the rigors of operating a successful publication company. “As a small business Dee Dixon, CEO owner, there are really and Publisher of no words to convey Pride Magazine the amount of stress involved with publishing Charlotte’s African American magazine … my stress management routine includes several basics …Incorporating some form of exercise each day, including long bike rides on the greenways and listening to audiobooks — mostly bios and memoirs… having a strict routine ... keeps stress at bay and helps me maintain my sanity.”

Organize and prioritize your tasks Working on too many tasks simultaneously and not accomplishing any of them is a major cause of stress when running a business.

You should sort and categorize your responsibilities. Make a list of everything you need to accomplish. Then, from most important to least important, prioritize your duties. The tasks you must complete initially should be first on your priority list. After you’ve completed those, you can go on to the next item on your list. When facing several tasks, it’s only natural to become worried. Try not to become intimidated by the magnitude of your to-do list. Concentrate on one, then follow the next task at hand.

Cleanse and relax your mind

There is hardly any distinction between professional and personal life for a business entrepreneur. You find yourself thinking about your company all the time and what you should be doing, and you can’t seem to get your mind off your business at times. Even while you’re attempting to sleep, your brain is constantly working. Try writing down everything you’re trying to remember. Jot down any concerns, potential ideas and other notes. Writing everything down may take some time, but it’ll help ease your mind. You can relax and rest easily because your brain isn’t struggling to keep tabs on everything. You won’t be too concerned about your company for a while since you have a physical note containing all your tasks and notes.

Practice self-care

Your health is crucial when making a living as an entrepreneur. It takes a lot of energy to provide a product or service.

Late hours, early mornings, no days off and no actual sick leave are all part of entrepreneurship. This constant lifestyle strains your body, in addition to causing great stress. Throughout your day, drink plenty of water, eat regularly and get sufficient

sleep. Also, try to accomplish personal goals geared toward your health, like using vitamins, supplements, and organic foods or lowering your caffeine usage. You can better manage stress when you’re in good health. Charlotte Garnes, founder and executive director of ReNforce, a Georgia-


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based nonprofit shares how self-care is essential to her professional stability. ReNforce provides training to businesses looking to hire system-impacted people who face barriers to employment relating to incarceration or the legal system. “The best way I handle the stress of running my business is by focusing on me and my needs. Self-care is my biggest remedy to protect and keep my sanity… it comes in the form of praying and worshiping, listening to motivational speakers, quotes and traveling is my biggest stress reliever,” she said. Master barber and founder of 34th Design Barber Shop in Charlotte, Shawn Howard, shared how staying physically fit also helps maintain his business mindset. “Working out helps best. Taking out stress with weights, on the basketball courts and other fitness activities,” he said.” Having a good personal partner or companion helps with the physical and emotional stress. Being with your family and your kids. Go on vacations to take a break or read different things or success stories to keep your mind stimulated.

Shawn Howard, Master barber and founder of 34th Design Barber Shop in Charlotte

The most challenging businesses

Given the challenges, it’s hardly surprising that 50 percent of all startups fail within five years based on small business statistics. If you’re planning to start a business, keep in mind the following industries are

Business banking made personal. We’re more than a bank. We are a partner committed to your success. Because it’s not just about rates. It’s about a relationship.


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more difficult to launch and maintain than others: Multimedia and information providers: Developing a firm in the information sector can be difficult due to entrance hurdles. For example, telecommunications businesses must obtain rare government transmission permits. Also, massive corporations dominate this business, making it difficult for newcomers. Growing these media businesses and showing profit is hard in this industry is hard. Radio and television broadcasting, newspaper and book publishing are among the lucrative businesses. Hospitality and restaurant industry: Building hotels are expensive, and establishing a brand can cost you even more money, along with being difficult based on business analytics. Opening a successful restaurant is also costly, from the property location and equipment to the staff personnel. And a restaurant won’t make you instantly rich overnight. In 2017, restaurants and food services were also on the list of minor profitable businesses. Wholesale trading: Wholesalers distribute commodities and supplies to other companies. They operate as a link between producers and retail businesses. Creating and maintaining a small wholesale business can be difficult for many reasons. According to analysts, this sector is highly competitive, and retailers struggling from slow sales have problems paying wholesale wholesalers. Health and social aid organizations: Healthcare is a rapidly developing industry, even though the entry barriers are substantial. The industry is heavily regulated, and it also takes several years to become a healthcare professional. And not all health and public support organizations are monetarily successful. Senior housing and assisted living facilities, for example, are among the least lucrative based on business data. If you’re an entrepreneur — new or experienced — take time to relax, organize and prioritize your tasks, and practice self-care regularly. As many business owners can attest — being the boss isn’t easy. P


The Diner is Open

WAITRESS begins its historic 5-week sit-down Equity production April 19-May 22 in the intimate 440-seat Booth Playhouse by Sara Bareilles


Photo by Daniel Lippitt

n 2012, I sat across from Diane Paulus at a restaurant in Times Square while she told me about her work on the stage adaptation of Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 independent film “Waitress.” She was curious if I had any interest in trying my hand at composing the score. I was shocked and incredibly flattered to be considered, but totally overwhelmed by the idea. I hadn’t seen the movie; I had only just met Diane and I had no experience writing for the theater. It seemed like an absolutely crazy idea. Lucky for me, though, I had just entered a phase of saying yes to doing crazy things.

Photo by Philicia Endelman

Photo by Daniel Lippitt

Ephie Aardema, Christine Dwyer and Melody A Betts in the National Tour of Waitress

It was an emotional time in my life. I had just moved to New York from Los Angeles, my home of 14 years, and was processing what felt like a total overhaul of my personal and professional worlds. I watched the movie on my laptop in my one-bedroom West Village apartment with no furniture and found myself immediately drawn into the eccentric fairytale that is Jenna’s story. I loved the slightly exaggerated quality to the characters that orbit our heroine,

and the fact that each person in our story is profoundly human, deeply flawed and yet ultimately still worthy of love. I felt a kinship with Jenna and her personal journey to rediscover her own strength. I think I felt that if I could help her find it, I might stumble upon my own along the way. The film is funny and dark and feminine and irreverent and emotional and so very, very musical. I found a piece of myself in each of these characters and learned so much from trying to tell their stories. It has helped me rediscover a purity and a playfulness in my own songwriting that I haven’t felt in years. I felt liberated to find new ways to express my ideas and energized by my incredible collaborators as well as the giant puzzle we were all trying to put together. The next four years of my life were all but consumed by this process, this story, this music, and a fierce devotion we, as a team, had to preserving Adrienne Shelly’s vision and the heart of this very special piece. My role as a composer has been such a gift to me. This show has changed my life. I have learned so much about perseverance, truth, humility, failure, faith and the essential ingredient of laughter. I am forever grateful to my collaborators ... the producers, creative team, cast, musicians AND crew, and I am so very proud of our work together. I get to be a part of the first all-female creative team in Broadway’s history, and hope to inspire other hopeful creative minds to say yes to doing crazy things. :) May we all be so lucky. Sugar, Butter, Flour, Thank you. Sara Bareilles For more information on WAITRESS and to buy tickets, please visit

May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine




Pride Magazine |

Photos by Everett Blackmon

May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine



Atrium Health

Charlotte Area Fund, Inc.

Seth C. Goldwire, MHA

Deborah Frink

Vice President and Facility Executive, Atrium Health Union West

Financial Literacy Coordinator

Seth is responsible for day-to-day operational efficiency and effectiveness at the “newly opened” Atrium Health Union West hospital.

Roy Hawkins, Jr. FACHE

eborah is responsible for providing D Mecklenburg County economically marginalized citizens with self-sufficiency services including financial education, case management, emergency assistance, legal advocacy referrals, and vital wrap around support services.

Senior Vice President and President, North Market

Roy is responsible for leading strategic oversight of Atrium Health care locations in the north market, including Atrium Health Cabarrus, Atrium Health University and Atrium Health Stanly.

Crystal Liles Enterprise Vice President, Heart & Vascular and Vice President for Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute

rystal leads strategic development and C operational implementation for Greater Charlotte, as well as the Atrium Health enterprise footprint of heart and vascular services across NC, SC, and GA.

Asha Rodriguez Vice President and Facility Executive, Atrium Health Cabarrus

sha is responsible for day-to-day operational A efficiency and effectiveness and leads patient service and support areas. She is a delegate-atlarge for the American Hospital Association’s Regional Policy Board 3 and is a Cabarrus Health Alliance board member.

Bank of America Hope Doe Communications & Change Adoption Executive and Charlotte Market Leader

Hope leads communications and change adoption of enterprise initiatives. She was integral to the bank’s COVID-19 and vaccine hesitancy response, and serves on its Charlotte Market Leadership Team.

Kimelyn Harris Racial Equality and Economic Opportunity Executive

Kimelyn oversees programming and execution for Bank of America’s $1.25 billion, 5-year effort to advance economic opportunity, health care initiatives and racial equality for communities of color.

Charlotte Latin School Sonja L. Taylor, Ed.D. Assistant Head for Academic Affairs

onja is a career educator, author, speaker, S and researcher. In her fifth year at Charlotte Latin, she leads strategic initiatives and accreditation for the school.

Community Link Lori Beullah Program Manager of Housing Coordination Services

s Community Link’s Housing A Coordination Services Manager, Lori advocates for housing opportunities with property providers for lowincome families.

Tamatha Hall Program Manager of Homeless to Housing Services

Tamatha oversees the daily operations of Community Link’s Homeless to Housing program, which helps individuals and families obtain and sustain safe, decent, affordable housing.

Ernst & Young Sophie Campbell-Smith Partner, Ernst & Young - Healthcare

ophie serves as the lead Partner for S healthcare payer and provider clients, responsible for the delivery and oversight of operating model and process design/re-engineering, technology, finance, cost-reduction and privacy/ security engagements.

May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine



Roberto Pérez

Partner, Financial Services Business Consulting

Assistant Store Manager

Megan leads EY’s Financial Services Enterprise Risk practice for the south region. She is on the Executive Leadership Team for Charlotte Go Red for Women and serves on the board of the Urban League of Central Carolinas.

Robert leads the grocery team at store 1079 in Raleigh. He has been with Food Lion since 2015. Robert also leads Community Initiatives for the Hispanic/Latino Business Resource Group.

Fifth Third Bank

Foundation For The Carolinas

Joel Dancy

Qiana Austin

Vice President, Community and Economic Development, Carolinas Region

Vice President & Scholarships Program Officer

Qiana oversees more than 150 scholarship programs, distributing more than $2 million annually. She also manages Foundation For Black Philanthropy, which celebrates the strong tradition of Black giving in our community.

Joel oversees the community engagement and philanthropic activities for Fifth Third Bank in North and South Carolina. He also oversees the African-American Business Resource initiative.

Deviré Robinson, J.D.

Jada Grandy-Mock

Vice President, Philanthropic Advancement

Deviré helps nonprofits and corporations achieve their charitable goals, making an even greater impact on the communities they serve. He is also a leader in FFTC’s diversity, equity and inclusion work.

Chief Corporate Community Economic Development Officer

Jada leads Fifth Third Bank’s corporate wide Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and Community Economic Development Program Strategy including the Empowering Black Futures Neighborhood Business Plan.

Hornets Sports & Entertainment Jacob Gallagher

Food Lion

Chief Revenue Officer

Jacob is responsible for strategic planning and execution related to revenue generation, overseeing ticket sales and services, partnership sales and activation, and business intelligence.

Kim Bowyer Retail Services Standard Practice Specialist

Kim is responsible for writing and maintaining standard practices for Food Lion and leading projects for Retail. She is the Commerce Lead for the Women’s Business Resource Group and writes the monthly newsletter.



Maiah Dixon

Evelyn Brawley

Category Merchandising Pricing Analyst

Customer Service Center Supervisor

aiah oversees end-to-end project execution M of the While Supplies Last Program, Food Lion’s in/out short term merchandising program. She is also the Commerce Lead and manages communications and marketing for the African American Business Resource Group.

Evelyn currently serves as the Customer Service Center Supervisor. With 18 years of service, she is committed to providing exceptional care to INLIVIAN’s customers.

Lowe’s Companies, Inc.

Jan Owens

Steven Johnson

Manager, Front End Operations

Global Director, Culture, Diversity & Inclusion

Jan has more than 25 years of front end operations experience. She is responsible for the front end processes, standards and services. She is the Co-Chair of the Caregivers Business Resource Group.

Steven oversees the company-wide strategic planning, development and execution of diversity and inclusion initiatives at Lowe’s. He has worked tirelessly to implement data-driven changes that ultimately enhances Lowe’s culture to serve its customers.

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Means Income Tax Service Myrtle Means Office Manager

With more than 53 years of dedicated service, Myrtle is instrumental in the success of the company. She is the expert in helping clients generate their annual bookkeeping and business accounting.

Mecklenburg County Public Health Department Tyler Green Preparedness Health Manager

Tyler is responsible for preparing and planning for large-scale public health events and disasters. During the pandemic response, Tyler’s focus was to identify, plan and coordinate vaccination clinics in marginalized areas.

Jonathan Ong Senior Health Manager

J onathan oversees applications, analytics, and data strategy and guides health IT innovation and design. As a part of the COVID-19 response team, Jonathan developed cohesive applications that handled case investigation, contact tracing, communication and training.

Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office Dijon Whyms Deputy Sheriff

Deputy Whyms has dedicated 20 years to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office. He was recently shot and injured during a traffic stop. Deputy Whyms is a hero to MCSO and the community

Novant Health Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown (Posthumously) Family Physician and Senior Vice President of Community Wellness and Education

Dr. Garmon-Brown was a physician, minister, leader at Novant Health and champion for the Charlotte community. She dedicated her life to the service of others.

Dr. Augustus “Gus” Parker, III Novant Health OB/GYN Urgent Care - Carmel

Dr. Parker is an expert in women’s health, an activist for African American men’s health and has recently published a book, “Mining Diamonds.”

Samantha Voreh Senior Director, Supplier Diversity

Samantha oversees the operations and strategic direction of Novant Health’s Supplier Diversity Program, making historically underutilized businesses a natural part of Novant Health’s business environment.

Oak Street Health Tyree Barnes Senior Outreach Executive

Tyree’s primary focus is bringing awareness of the Enderly Park clinic and helping to grow Oak Street Health patient panel by partnering with organizations that identify challenges seniors face in receiving quality health care.

Saundra Coleman Regional Director of Operation

Saundra oversees the operations of Oak Street Health clinics in Charlotte and South Carolina. She consistently achieves a Gold Quality Standard and continues to thrive in healthcare.

Premier, Inc. Kim Johnson Senior Manager of Product Support Services

im has over 25 years of professional K experience working in Healthcare Information Technology. She has worked in progressive roles for a major healthcare IT software organization and a Healthcare Maintenance Organization.

Andrea Lewis Senior Administrative Coordinator

seasoned 37-year administrative A professional leader and member of three Employee Resource Groups: Women’s, Generations Working Together, and Black Professionals and Allies Connect as Historian, and Leadership & Culture subcommittee Co-Lead.

Deborah Williams Senior Director of Supplier Diversity

eborah unites an alliance of approximately D 4,100 U.S. hospitals and over 200,000+ other providers to transform healthcare with innovative and meaningful strategies focused on diverse and small businesses development.

May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine



Providence Day School Erin Harper

Thasunda Brown Duckett

Head of Lower School (TK to 5th Grade)

President and Chief Executive Officer of TIAA

Erin leads, strategizes, and sets the vision for the Lower School. She plays a key role in admissions and curriculum development ensuring representation and reflection of diversity in our community.

Thasunda is President and Chief Executive Officer of TIAA, a Fortune 100 provider of secure retirements and outcome-focused investment solutions.

Marcus Smith

Chief Procurement Officer

Director of Teaching Fellows Program and Incoming English Department Chair

arcus created the Teaching Fellows M Program. The program aspires to develop and nurture future leaders in independent schools. He is also the creator and leader of the Camp Spirit Summer Program.

Robinson Bradshaw Robert E. Harrington Litigation Attorney and Member, Robinson Bradshaw Lawyers of Color Affinity Group

ob co-chairs Robinson Bradshaw’s R Litigation Department and advises companies in complex contract, trade and business matters. He is also a dedicated community leader.

Self-Help Credit Union Donnetta Collier

Kindle Goodson Kindle leads the Global Supplier Services team, responsible for Sourcing, Vendor Management, Procurement and Business Diversity, focusing on building partnerships, developing teams and delivering value.

Truist Bank Mark Case Senior Vice President Mortgage Area Sales Manager, Metrolina Region

Mark has 30+ years of experience in the financial services industry. He was a recipeint of the 2016 Platinum Performance Award and the 2020 Truist Performance Award. He is also a SERVE Regional Chair for Metrolina.

Charlene S. Davis Vice President and Mortgage Loan Officer

Charlene manages the origination and delivery of mortgage loan products to a wide spectrum of clients. She also conducts financial literacy seminars and creates strategic plans to increase mortgage lending in underserved areas.

Senior Financial Coach

Lindsay T. Joyner

onnetta leads the financial capability D work in the Charlotte Region. With over 30 years of experience, she is uniquely qualified to provide financial coaching and workshops to help the underserved achieve their financial goals.

Senior Talent Acquisition Manager, University Recruiting

Southern First Tiffani Tedder



Lindsay leads University Recruiting at Truist. Her focus is on leveling the playing field by providing access to employment opportunities to students and recent graduates.

UNC Charlotte Brandon L. Wolfe, Ph.D.

Team Leader, Senior Vice President

Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer

Tiffani has 20+ years of experience in banking. She enjoys building relationships with clients and providing expert guidance and personal service based on their goals.

r. Wolfe is a member of the Chancellor’s Cabinet, D responsible for overseeing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. He has over 19 years of experience in developing and implementing diversity, equity and inclusion strategies at higher education and nonprofit agencies.

Pride Magazine |


U.S. Bank

Wells Fargo Ryan Hutchins

Mia Berg

Managing Director, Oil & Gas and Utilities

Business Execution Senior Manager

Ryan and his team are responsible for working with large corporate clients in the energy sector across the country. He is passionate about identifying ways to support his local community.

Mia leads strategy and execution for Supply Chain technology enablement across a complex network of interfaced point solutions.

Jonna Johnson Community Mortgage Loan Officer

Derek Cantey

Jonna is a mortgage loan officer assisting clients with all mortgage financing needs. She also specializes in helping families who live in low- to moderate-income areas.

Senior Supplier Diversity Program Manager

Marcus Martin Managing Director, Head of ESG Fixed Income and Capital Markets

Marcus advises clients on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) financings and has launched the firstever CDFI racial equity bond. He has established a partnership with Johnson C. Smith University and serves on the Opera Carolina Board.

Fern Robertson

Derek drives the supplier diversity strategy and execution of the diverse spend growth strategy. He is also responsible for benchmarking, compliance and audits, and partners with enterprise lines of business to support marketplace outcomes.

May Ly Lead Business Execution Consultant

May drives organizational effectiveness programming within Supply Chain, including various strategic planning and employee engagement efforts.

Corporate Trust Review Analyst

Fern performs secondary reviews for corporate and municipal bond deals and ensures compliance requirements. She is a board member for the U.S. Bank Charlotte Development Network and an active community volunteer.


Al Marquetti Senior Lead Sourcing Consultant

Al sets the strategy for sourcing, contracting, and expense reduction initiatives across the enterprise and leads associated contract negotiations for complex products and services.

Nate Morabito

Dixie McConnell

Investigative Reporter

Lead Business Execution Consultant

Nate’s investigations have reached Congress, prompted local action and resulted in helping recover nearly $13 million in COVID Relief payments.

Dixie oversees all aspects of Supply Chain’s oversight engagements across all three lines of defense. She also serves on the board for Indianola Community Youth Foundation mentoring youth to develop their leadership skills.

Fred Shropshire Evening Anchor

Fred anchors the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts. A viewer watched Fred’s story on Bountiful Blessings Food Pantry and donated a desperately needed cargo van.

Kris Stevens Broadcast Engineer

Kris was recognized with the 2021 WCNC Charlotte Difference Maker Award for contributions to the station as a Broadcast Engineer and volunteer work in the community.

YMCA of Greater Charlotte Jemarion Young Executive Director, Stratford Richardson YMCA

J emarion oversees operations, strategic planning and board development. He is founder of a teen leadership program that empowers young people to reach their full potential, with 100% of the teen leaders attending a college or university. P May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine


PrideBusiness FYI News & Notes Compiled by John Burton Jr.

Photo courtesty of Atrium Health

Atrium Health Pays Homage to Historic Black Community in New Project Leaders from Atrium Health and Wexford Science and Technology LLC, announced that the new Charlotte innovation district, the future home to Wake Forest University School of Medicine Charlotte, will be known as “The Pearl.” The Pearl Innovation District will be constructed at the intersection of Baxter and McDowell streets in an area of Charlotte formerly known as Brooklyn which, for years, was “a city within a city” where thriving African American businesses, faith communities and families lived, worked and played. Brooklyn was also nestled near Good Samaritan Hospital in Charlotte’s Third Ward — an African American hospital with roots to Atrium Health that was comprised

of hundreds of doctors, nurses and health care workers who took great pride in caring for their community. In the 1950s and 60s, urban renewal overtook this area and approximately 1,000 families were displaced, and more than 200 businesses and 12 churches were destroyed. One Brooklyn landmark that remains is Pearl Street Park, the first African American park, still a well-loved gathering place to this day. “Many might say this area of town and its rich history have been largely overlooked.

But we’re here now to begin a new chapter to this story and honor this special place as we empower the neighborhoods around it, which are shaped by diverse people and perspectives, rooted in inclusivity and belonging, and filled with endless potential,” said Eugene A. Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health. The Pearl Innovation District, located at the intersection of Baxter and McDowell streets in Midtown Charlotte is designed to be a place where people from all walks of life will feel welcome and grow together.

Photo courtesty of NYSE

First Black Woman Named Board Chair of New York Stock Exchange

Sharon Bowen, chair of the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange


Pride Magazine |

Intercontinental Exchange Inc. named Sharon Bowen the chair of the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange, the first African American woman to hold the position. According to TRT World, the Wall Street Exchange has 2,400 listed companies and a capitalization of $36 trillion. Bowen previously made history as the first African American to serve as the Commissioner of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Currently, Bowen is a finance and securities lawyer. Since 2017, she’s been a member of the board of directors of Intercontinental Exchange Inc., NYSE’s parent company. In April, Bowen was appointed to the board of directors of Akamai Technologies Inc. “Akamai is pleased to welcome such a distinguished financial and legal expert to its board of directors,” Dr.

Tom Leighton, Akamai chief executive officer and co-founder said at the announcement. “In an environment with evolving regulatory developments and market risks, we look forward to benefiting from Sharon’s vast experience and expertise.” Born in Chesapeake, Va., Bowen holds a bachelor of arts with distinction in economics from the University of Virginia. She obtained an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and earned a juris doctor degree from Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law. Bowen has more than 30 years of experience in business law as a partner and associate in several law firms. In 2010, Bowen was handpicked by former President Barack Obama to serve as vice-chair and acting chair of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation.

Blumenthal Performing Arts is thrilled to announce the launch of the Charlotte International Arts Festival. The new festival will celebrate local and international arts across genres, mediums and cultures in Uptown Charlotte, Sept. 16 – Oct. 2, 2022. The 17-day festival will bring to Charlotte exceptional artists and entertainment from around the world and will showcase local international cultures and traditions. The Blumenthal staff plans to bring a collection of artists from countries that include Italy, Australia, Belgium, the U.K., France and Canada. Artists and performers from the Charlotte area and around the country will also have prominent roles, particularly those rooted in international ultures.

Blumenthal Performing Arts

New International Arts Festival Comes to Charlotte

The annual festivities will infuse Uptown with fun, family-friendly activities, and lively entertainment around every corner. The Queen City will bustle with live performances, conversations with thought leaders, immersive art installations, and an abundance of inspired creations with a focus on the visual and performing arts — all in celebration of creativity, innovation, and community. The majority of events will be free and

outdoors. Most activities will take place in Center City Charlotte for a pedestrianfriendly experience. “Charlotte is fortunate to have many different festivals throughout the year. The launch of this new festival aims uniquely to expand the artistic identity of Charlotte and celebrate the best from around the world and around the corner in arts and creativity,” said Blumenthal President and CEO, Tom Gabbard.

May-June 2022 | Pride Magazine


PrideBusiness FYI News & Notes

The Board of Trustees of Trinity Episcopal School announced the appointment of Imana Legette as Trinity’s next head of school, effective July 2022. The board unanimously selected Legette after a nationwide search for a successor to current Head of School Tom Franz, who is retiring at the end of the 2021-22 school year after 11 years of service. Legette will be Trinity’s third head of school since its founding in 2000. A West Charlotte High School and UNC Charlotte graduate, Legette brings nearly 30 years of experience in public and independent schools. She received her Master of Education from Pepperdine University in 1997. “It has been my life’s goal to lead a K-8 school and align my passion for

challenging and nurturing students with my deep commitment to equity and inclusion and a sense of belonging for all,” said Legette. Her career in education began as a teacher in CharlotteMecklenburg Schools. She then spent 15 years at Charlotte Country Day School as Educational Technology Director and Diversity Coordinator. Trinity Board of Trustees was impressed with Legette’s academic experience and her career-long passion for creating diverse and inclusive learning environments. “We were so taken by how naturally she brought out the joy in our students,” said Trinity Board of Trustees chair Porter Durham Legette joins Trinity from The Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square,

Photo courtesty of LinkedIn

Trinity Episcopal School Taps Imana Legette as Trinity’s next Head of School

Imana Legette, Head of School, Trinity Episcopal School

Pa., where she is head of middle school and oversaw the learning experience for nearly 300 students and more than 60 faculty. P

Did you know that African American women are disproportionately affected by HIV? PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a once-daily pill to prevent HIV, and it is available to women too. PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV through sex by more than 90%. To find out more about PrEP and other questions regarding your health and wellness, please contact Quality Comprehensive Health Center, where your questions are answered confidentially.

visit or call 980.277.1563 54

Pride Magazine |

Now is the time to begin your real estate career. Start and enhance your real estate career under our canopy. Canopy Real Estate Institute, formerly Mingle School of Real Estate, has grown into more than a school. We’re a real estate institute providing all the coverage you need for your career development and professional growth. Real estate pre-licensing, post-licensing and continuing education classes are affordable and taught by awardwinning instructors. Explore our virtual real estate education options: • Early-bird discount ($40 off) for pre-licensing • Free drop-in tutoring offered online • Free reviews to help you pass the North Carolina real estate exam | 704-372-2984

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Learn more:

You are invited to apply. Your receipt of this material does not mean you have been prequalified or pre-approved for any product or service we offer. This is not a commitment to lend; you must submit additional information for review and approval. 1. Down Payment program and America’s Home Grant program: Qualified borrowers must meet eligibility requirements such as being owner-occupants and purchasing a home within a certain geographical area. Maximum income and loan amount limits apply. Minimum combined loan-to-value must be greater than or equal to 80%. The home loan must fund with Bank of America. Bank of America may change or discontinue the Bank of America Down Payment Grant program or America’s Home Grant program or any portion of either without notice. Not available with all loan products, please ask for details. 2. Additional information about the Down Payment program: Down Payment program is available with one mortgage product. Program funds can be applied toward down payment only. Borrowers cannot receive program funds as cash back in excess of earnest money deposits. Down Payment Grant program may be considered taxable income, a 1099-MISC will be issued, consult with your tax advisor. May be combined with other offers. The Bank of America Down Payment Grant program may only be applied once to an eligible mortgage/property, regardless of the number of applicants. Homebuyer education is required. 3. Additional information about the America’s Home Grant program: The America’s Home Grant program is a lender credit. Program funds can only be used for nonrecurring closing costs including title insurance, recording fees, and in certain situations, discount points may be used to lower the interest rate. The grant cannot be applied toward down payment, prepaid items or recurring costs, such as property taxes and insurance. Borrowers cannot receive program funds as cash back. 4. Maximum income and loan amount limits apply. Fixed-rate mortgages (no cash out refinances), primary residences only. Certain property types are ineligible. Maximum loan-to-value (“LTV”) is 97%, and maximum combined LTV is 105%. For LTV >95%, any secondary financing must be from an approved Community Second Program. Homebuyer education may be required. Other restrictions apply. Credit and collateral are subject to approval. Terms and conditions apply. This is not a commitment to lend. Programs, rates, terms and conditions are subject to change without notice. Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. ©2022 Bank of America Corporation. America’s Home Grant, Bank of America Community Homeownership Commitment, Bank of America and the Bank of America logo are registered trademarks of Bank of America Corporation. MAP4274936 | AD-03-22-0173 | 03/2022

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