We’re taking a look at community leaders in positions of influence in honor of Women’s History Month
• Surluta Anthony: The Monroe City Councilwoman sums up her public service to Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
• Brenda Burns: The Waxhaw commissioner understands the pulse of town, having lived there for more than 20 years. She’s served as a commissioner since 2015.
• Elizabeth Callis: The Weddington mayor has sought clarity with the N.C. Department of Transportation regarding the funding of local road projects, as well as worked to preserve the town and build more of a community.
• Amanda Fuller: Fuller is not only a member of the Wesley Chapel Town Council, but she’s also an officer in the Wesley Chapel Elementary School PTO.
• Shirley Howe: Years of attending Indian Trail Town Council meetings as a private citizen gave Howe the confidence to fill a vacancy when a member left and subsequently run for re-election.
• Kat Lee: Before winning over voters in the 2017 election, the Waxhaw commissioner was an admiral in the U.S. Navy Reserves and worked for the Defense Department.
• Brenda McMillon: Waxhaw’s mayor pro-tem is new to elected office, but she’s no stranger to service, having vetted development projects on the planning board and volunteered at Waxhaw schools.
• Lynda Paxton: The retired school psychologist returned to political office in 2017, taking a seat on the Stallings Town Council. Paxton served as mayor from 2005 to 2013.
• Janice Propst: The mayor pro tem said during a discussion about a junk/nuisance ordinance that Weddington is growing so fast that the council must consider citizens input and public safety issues.
• Deborah Romanow: The Hemby Bridge Elementary teacher has been elected to the Stallings Town Council twice.
• Mary Shkut: Despite the drama regarding her appointment to Ron Salimao’s seat last year on the Marvin Village Council, it’s hard to argue against her impact on the village. She’s worked as clerk and administrator, as well as served on the planning board.
• Shawna Steele: Whether its getting involved in the community watch, PTO or town council, Steele has worked to ensure her children grow up proud to call Stallings home.
• Kim Vandenberg: Vandenberg, who has an MBA and real estate license, sought political office to maintain the small town vibe of Marvin. She’s in her first term with the village council.
• Tracy Wesolek: She was among three new faces to join the Waxhaw Board of Commissioners in 2017. She has been a member of the town’s board of adjustment and active in the Republican Party.
• Cheryl Bennett: Bennett serves multiple administrative roles with Wesley Chapel, including clerk and finance officer.
• Julie Broome: Recently promoted to executive director of Union County’s human resources department, she oversees one of the county’s largest staffs. She’s been in the No. 2 role within the department for 13 years.
• Christina Alphin: Before taking on the role of Marvin village administrator last year, Alphin was an assistant city manager in Albemarle.
• Crystal Gilliard: Gilliard can vouch for the fast growth in Union County, having served as register of deeds since 2004. The elected office is responsible for various other records, including births, deaths and marriages.
• Marsha Gross: The Stallings finance director has had talks with leaders about financing for the new town hall and public works facilities over the course of the past year.
• Lynne Hair: The Stallings town planner has been involved in small area plans for the Chestnut and Downtown/Old Monroe. She’s also looked at planning for greenways and parks.
• Michelle Lancaster: Lancaster recently earned a promotion to deputy county manager, which puts her in command when top administrator Mark Watson is not available.
• Ashley Lantz: After helping Turning Point expand its scope beyond domestic violence to various forms of abuse, Lantz became director of the Union County Division of Social Services.
• Nina Meadows: Meadows oversees the Union County Public Library, which has branches in Indian Trail, Marshville, Monroe and Waxhaw. The system offers more than books, but programming that promotes continuous education.
• Lisa Thompson: The Weddington town administrator has led her council through updates to the conservation subdivision ordinance and the creation of rules regarding burning, erosion control and yard junk.
• Carole Alley: The reigning Union County Public Schools Principal of the Year has worked at Parkwood High School since 2016. The school has met and exceeded growth measures in recent years.
• Rachel Clarke: The Kensington Elementary principal is not just a leader in global education, but she also advises state organizations devoted to school leadership. The school recently won kudos for 21st century learning.
• Donna Cook: She’s one of the most decorated principals in Union County Public Schools. She runs Marvin Ridge High, one of the largest schools in the district, but she’s also led Unionville and Rea View elementary schools.
• Kim Fisenne: Fisenne serves as principal at Porter Ridge High School. She has also served as principal at the Central Academy of Technology & Arts, the only school in Union County recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School within the past five years.
• Kathy Heintel: The Wesley Chapel resident is the go-to member of the Union County Public Schools Board of Education when it comes to finance, facilities and policy issues. She serves as vice chair.
• Stephanie McManus: After leading Parkwood High and Poplin Elementary, McManus now presides as principal at Union County Early College, where students can graduate with a diploma and associate degree.
• Melissa Merrell: The Stallings resident has served on the Union County Public Schools Board of Education since 2014. She currently serves as chair.
• Vicki Merritt: Merritt has been an
administrator with Union County Public Schools since 2012 – first with Sun Valley Middle and then with the Central Academy of Technology & Arts.
• Maria Pharr: The South Piedmont Community College president has increased connections between the college and community, as well as business and industry.
• Tahira Stalberte: Stalberte helps tell the story of Union County Public Schools in her role as assistant superintendent for communications and community relations.
• Ann Walters: The headmaster has overseen tremendous growth at Union Academy, not just with enrollment but also construction.
• Penelope Hefner: The principal at Sodoma Law’s Monroe office is heavily involved with the Community Shelter of Union County and various legal organizations.
• Pat Kahle: As president of the Union County Chamber of Commerce, Kahle is in a position to connect companies to resources such as networking and programming.
• Cheryl Neely: Neely, who owned a successful staffing firm, continues to stay involved in the community. She’s served on boards of directors for the Union County Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Central Carolinas.
• Jeanne Pritt: This Waxhaw resident is on the come up, having been elected as president-elect of the Waxhaw-Weddington Rotary Club and the Union County Human Resources Association. She is CEO of People Outcomes.
• Brenda Robbins: Robbins serves as human resources manager for Union Power Cooperative. She provides outreach to students through her work in the Union County Job Ready Partnership.
• Christa Tyson: As president of sales at Ty-Par Commercial Realty, Tyson advises several nonprofits, including the Union County Chamber of Commerce, Alliance for Children, Bridge to Recovery and the South Piedmont Community College Foundation – just to name a few.
• Juliette Weiland: The Waxhaw resident was elected in October 2018 as president of Charlotte SCORE, a group of active and retired business executives that mentor small businesses.
• Lauren Williams: She’s held management roles with firms like United Technologies, ATI Specialty materials and Consolidated Metco, where she’s currently talent development manager. She chairs the Union County Job Ready Partnership and is involved in the United Way of Central Carolinas.
• Gloria Barrino: Barrino’s organization, Union County Crisis Assistance Ministry, gives hope to people experiencing rough times in their lives. It’s not about handouts, but educating clients with life skills.
• Kathy Bragg: Bragg’s doesn’t just connect people with housing, but also feeds them through the Community Shelter of Union County. The charity has a network of 130 churches and community groups carrying out its food program.
• Cindy Cole: Cole leads Community Health Services of Union County, which has provided diabetes-related help to thousands of people over the years.
• Holly Furtick: With 194,000 followers on Instagram and 66,000 followers on Facebook, the Elevation Church member uses her platform to promote healthy habits that enhance the mind, body and soul.
• Melanie Miller: She champions people with developmental disabilities through her work with The Arc of Union/Cabarrus. Her charity also lends support to parents and siblings of disabled people.
• Erin Santos: The death of a child inspired the Waxhaw mom to launch the Isabella Santos Foundation, which has raised millions of dollars. Perhaps its most lasting impact will be additions at Levine Children’s Hospital to treat children’s cancers.
• Ginger Walle: Walle was recently named Union County Woman of the Year. She works with Heart for Monroe, an agency focused on helping people facing homelessness and hunger.
Do you know an inspirational woman?
Union County Weekly is accepting nominations to highlight five women in the community whose stories are truly inspiring – whether at the office or at home. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to recommend someone. We’re putting together a women’s empowerment event and special edition in May to recognize these women.