Black History Month gives us a chance to reflect on the past, but these 21 leaders provide hope for the future. They are in positions that allow them to shape Union County for years to come.
• Kim Chinnis – Chinnis has served as a principal in Union County Public Schools since 2008, holding leadership roles at Parkwood Middle and Prospect Elementary schools in Monroe.
• Christopher Kelly – Kelly arrived at Monroe High School in 2018 after serving a couple of years working as a principal in Whiteville City Schools. He also has experience in school districts in Durham, Orange and Person counties.
• Vicki Merritt – Merritt has worked in education for more than 20 years, including stints as principal at Sun Valley Middle School and her current assignment at Central Academy of Technology and Arts in Monroe.
• Tahira Stalberte – A member of Superintendent Andrew Houlihan’s executive cabinet, Stalberte oversees communications at Union County Public Schools. Her team has won more than 30 state awards over two years for writing, photography and marketing.
• Candice Sturdivant – She not only works as assistant director for the Center of Vocations, Internships & Career Services at Wingate University, but she also has served on the Union County Public Schools Board of Education since 2016.
• Surluta Anthony – Spinal surgery this past year has not prevented Anthony from representing constituents on the Monroe City Council. She’s serving her second term on the board.
• Franklin Deese – After 13 years serving as Marshville mayor, Deese began campaigning last year for Mark Brody’s District 55 seat on the N.C. House of Representatives. Though he fell short of state office, he brought awareness to many issues.
• Billy Jordan – Monroe residents have been electing Jordan to represent them on the city council ever since the late 1980s. He’s not the type of leader that rubber-stamps votes.
• Brenda McMillon – McMillon’s colleagues on the Waxhaw Board of Commissioners appointed her mayor pro-tem, allowing her to serve in the place of the mayor at official functions. She’s has served on the planning board and volunteered with the county school district.
• Franco McGee – McGee had an impressive showing in the November 2017 election, securing more votes than the likes of Surluta Anthony, Debra Duncan, Freddie Gordon and Dottie Nash to win a Monroe City Council seat.
• Marcus McIntyre – The Indian Trail Town Council appointed McIntyre to the vacancy left by Monty Keistler’s resignation. McIntyre works as a financial analyst with Bank of America, and he’s been involved in his HOA, PTA and the Porter Ridge Athletic Association.
• Jesse Cureton – Cureton’s influence extends well beyond Union County. The Waxhaw resident serves as chief consumer officer at Novant Health. He’s also a power player with Charlotte City Partners and the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance.
• Jeff Duke – Duke provides insight to Monroe-Union County Economic Development, which recruits businesses and industries to the region. Duke works as a profit center manager for Assa Abloy in Monroe, a firm specializing in door opening products.
• Marvin Ellison – Ellison joined Mooresville-based Lowe’s in July as president and CEO. Though he lives in south Charlotte, his home improvement retailer is one of the county’s largest employers with stores in Monroe, Indian Trail and Waxhaw.
• David Smith – Smith, a financial advisor with an Edward Jones branch in Monroe, serves an exec role on the board of directors for the Union County Chamber of Commerce. The chamber named Smith its Ambassador of the Year in 2012.
• Gene Woods – Woods serves as CEO of Atrium Health, one of the largest employers in Union County. The system announced plans last year to open another campus in Stallings called Atrium Health Union West in 2022.
• Gloria Barrino – Barrino’s leadership has shaped organizations, such as Union County Crisis Assistance Ministry and Turning Point, that help people going through the most difficult times in their lives.
• Nathel Hailey – Hailey has led the Union County NAACP for nine years. His work led to A Few Good Men Inc. recognizing the former Wingate City Councilman as Citizen of the Year for 2018.
• Melita Pope Mitchell – Mitchell, an assistant dean with Johnson C Smith University, is president of the Union County chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, which is highly engaged in the community.
• Gwendolyn Perkins – This former Union County Woman of the Year has served as medical director for Community Health Services of Union County, a free clinic that’s connected thousands of people to vital resources.
• Steve Smith Sr. – Since retiring from the NFL, the Waxhaw resident has been busy as a TV analyst for the NFL Network. The Steve Smith Family Foundation empowers youth and helps families throughout the Charlotte region.